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Family-owned campgrounds preparing to open May 15, state park campgrounds not until June

Family-owned campgrounds in Michigan are targeting May 15 openings.

MUSKEGON COUNTY, Mich. — There are more than 1,000 campgrounds in Michigan, and most are family-owned small businesses.

Those campgrounds and others in Michigan remain closed due to the statewide stay at home order.

In April, the Department of Natural Resources announced their amenities will reopen in phases starting June 10, with campgrounds, overnight lodging and shelters not expected to open until June 22. 

The delay to the start of the camping season for Michigan State Parks could provide an opportunity for family-owned campgrounds to attract new visitors.

Lake Sch-Nepp-A-Ho in Muskegon County is planning a May 15 opening. 

RELATED: DNR: Camping expected to return on June 22

"With the exception of perishables goods in the store the park is literally ready to open," said Jean Perrault who owns the campground with husband Shaun Perrault. 

The stay-home order has already resulted in a loss of business for the Perraults.

"Absolutely and without a doubt," Jean said. "Had this order been lifted earlier we may have had a full campground even at this point."

Many of Michigan's campgrounds open for the season at the beginning of May. Jean says the season is short and it's important to have a full campground from May to September.

"We're all mom-and-pops out here trying to make a living and we really would encourage people to recognize the private campgrounds," Jean said.

RELATED: Sleeping Bear Dunes campgrounds may not open until July 1

Some county-owned campgrounds in West Michigan may choose to follow the DNR's lead an open in June. U.S. Forest Service campgrounds remain closed with no opening date posted on the forest service website.

"There's approximately 350,000 licensed recreational vehicles in the state of Michigan," said Bill Sheffer, executive director of the Michigan Association Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds.

Sheffer says he had hoped the state would have already granted campgrounds permission to reopen. According to Sheffer almost all campsites in Michigan are at least 1,200 square feet and large enough for campers to practice social-distancing. 

"Camping with the family unit is a great way to quarantine yourself," Sheffer said.

While family-owned campgrounds remain closed Sheffer says owners are working to implement policies and procedures to keep campers and workers safe when campgrounds around Michigan reopen May 15. 

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