Tuesday, July 5, 2011

State Park "Recreation Passport" System Already a Success

alt text
"P" on license plate tabs

from various sources

The Michigan State Park Recreation Passport launched last October is already proving itself a winner. In the nine months the program has been in place, $10.9 million dollars has come in, which already surpasses the yearly income from the old park sticker and daily pass system. Statewide, about 23% of vehicle registrants are choosing to buy the passport.

Despite reports last year that it would be completely optional, that is proving to be not exactly true. You may opt to buy the passport with your vehicle license tabs. This is certainly the easiest way. However, you will need to pay the $10 to enjoy the state parks. Early reports stated that there would be no checking of stickers, and that the honor system would simply assume that users of the parks would pay. The reality is that those who enter state parks without the sticker will be asked to purchase the passport. Rangers scout parking areas to check for cars without the appropriate "P" on the renewal sticker.

The fact that stickers are not being checked at the gates makes for quick entry to the parks. Recreationists like this speedy service- some feared long lines as rangers hunted for the small "P." In fact, if there is no one at the gate, just drive in, a ranger will locate you later. The parks report that this is very efficient, and saves even more money.

Not only is the passport bringing in more revenue, it costs less to maintain than the old system. There is no yearly state park sticker production cost because the "proof of purchase" is absorbed into the printing of the vehicle registration tabs. The words "Recreation Passport" also appear on the paper proof of registration that is issued with the sticker.

Supposedly, the Michigan Recreation Passport will get you discounts at participating businesses. As of this time, no listing of these businesses is available, but an application for merchants to join can be found at the DNR web site.

Where is the money going to be used? The income will benefit state parks first, but once a threshold is met then other state recreation lands will benefit as well. Here's the official word from the Michigan DNR:
• The first $10.7 million received each fiscal year will be deposited in the restricted State Park Improvement Fund.
• The next $1,030,000 received each fiscal year will be deposited in the restricted Waterways Fund.
• Up to $1 million per fiscal year will be reserved for necessary expenses incurred by the Secretary of State in administration and implementation of the passport fee.
• The balance will be deposited as described below.
        > 50 percent in the restricted State Park Improvement Fund for capital improvements at state parks, including recreation areas.
        > 30 percent in the restricted State Park Improvement Fund for operations and maintenance at state parks, including recreation areas.
        > 10 percent in the new Local Public Recreation Facilities Fund for development of public recreation facilities for local units of government.
        > 7 percent in the Forest Recreation Account for the operation and maintenance of---and capital improvements to---the state forest system of forest campgrounds, access sites, and non-motorized pathways and trails, including equestrian trails.
        > 2.75 percent in the restricted State Park Improvement Fund for operations, maintenance and capital improvements of state park cultural and historic resources.
        > 0.25 percent in the restricted State Park Improvement Fund to promote, in concert with other state agencies, the use of state parks, state–operated public boating access sites, state forest campgrounds and state forest non–motorized trails and pathways; and to promote the use of the Internet for state park camping reservations and for payment of the Recreation Passport fee in conjunction with motor vehicle registration.
So far, everything about the new funding system for Michigan state lands seems to be a winner.

See Michigan's Recreation Passport
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

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