Bill clarifies Michigan Receational Passport coverage

A bill recently introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives would expand the stated uses for state Recreation Passports, clarifying that holders can use the permits to access designated state forest campgrounds and trailheads along with state parks and boat launches.

The bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Roger Victory, R-Hudsonville, on Thursday, and is currently being considered by the House Committee on Natural Resources, according to information available on the Michigan Legislature’s website.

As of press time, Rep. Victory had not responded to requests for comment on the bill.

The bill would amend the language of the 2005 Natural resources and Environmental Protection Act, which sets the rules for how recreation passports work.

Recreation passports cost $11 if purchased at the time a Michigan resident renews his or her license, and are indicated by a small “P” on the person’s license plate sticker. They cost $16 if purchased at any other time.

The money raised from obtaining recreation passports goes toward a grant fund, which provides local governments with money to work on recreation projects.

According to the current language of that act:

“Payment of the recreation passport fee authorizes entry into all state parks and recreation areas and designated state-operated public boating access sites until expiration of the motor vehicle registration.”

But, while that language allows access into boating sites and state parks such as Petoskey State Park, it doesn’t specifically mention trailheads or state forest campgrounds.

Trailheads, according to the law, are “parking lots and any associated facilities” that provide access to state owned biking or hiking trails.

State forest campgrounds are camping areas that are designed to be more secluded and rustic than the camping areas in state parks. Emmet County doesn’t have any, but several exist in nearby counties such as Otsego and Cheboygan.

Victory’s bill would officially add those trailheads and campgrounds to the law.

The DNR website already notes that a recreation passport allows individuals to park at such campgrounds, even though they’re not mentioned under the passport section of the law.

Nightly fees at those sites usually run around $15, according to a spreadsheet available on the Department of Natural Resource’s website.

Ed Golder, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said the department would be reviewing the bill and providing feedback to the legislature, but has not yet had time to do so.