The new system to help fund Michigan state parks was a success in its first year.
Before the "Recreation Passport" system was put in place, park visitors had to buy annual or daily window stickers.
Now, people can get access to the parks by paying an extra $10 when registering their motor vehicle at the Michigan Secretary of State (window stickers and daily passes are still an option if you didn't pay extra at the Secretary of State).
The $10 annual fee is a lot less than the $24 people used to pay for an annual window sticker, but because more people participated, more money was raised.
From the MDNR:
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.
Those who paid extra for access to Michigan's state parks have a tiny "P" printed on their license plate renewal sticker (the rectangular sticker on the upper-right part of the Michigan license plate).
Michigan DNR spokesperson Mary Dettloff says park rangers have gotten really good at spotting that tiny "P" from a distance.
For 2011, that little "P" signifies $6 million in extra revenue for the park system.
When lawmakers set up the new program, they anticipated the extra revenue. The $6 million will be be broken up according to a formula in the law:
- 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
The MDNR recently announced the recipients for local park grants. The local grants range from a minimum of $7,500 to a maximum of $30,000. MDNR officials say if revenues increase with the new "Recreation Passport" program, the maximum grant amount will increase as well.
24.7 percent participated in the program this year. Next year's goal is 30 percent.