Michigan touting new Recreation Passport via whirlwind RV tour

The State of Michigan is betting the future of its state parks on the willingness of its residents to fork out $10 a year. The $10 will buy each resident a Recreation Passport, and the program is Michigan's solution for funding our favorite recreation destinations. It begins October 1, 2010.

Instead of spending $24 for an annual motor vehicle permit or boating access permit, Michigan residents will now be asked to support the Recreation Passport with an optional $10 fee when renewing their vehicle registration with the Secretary of State. The license plate renewal sticker received from the Secretary of State will have a designation that indicates the Recreation Passport payment. If an individual purchases their Recreation Passport fee at the park, the park will provide an identifying sticker. 

The current system brings in $11 million. But if just 25 percent of residents pay the $10 Recreation Passport, $18 million is generated. If there's 50 percent participation, $36 million is generated; $55 million for 75 percent participation and $72 million if every resident buys the Recreation Passport.

But, for the plan to work, people have to choose to pay the tax. So the state is about to embark on a whirlwind tour - in an RV no less - to convince its residents the $10 is money well spent.

This will not be an easy thing to do. Not the RV tour, that's easy. But convincing people to dig deeper into their wallets will be a tough sell. Look no further than the recent August elections. How many local millages were successful? Not many.

Regardless, the state can't afford for the Recreation Passport to fail. That's why the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) is launching the "Road to Recreation" RV tour, a three-month tour of Michigan's festivals, concerts and best destinations.

At the heart of the tour is a 32-foot recreational vehicle completely wrapped with inspiring images of wildlife, beaches, outdoor activities and smiling faces, thanks to the financial support of Merrell, a Michigan-based shoe and apparel company, and General RV, a Michigan-based dealer of recreational vehicles. The RV will make stops along the tour to share information about the $10 Recreation Passport, which - starting Oct. 1 - will replace the current state park sticker and provide easy access into all Michigan state parks, recreation areas and boat launches. The Recreation Passport will also preserve state forest campgrounds and trails, historic and cultural sites in state parks and local parks, too.

Anyone meeting the RV can try their hand at bean bag toss and ladder golf, as well as enter to win one of three prime camping sites being given away for the July 4, 2011, weekend: Ludington State Park, Tahquamenon Falls State Park or P.H. Hoeft State Park. Plus, freebies from Merrell and General RV will be given to anyone who stops by.

"We proudly support the Road to Recreation tour as it strongly ties back to our heritage of making public lands more accessible and getting more people outside," said Amy Roder, marketing specialist at Merrell. "We are dedicated to working with our very own state parks and forest trails to educate people on the best ways to get outside and have fun."

Husband-and-wife team of 43 years, Eliot and Naomi Haycock - residents of Chassell in the Upper Peninsula - happily volunteered to drive the RV. A retired State of Michigan employee, Eliot and his enthusiastic wife, Naomi, said they are up for the adventure. Both are longtime park enthusiasts, having camped in many state and national parks over the last 30 years.

"I think it's been 30 years," said Eliot. "We've been (camping) so long, we've kind of lost track." The two have been campground hosts for the past five years at Fort Wilkins State Park in the Keweenaw Peninsula.

"We love Michigan and, as campground hosts, have been able to help share our love for camping" said Eliot. "We love to travel and we love Michigan state parks, and we thought this would be fun to try something different for the summer."

The Haycocks are responsible for getting the RV to each event during the three-month tour. Once on site, it will be staffed by local DNRE employees who will be on hand to explain the Recreation Passport and how it will benefit Michigan in many different ways.

The vehicle has been generously provided by General RV. "This is a great new way to support our state's most important natural resource - our park and forest land," said Dennis Anderson, spokesman for General RV. "The Michigan state parks are a big part of why so many people vacation in Michigan and it is important we adequately fund them for the future of our state."

