Detroit — Belle Isle officially becomes part of the Michigan park system on Feb. 10, bringing with it a phasing-in of the requirement for visiting vehicles to have a state Recreation Passport.
The $11 passport, which residents can get at the time of their vehicle registration renewal, eventually will be necessary for those accessing the island park by car. But vehicles without the passport will be allowed to access the island this year until their license plate renewal date.
For example, a vehicle with a plate renewal date of April 12 will not need the passport on April 11. But as of April 12, that vehicle will need a Recreation Passport to enter Belle Isle.
By February 2015, all vehicles entering the park will need the passport to enter. Non-state-licensed vehicles will pay a $31.10 passport for entry, which can be purchased online at www.michigan.gov/estore.
“This gradual introduction mirrors the initial 2010 introduction of the Recreation Passport at all Michigan state parks,” said Ron Olson, Department of Natural Resources chief of the Parks and Recreation Division, in a statement released Friday. “The Recreation Passport was legislatively established as a much-needed funding source for state park infrastructure improvements since no taxpayer dollars go to funding Michigan’s existing state parks. Many of the state’s best and most priceless natural resources are housed and protected within these state parks. Purchasing a Recreation Passport for every vehicle every year, whether or not a citizen even visits state parks, is vital to protecting Michigan’s natural resources for future generations.”
Come February, the city will maintain ownership of the park, but the DNR will assume responsibility for managing Belle Isle. The state’s Department of Transportation will maintain the isle’s roads and bridges. State management of Belle Isle is expected to save the city $4 million to $6 million each year, officials said.
The lease agreement provides an option for two 15-year renewals and requires Michigan-registered vehicles to obtain an annual $11 Recreation Passport for entry.