Michigan DNR updates opening dates and modifications for public outdoor recreation sites | Coronavirus

To help slow the spread of the coronavirus and carry out Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s extended “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order through May 15, the Department of Natural Resources has updated expected opening dates and available amenities at many of its public outdoor recreation sites and facilities.

Most state parks and recreation areas and state-managed trails and boating access sites remain open to provide local opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, but social distancing is key. Federal and state health officials consistently have said that keeping at least 6 feet away from those outside your household is vital to containing the virus spread.

Proposed facility reopening dates are based on the updated stay-at-home executive order that ends May 15 and are staggered to allow for proper preparation. Details on closures and changes in services, as well as frequently asked questions, are available on the DNR’s COVID-19 response webpage at Michigan.gov/DNR.

The changes and planned public opening dates include the following, but further changes to the EO could affect these plans:

Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division, said he and his staff are eager to welcome back campers and visitors, but proper safety precautions and maintenance work must happen first.

“We know millions of residents are eager to return to state parks and recreation areas, and we will be here to serve them and make their visits as enjoyable as possible, but we have to open the right way and be certain that facilities and sites are clean, safe and ready to accommodate everyone,” Olson said.

PREP TIME NEEDED TO GET FACILITIES READY

To prepare state-managed parks, trails and boating facilities, many important tasks must be completed once nonessential work is permitted. The department anticipates staff can start work May 15 once the stay-at-home order is lifted; prep work is expected to take roughly five weeks. Duties include:

  • Acquiring drinking water permits from county health departments.
  • Opening bathrooms.
  • Hiring and training seasonal staff.
  • Ensuring sanitation systems are running efficiently.
  • Making progress on infrastructure needs.
  • Other operational duties.

CAMPING, OVERNIGHT LODGING AND SHELTERS SET TO OPEN JUNE 22

Camping and overnight lodging reservations for dates between May 15 and June 21 have been canceled, but the following reimbursement options are available:

  • Request to change reservation dates to later in the season (pending availability within the reservation booking window) and earn a free night for that time period. No reservation fees or cancellation/modification fees will be charged. Reservation holders who want this option must contact the call center at 800-447-2757 by May 15 at 8 p.m.
  • Choose a full refund to automatically be applied to original payment method, including the reservation fee. Reservation holders DO NOT need to take any action; all remaining reservations will automatically be canceled after May 15, and an email will be sent when the refund is completed. No cancellation/modification fees will be charged.

In addition, reservation holders whose camping reservations for stays between March 23 and May 15 were canceled due to COVID-19 are eligible