Starting Oct. 1, the $10 Recreation Passport replaces the state park sticker for access into all state parks, recreation areas and boat launches. To get the Recreation Passport, Michigan residents can check "YES" on their license plate renewal forms. The Recreation Passport also helps preserve forest campgrounds and trails, historic and cultural sites in state parks, and local parks.

To find out where the Road to Recreation tour is headed, visit the DNRE Facebook page at www.facebook.com/midnr. For more information about the Recreation Passport, visit www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport .

Early Tour Highlights
Oreo Park Tour - White Lake, Holly and Lake Orion
Sept. 2
Nothing says camping like s'mores, but with Oreos new fudge crème cookies, everyone will want s'moreos! The RV tour will make three stops - Highland and Seven Lakes state parks and Bald Mountain Recreation Area - where people who meet the RV will get free samples of the new Oreo Fudge Crèmes (compliments of Nabisco), play fun games and get information about the Recreation Passport.
US-23 Heritage Route Tour
Sept. 3-6
Labor Day weekend will take the tour along Michigan's sunrise side, on the US-23 Huron Shores Heritage Route. This 200-mile tour along the Sunrise Coast, which boasts some of the most significant recreational, ecological, historical and cultural sites in Michigan, is being organized in conjunction with the Huron Shores Heritage Route and Sunrise Coalition. Day one kicks off in Au Gres State Dock, then continues to East Tawas Harbor Park. Day two includes stops at the Harrisville Arts and Crafts Show and the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary's Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center. Closing out the tour will be two stops on day three along the Huron Sunrise Trail bike path north of Rogers City and at the Cheboygan Chamber of Commerce. The Sunrise Coast tour will occur in conjunction with the launch of the new coastal tourism website www.us23heritageroute.org.
Boating and Outdoor Recreation Festival - Mt. Clemens
Sept. 22-26
Join the tour during the five days of the all-new Metro Beach Boat Show in Mt. Clemens featuring an in-water boat show and other exhibits for every outdoor enthusiast, plus live music, fine art, Taste Fest and family fun for all.

Other Events & Dates
Event                                           Date
Merrell HQ                                     25-Aug
28th Street Metro Cruise                 27-Aug
28th Street Metro Cruise                 28-Aug
Kalamazoo Event                            29-Aug
Driving to Pinckney / Jackson Event   01-Sep
Oreo Park Tour (Highland, Seven Lakes, Bald Mountain)
Sunrise Tour                                   03-Sep
Sunrise Tour                                   04-Sep
Sunrise Tour                                   05-Sep
Labor Day Bridge Run                       06-Sep
Gaylord event                                 09-Sep
Traverse City Day use                       10-Sep
Cadillac event                                  11-Sep
Ludington Event                              12-Sep
Clare Welcome Center                      15-Sep
Bay City Event - Birch Run                 16-Sep
Oktoberfest                                    17-Sep
Oktoberfest                                    18-Sep
Renaissance Festival                         19-Sep
Boating & Outdoor Rec Fest              22-Sep
Boating & Outdoor Rec Fest              23-Sep
Boating & Outdoor Rec Fest              24-Sep
Boating & Outdoor Rec Fest              25-Sep
Boating & Outdoor Rec Fest              26-Sep
Capital Complex                               29-Sep
Capital Complex                               30-Sep
Lansing Secretary of State Office       01-Oct
MSU Home Game                             02-Oct
Grand Rapids event                          03-Oct
Grand Rapids event                          06-Oct
Grand Rapids event                          07-Oct
Lansing Event                                  08-Oct
Michigan vs Michigan State Football     09-Oct
Ann Arbor event                              10-Oct
Freepress/Flagstar Bank Marathon       17-Oct

Author Avatar

My family (wife and three kids, sometimes the dog) and I have been RV campers since 2007. We own a 2000 Trail-Lite B22 Bantam hybrid, our tow vehicle is a 2006 Trailblazer LT EXT (5.3 V8 with 3.73 Rear Axle Ratio), and our setup includes the Equalizer sway controller. Looking to upgrade the camper in the near future, but until then we get out 2-3 times a month in season.