Proposed Silver Lake voucher system sparks outrage

December 11, 2014

silver lakeBy Allison Scarbrough. OCP Editor.

SILVER LAKE — Local sand dune enthusiasts are outraged by a new voucher system at Silver Lake State Park apparently being voted on today, Dec. 11, in Lansing that they feel will lock them out of the sand dunes on the weekends and overburden them with additional fees.

Bill Loomis, who administers a Facebook page, silver.lake, said he got wind of the news just three days ago and is doing everything in his power to stop the proposed plan. Unfortunately, he fears it may be too late.

The proposed voucher system, Loomis said, will require dune riders to purchase the $10 vouchers for each vehicle 24 hours in silver lake 2advance for weekend and holiday use.

“We already pay for a state park sticker; an ORV sticker, and as of last year, a ORV trail pass to enjoy the dunes in an ORV,” Loomis said. “If it passes, ORV vouchers will have to be reserved for $10 per vehicle, per day. This means, even if they are not sold out or even if the dunes are empty, you will no longer be able to arrive at Silver Lake and enjoy the dunes unless you have pre-purchased a voucher.”

He understands that the first 20 percent of the ORV users will be let in for free, but the remaining 80 percent must purchase vouchers 24 hours in advance.

“Now they are starting with only 80 percent on weekends and holidays this summer which can potentially keep 2,000 vehicles per day full of people from enjoying the dunes.”

Loomis said he’s also upset that the voucher funds will not be used for park improvements. “The money, potentially over $1,000,000 this summer alone, will not go for improvements to Silver Lake or any other state park,” he said. “It will be used to pay an outside company to run the (voucher) system. That company is not in Michigan — it’s not even in the U.S.” He said the company is based in Canada.

An online petition drive, petitions.silver-lake-state-park-voucher, that launched overnight, is aiming to stop the proposed voucher plan. As of late Thursday morning, there were nearly 300 signatures.

According to the DNR Off-Road Vehicle Advisory Workgroup March 5 meeting minutes that were posted on the silver.lake page, Charlotte Kiefer of the Silver Lake State Park made a PowerPoint presentation regarding the the new voucher system, and the proposal is being presented to the Michigan State Parks Advisory Committee. A call to Kiefer was not immediately returned.

– Photos courtesy of Bill Loomis