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News for January 23, 2022

Alpena County Campgrounds Filling Up with Seasonal Campers

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According to a report, the three campgrounds run by Michigan’s Alpena County are being filled up by seasonal campers.

While it’s a great thing for the county and campgrounds since it brings in substantial amounts of guaranteed income, it makes it difficult for weekend campers to reserve sites, especially during the holidays.

The county owns Long Lake Park, Beaver Lake Park, and Sunken Lake Park, but these parks rely on rental fees to pay the bills and fund improvements.

Each of the parks witnessed an increase in campers in recent years. However, with that comes the challenge of reserving spaces that seasonal campers aren’t using.

Commissioner John Kozlowski of Alpena County Parks and Recreation Commission said the parks can rent out half of the sites for seasonal campers. He suggested that reducing the percentage could make more campsites available to campers who don’t want to stay as long. However, he doesn’t know how the parks and the county can inform seasonal campers that they would lose their spots.

“Maybe we could do a lottery,” Kozlowski said. “No matter what we would do, someone would be upset. I think, for this year, we just need to work through this season and look at other options for next season.”

Seasonal campers aren’t allowed to lease lakeside properties, as per the report.

The camp managers begin taking reservations for the year on January 2. The process is done through phone calls since the county does not have an online reservation system.

Kozlowski stated that an electronic reservation system should be considered to give everyone the chance to book the site they prefer.

“That is a good thing to look into and. Good way to start moving forward,” he said. “As far as reducing the amount of seasonable campers, what is that number? How do you tell the people they are out? It’s tricky.”

The county charges seasonal campers $1,7000 per lot from May 15 to October 15. Alpena County residents get a $100 discount.

Earl Martin, the park manager of Beaver Lake Park, has witnessed some of the negative reactions on social media for those who believe there should be fewer seasonal campers. Martin said he can understand the anger, but managing the camp is similar to running an enterprise, so making sure it’s financially independent and not dependent on county resources is an important consideration.

He explained that the payment of seasonal campers covers operating costs, repairs, and improvements to the park.

“The county doesn’t pay for these parks,” he said. “We have to run them like businesses, and there are restrictions on how many seasonable campers we can have. We still have sites available, but the longer people wait, the chances they are gone increase, especially for holidays like the Fourth of July and Labor Day Weekend.”

When asked about increasing rates for seasonal campers, Martin said that it’s an option but did not discuss further details.

“It’s tough, and I get it,” he said. “We will continue to have discussions, but the bottom line is, no matter what we do, some people are going to be unhappy.

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