View Full Version : Silver Lake Voucher Meeting - Jan 12th

December 30th, 2014, 04:42 PM
A public meeting will be held on January 12th at 6pm in Mears, Michigan to discuss the proposed new online voucher system. We need YOUR support in showing numbers at this meeting.

Dec. 30, 2014

Contact: Charlotte Kiefer, 231-873-3083 or Ed Golder, 517-284-5815

DNR to host public input meeting Jan. 12 for Silver Lake State Park ORV voucher system

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will host a public input meeting on Monday, Jan. 12 regarding the proposed changes to the voucher system at Silver Lake State Park’s ORV area. The meeting will take place from 6-8 p.m. at Golden Township Hall, 5527 West Fox Road, Mears, MI 49436.

Due to high demand, changes were recently proposed to the voucher entry system for Silver Lake State Park’s 450 acres of ORV area. The changes are intended to enhance customer service by reducing the wait time on weekends and holidays by allowing users to obtain vouchers in advance through the same reservation system used for camping in Michigan state parks.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the public meeting to provide input and ask questions regarding the proposed voucher reservation system. The goal is to improve the access system for all users of the ORV area.

For a list of frequently asked questions about the voucher reservation system, visit www.michigan.gov/silverlake and click the link “ORV Scramble Area voucher system improvements.”

A Recreation Passport is required for any motor vehicle entering a Michigan state park, boat launch, state forest campground or nonmotorized state trailhead parking. Residents can purchase the Passport for just $11 ($5 for motorcycles) at the time of Michigan license plate renewal through Secretary of State. Forgot to check “YES” during renewal? Residents and nonresidents can purchase a Recreation Passport window sticker during regular business hours at state parks. Learn more about how the Recreation Passport supports state parks and local outdoor recreation opportunities at www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport.

December 30th, 2014, 09:54 PM
I am planning to be there!

December 31st, 2014, 08:20 AM
In anticipation of the upcoming meeting, GLFWDA is reaching out to various interest groups to collaborate desires and resources to form an alliance that will allow our collective voices be heard. There is a group of Businesses and Citizens that have already sent a counter proposal to the DNR and I will copy and paste it here for your review and comments. (Yes it is a bit lengthy, but that is okay; additionally, I have not changed any of the formatting or wording and have copied and pasted as I received it.)

