State parks’ budgets are often targeted for budget cuts during economic downturns. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources used their budget crisis to rethink how they generated revenue through the sale of yearly passes. By doing away with a daily pass and offering residents the opportunity to purchase a yearly Recreation Passport license plate tab at a reduced cost, they increased their customer pool and made the purchase of a yearly pass easier for their customer – all while increasing their own revenue. Nearly 28.5% of Michigan residents purchased a pass in 2014, five years after the implementation of the program, and revenue has increased from $13.9 million under the previous sticker system to $17.6 million. Revenue from the Recreation Passport also funds community grants for local park improvements, producing a win-win for the budget and the health of state and local parks.
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