LANSING — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources today announced that, in response to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-21, it will close state park campgrounds, overnight lodging facilities and shelters, effective now through at least April 13. State parks and recreation areas will remain open to provide residents with opportunities to get outdoors, provided all visitors adhere to the requirement for proper social distancing – at least 6 feet between yourself and another person – in all areas of the parks.

Gov. Whitmer issued the “stay home, stay safe” order earlier today in an effort to “suppress the spread of COVID-19, to prevent the state’s health care system from being overwhelmed, to allow time for the production of critical test kits, ventilators, and personal protective equipment, and to avoid needless deaths.”

The DNR will not be able to honor camping reservations for dates between March 23 and April 13. Reservations for that time frame will automatically be canceled. Those reservation holders will receive full refunds, including the reservation fee paid at the time reservations were made. No cancellation/modification fees will be charged.

State and federal health officials repeatedly have pointed to the physical and mental health benefits of spending time outdoors, especially at a time when many are feeling house-bound. DNR Director Dan Eichinger stressed that while Michigan state parks and recreation areas, state boat launches, state forests and other state-managed resources are open to help meet those needs, he wants to make sure those options remain open.

“Gov. Whitmer’s executive order requires people to follow the CDC guidelines and stay at least 6 feet away from other people when outside of their own households, to the greatest extent possible,” Eichinger said. “We want residents to use and enjoy our public outdoor spaces, but we ask them to do so responsibly and safely, whether in a forest, on a trail or in a parking lot.

“If it becomes evident that people are not practicing effective social distancing while visiting these state-managed resources, we will close them to protect the health of our visitors and our staff.”

To help carry out Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order and further protect public health and safety, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is closing many amenities offered in state parks and recreation areas, effective now through at least April 13.

“We are doing everything possible to protect the health and safety of visitors and staff at state parks and recreation areas,” Eichinger said. “No matter how people are choosing to get outdoors, it is critical that everyone follows the social distancing guidelines. If they don’t, we will be forced to close public access to all state-managed lands.”

All bathroom buildings and vault toilets will be closed in all state parks and recreation areas, including those at campgrounds, boating access sites, trailheads at state-designated trails, etc. No hand washing stations will be provided.