Overnight camping at Michigan state parks won’t be allowed until late June, the state Department of Natural Resources says.
State forest campgrounds and harbors run by the DNR will open on June 10, while overnight camping and shelters at state parks are set to open on June 22.
Most state-maintained parks, trails and dock sites are currently open to the public.
The parks have canceled reservations before June 22, including the Memorial Day holiday weekend, the DNR says.
Those who purchased campsites will have the chance to rebook their stay later in the season or get a refund.
The Michigan DNR says it’s staggering opening the campsites because the agency is behind schedule. With the stay-home order in effect, recreation officers were not able to de-winterize campgrounds.
Ron Olson, the chief of Parks and Recreation for the Michigan DNR, says the agency is also short-staffed about 2,000 seasonal employees because of a hiring freeze.
“They are very integral in underpinning what we do on a daily basis because once we’re open for camping and everything it’s a 24-7 operation,” he says. “So that will take at least three to four weeks to get all them hired.”
Olson says a few necessary projects also need to be finished before grounds can open.
“Traverse City State Park, for example, we have an electric system that’s part-done that needs to be completed,” he says. “Then, there’s some restroom buildings and shower buildings (that need repairs), road work and so on.”
Opening the bathrooms at state parks and trails has also been delayed. DNR officers are concerned they won’t be able to clean bathrooms so the coronavirus does not spread.
The agency says requests for camping, on grounds outside of campsites, will not be approved until mid-May.
Parking fees at state recreation areas are also suspended until after the stay home order ends.