LANSING — House Bills 5457 and 5458, recently introduced by state Rep. Tom Cochran (D-Mason), would name the last Saturday in September “Public Lands Day” in the state of Michigan and waive entrance and access fees to state parks and state-held public lands and public boat access sites that day. If adopted, it would coincide with a federal Public Lands day that waives entrance and access fees for federally held public lands.

“Michigan is blessed to have a wealth of natural resources. We’re known as the Great Lakes State, but our forests, wetlands and grasslands are just as special,” Rep. Cochran said. “My hope is that Michiganders will use a Public Lands Day to get to know these places with their family free of charge, and then maybe pick up a Recreation Passport that will allow them to explore more of our state parks and state forest campgrounds, and access our state-owned boat launches and non-motorized trailheads.”

Michigan has more than 4.6 million acres of public lands, including 3.8 million acres of state forests, 360,000 acres of state game areas and 108 state parks, recreation areas and scenic sites. The public lands support a $22.8 billion tourism industry, drawing 680,000 hunters who spend $2.3 billion annually and 1.1 million anglers who generate $2.5 billion for Michigan’s economy annually.

“Fostering an appreciation of our public lands makes sense on many levels,” Rep. Cochran said. “Not only does it teach us to love our state, but it can bring families together and bolster our state’s economy. I hope we can come together as a Legislature and support this common-sense measure to support Michigan’s public lands.”