State Parks To Remain Open Despite Social Distancing Concerns
May 8, 2020
By Jessica Mathews/News@whmi.com
Most state parks remain open for local use but campgrounds and other lodging will be re-opening in phases.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources earlier updated expected opening dates and available amenities at many of its public outdoor recreation sites and facilities. Most state parks and recreation areas, state-managed trails and boating access sites remain open to provide local opportunities to enjoy the outdoors but officials stress that social distancing is vital to containing the virus spread. Campgrounds, shelters and other lodging facilities are currently closed through June 22nd.
It was suggested during the Governor’s Monday press conference that there could be increased restrictions for state parks due to concerns about large crowds and a lack of social distancing. Belle Isle in Detroit had to be closed twice Sunday due to too many cars being on the island. At Grand Haven State Park, parking lots were closed due to large crowds. At Thursday’s press conference, the Governor responded to questions about camping and Memorial Day.
Whitmer responded to say state parks have been open for recreation but in terms of camping, that’s what the DNR director has determined makes the most sense in consultation with the state’s chief medical executive.
The MDNR says proposed facility re-opening dates are based on the updated stay-at-home executive order and are staggered to allow for proper preparation. It was set to expire May 15th but has now been extended to May 28th. Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division, said in a press release that he and staff are eager to welcome back campers and visitors, but proper safety precautions and maintenance work must happen first. Details on closures and changes in services are available on the DNR’s COVID-19 response webpage. A link is provided.