Ron Olson's Challenge
The bill would add a $10 charge to license plate registration fees beginning in 2010. Vehicle owners would have the option to opt out of the charge if they don't want to use the parks. In Montana, only 12 percent have done that. Even if 35 percent of Michigan owners opted out, the change would generate an additional $34 million a year for the state parks. Olson says 50 percent of the new funds would go to infrastructure needs, 30 percent to operations and maintenance, 10 percent to matching grants from local governments, 7 percent to state forest campgrounds and pathways, and 3 percent to preserving cultural and historic places.
Olson still lives in Ann Arbor, along a bumpy dirt road off Packard. He commutes to his office in Lansing or to the parks he oversees-getting to parks throughout the state, he says, is one of the real perks of the job.
This month marks the ninetieth anniversary of Michigan's state park system. On Saturday, June 20, there will be "birthday" activities at all ninety-eight parks and recreation areas. The biggest will be at Sleepy Hollow State Park, north of Lansing-Olson says he's going to "try and get the governor there."