Van Riper State Park installs new BMX pump track

Shawn Householder Volunteers and staff at Van Riper State Park are pleased to announce the grand opening of a BMX pump track.

With an official ribbon cutting Saturday, Van Riper became the first Michigan State Park to have a pump track.

It’s also the only modular pump track in the entire Upper Peninsula according to Don Steckman from Friends of Van Riper and Craig Lake State Parks.

“There are a lot of different ways we can set it up. So we're thinking that every year we're probably going to change it up a little bit to make it a little bit different for the kids,” Steckman pondered.

Unit Supervisor, Debra Gill says the pump track is also part of Van Riper’s 100th Anniversary Project, celebrating a century of the Michigan DNR.

"We want to say a huge thank you to all of our DNR staff, our Friends [of Van Riper and Craig Lake State Parks] group, all of our volunteers that helped put it in and worked hard to make the project successful,” Gill announced.

Steckman and a number of volunteers were on hand for Saturday’s ribbon cutting. This day was several years in the making according to Steckman.

“There's several different ways to make a pump track. We went through all of them and talked to a lot of people in different states, trying to figure out what was the best way to do it for this park, given the fact it'll be covered in snow for 6 months out of the year,” Steckman stated.

The pump track was made possible through state-funded grants and by donations from Lundin Mining Corporation, Cleveland-Cliffs Inc.and Ferrellgas. Since they purchased the pump track used from a park Miami and performed their own minor refurbishing, they were able to save thousands of dollars.

It's a $100,000 pump track and our Group bought it for $30,000. We spent $8,000 to get it shipped up here and then about 25 volunteers came at the beginning of May to put it together,” Steckman recalled.

The idea of installing a pump track at Van Riper was originally the brainchild of Joan Dostaler and her late husband, some seven years ago. Mrs. Dostaler was also present to see the kids flying around the track for herself.

She says her husband would have been thrilled to finally see the dream come to fruition.

"He would have gotten his helmet on and gotten on his bike and got going around and around, seeing if he could match the kids, even at his old age of 73,” Dostaler declared.

Kids of all ages can ride the track from sunrise until sunset and you don't even have to be a camper to enjoy the new pump track. In fact, Dostaler says she hopes kids from all over the U.P. can take advantage of the new pump track.

“They should tell their folks to pack a picnic lunch if they're not camping and come and enjoy the pump track. It's great. We have campers using it all the time. But locals are welcome with a park sticker. They could have a picnic and wear themselves out. It's good for the parents because the kids might sleep well that night,” Dostaler hinted.

Look for an Archery 101 Program at Van Riper, starting at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 27, 2019. Smokey the Bear will also visit Van Riper August 9th and 10th according to park staff.