2017-08-17 / Courts

More than 150 tickets issued so far in park

When it comes to law enforcement, National Park Rangers would rather correct a violation without issuing a ticket.

As of last week, 156 federal violation notices had been issued in 2017 throughout Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

“We’ve given out more than 1,500 verbal and written warnings this summer,” said Phil Akers, chief ranger for the Lakeshore.

Aker’s biggest tip to avoid being issued a citation is to simply not break the law.

“Use common sense. Don’t do drugs or practice excessive speeding,” Akers said.

Most citations are issued from from May to mid-October, Akers said, when rangers encounter violations for many things.

“We see parking violations, issues with speeding and licensing,” Akers said.

Other common violations include controlled substances such as marijuana, failure to provide insurance and resource violations such as fishing without a license.

The main goal behind citations is compliance. The goal is not to issue as many citations as possible, Akers said.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that the Lakeshore makes money from citations, which are handled through federal court in Grand Rapids.

“None of the money goes to the park system, it all goes to the Crime Victims Fund,” Akers said. “Sometimes people will ask where the money goes and we just tell them, we never see any of it.”

Park rangers have to be multi-functional, Akers added.

“They’re not just issuing tickets, they’re out there rescuing people and helping with things outside of the park. They’re always ready to help.”

Emergency personnel for the park assist with everything from reports of domestic abuse to accident investigations within the park. Rangers also help other parks if they need additional assistance, Akers said.

“We all wear quite a few hats,” Akers said. “We really do.”

— by Hannah Lentz

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