CBS Detroit – For those who want to pack up the RV or their tents to camp in Michigan’s State Parks, there is some good news! The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced that camping in state parks will resume starting June 22.
Camping at Michigan’s State Parks has been closed due to the staff required to prepare the camping sites, which were deemed non-essential under Governor Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order.
Nearly 2900 State of Michigan employees, which included 102 full-time park staff were laid off. Additionally, there was a statewide hiring freeze. Which meant they couldn’t hire the summer seasonal workers at Michigan’s State parks. On May 15th steps were taken to open campgrounds and the hiring freeze was waived for summer workers.
According to the DNR, the duties staff perform normally to open state park campgrounds for the season, such as cleaning winter debris, opening bathrooms and showers, doing hazardous tree surveys and trimming, cleaning, checking electrical systems, rebuilding picnic tables, and disinfecting surfaces were just recently started. Causing park staff to have a late start to the summer season.
With new COVID-19 regulations, it will take time to get seasonal staff up to speed on the reservation system, MIOSHA requirements, as well as COVID-19 safety practices. State parks and recreation areas also have to get drinking water permits from county health departments to do tests. The DNR says, due to county health departments already being busy with COVID-19, getting those permits and tests done will take extra time this year.
In the middle of March, park Rangers were forced to stop construction projects. Many of these projects need to be finished before campgrounds can be opened. Plus going forward park staff will have to implement new COVID-19 regulations. Which includes finding ways to limit contact, building sneeze guards, and other measures.
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