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Gov. Tony Evers directs Wisconsin DNR to close 40 state parks, recreational areas

Posted at 8:46 AM, Apr 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-09 21:02:54-04

Gov. Tony Evers is directing the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to close 40 state parks, forests and recreational areas amid concerns over crowds and vandalism.

Due to "unprecedented crowds, litter, vandalism and out of an abundance of caution," the governor is directing DNR to close parks and recreational areas by the end of the day April 9.

“I wanted to keep state parks open for the public to enjoy during this challenging time which is why outdoor activity is listed as an essential activity under the Safer at Home order,” said Evers in a press release. “Unfortunately, growing difficulty with ensuring social distancing compliance, dwindling cleaning supplies and mounting trash are some of the challenges faced by our state parks staff. We have to address the growing public health and safety concern and protect Wisconsinites.”

"We know there are benefits to getting outdoors. By not doing this would put people's lives at risk," said DNR Secretary Preston D. Cole. "With the weather warming we are seeing increases in visitors and a myriad of challenges surrounding social distancing. In order to the protect the public, this is a necessary step."

Secretary Cole said, people will still be able to utilize the trails but they must maintain social distancing. However; the parking lots, restrooms, picnic tables and benches are off limits. Secretary Cole said, it's those areas where they saw an increase in people gathering in close proximity to one another.

The areas affected include:

Northeast Region

High Cliff State Park

Southeast Region

Big Foot Beach State Park, Harrington Beach State Park, Havenwoods State Forest, Kohler-Andrae State Park, Kettle Moraine State Forest Lapham Peak, Loew Lake, Mukwonago River, Northern Unit, Pike Lake, Southern Unit, Lakeshore State Park, and Richard Bong State Recreational Area

South Central Region

Aztalan State Park, Belmont Mound State Park, Blue Mound State Park, Cadiz Springs State Recreational Area, Capital Springs State Recreational Area, Cross Plains State Park, Devil’s Lake State Park, Fenley State Recreational Area, Governor Dodge State Park, Governor Nelson State Park, Lake Kegonsa State Park, Lower Wisconsin Riverway, Mackenzie Center, Mirror Lake State Park, Natural Bridge State Park, Nelson Dewey State Park, New Glarus Woods State Park, Rocky Arbor State Park, Sauk Prairie State Recreational Area, Tower Hill State Park, Wyalusing State Park, Yellowstone Lake State Park, Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area, Pewits Nest State Natural Area, Parfrey’s Glen State Natural Area and Dells of The Wisconsin River State Natural Area

The parks are to remain closed until further notice. The DNR suggest going for a walk or bike ride close to your home.

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