Camping Fees Proposed to Increase for the 2015 Camping Season

The Parks and Recreation Division of the Michigan DNR has proposed adjustments to the State Park camping fees to take effect for the 2015 camping season.The Recreational Passport (which took the place of the motor vehicle permit) will remain $11 annually and is required for all vehicles entering State Parks, State Recreation Areas, State Forest Campgrounds, State Forest trailhead parking lots, and most state-owned boating access sites.

The last increase in State Park camping fees occurred in 2006 and 2008, while State Forest campgrounds were lowered slightly in 2012.  At that time, rates increased $4 for high occupancy parks and ($2-3) for lower occupancy parks. For the current proposal, the fees are reviewed on a market based approach and look to combine the Detroit Consumer Price Index (CPI) with occupancy to establish reasonable rate increases.

Proposed State Park Camping Fee Adjustments (see DNR memo linked here):

(In relation to an occupancy rate of 82% for the month of July)

  1. Greater than 82% occupancy would increase by $4 per camp night
  2. Those at or slightly below an 82% occupancy rate would be increased by $2 per camp night
  3. Those with significantly less than 82% occupancy, or rustic sites would see an increase of $1 per camp night
  4. Cabins and lodges would see an adjusted 8% increase

Based on occupancy rates, higher percentage increase would be applied to the parks with the highest demand. Sites with less occupancy are more likely to see a decline in use if fee increases are too significant so these sites will see a smaller fee increase. It is also important to note the prices for State Park campgrounds should be competitive with private campgrounds to avoid unfair competition.

Total operation needs are estimated to be $4,527,000 for the 2015 fiscal year. The camping fee increase is estimated to raise $1,800,000 of the total operational costs.

According to the DNR, increasing the rates will allow the department to meet the core responsibilities of the State Parks:

  • Ensure rates are keeping in pace with the cost of living
  • Utilize revenues to relieve Park Endowment funds set aside for capital improvements
  • Maintain high customer satisfaction and expectations
  • Address expansion of the statewide park system

The Funding proposal for the 2015 fiscal year was reviewed at the Michigan State Parks Advisory Committee’s Sustainable Funding Subcommittee on July 24th, 20013.  It is eligible for approval by the DNR Director on December 12th, 2013. The revised camping fee structure would then go into effect starting with the 2015 camping season.

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