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E-M:/ DNR Seeks Park Visitor Comments on Proposed Park and Recreation System Funding Challenges

Enviro-Mich message from "Richard Morscheck" <morscher@michigan.gov>

September 2, 2005

Contacts: Ron Olson 517-335-4827 or Mary Dettloff 517-335-3014                                                  	
DNR Seeks Park Visitor Comments on Proposed
Park and Recreation System Funding Challenges

Visitors to state park and recreation areas will have an opportunity to share their opinions about a proposed short-term financing plan for the state park and recreation system by the Citizens Committee for Michigan State Parks and make suggestions to ensure adequate future funding for Michigan's premier state park system, state park officials announced today.

Postage paid, self-addressed postcards will be available in all state parks with campgrounds and in four day-use locations providing information about the fee increase proposal and facts about the system's financial challenge starting this weekend.

"The Citizens Committee for State Parks wanted to hear directly from our visitors, so we are accommodating their request," Parks and Recreation Division Chief Ron Olson said. "It's important that visitors have an opportunity to help solve some of the funding issues affecting our system."

The two-sided postcards provide information about the proposed fee increases being considered Sept. 8 by the Natural Resources Commission to be acted upon by DNR Director Rebecca Humphries. The card also includes information about how Michigan's state park system stacks up to systems in other states. The same information will be available on the DNR Web site at www.michigan.gov/dnr under the Recreation and Camping section. Also, feedback will be taken by e-mail at DNR-RecreationFeedback@michigan.gov .

The Citizens Committee for Michigan State Parks and the Parks and Recreation Division are recommending fee increases, including a $4 per night increase at 35 high-demand campgrounds and fee increases related to the Central Reservation System. The fees are expected to generate $4.5 million in revenue to aid the DNR in maintaining and operating state parks until a long-term financial plan is put in place to address state park funding. State parks are funded almost exclusively by user fees, including motor vehicle passes and camping fees, and an endowment from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund. Michigan is tied for last in the nation in terms of general tax support for state parks.

Director Humphries is expected to decide on the proposal at the NRC's regular meeting Sept. 8 at Michigan Technological University in Houghton.

The Citizens Committee for Michigan State Parks was established by law in 2004 and met for the first time in March 2005. The 17-voting and four-nonvoting members of this committee were appointed by Humphries and charged with ensuring citizen input into operations and funding of state parks and recreation areas.
The DNR is committed to the conservation, management, protection, use and enjoyment of the state's natural resourcesor current and future generations.


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