Silver Lake Sand Dunes Improvement Plan
The following outlines a proposal submitted to the Department of Natural Resources as an alternative to the proposed online voucher system.
(Please note this is a rough draft and can and will change depending on feedback from both the Silver Lake Improvement Board and the Off-Road users of the SLSD ORV area)
We propose the expansion of the current silver lake sand dunes ORV parking area and modification of the current entrance to provide a more streamlined traffic flow as well as a reduction in state overhead. This proposal would also be accompanied by the recommendation to eliminate the current voucher process.
1) Vouchers for Dune Ready Machines
2) Vouchers for the Parking Lot
1) Users stopped having to wait in a long line all day (for the most part)
2) Business could get the users business back
1) The lines didn’t completely go away; they just moved further down the road and caused users to leave cars parked on the side of the road for long periods to save a space in line.
2) The users needed to be to the park the night before to get permits for the next day which caused a few people to have a struggle getting the time slots they wanted or get in during the day at all (hence the online system theory)
3) The users had to exit the park on Saturday to GET BACK IN LINE to get vouchers for the following day so in reality there was still a large amount of time waiting in lines and not enjoying the area.
4) Massive traffic issues.
Having to make the trek to work on a Friday or Saturday morning was a challenge because of the thousands of individuals lined up on Ridge Road waiting for the center to open. This was both unsafe as many of them stood in the roadway and irritating because you couldn’t travel down the road. It required the presence of the local Oceana County Sheriff’s Department to direct traffic and maintain order. This was also a waist of local resources and funding.
5) Users are still allowed to go into the parking area even if they are dune ready. This adds to the overcrowding because many of them are parking to air down their tires, put on flags and so on. The dune ready users should not ever be funneled into the parking lot.
From the start this solution was marginally effective and was labor intense and complicated. It did help cure a problem but in my opinion was not the solution. I would like to take a look at the parks expense reports before and after the vouchers were put into place.
1) Eliminate Dune Ready Vouchers
The problem from day one was not that people needed a time to come to the gate, the problem was as simple as a bottle necked entrance. There isn’t a reason to require someone to wait in long lines and come to the gate at certain times if they are ready to go. This means stickers purchased, tires aired down and dune flags on. This would be a perfect situation for the current voucher center to handle. Allow users to park and do the things they need to do before getting into the dune line. We wouldn’t have lines on Friday and Saturday nights waiting to get vouchers for the next day. We wouldn’t need to spend Thousands of dollars on both an online infrastructure and extra staff that it has been taking to keep up on the voucher process as it stands.
The problem that you are trying to fix with an online program wouldn’t exist!
2) Eliminate Parking Lot Vouchers
The problem with parking vouchers is the parking lot is a fixed size, period. Right now users are required to wait in line to reserve a spot for the following day. My question would be why? You cannot issue time slots since the parking lot doesn’t grow during the day, so you’re relying on users leaving the park and opening up a spot. This cannot be predicted and with that being said, has no reason to be regulated with a pass. It is plain and simply a waste of time for the user as they are going to wait in line to get a spot either way. The vouchers just create more hoops to jump through and more staff to hold the hoops. How many people are currently working just to check off vouchers?
We would like to submit a proposal for a parking lot expansion and traffic flow modification. Please See Figure 1.
As shown in figure 1, the proposed parking would extend the current parking lot to the east along Fox Rd. We would like to propose a data driven decision as to the size of the parking expansion based on the number of users that currently have to wait on standby plus an additional 20% for flux. We recommend this approach to keep upfront costs and continued maintenance to a minimum. We would request a permit to be granted that would allow enough room for expansion beyond this initial project so that future expansion, if needed would not require additional permits.
We propose a dune ready drive to be marked off around the parameter of the new lot starting at the current entrance. 1 DNR officer can be positioned at this entrance point and direct traffic to the appropriate drive. Parking Lot users would continue down the existing drive and enter the parking lot the same way as the current system. This would be the flow for weekends only when traffic is a problem. During the weekdays, the current entrance system can be used and the dune ready drive can be gated off. We would allow tow in users to un-hook anywhere in the dune ready road. Also we believe creating a place for inspections of coolers and dB levels be done in a separate area to allow the main lines to continue flowing.
Figure 1
Why this works is simple. The bottle neck of our current entrance is now eliminated by adding the extra drive and parking. The dune ready line can be removed from the county road and instead wrap around the new parking expansion. This also creates a nicely divided flow coming to the flag check point. The dune ready line from the East and the Parking Lot users from the West.
Dune Ready users are expected to be 100% ready to enter the park once they have entered the main gate. This means, stickers and permits purchased, flags mounted and tires pressure adjusted. We would propose signs be made visible along the first east bound stretch of the dune ready lane instructing users of what is required to be considered “ready” and any other information that may be useful. Upon coming to the main entrance, if a user is not ready, the officer directs them around the U-turn Island and back to the voucher lot where they can complete the process of being ready to enter.
