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Wisconsin's Impressive State Park System could be just the medicine during crisis

 

There are 66 state parks and recreation areas in Wisconsin, covering more than 60,570 acres. Those properties, while not fully operational, are being kept open in order to give people access to open areas to get needed outdoor time. And residents can currently enjoy the open spaces at no cost. Playgrounds, though, are still considered off limits.

Wisconsin State Parks and Trails will remain open to the public. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources continues to receive the most up-to-date information and will adjust operations as conditions change. We will continue to monitor on-the-ground circumstances each day to determine if park closures become necessary.

While recent guidance from the Department of Health Services (DHS) recommends canceling or postponing gatherings of 10 people or more to help protect Wisconsinites, visitors and staff from the spread of COVID-19, particularly those who are most vulnerable to infection and severe disease, a majority of Wisconsin State parks will remain open.

“We recognize that spending time outdoors benefits both physical and mental health. Getting outdoors can also help relieve stress, especially during this public health emergency. A quiet walk does wonders to reduce our anxieties,” said DNR Secretary Preston D. Cole. “The DNR is committed to providing a safe environment for our visitors to enjoy, while protecting the health of our staff.”

Parks, law enforcement and property staff will be diligently ensuring groups larger than 10 do not congregate as well as provide routine sweeps of state park system properties.

The DNR has implemented the following changes to the operation of all state parks and recreation areas across the state consistent with guidance provided by the Wisconsin Department of Health and Department of Administration.

Admission is voluntary at this time via self-registration or electronic kiosks. All state park offices, visitor centers, and non-essential buildings will close for the duration of the public health emergency.

The DNR will close the following state buildings to the public: Park headquarters, offices, visitor centers, nature centers, research stations, ranger stations, shooting ranges, fish hatcheries, shelters, showers, concessions, and indoor group camp buildings on all DNR owned properties open to the public.

Restrooms on state properties will remain open given there are enough resources, cleaning supplies and access to personal protective equipment for staff to maintain them.

Properties will continue to be staffed and outdoor recreational opportunities (hiking, trails, fishing, hunting, etc.) remain open at this time.

Visitors are reminded to practice proper personal hygiene to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to limit group sizes to under ten people when enjoying state properties.

All campsites (individual, group, and indoor) are closed through April 30, 2020. Refunds will be issued to all customers.

For updates on event cancellations and building closures at DNR properties, visit the DNR website or follow @WIDNR on Facebook, @wi_dnr on Instagram, or @WDNR on Twitter.

For specific information regarding the COVID-19 the public is encouraged to frequently monitor the DHS website for updates, and to follow @DHSWI on Facebook and Twitter, or dhs.wi on Instagram. Additional information can be found on the CDC website.

Go to https://www.wisconline.com/attractions/parks.html for a complete list to find a park near you.

 

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