DNR to implement sliding scale for reservations at parks

HARRISVILLE — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources hopes more Michigan residents can get a shot at reserving the campsite of their dreams at Michigan state parks with a new sliding reservation scale.

The new scale, according to park officials, will implement a fee structure that will have to be paid by campers who reserve a campsite in advance but then opt to cancel the reservation or modify it. DNR spokesman Jason Fleming said this is to combat some who have abused the campsite reservation system.

According to officials campers can still make reservation up to six months in advance.

The new structure still will include the $10 modification and cancellation fee, but also an additional incremental fee based on the length of time between the date the initial reservation was made and the planned arrival date.

Depending on the amount of time the reservation is held a percent of the nightly rate is charged to cancel or modify the reservation.

For example, reservations held for up to two months that are canceled or modified would cost 10 percent of the nightly rate for each modified/canceled camp night. For reservations held longer than five months the cost would be 40 percent of the nightly rate for each modified or canceled camp night.

Fleming said this will allow people to plan further in advance because many times people would reserve a site for many days, but then cancel all but a few days for a site. This means that someone else planning a camping trip would otherwise not be able to reserve the camping site even though it ultimately would be available when they came to the campground.

Fleming said one trick people have done over the years is reserve a span of 15 days and get two weekends in the reservation, but then drop the week days. This new model will penalize people who do that with fees.

“It doesn’t happen as much as it used to, but there are a lot of people who are carrying reservations well into the season and dropping them closer to the arrival dates,” Fleming said. “It makes it difficult to make any plans.”

Harrisville State Park Unit Manager Eric Ostrander said he thinks the new policy will help campers.

“I think it’s going to give people better opportunities to get into the parks and get into certain areas of the parks that they like,” he said.

He said there have been instances where people over-reserved at the park and then dropped days just to keep weekend camping days. Other campers who wanted a shot at week days could not use the sites because they could not be reserved in advance. He said this is especially true for the park’s very popular sites along the shoreline of Lake Huron.

“It was a loophole in the system. People were pulling into the state parks and they were told six months out that there were no lakefront sites available, and they get here and there are a bunch of them available,” Ostrander said. “The end of November people are already booking six months out. It’s going to give people a good month to know about the process and the reasoning behind it.”

More information on camping opportunities and pricing can be found by visiting www.michigan.gov/camping. Camping reservations can be found by visititing www.midnrreservations.com or by calling 1-800-447-2757.

Jason Ogden can be reached via email at jogden@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Jason on Twitter @jo_alpenanews.