The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently announced that, in response to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-21, it will close state park campgrounds, overnight lodging facilities and shelters, through at least April 13.
But, state parks and recreation areas will remain open to provide residents with opportunities to get outdoors, provided all visitors adhere to the requirement for proper social distancing – at least 6 feet between yourself and another person – in all areas of the parks.
Gov. Whitmer issued the “stay home, stay safe” order earlier today in an effort to “suppress the spread of COVID-19, to prevent the state’s health care system from being overwhelmed, to allow time for the production of critical test kits, ventilators, and personal protective equipment, and to avoid needless deaths.”
The DNR will not be able to honor camping reservations for dates between March 23 and April 13. Reservations for that time frame will automatically be canceled. Those reservation holders will receive full refunds, including the reservation fee paid at the time reservations were made. No cancellation/modification fees will be charged.
Reservation holders will receive email notifications once cancellations are processed. Refunds will be applied to the original payment method.
For questions about reservation cancellations, call 800-447-2757.
What the EO means to outdoor recreation
State and federal health officials repeatedly have pointed to the physical and mental health benefits of spending time outdoors, especially at a time when many are feeling house-bound.
DNR Director Dan Eichinger stressed that while Michigan state parks and recreation areas, state boat launches, state forests and other state-managed resources are open to help meet those needs, he wants to make sure those options remain open.
“Gov. Whitmer’s executive order requires people to follow the CDC guidelines and stay at least 6 feet away from other people when outside of their own households, to the greatest extent possible,” Eichinger said in a press release. “We want residents to use and enjoy our public outdoor spaces, but we ask them to do so responsibly and safely, whether in a forest, on a trail or in a parking lot.
“If it becomes evident that people are not practicing effective social distancing while visiting these state-managed resources, we will close them to protect the health of our visitors and our staff,” he said.
Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly.