My family and I love the scenery of Michigan and have thoroughly enjoyed visits to Sleeping Bear Dunes, Pictured Rocks and our annual trip to Ludington State Park. We have seen the disrepair of some parks as well, most notably the collapsed roof of the visitor’s center at Ludington we liked to visit. This is not an isolated incident; many parks in Michigan are struggling for funds. The parks currently get around $52.6 million of the $70 million they name as the minimum needed for the repairs and upkeep. Most of their money is made from campers and visitor fees, but with visiting down by 24%, they are feeling the blow.
Despite the deficit, Gov. Granholm does not want to close any of Michigan’s parks, as they are essential to tourism. To close them would give the impression that Michigan was closing down as well. Suggestions for how to fund the parks are mainly along the lines of adding new or higher fees for admission or vehicle registration and requesting state funding.
A different voice in the blend is the Mackinac Center’s own Russ Harding, who suggests better management of the funds the parks already possess rather than finding new sources of revenue. His suggestions include privatizing the law enforcement and custodial duties of the parks, bidding out food and lodging that will generate revenue, and selling the parks that are not essential. Michigan’s natural beauty is a great asset, but we may need new policies to maintain it.