Michigan Recreation 101 Receives National Recognition

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Parks and Recreation Division has been honored by the National Association of State Park Directors.

The association recently gave its 2012 President’s Award to the agency in recognition of its Recreation 101 program—a popular and growing series of instructional events and workshops that encourage residents and visitors to get out, learn new recreation skills, and enjoy the outdoors.

The award honors statewide organizations that have made an extraordinary contribution to the goals of a state park system.

According to DNR Parks and Recreation Division Chief Ron Olson, the Recreation 101 program, which is currently in its second year, has proved to be an excellent example of a successful collaboration between many sectors of the recreation community.

“Recreation 101 has grown from 87 events in 2011 to more than 300 introductory programs in 2012, offering almost everything from archery to windsurfing, that have led people into our parks and recreation areas, and also into a healthy, more active lifestyle,” Olson said.

He added that the program has reached thousands of people in the last two years and has involved a successful partnership between volunteer instructors and nearly 100 Michigan outdoor recreation businesses.

The award was presented during the National Association of State Park Directors’ annual conference that took place September 4-7 in Lexington, Kentucky.


Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations.

Website: michigan.gov/dnr

Recreation 101

Michigan is rolling out the “green” carpet to welcome everyone to the woods and waters! Recreation 101, or “Rec 101,” is a series of intro-to format classes taught by DNR staff or expert volunteers from organizations, guide services, outfitters, and more.

These volunteers offer their time and knowledge at no charge to the DNR or the participants. The program began with state parks in 2011, and is offered statewide in 2012 in Michigan State Parks as well as community recreation agencies through collaboration with the Michigan Recreation and Park Association.

Website: michigan.gov/dnr

Recreation Passport

The Recreation Passport is an easy, affordable way for residents to enjoy and support outdoor recreation opportunities in Michigan.

By checking “YES” for the $10 Recreation Passport ($5 for motorcycles) when renewing a license plate, Michigan motorists get access to state parks, recreation areas, state forest campgrounds, nonmotorized state trailhead parking, and state boat launches.

In addition, Recreation Passport holders can enjoy real savings at businesses and retailers that participate in the Passport Perks discount program.

The Recreation Passport is valid until the next license plate renewal date.

Nonresidents can purchase the Recreation Passport ($29 annual; $8 daily) at any state park or recreation area or through the Michigan e-Store.

Website: michigan.gov/dnr

Worth Pondering…

Another thing I like to do is sit back and take in nature. To look at the birds, listen to their singing, go hiking, camping and jogging and running, walking along the beach, playing games and sometimes being alone with the great outdoors. It’s very special to me.
—Larry Wilcox

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Pure Michigan Caramel Apple: Official Ice Cream for Michigan State Parks

Kids let their taste buds do the judging

Judges taste-test flavors of ice cream at Hudsonville Ice Cream. (Source: hollandsentinel.com)

Naming the official Pure Michigan ice cream flavor of Michigan state parks? Tasty work if you can get it, and the 2012 Outstanding Outdoor Kids did just that!

Selected by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), this year’s winners—Lexi Loehfelm, 11, of Ada; Noah Ekdom, 12, of Roscommon; and Jimmy McGrath, 15, of Carleton—let their taste buds do the judging, when they, along with Meijer Corporate Research Chef Ray Sierengowski, picked the official Pure Michigan ice cream flavor of Michigan state parks: Pure Michigan Caramel Apple.

Representatives from the DNR, Hudsonville Ice Cream, Pure Michigan, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), and Meijer gathered with friends and family of the judges for the event, which took place at the Livonia Meijer store on Middlebelt Road.

While the judges deliberated over the winning flavor, guests took in live Dixieland music, enjoyed free samples of Hudsonville ice cream from the mobile Hudsonville café, and learned about Michigan’s many outdoor recreation options.

Official ice cream: 'Pure Michigan Caramel Apple' (Source: wnem.com)

The DNR joined with Hudsonville Ice Cream and Pure Michigan to launch the “Create a Flavor” contest in January, and interest was immediate. More than 3,000 flavor suggestions were submitted, ranging from Tahquamenon Falls Root Beer Sundae to Hex Hatch Jubilee, each evoking the sights, sounds, and nostalgia of getting away from it all in Michigan’s great outdoors.

The entries were narrowed down to a field of four finalists:

  • Michigan Chocolate Covered Cherries, submitted by Heather Klaver of Grand Rapids
  • Pure Michigan Jubilee, submitted by Gary Kesler of Grandville
  • Shiver MI Timbers, submitted by Carla Reczek of Oak Park
  • Pure Michigan Caramel Apple, submitted by Dawn Dummer of Houghton Lake

In the end, the judges decided that Pure Michigan Caramel Apple was the favorite!

For submitting the winning flavor combination, Houghton Lake’s Dummer has earned sweet bragging rights, along with free Hudsonville ice cream for a year, a one-week stay in a Michigan state park or harbor of her choice, a $1,000 Meijer gift card, and Pure Michigan merchandise.

“I’ve never entered a contest before other than bingo, but I had to do this one! It’s about Michigan and I love Michigan—it’s my home state and I’m proud of it,” said an excited Dummer. “I’m just beside myself right now!”

“This contest has been an exciting partnership with Hudsonville and Pure Michigan, and a creative way to get people thinking about recreation-based tourism,” said DNR Director Rodney Stokes. “Just about everyone has favorite memories of time spent at our state parks. Now they can enjoy an ice cream that sparks those same good feelings and memories.”

