A longtime leader in outdoor recreation, Michigan can now officially boast being No. 1, receiving the 2011 National Recreation and Park Association Gold Medal for the top state park system in the nation.
The award, given for excellence in planning and long-range resource management, recognizes Michigan’s innovative Recreation Passport program and the creative strategic planning the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Parks and Recreation Division has done to deliver a high quality customer experience to every state park visitor.
Michigan’s 99 state park and recreation areas are popular destinations for residents and visitors alike, and help make the quality of life in the state unbeatable. The state parks offer 22 million annual visitors access to more than 13,000 campsites, trails, inland lakes, rivers and the Great Lakes.
They are also a key partner in the state’s Pure Michigan tourism effort – which last year helped to generate $17.2 billion dollars create an estimated 152,600 jobs statewide.
Governor Rick Snyder has appointed a Blue Ribbon Panel on Michigan State Parks and Outdoor Recreation to guide the state park system in the future.
“This award is a credit to the people of Michigan,” said Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. “For more than 90 years, Michiganders have realized that these unique areas are an integral part of the cultural enhancement, economic enrichment and overall quality of life that we value. Our parks are what we make of them and the people of this state clearly prize these treasures. I commend the DNR for its outstanding stewardship of these resources and look forward to working with all stakeholders so that we have a parks system that serves our state and its visitors for generations to come.”
Michigan beat out North Carolina, Florida and Missouri for the top honor. In addition to the Recreation Passport, the state parks recreation initiatives include Recreation 101 programs, ongoing efforts to make state parks more accessible for all visitors and alternative lodging and green initiatives.