June 24, 2008

Camping Areas Are Reopened in Region

By Sheri McWhirter, The Record-Eagle, Traverse City, Mich.

Jun. 24--VANDERBILT -- Dave Embree thinks it's about time two local campgrounds in the Pigeon River Country State Forest are reopened after lengthy closures.

Embree wants campers to return and buy supplies at his store, the Village Market in Vanderbilt, a small grocery and gas station at the western entrance to the forest.

"Because of where our store is -- at the gateway to the Pigeon River Country Forest -- we get huge amounts of campers stopping here. They buy ice and beer and all of that. It is good dollars when they're here," Embree said.

The Pigeon Bridge state forest campground on Sturgeon Valley Road just reopened, while nearby Pickerel Lake state forest campground did just before the Memorial Day holiday. Both sites in Otsego County were closed last year because of water well problems, although some sites at Pickerel Lake remained open.

The return of campers to those spots shouldn't be an issue, said Robin Pearson, recreation specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

"In the Pigeon River Country, we've always had local folks coming from not so far away," she said.

Another area campground recently reopened after water well repairs is Garey Lake Trail Camp in Benzie County. All the well work at the state campgrounds was paid for by grant dollars and state campground operational funds, officials said.

Meanwhile, the DNR halted foot and mountain bike traffic on two portions of the High Country Pathway in the PRCSF for needed bridge repairs.

Two wooden bridges built in 2005 across the Pigeon River and the Black River are unsafe. They cost about $190,000 to build and state officials expected them to last much longer, Pearson said.

"We don't know if it's structurally the design or the materials used," she said.


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