By Howard Meyerson
That’s a first for the remote and rustic campgrounds that have always operated on a first-come, first-serve basis.
“It made sense to allow those sites to be reserved,” said Tim Schreiner, manager of Traverse City State Park and the man appointed within the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to usher the state forest campground program into a new era.
“We know the online state park reservation system gets tons of hits as people go through it and determine where to go,” Schreiner said. “It’s going to provide added exposure for the state forest campground program.”
The agency operates 131 rustic campgrounds. Most are small and primitive, offering tent pads, picnic tables, fire-rings, pump-water and pit toilets. They are popular with the get-further-away crowd who prefer a quiet night under the stars to crowded state park campgrounds.
The 18 campgrounds added to the reservation system are both popular and located near a state park, according to Schreiner. That proximity is crucial, he said, because state park staffers will be handling reserved-site management.
The DNR’s state forest campground program was shifted to the Michigan State Parks Division earlier this year. DNR Director Rodney Stokes moved it out of the agency’s forest management division where it was languishing. The change was to streamline the forest division so it could focus on trees and timber.
State Park chief Ron Olsen said he intends to reposition the rustic campgrounds and increase revenues from them by improving management and making them more prominent. Reservations can be made online at midnrreservations.com. The cost is $8.
A state recreation passport also is required to camp at state forest campgrounds. That requirement was approved by Stokes in March.
Passports cost $10. They can be purchased when annual license plate renewals occur. Campers also can order them at state forest campgrounds. The payment envelope for camping fees has been redesigned with a tear-off segment as a temporary receipt, according to DNR staffers.
“If people already have a passport, they won’t need to worry about it,” said Brenda Curtis, the DNR state forest campground program manager.
“If they purchase one at the campground, it will be mailed to them. They can put that tear-off on their dashboard.”
Reservable state forest campgrounds and cabins:
Baxter Bridge, Wexford County
Carrieville, Leverentz Lake, and Silver Creek, Lake County
Houghton Lake, Roscommon County
Lake Margrethe, Crawford County
Van Etten Lake, Iosco County
Black Lake, Cheboygan County
Detour, Chippewa County
Emily Lake, Houghton County
Glidden Lake, Iron County
Portage Bay, Delta County
Presque Isle Cabins, Marquette County
Lake Dubonnet, Grand Traverse County
Elk Hill Equestrian, Big Bear Lake and Big Bear Point, Otsego County
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