Traverse City Woman Partners with DNR

Paige Lackey is a member of the Huron Pines AmeriCorps Program, a program to develop leaders in conservation. She is currently on a five month tour, with her dog Willow, visiting Michigan rustic campgrounds in partnership with the Department of Natural Resources – Project Rustic. Paige is more than halfway through her tour of 75 rustic campgrounds. While traveling she collects detailed information about each location to improve camping experiences for rustic travelers.

“I am collecting GPS data,” says Paige. “I am collecting points that will later be turned into maps for internal use for the Department as well as external use so people can help plan their trips. ”

So far, Paige has been to 55 campgrounds and hiked over 20 trails. Along the way she is snapping photos for the DNR photo library and updating campground websites. Her mindset is to let people know what to expect during their trip.

“A lot of people, when I say state forest campgrounds, think of the state parks, but these campgrounds are quite different than a state park,” she says. “It’s very bare bones. It provides a very different experience than the state parks.”

Rustic sites do not have the same amenities according to Paige. Rustic campgrounds have vault toilets and well pumps as opposed to public bathrooms with showers. There’s also no electric hookups.

Before the trip began in May, Paige had to figure out the logistics of the trip.

“I’ve had to draft out an itinerary to the best I could which surprisingly has been pretty accurate so far,” she says. “[It’s] just basically planning where I’ll be at what time so I can set up these meetings while I’m on the road it’s been a lot of legwork.”

Despite the legwork, and learning how to drive the rig, Paige Lackey has enjoyed her adventure so far. She says the best part of the trip is seeing the remote and less traveled areas of the state.

Paige is on the last leg of her trip; on her way to Onaway and the rest of Central Northern Michigan. She anticipates being done with her journey by October.

She is also blogging about her experience and travel tips at You can also follow Paige’s journey at Michigan State Parks, Trails and Waterways Facebook page.