Parking lot users have ample room to park and unload. This eliminates the need for any stand-by lines that are currently staged in the voucher center.
We have included a separate secondary entrance at the east end of the proposed lot to allow the dune ready flow to be separated from the main gate if officials feel the need.
We would like to utilize the current voucher system parking lot and building to facilitate a number of different tasks. 1) Selling permits 2) a place to get general information 3) a place to get your vehicle ready to approach the main gate.
We suggest that permits are never sold at the current entrance gate on weekends. The process of selling permits is simple enough and we reason that this can be done in less than 2 minutes per user but this doesn’t account for the amount of time the gate personnel are explaining park related information to the user and also validating costs of permits. If it takes an average of 6 minutes to process each users purchase and answer questions, this would restrict the gate flow to a mere 10 users per hour. Understanding that not all users are purchasing permits when entering the gate this number is a bit exaggerated but in reality this can become the case. Having stickers and information delivered at the voucher center would not affect the flow of traffic that is trying to enter the park.
With this system the need for vouchers will be eliminated. Since the entrance process has been simplified and streamlined, long lines should be kept at a minimum. The lines that persist will be off the county roads and on state land where their impact on the local traffic is null. With vouchers being eliminated, we no longer have the need to request reservations online, thereby relieving the problems associated with that that system. We see the need for only 6 to 7 park employees in place on busy weekends to run this model not counting the officers and dune patrol.
We would suggest this process be implemented for 1 dune season and then adjusted according to feedback from both the users and the DNR in order to optimize its effectiveness.
this was drafted by chad coker owner of appletree automotive which was located across from the slorva for many years .he said to call him if you have any questions.his business phone is 800-433-2521,cell 231-742-1381.he will be attending the 1st meeting.i will be flying up from florida to attend the public meeting on the 12th.
i've been told by many ,that the dnr has wasted way to much time ,and money on the voucher system, that didn't work,and the new voucher reservation system ,that won't work,to just set it aside.but,this plan would do everything you claim to want ,and everything the people that come to slorva want.the local police,the local businesses,the local residents,and yes, those people that drive from long distances.it would not cost them more money,they would not have to wait in long lines,and if they follow the dnr rules,would be guaranteed entrance to the dunes.you would not have to worry about people hoarding, or selling vouchers,or even people cutting in line.there would be no reason to.you could put the voucher center to good use,you would need far less man hours,or use all those employee's that currently deal with vouchers to accomplish much more meaningful tasks.
if you will not abandon the vouchers ,there are things we can suggest to make the dnr ideas work better,but they will only be making things less bad.the idea of getting any kind of reservation that has to be exchanged for a voucher will mean huge back ups (500 people checking in every 2 hrs,or worse yet all, 2500 reservations showing up at the same time to get their vouchers).the idea that you won't be able to get a voucher less than 24 hrs before wanting to go in the dunes would be a huge mistake.there will always be people at silver lake that want in the dunes that will not have a voucher 24 hrs in advance-(always,every day,and mostly on week ends and holidays).if the vouchers are not sold out,you still couldn't get one at any price.(which would be much worse, than for those you say had to buy 1 last year)if you still want a reservation system ,don't go 80% ,and never ,ever go %100 on line.do you have any idea, how many people bought property locally, just to be able to access those dunes with an orv ?when we get guests, where do you think they want to go?when we have time to watch a sunset,where do we go?when we want to see our friends,where do we go?when it's been raining,and the sun comes out,where do we go to see a rainbow?-the dunes !even the 10% of the people we surveyed ,that wanted on line reservations, said it should never be more than 50% on line .local campground,and hotel owners i've spoken with thought %40 on line would be more than enough to satisfy everyone that had to drive from a long distance .if the dnr has to go to an online reservation system.i understand,a combined reserved and walk up voucher system would require more dnr man hours(,but if your goal was just to make sure those people that drive long distances get in .you could simply keep the same old voucher system,but hand out vouchers to every single person that came to the voucher center.this would still not eliminate lines)
the lines are still not going away as long as there are vouchers,but by following our plans to keep the lines moving into and through the parking lot ,making sure dune readys are actually dune ready, by having the workers pull people out of the line ,from the parking lot into the dunes, instead of stopping the whole line into the dunes, to check, whatever they think they need to check(loud exhaust,coolers,spark arrestors,orv learners permits,etc.)those lines will move much faster and not get as long .
i did not include the map of the expanded parking lot,it would be on the property already owned by the dnr,and on the east side of the current lot,away from the dunes.you can see it at the top of the silver lake group facebook page or wait for the architect's drawing that should be done by the 1st meeting.i'm told they will also have bids on doing the work to expand the lot,and a proposal on how the work could be funded.

