comes back to haunt Michigan campers. It looked good on paper: A constitutional amendment to allow money from oil and gas mining on state-owned lands to continue to be collected in state funds for land protection and creation and maintenance of parks, nature areas, and public recreation facilities; and to describe how money in those state funds can be spent.
The constitutional amendment would:
• Allow the State Parks Endowment Fund to continue receiving money from sales of oil and gas from state-owned lands to improve, maintain and purchase land for State parks, and for Fund administration, until its balance reaches $800,000,000. • Require subsequent oil and gas revenue from state-owned lands to go into the Natural Resources Trust Fund. • Require at least 20% of Endowment Fund annual spending go toward State park improvement. • Require at least 25% of Trust Fund annual spending go toward parks and public recreation areas and at least 25% toward land conservation.
It passed 4,154,745 to 774,509.
Now the proposal, which had universal appeal as a way to improve our outdoor experience, is being used as justification for raising campground fees across Michigan. According to the DNR website the money from oil and gas leases is drying up, campground use is on the rise, and more money is needed to maintain campsites. A rustic campsite in the Pigeon River State Forest now costs $20 per night up from $15 per night, a 33% increase. This at a time when families are struggling with increased inflation.
I visited two of the rustic campgrounds last Friday, Pickerel Lake and Pigeon Bridge State Forest Campground. It was a beautiful day in June. There was one camper at Pickerel Lake and no campers at Pigeon Bridge. Doing the math, five days of camping plus the recreation pass needed to drive into a campground costs $112.00. If you buy the recreation pass when you arrive it is $117.00. Seems high for a tiny plot of land and use of an outhouse. What maintenance? True, Pickerel Lake has giant boulders brought in from somewhere because they look cool (watch your bumpers backing in) and a lake with no beach, but it is peaceful. I just wonder how many Michigan families are going to look at their budget and decide to stay home. Today, 1.4 million Michiganders fall below the poverty level, but more importantly, the United Way’s ALICE Report shows that 43% or 4.3 million of working Michigan households struggle to afford the necessities like housing, childcare, food, technology, health care and transportation. As far as I can tell the proposal allowed for more boulders added to the campgrounds, just not people.
Next post: Jake gets the 1961 Apache Chief camper.