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News for December 4, 2021

DNR’s State Forest Campground Data Collection ‘Project Rustic’ Marks Halfway Point

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The halfway point of Project Rustic’s campground data collection effort, which includes 54 state forest campgrounds and 19 state forest pathways, is now in the works, a report said.

Paige Lackey (Huron Pines AmeriCorps member) created the project to improve information accessibility for visitors to Michigan’s state forest campgrounds.

Lackey and her pup Willow are now on the fifth month of their RV tour of lesser-known campgrounds and recording information. The aim is to visit 77 of Michigan’s 145 state forest campgrounds across Northern Lower Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, updating the DNR’s Recreation Search database along the way, said the report.

They are now going to collect data from rustic campgrounds in the Northwestern and North Central Lower Peninsula.

In the report, Lackey states that the work is roughly 40 percent fieldwork and 60 percent computer-based.

 “It’s been a great balance of outdoor exploration and experiencing new places so that I can write about them. Then, I have recovery days where I can connect to my hot spot and work from the RV or find a local coffee shop to do my work,” she said in the report.

Lackey said she has enjoyed discovering so many beautiful and out-of-the way spots, but she hesitates to name favorites as she wants to preserve these ecologically fragile places.

She says that these campgrounds are very small. The smallest she has visited only had four spots. 

“If a site has 10 campsites, and draws lots of people, it can bring a lot more traffic to the area,” she said in the report.

“The beauty of rustic campgrounds is their accessibility and rarity,” Lackey added.

Although she might be traveling the less traveled road, Lackey claims she has met great people, including campers curious about the project, the report stated.

She says, “They see the RV with the Project Rustic logo and they are open to conversation.” “It’s been great, because I’m traveling alone, to have these interactions. They are more important to me now.”

According to the report, Lackey also contributed to monthly blog posts that included rustic camping tips for General RV. General RV provided the 30-foot RV. Lackey’s updates from this trip are occasionally posted to Instagram at MiStateParks and Facebook at Michigan State Parks, Trails, and Waterways.

Find out more about Project Rustic at the DNR’s site here.

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