WPBN/WGTU — The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore will be increasing their entrance and camping fees starting January 1 of 2016.
The National Lakeshore says the increased fees will fund maintenance and visitor service projects within the park.
"We still think it's a really good deal," said Merrith Baughman, Chief of Interpretation and Visitor Services. "We think it allows people to come and enjoy the park, hopefully for a very reasonable amount."
The National Lakeshore had a nationwide review of entrance fees in 2014. The National Lakeshore was grouped with other similar parks and was slated to raise the seven-day entrance pass from $10 to $20 and the annual entrance pass for the park from $20 to $40. They decided this was too much of an increase and received permission to scale back and raise $10 to $15 for the seven day entrance pass and $20 to $30 for the annual entrance pass.
"People should see some new things going on in the park because of this increase in fees," said Baughman.
Entrance fees and first come - first serve camping fees have not increased at the National Lakeshore since 2004. There was a slight increase in 2006 for reservable campsites. Fees for backcountry camping have remained unchanged since 2001
Camping fee rates were split up through comparability reviews with other camping facilities in the area. The new fee schedule, as shown in the above photos, has been made easier to understand. For example, the separate reservation fee for reservable campsites has been removed and the cost for hot showers at Platte River Campground has been combined into nightly camping fees, removing the need for the shower token system.
Sleeping Bear has been working on the fee increases for about a year and says the collected hundreds of public opinions about the change.
"Most of them said as long as the money stays here in the park we support it," said Baughman.
80 percent of the fees stay in the park and must go into park visitor benefit and covers the cost of things like rangers, and some maintenance. The other 20 percent goes to other national parks that don't collect entrance fees.
Last fiscal year the park brought in around $1.8 million that they now hope to increase and use for other future projects.
"South Manitou Island, the visitor complex has lots of work out there that we'd like to be able to do that we haven't been able to do," said Baughman. "We'd like to see an increase in the number of ranger programs, increased number of custodial staff."
The park estimates it could bring in between $500,000-$700,000 more with the fee increases.
For more information, please contact Chief of Interpretation and Visitor Services Merrith Baughman at 231-326-4725 or for in-depth information about the National Lakeshore, please call 231-326-4700.