Attendees of the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism, March 25-27, will enjoy Pure Michigan Caramel Apple at the conference’s Stars Dinner.

Hudsonville Director of Sales and Marketing Bruce Kratt said the “Create a Flavor” contest marked the start of a campaign that will run throughout the summer with a statewide RV ice cream tour to help promote Recreation 101, the DNR’s popular outreach/education program at Michigan state parks. Meijer will serve as the official retail partner in this campaign, set to begin in early May.

“We will distribute samples of the winning flavor—the official ice cream of Michigan state parks and Pure Michigan—to Meijer and other retail outlets and ice cream parlors throughout Michigan and the Midwest, as well as at stops along our summer ice cream tour,” he explained. “What better way to welcome summer in Michigan!”

Meijer Corporate Research Chef Ray Sierengowski said he was excited to join the three Outstanding Outdoor Kids on the ice cream judging panel.

Dawn Dummer of Houghton Lake (center) is the first place winner in the Pure Michigan “Create a Flavor” ice cream contest. Standing with her are judges (from left) Jimmy McGrath, 15, of Carleton; Noah Ekdom, 12, of Roscommon; and Lexi Loehfelm, 11, of Ada, along with Meijer Corporate Research Chef Ray Sierengowski. (Source: michiganadvantage.org)

“I had so much fun partnering with Hudsonville Ice Cream and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources on this creative event that helps promote our fantastic state,” Sierengowski said. “And what better way to celebrate than with ice cream.”

A key goal of this campaign is to build awareness of the DNR’s Recreation 101 program and Recreation Passport.

“Rec 101″ is a series of free, intro-to programs with all the gear and expert instruction included. The RV ice cream tour will also highlight the Recreation Passport—Michigan residents’ $10 ticket to Michigan state parks, recreation areas and boat launches.

The Recreation Passport—which also supports state forest campgrounds, trails, and historic treasures and provides grants to neighborhood parks—can be purchased by Michigan residents at a Secretary of State venue when renewing a vehicle registration. By purchasing the Passport through the Secretary of State, residents can also take advantage of the Passport Perks program that offers discounts at hundreds of local businesses throughout the state.

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Worth Pondering…

Life is like an ice-cream cone, you have to lick it one day at a time.
—Charles M. Schulz

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Michigan: Recreation Passport a Success

Michigan’s new method of paying for state park operations and maintenance met its fundraising goal for the first year and is proving to be a reliable system, the Associated Press reported Thursday (October 20).

Starting last October, residents were given the option of paying $10 for a “recreation passport” when renewing their vehicle registration. Good for a year, the passport grants access to all 98 state parks and recreation areas, plus boat launches. Under the old system, park visitors were charged $6 per day or $24 for an annual pass.

Revenue from passport sales has totaled nearly $18.9 million, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said. The previous system had averaged $11.7 million annually over the past three years.

Officials said the change was needed because entry and camping fees failed to cover the park network’s costs since it was dropped from the general fund budget—state government’s primary checkbook—in 2004. The money they raised was just enough for basic operations, creating a backlog of repairs and improvements that has reached $340 million.

The DNR said 24.7 percent of the state’s motorists participated in the license check-off plan over the past year, just over the goal of 24.3 percent. Director Rodney Stokes said next year’s goal will be 30 percent.

“We think it has every indication of being a successful and stable source of revenue,” DNR spokeswoman Mary Dettloff said.

Ludington State Park, Michigan. (Credit: MI DNR)

The funds raised in the first year of sales for the Recreation Passport are split according to a formula in the law that created the program. The Secretary of State’s Office is reimbursed $1 million for administrative costs, and the state parks operational budget ($10.7 million) and the Michigan Water Ways budget ($1.03 million) each get an amount equivalent to the revenue that the former Motor Vehicle Permit (window sticker) system brought in averaged over the last three years. After that revenue is deducted, the remaining revenue for 2011 was divided as follows:

  • State Parks – Capital Outlay (50 percent): $3,043,250
  • State Parks – Maintenance (30 percent): $1,825,950
  • Local Park Grants (10 percent): $608,650
  • State Forest Recreation (7 percent): $426,055
  • Cultural/Historical Facilities in State Parks (2.75 percent): $167,379
  • Marketing (0.25 percent): $15,216

“Even if you think you will never go to a state park or enjoy one of our state forest campgrounds or trails, supporting the recreation passport is a good way to support your county, community, or township parks,” Stokes said.

Legislation that created the program allows the DNR to raise the passport’s cost at the rate of inflation, but Dettloff said it would remain at $10 in 2012.

About 22 million people visit Michigan’s state parks every year and pump about $650 million into the economy by spending on food, fuel and other supplies, she said.



Michigan Department of Natural Resources

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Michigan. (Credit: planetware.com)

Website: michigan.gov/dnr

Recreation Passport

Michigan’s Recreation Passport is one way you can show your support for outdoor recreation and help preserve green spaces for future generations.

Website: michigan.gov/recreationpassport

Worth Pondering…

The RV lifestyle is like nothing else.

It’s leaving home, exploring America, and yet bringing your home along with you!

Stopping at a wayside picnic area, preparing lunch in your kitchen.

It’s sleeping in your own bed every night, yet waking up to a new vista each morning!

The sounds of a crackling campfire; of a mountain stream, of frogs, and crickets.

It’s families drawn closer; it’s retirees being rewarded for many years of labor.

—Loren Eyrich, Two-Lane Roads

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