Camping fees expected to increase|
The Michigan Natural Resources Commission today directed Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff to prepare a new camping fee structure that will meet financial needs of the state parks system.
The directive came on the heels of Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm’s budget presentation Thursday to the state Legislature, in which the Governor recommended shifting state parks funding to a user fee-based structure by removing all general fund appropriations to parks. The shift will save the state’s General Fund nearly $8.5 million next year and help address Michigan’s projected $1.7 billion budget deficit.
State Park vehicle permit prices are set by the legislature. Camping fees are set by the Natural Resources Commission. The Legislature is expected to review a proposal to raise daily vehicle fees by $2, and annual vehicle fees by $4.
“This shift will help the State Parks by putting them on the same user-funded financial structure as hunting and fishing programs,” said DNR Administrative Services Deputy Kelli Sobel. “This move addresses the state’s immediate funding challenge.”
The NRC adopted its Land Use Subcommittee’s recommended policy to guide the DNR as it reviews land holdings. For the past year, the subcommittee has worked with DNR staff and constituent groups to review state land ownership strategies and offer policy improvements. The new Commission policy offers a framework for DNR staff to complete their comprehensive review of the state’s landholdings. The subcommittee will now work with staff and constituent groups to develop strategies ensuring public lands meet the natural resource and recreational needs of Michigan residents and visitors, today and in the future.
NRC Chairman Keith Charters announced to the Commission his resignation as the NRC representative to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board. The Board administers the MNRTF, which uses royalties from the state’s gas and oil leases to purchase lands for recreational values. Charters has served on the MNRTF Board for 11 years. At his recommendation, the board named Commissioner Bob Garner of Cadillac to represent the NRC to the MNRTF Board. As a former legislative aid, Garner was instrument in crafting the legislation that created the MNRTF in 1976 and further laws in 1984 that constitutionally protect the Fund.
The next regular NRC meeting is April 10-11 in Lansing.