January 7th, 2015, 01:33 AM

January 7th, 2015, 09:16 AM

That's awesome news Bill!

January 7th, 2015, 12:40 PM
Glad to see they have not yet set the plan in stone and are willing to discuss options

Creative Fab
January 7th, 2015, 04:10 PM

Thanks for posting, that's good news that they are willing to listen. Thanks to everyone who is putting time into this!!!!!

January 9th, 2015, 09:21 PM
Attached for your information is the working agenda for the workshop to be held Monday January 12, 2015 at 6 pm. Location is at The Golden Township Hall, 5527 West Fox Road, Mears Michigan 49436.


January 13th, 2015, 02:22 PM
Looks like the meeting went fairly well,


Thanks you to those who were able to make it.

January 13th, 2015, 07:11 PM
Michelle shared the following with the GLFWDA Board:

They separated us into 15 groups by number and asked each group to identify 3-5 things that work well at the dunes, then 3-5 things that didn't work well (prioritized).
We were asked to then develop key actions...with pros and cons to each to the top three (by group) and to make a plan, by group to enhance access, improve efficiency, and keep using the dunes a fun and safe experience.
Each of the 15 groups basically wanting the same three things from the DNR at the dunes.
2) More/ bigger parking...for the voucher center to be used for sticker purchases (keeping those users out of the entry line) and over flow parking(short term)
3) Dune ready ONLY (separate) entrance
Each group was asked to present their work sheets/ ideas, and when these three things should/could happen between the 2015 and 2017 seasons, there was no feed back from the DNR on these ideas at the meeting, they listened.
After each group basically told them the same three things were wanted by the users, we were asked to form a "friend of SLORVA" group to refine and define these three things and their implementation.
Sign up sheets for this group were made available. The DNR is seeking a diverse group of users from near and far not to include members of special groups, clubs, or associations to form this panel.
It sounded like the DNR would take the information to be developed by this "friends of" under advisement after it is presented.

Basically... Nothing happened. We told them what works for us, they asked us to form a group to tell them again and at some point they'll take it all in and make a decision.

I would like to also add:
I think there is an important facet that needs to be stated as well.

There were about 200 people and those 200 people represented all user groups.
As those 200 people were dispersed and broken up into 15 work groups they each independently came back with the same responses, the same desires, the same answers and the same ideas.
Listening to the various groups talk, no one focused on their personal vehicle choices, they focused on what needed to change to correct the problems we all face in our desire to enjoy the dunes.
There in lies, why each group came back with the same ideas to share.

January 13th, 2015, 09:24 PM
Nice! But now, what will the DNR do?

January 13th, 2015, 11:14 PM
Nice! But now, what will the DNR do?
That is the question on all our minds.

January 19th, 2015, 02:44 PM
From http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10365_15070-34760--,00.html

Silver Lake Off-Road Vehicle Area Enhancement - Public workshop results held January 12, 2015

In a response to extensive public interest regarding the potential enhancement plans for the Silver Lake Off-Road Vehicle Area (SLORVA), a public workshop was held at Golden Township Hall, in Mears Michigan on January 12, 2015 with 249 people participating. The meeting was set up in a workshop format to enable participants to offer suggestions as to how to make SLORVA more efficient and more customer service friendly. Three goals were utilized to guide the workshop: 1) enhance customer access to the SLORVA (including reducing wait line), 2) Improve efficiency, and 3) Sustain a quality, safe recreation experience for users of the SLORVA.

Click here to view an agenda (http://www.michigan.gov/documents/dnr/slorva_workshop_479324_7.pdf) of the workshop that included a facilitated process to address various task questions to lead to a possible action plan. The purpose of Task 1 was to identify the things that have worked well and the things that could be improved at SLORVA. Tasks 2 & 3 were to identify the top priorities for enhancement and Task 4 was to use the priorities identified to create potential action steps for 2015, 2016 and 2017. The results of the four tasks are attached in a chart form for review.

Following the workshop, participants were invited to sign-up for a task force group to assist the Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Division staff and local officials. In order to ensure balance on the task force, five areas of representation were identified:

Local businesses
Local individuals residing within 20 miles of the area
Individuals residing within 20-100 miles of the area
Individuals residing over 100 miles away from the area

The next step will be to identify a reasonable number of volunteers to create a working task force focused on recommending feasible action strategies which can be efficiently implemented over the next 3 years. This task force will work with local officials, local government, (i.e.: law enforcement, EMS, road commission, fire, etc.) and Michigan Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation staff. The members of the task force will be announced by January 23, 2015 with an initial meeting set up shortly thereafter.

