The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced reopening dates for camping, harbors, and other outdoor areas. Camping at state forest campgrounds and overnight stays in DNR-managed harbors resume Wednesday, June 10. State parks have remained open for public use during the COVID-19 pandemic, but campgrounds, overnight lodging facilities, and shelters have been closed since March 23 in compliance with Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order.
Ron Olson is the director of the Parks and Recreation Division of the DNR and he joined Stateside for a conversation Friday.. He says even though there hasn’t been any camping, the number of people coming to state parks for day visits has exceeded what’s normal for this time of year.
He says the DNR encouraged people to push their camping plans further back in the year, but there were still plenty of canceled reservations.
“Camping is a very important part of funding the state park system. So we have lost revenue, and we’re hoping that people will choose to come back and go camping later and things like that, but it is challenging, no doubt.”
Social distancing rules are still in effect, so Olson says it’s best to try and park further away from other cars, and if you’re headed to the beach, to put at least six feet of distance between your towel and those of other beachgoers.
“Bring your masks and bring your personal sanitizers, and things like that. Right now, there is not running water at the parks. The bathroom is a portable toilet, we cannot guarantee there will be sanitizers in there.”
The DNR reduced amenities at many state parks beginning March 27 in order to encourage social distancing practices among park visitors. Olson says they’ve tried to keep hand sanitizer in the restrooms, but they’ve had trouble with people stealing it.
To hear the full Stateside interview, please listen to the audio file at the top of this page.