Bay City State Recreation Area Friends Group Wins Prestigious Award

The Department of Natural Resources has announced that the Friends of Bay City State Recreation Area have been named the recipient of the National Association of State Park Directors’ (NASPD) 2011 President’s Award for a local organization.

The group was nominated for the award for its support and advocacy efforts over the last 17 years, which also includes raising thousands of dollars to purchase and install a playscape as well as a newly-opened spray park at the state recreation area. The group also works to establish endowment funds for the maintenance of these facilities, and plans interpretive and educational programming.

“Being recognized by our peers in NASPD is a significant achievement,” said DNR Director Rodney Stokes. “Friends of Bay City State Recreation Area, like all of the Friends of Michigan state parks groups, have helped us stay at the forefront of our profession with innovative programming, funding and facility development.”

DNR Parks and Recreation Division Chief Ron Olson accepted the award on behalf of the Friends group during a recent meeting of the NASPD. Representatives of the Friends of Bay City State Recreation Area will receive the award during the Natural Resources Commission meeting on Oct. 13 in Lansing.

Friends groups are nonprofit organizations that assist parks and other public lands by fundraising, recruiting volunteers, leading restoration projects and other activities. The Friends of Bay City group is comprised of interested citizens who support environmental education and promote conservation, use, and enjoyment of the recreational facility.

“We are extremely proud of the Friends of Bay City State Recreation Area and for their efforts that have earned this recognition,” said Olson. “Just as we are grateful for all of the Friends of Michigan State Parks groups. Michigan state parks face extremely difficult budgeting times while visitation continues to grow, and the Friends groups are making a major impact in helping us ensure our state parks are open and our natural resources are protected.”

To help the DNR build the first-ever spray park in a Michigan state park, the Friends of Bay City State Recreation Area raised $300,000 in cash and another $150,000 in donations of labor and other non-monetary items.  Other Friends groups are hard at work dedicating time and efforts toward providing enhancements for their state parks; however, currently less than 50 percent of Michigan’s 99 state parks have active Friends groups. Those interested in learning more about how to join an active Friends group can contact that state park office for information. Those interested in starting a Friends of the Park group in their area can contact DNR Recreational Programmer Maia Stephens at for information.

The Recreation Passport has replaced motor vehicle permits for entry into Michigan state parks, recreation areas and state-administered boating access fee sites. This new way to fund Michigan's outdoor recreation opportunities also helps to preserve state forest campgrounds, trails, and historic and cultural sites in state parks, and provides park development grants to local communities.

Michigan residents can purchase the Recreation Passport ($10 for motor vehicles; $5 for motorcycles) by checking "YES" on their license plate renewal forms, or at any state park or recreation area. Nonresident motor vehicles must still display a valid nonresident Recreation Passport ($29 annual; $8 daily) to enter a Michigan state park, recreation area or state-administered boating access fee site; these can be purchased at any state park or recreation area, or through the Michigan e-Store at To learn more about the Recreation Passport, visit or call 517-241-7275.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to