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Gov. Tony Evers directs DNR to reopen state parks, forests under special conditions

Free admissions to Wisconsin state parks this weekend
Posted at 8:52 AM, Apr 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-28 13:44:20-04

Gov. Tony Evers has directed the Department of Natural Resources to reopen several state parks and forests under special conditions.

The parks had closed on April 9, due to concerns over crowds and vandalism.

On Tuesday, Evers directed DNR to reopen 34 state parks and forests on May 1. The special conditions are to help minimize overcrowding and allow for social distancing requirements.

“Outdoor recreation is important for both physical and mental health, and I know how important it is to Wisconsinites to get outside and enjoy Wisconsin’s natural resources and spring weather,” said Evers in a press release. “With a few adjustments, like closing one day a week for maintenance and reduced hours of operation, folks should be able to get outside and enjoy our parks safely and respectfully.”

Here are the changes going into effect on May 1:

  • State parks and forests will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, a change from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Properties will be closed to the public every Wednesday for maintenance and upkeep.
  • Northern Forests, Flowages, Lower Wisconsin Riverway, and Wild Rivers will be open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. Specific properties listed below.
    • Black River State Forest
    • Brule River State Forest
    • Chippewa Flowage
    • Flambeau River State Forest
    • Governor Earl Peshtigo River State Forest
    • Governor Knowles State Forest
    • Lower Wisconsin State Riverway
    • Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest
    • Pike Wild River
    • Pine-Popple Wild River
    • Turtle Flambeau Flowage
    • Willow Flowage
  • Hunting and fishing will be allowed on all open properties in accordance with legal season structure and hours. Access to some areas may be limited to walk-in or water access only.
  • The following properties will remain closed for the health and safety of the public, staff, and property integrity:
    • Gibraltar Rock state natural area
    • Pewit’s Nest state natural area
    • Parfrey's Glen state natural area
    • Dells of The Wisconsin River state natural area

TRAILS

  • All linear/rail trails are open to the public, which includes ATV trails.
  • The Ice Age Trail remains open.
  • An annual state trail pass is required for anyone age 16 or older biking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding or in-line skating on certain trails. A state trail pass is NOT required for walking or hiking. The annual trail passes are valid through Dec. 31 of the year they are issued.

RESTROOMS AND BUILDINGS

  • Restrooms at all state properties will be closed. This includes the closure of restrooms on properties currently open to the public.
  • All other facilities will remain closed, including towers, shelters, playgrounds, nature centers, headquarters, contact stations and concession buildings.
  • Attractions where social distancing cannot be achieved will be closed as needed at various properties.

PRE-DETERMINED SAFETY CAPACITY LIMITATIONS

  • At times, many properties will likely reach their pre-determined safety capacity. When this happens, visitors may be denied entry to the park until existing visitors leave. Visitors are encouraged to explore other DNR recreation areas or visit during non-peak hours before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m.
  • State Parks likely to temporarily prohibit additional visitors include:
    • Copper Falls
    • Devil’s Lake
    • Governor Dodge
    • Governor Nelson
    • Harrington Beach
    • Hartman Creek
    • High Cliff
    • Interstate
    • Kinnickinnic
    • Kettle Moraine Southern Unit
    • Lapham Peak
    • Perrot, Rib Mountain
    • Roche-a-Cri
    • Whitefish Dunes
    • Willow River

CAMPING AND EVENTS

  • Camping, group camps and shelters will remain closed until May 26. Refunds will be issued to all customers.
  • Limited numbers of remote, backpack and boat-in campsites are available on a first-come first-serve basis. A list of some of the properties offering this type of camping include:
    • Brule River State Forest
    • Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area
    • Dunnville Wildlife Area
    • Flambeau River State Forest
    • Governor Earl Peshtigo River State Forest
    • Governor Knowles State Forest
    • Meadow Valley State Wildlife Area
    • Tiffany Wildlife Area
    • Van Loon State Wildlife Are
    • Willow Flowage
  • Volunteer activities remain suspended at DNR properties.
  • All events and special event permits are canceled until May 26.

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