Casperson: U.P. forest campgrounds to remain open

LANSING―Twenty-three state forest campgrounds, including many in the Upper Peninsula, that were slated for closure will remain open through the end of the fiscal year under legislation recently signed into law.

State Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, worked to procure the necessary funding with Gov. Snyder and colleagues, Sens. Howard Walker, R-Traverse City, and John Moolenaar, R-Midland. Casperson has also sponsored Senate Bill 332, which would allow for the transfer of ownership of the campgrounds to local units of government who want to own them on a long-term basis.

“The important thing is U.P. forest campgrounds will remain open,” said Casperson. “I thank Gov. Snyder for his commitment to fund these campgrounds while we pursue other long-term solutions. This could include transferring the sites to local units of government who want to own and operate them. We were reminded this week that tourism is a massive part of Michigan’s economy, so it cannot be overemphasized how important it is to keep our campgrounds open.”

According to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Michigan saw the largest one-year increase in tourism spending in state history. Tourism by out-of-state visitors was greater than spending by Michigan residents for the first time ever.

Gov. Snyder thanked the senators for their work.

“These lawmakers have been diligent advocates for their districts and for Michigan tourism dollars in their work to keep these campgrounds open,” Snyder said. “It was a pleasure working with them to make this happen.”

Sen. Walker thanked the administration and the state Department of Natural Resources for working to ensure the campgrounds stay open.

“I am thankful for the cooperation of the governor and the department in securing funding,” Walker said. “For the sake of our residents and the millions of visitors who enjoy the natural wonders Michigan’s campgrounds provide, it was critical that this money was safeguarded.”

Sen. Moolenaar also expressed his appreciation.

“These are the gems of the region and we are glad the department has realized their importance for northern Michigan’s commerce and tourism,” said Moolenaar.

The campgrounds will remain open until other options can be determined.