January 19th, 2015, 08:08 PM
I'm still waiting for an official published response from the DNR about the impact of that meeting and their idea moving forward. That was a big number that showed up, did it make a difference? Because if it didn't then that kinda sucks, for a lot of things and a lot of reasons.

January 20th, 2015, 07:43 AM
I'm still waiting for an official published response from the DNR about the impact of that meeting and their idea moving forward. That was a big number that showed up, did it make a difference? Because if it didn't then that kinda sucks, for a lot of things and a lot of reasons.

That will lay within the confines of:
"The next step will be to identify a reasonable number of volunteers to create a working task force focused on recommending feasible action strategies which can be efficiently implemented over the next 3 years. This task force will work with local officials, local government, (i.e.: law enforcement, EMS, road commission, fire, etc.) and Michigan Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation staff. The members of the task force will be announced by January 23, 2015 with an initial meeting set up shortly thereafter."

January 20th, 2015, 08:26 AM
I read that, but felt it was steps to make the users feel involved.

Is the on line voucher plan/system canceled?

January 20th, 2015, 05:12 PM
I read that, but felt it was steps to make the users feel involved.

Is the on line voucher plan/system canceled?

As I understand it, the new voucher system has been canned.
I don't recall or they didn't specify whether the old voucher system is still in place or not.

January 23rd, 2015, 09:34 PM
Here is some additional information from an email I just received:

SLORVA Taskforce Work Group Announcement

Thank you for volunteering for the Task Force Workgroup for Silver Lake Off-Road Vehicle Area (SLORVA) working towards enhancing customer access to the SLORVA, improving efficiencies and sustaining a quality, safe recreational experience for users of the SLORVA. The names have been randomly drawn according to four tasks identified through the January 12, 2015 SLORVA Enhancement Workshop. At the end of the meeting the concluding task was to identify strategies that could potentially be implemented for the 2015 season. In order to expedite this specific method by which these four tasks could be accomplished efficiently, participants were randomly drawn per task. Below is a list of the task force participants by identified tasks:

A-Permit sales alternatives and pre-check of vehicles process (Richard Santose was selected to help address this task)

B-Customer communication and signage (Bill Loomis was selected to help address this task)

C-Reliable process for traveling visitors (Pat Brower was selected to help address this task)

D-Effective parking and additional parking options (Dave Smith was selected to help address this task)

Each task group will consist of roughly 15 participants with a total task force of 59 participants. If you are still willing to serve on the task force, your volunteer efforts could be used to ensure SLORVA will achieve success. As you are well aware, SLORVA is a prominent feature in the Oceana County Area so we are pleased you would like to contribute to its development.

(Those selected will ensure our voice is heard!)

January 23rd, 2015, 09:39 PM

January 24th, 2015, 09:14 AM
Three of the 4 are Two Trackers. I guess we will have a lot of influence to get this done right. Congrats to all who signed up and offered their time to help with this issue. :yourock:

January 24th, 2015, 10:37 AM
Task force A also has Jeff Beemer who is also a Two Tracker.

January 24th, 2015, 11:33 AM
I also saw Jeff on the list. I signed up and wasn't picked.
It sounds like they still have a few other spots to fill. I'm going to email someone to ask about how or where I can help.
I wonder why there's a space on the spread sheet w/o a name in it

January 24th, 2015, 11:44 AM
I also saw Jeff on the list. I signed up and wasn't picked.
It sounds like they still have a few other spots to fill. I'm going to email someone to ask about how or where I can help.
I wonder why there's a space on the spread sheet w/o a name in it

I have already sent an email to Ron Olson and Charlotte Kiefer in an attempt to fill the vacant spot under Task B for a Club Member.

I encourage you to email them as well to improve our chances of getting a GLFWDA Member on the Task Force.

January 26th, 2015, 07:48 AM
Grand Rapids Press coverage. :)

January 26th, 2015, 06:47 PM
I received a response today that I would be penciled in to the Club Vacancy that existed under Task B.

January 27th, 2015, 07:46 AM
Good news!

January 29th, 2015, 01:30 PM