Plan to Pay a Little Extra

Photography by Johnny Quirin
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Grand Haven Beach

Visitors to Michigan state PARKS, recreation areas and state-operated boating access sites are paying a bit more this summer for access if they don’t have the required state recreation passport on their license plates. A new $5 convenience fee went into effect at the start of 2018, in addition to the required $11 annual passport ($6 for motorcycles) that allows entry to all of those facilities.

The state’s Natural Resources Commission approved the “convenience” fee in October 2017. State officials said it will help cover the additional time and staff costs involved with providing visitors with passports on-site, rather than through the Secretary of State office or when drivers renew their license plates each year.

A new $5 convenience fee went into effect at the start of 2018, in addition to the
required $11 annual passport ($6 for motorcycles) that allows entry to all of those facilities.

State park officials explained the authority to charge the fee was authorized in the original 2010 legislation that created the passport but implementation was delayed, understanding that some people might choose to hold off on buying a passport or might not know about it. However, on-site sales have steadily increased from 3.4 percent to 4.8 percent annually, costing the state park system more to fulfill the requests on-site.

Michigan DNR Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson said buying the passport when license plates are renewed saves time and money; it also means buyers get a full 12 months of access to parks, campsites, trails and launch sites.

Grand Haven State Park

Other changes that went into effect Jan. 1 were increases in the regular passport fee for motorcycles, from $5 to $6, and from $16 to $17 for commercial vehicles. Recreational passport sales and camping fees are the primary revenue sources for Michigan’s state park system. Olson said only Belle Isle State Park is exempt from the convenience fee this year because it was designated as a state park only recently, in 2014. The fee goes into effect at Belle Isle in 2019.

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