The Department of Natural Resources invites residents to get out this December and enjoy Southwest Michigan’s state parks and recreation areas, while helping to protect their habitat. Volunteers are needed for stewardship workdays, which are a great way for area residents and park visitors to GO Get Outdoors, breathe some fresh air, have fun and get a bit of exercise.

Experience is not required, and training and equipment are provided. Workday dates, times and locations are as follows:

  • Saturday, Dec. 1: Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 2: Grand Mere State Park (Berrien County), 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 8: Muskegon State Park (Muskegon County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 9: Ionia State Recreation Area (Ionia County), 1 to 4 p.m.

Volunteers should wear appropriate clothing for outdoor work (including long pants and sturdy closed-toed shoes) and bring gloves and drinking water. To get information about the activities on each workday, find directions or park information, or to check the Volunteer Steward calendar of events, visit the DNR website at and link to the “Calendar of Volunteer Stewardship Workdays.” Interested volunteers should contact Heidi Frei at 269-685-6851 ext. 147 or [email protected] for registration or questions about the workdays.

More outdoor fun and exercise is available through the DNR’s Recreation 101 program, which provides expert instruction to budding outdoor enthusiasts by offering free, hands-on training in over 100 different activities. Learn about participating or becoming an instructor, at The DNR also offers ongoing nature programming; check out the schedule at

The Recreation Passport is an easy, affordable way for residents to enjoy and support outdoor recreation opportunities in Michigan. By checking “YES” for the $10* Recreation Passport ($5 for motorcycles) when renewing a license plate through the Secretary of State (by mail, kiosk, online at or at branch offices), Michigan motorists get access to state parks, recreation areas, state forest campgrounds, non-motorized state trailhead parking and state boat launches. In addition, Recreation Passport holders can experience real savings at businesses and retailers that participate in the Passport Perks discount program. The Recreation Passport is valid until the next license plate renewal date. Nonresidents can purchase the Recreation Passport ($29 annual; $8 daily) at any state park or recreation area or through the Michigan e-Store at *Starting Jan. 2, 2013, the purchase price of the Recreation Passport is $11 for Michigan residents.

Learn more about this creative way of sustaining Michigan’s outdoor recreation and natural resources at For information on Passport Perks shopping discounts or how businesses and retailers can enroll in the program, visit