Proposed Bill Could Give Michigan Residents "First Dibs" At Popular State Park Campgrounds

Proposed Bill Could Give Michigan Residents “First Dibs” At Popular State Park Campgrounds

Bewabic State Park Campsite

Many of us are familiar with the struggle of trying to get summer camping reservations at Michigan state parks, as popular campgrounds like Ludington State Park, Cheboygan State Park, Grand Haven State Park, and others fill up shortly after they are able to be reserved for the year. A new proposal from state representative Cam Cavitt (Republican, Cheboygan) would give Michigan residents “first dibs” at reserving these campsites. While this bill has a ways to go before becoming state law, it is at the very least an interesting idea that deserves some discussion. Today we will take a look at Cavitt’s new proposed bill and what it could mean for Michigan residents in the future.

Ludington State Park Dunes Campsite

House Bill 5597 would give Michigan residents a 14-day period to make reservations before nonresidents are given the same opportunity. From the Michigan House Republicans page: “It’s great to see so many people interested in camping in Michigan. But some of our most popular parks fill up so quickly that state residents have less than 20 minutes to get a spot before they’re gone,” Cavitt said. “There should be perks to living in Michigan. People who pay taxes that contribute directly to the quality of the parks should be able to get first dibs in vacationing to those parks. Camping is supposed to be relaxing. Michigan families shouldn’t have to plan their vacations by huddling around a computer in December and praying for a nice campsite.” The bill can be read in full on the Michigan Legislature page and it is listed as having sponsor support from a handful of other state legislators.

Fisherman's Island State Park Sign

In other interviews, Cavitt said that this is not meant to be a slight to our ever-important out of state visitors, but rather giving Michigan taxpayers a leg up on in-state opportunities. He also acknowledged that there would be some cost involved for the Michigan DNR to develop and maintain software to handle this change but said that his proposal is both “low cost” and “simple.” It was also mentioned that by January 8th, one in three campsites were already booked for 2024! You can reach out Cavitt’s office to offer feedback on this proposal.

Baraga State Park Cover Photo Upper Peninsula Campground

We like the idea of this proposal, which gives Michigan residents and taxpayers a small advantage over out of state visitors. Keeping the window to two weeks seems fair and if anything this should lead to our campgrounds filling up even more. We also could see out of state visitors look past their usual favorite state parks and explore many of the other great options we have here in Michigan. For now the plan has been referred to the House Natural Resources Committee for further consideration. We look forward to tracking its progress and seeing if this bill can garner bipartisan support to benefit Michigan residents!