State parks are open, but poor social distancing could shut them down

    The Big Sable Lighthouse on the Lake Michigan shore. Ludington State Park. Ludington, Michigan | Getty Images

    Most state parks and recreation areas, state-managed trails and boating access sites remain open amid Michigan’s “stay at home” order, and the Department of Natural Resources notes that usage is up.

    All locations have modified services and/or closed amenities. This week, the Tippy Dam Recreation Area in Manistee County was closed until further notice due to high numbers of visitors, lack of improper social distancing and people traveling long distances to reach the park.

    “Throughout the stay at home order, we’ve seen an influx of visitors at state parks, boating access sites and trails,” said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. “In order to continue to keep state parks and trails open, we expect everyone to follow effective social distancing practices, to not litter and not travel long distances to enjoy the outdoors.

    “If concerns continue to build, the DNR will have to look at closing or further limiting access to our state-designated trails, state parks, boating access sites and other outdoor locations,” he added.

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    Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.