DETROIT (WWJ) – Things are about to change at Belle Isle.

February marks the one-year anniversary of Belle Isle operating as Michigan’s 102nd state park and also ends the gradual phase-in of the Recreation Passport at the island park.

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Beginning Sunday, Feb. 1, all vehicles entering Belle Isle will need a Recreation Passport – $11 for vehicles, $5 for motorcycles. The Recreation Passport will provide vehicle entry not only at Belle Isle, but at other state parks throughout Michigan.

Belle Isle became a state park in February 2014 under a 30-year lease agreement between the city of Detroit and the state. The park offers an abundance of outdoor recreational activities, including fishing, hiking, biking, picnicking, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, cross-country skiing, birding, golf and more.

During the past year, vehicles could access the island without a Recreation Passport until the vehicle owner’s next registration renewal date. Starting Feb. 1, Belle Isle visitors driving a vehicle without the Recreation Passport will be required to purchase a window sticker at the park. This requirement applies only to vehicles – not individuals. Pedestrians, bicyclists and those using public transportation can, as always, enter the park for free.

Passport to statewide outdoor recreation

Belle Isle is one of hundreds of recreational opportunities available to residents and visitors through the Recreation Passport, which grants vehicle entry to Michigan state parks and recreation areas, state forest campgrounds, boat launch parking and non-motorized trail head parking.

State parks and recreation areas in the Detroit area include Bald Mountain Recreation Area, Dodge 4 State Park, Highland Recreation Area, Island Lake Recreation Area, Maybury State Park, Milliken State Park and Harbor (no Recreation Passport required), Proud Lake Recreation Area and Sterling State Park.

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Shelter reservations update

Also beginning in February, all visitors (and their guests) who rent Belle Isle picnic shelters, facilities and green spaces must have a Recreation Passport for vehicle access to the island. This includes smaller, private events such as weddings, reunions and birthday parties. During the transition to state management, waivers were given to visitors who reserved events through the city of Detroit prior to 2014.

All Belle Isle shelter reservations are now taken through the DNR’s Central Reservation System and can be made up to one year in advance. Reservations can be made online at www.midnrreservations.com or by calling 1-800-44-PARKS.

Recreation Passport purchase, pricing and benefits

Ten percent of Recreation Passport revenue is available to neighborhood parks through the Recreation Passport community grants program. Just a few years ago, the city of Detroit received a $30,000 grant to fund improvements at Lorwyn E. Peterson Playfield through this program.

The Recreation Passport is available for purchase through the Secretary of State during license plate registration renewal (just check “YES” on the renewal form) and is valid for state park entry until the next registration renewal date. Residents who purchase the Recreation Passport through the Secretary of State get entry to state parks for a full year, as well as access to the Passport Perks retail discount program.

The Recreation Passport also can be purchased as a window sticker at Michigan state parks and recreation areas, including Belle Isle. Visitors to the island park can purchase the Passport between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily at the White House (administrative building), located on Inselruhe Avenue across from the Belle Isle Aquarium. When purchased at a park, the Recreation Passport is valid until the holder’s next license plate registration renewal date.

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The Recreation Passport is $11 for Michigan-registered vehicles, $5 for motorcycles and $16 for buses. Vehicles not registered in Michigan will require a $31 nonresident Recreation Passport for entry. This can be purchased at the park or online.