Millions of Dollars Raised For Michigan State Parks

The Department of Natural Resources today announced that the participation goal for the first year of the Recreation Passport was met and exceeded by Michigan citizens. The Recreation Passport, an optional $10 fee that can be paid at the time of motor vehicle renewal, is the new funding model for Michigan state parks and state forest recreation programs.

In 2011, the program's first year, the DNR set a goal of 24.3 percent participation by Michigan motorists. Final tallies for the first year show that the goal was met and exceeded, with 24.7 percent of Michigan motorists checking "Yes" to support the Recreation Passport when renewing their motor vehicle registration. In total, the revenue generated by the sale of the Recreation Passport was $18,816,500.

"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."

Stokes said the DNR has set a participation rate goal of 30 percent for 2012. The price for the Recreation Passport in 2012 remains unchanged at $10.

"We are very pleased to partner with the DNR in promoting our state parks and helping to preserve them for future generations," said Johnson, who kayaks, sails and camps with her family at state parks across Michigan. "We have such an exceptional park system that truly contributes to our quality of life."

The funds raised in the first year of sales for the Recreation Passport are split according to a formula in the law that created the program. The Secretary of State's Office is reimbursed $1 million for administrative costs, and the state parks operational budget ($10.7 million) and the Michigan Water Ways budget ($1.03 million) each get an amount equivalent to the revenue that the former Motor Vehicle Permit (window sticker) system brought in averaged over the last three years. After that revenue is deducted, the remaining revenue for 2011 was divided as follows:

State Parks - Capital Outlay (50 percent): $3,043,250
State Parks - Maintenance (30 percent): $1,825,950
Local Park Grants (10 percent): $608,650
State Forest Recreation (7 percent): $426,055
Cultural/Historical Facilities in State Parks (2.75 percent): $167,379
Marketing (0.25 percent): $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."

Stokes added another good reason to support the Recreation Passport is the Passport Perks program, a discount program supported by hundreds of Michigan businesses around the state that offer discounts for persons who purchased a Recreation Passport. For more information on the program, including a list of participating businesses or how to become a Passport Perks partner, go to

"The participation rate for the first year is a significant step forward and we hope that more Michigan residents will support the passport program and take advantage of the more than 700 Michigan businesses that offer discounts through the Recreation Passport Perks Program," said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR's Parks and Recreation Division.

For more information on the Recreation Passport, including Frequently Asked Questions, go to

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  • by F.D. Cox Location: Lansing MI on Oct 21, 2011 at 06:34 AM
    I got a passport this year because of Odwalla's Annual Tree Vote. I went overnight camping for the first time in my 59 years and had a ball. The first time camper program where Gander Mountain loans you everything you need for 2 nights and the helpful volunteer host campers and park staff made it a really safe and fun experience. It was the best $30.00 (the first time camper program is $20.00 for 2 nights) I spent this year for a vacation!
  • by DumAsMe Location: Lansing on Oct 20, 2011 at 03:58 PM
    I see Lansing businesses are not really behind this program. Only P&S Shoe Repair and Allied Cash Advance offer any discounts. However, I still support our state parks even if I seldom go to any. Let's hope they use the money wisely and improve the maintenance of these parks.
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