The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) not only reached, but slightly exceeded its participation goal of 24.3 percent of Michigan motorists taking part in the DNR’s Recreation Passport Program.
The Recreation Passport, created by state lawmakers last year, was supported by the DNR because the department felt it needed to “broaden the base of its financial support” for state parks, according to DNR Spokesperson Mary Dettloff.
To encourage more day use of the state park system, the DNR cut the annual admission price from $24 to $10.
“We did see an increase in day use this summer, but that could have been completely weather-related since we had a hot, dry summer,” Dettloff said.
When renewing their vehicle registration data, 24.7 percent of motorist checked “Yes” to support the Recreation Passport and generated a total revenue of $18.8 million.
“We appreciate the support of Michigan citizens who support our state parks and state forest recreation programs by checking ‘Yes’ when they renew their motor vehicle registration at the Secretary of State,” said DNR Director Rodney Stokes. “We also are grateful for the strong support of Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and her staff. Without their partnership, we would have had a tougher climb toward our goal in our first year of implementation.”
The funds raised in the first year of sales for the Recreation Passport are to be split according to a formula present in the law that created the program.
The Secretary of State’s Office is reimbursed $1 million for administrative costs, while the state parks operational budget will get $10.7 million and the Michigan Waterways budget will get $1.03 million. These amounts are equivalent to the revenue that the old Motor Vehicle Permit system brought in averaged over the last three years. After that revenue is deducted, the remaining revenue for 2011 was divided as follows:
• Capital outlay for state parks, $3.04 million;
• Maintenance for state parks, $1.82 million;
• Local park grants, $608,650;
• State forest recreation, $426,055;
• Cultural/historical facilities in state parks, $167,379; and
• Marketing, $15,216.
“Even if you think you will never go to a state park or enjoy one of our state forest campgrounds or trails, supporting the Recreation Passport is a good way to support your county, community or township parks,” Stokes said. “Ten percent of the revenue is dedicated to a grant program to help improve parks in local communities.”