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Wisconsin DNR & COVID-19:We remain at your service through this emergency

COVID-19

We at your Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources want you to know we are here for you and our great state as we go through the COVID-19 public health emergency together.

Gov. Tony Evers issued the Safer at Home order Tuesday to "help slow the spread of COVID-19 so we can flatten the curve to ensure our doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers have the opportunity to do their important work." The order is effective 8 a.m. Wednesday, March 25, 2020 through 8 a.m. Friday, April 24, 2020, or until a superseding order is issued.

To help protect Wisconsinites, visitors and staff from the spread of COVID-19, particularly those who are most vulnerable to infection and severe disease, staying home as much as possible is the best way to lower COVID-19 infection rates, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In light of COVID-19, the DNR is canceling, adjusting and postponing an array of in-person public events and meetings consistent with guidance provided by the Wisconsin Department of Health and Department of Administration. However, should you need a place with space, getting outdoors has both physical and mental benefits.

Distance is key during this public health emergency. Social distancing – the practice of keeping at least six feet apart from others and avoiding direct physical contact – is the only effective means of slowing the rate of infection.

Thank you for your patience during the COVID-19 public health emergency. As state agencies continue operations, please understand that most of our staff are teleworking and may have limited access to files and delayed online connectivity. We are still available to serve you and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Running on trail

As this is a rapidly evolving situation, please check back regularly for updates or follow @WIDNR on Facebook, @wi_dnr on Instagram, or @WDNR on Twitter.

Here's what you need to know about Wisconsin DNR operations and offerings:

State Parks, Trails, Forests, Recreational Areas and State Natural Areas

In accordance with public health guidelines and safety recommendations, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is modifying current state park operations to maintain the safest environment for visitors and staff.

Beginning Saturday, May 23, all Wisconsin state park system properties will return to regular operating hours of 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. Properties will no longer be closed Wednesdays.

In addition, a limited number of day-use area restrooms at park properties will reopen for public use beginning Wednesday, June 3. Visitors are reminded to plan ahead as well as bring hand sanitizer in the event it is not available at facilities.

All group, family, individual and indoor group campsites will remain closed through June 7. All events and shelter reservations will also be canceled through June 7. Permit and reservation holders will be contacted and provided a full refund. The status of events, reservations and camping after June 7 is currently under review.

Rock Island State Park is closed to all use, including camping, until July 1. According to the ferry operator, ferry service to and from the island is on hold until further notice due to high lake levels and pending guidelines for both State Park and vessel operations during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The following properties will remain closed for the health and safety of the public, staff, and property integrity:

  • Dells of The Wisconsin River State Natural Area
  • Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area
  • Parfrey's Glen State Natural area
  • Pewits Nest State Natural area

Admission Required

Open Properties Map

Open Wisconsin State Parks
(updated May 22, 2020)

  • An annual park sticker and/or trail pass will be required to visit state parks and trails.
  • Annual Wisconsin State Parks stickers are now available for sale online
    Stickers available for purchase online include:
    • Annual Wisconsin Resident: $28
    • Wisconsin Resident Senior (65+): $13
    • Non-Resident: $38
  • Annual trail passes and other park passes not listed above are still available for purchase with a credit card by phone from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. seven days a week by calling toll free: 1-888-305-0398.
  • Annual passes are NOT available for purchase at individual properties. Visitors must have an annual admission sticker adhered to their vehicle or proof of purchase for entry.
  • Once proof of purchase is shown, visitors must place proof of purchase on the dash of the windshield while parked within the boundary of the property.
  • The 2020 annual vehicle admission sticker is valid through Dec. 31, 2020.

Hours of Operation

  • State parks and forests will be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week beginning Saturday, May 23.
  • 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
    • NOTE: Capital Springs State Recreation Area and Cross Plains State Park are managed cooperatively with multiple partners and municipalities and as such were removed from the closure list in April.

Boat Launches

  • DNR boat launches are open at open state properties.
  • All anglers and recreational boaters should practice social distancing and keep travel to a minimum.
  • If individuals can lawfully access Wisconsin’s rivers and lakes, they are free to navigate upon them while engaging in outdoor recreation.

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

  • A limited number of day-use area restrooms at park properties will reopen for public use beginning Wednesday, June 3. Visitors are reminded to plan ahead as well as bring hand sanitizer in the event it is not available at facilities.
  • 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.
  • Please make sure to seek out current property information on our website before visiting: Wisconsin State Park Capacity Updates
  • 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

  • All group, family, individual and indoor group campsites will remain closed through June 7. All events and shelter reservations will also be canceled through June 7. Permit and reservation holders will be contacted and provided a full refund.
  • The status of events, reservations and camping after June 7 is currently under review.
  • 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.

"We are excited to reopen several of our state parks and forests for the public to enjoy. We want to thank everyone for their cooperation with our new operating schedule and procedures," said DNR Secretary Preston D. Cole. "We must do all that we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19. When visiting our treasured state parks and forests, remember to stay close to home, practice social distancing and carry hand sanitizer. Please enjoy the outdoors responsibly and be more than safe."

The DNR urges visitors to do their part when visiting DNR properties. Most Wisconsin state parks, forests and other day-use areas do not have garbage or recycling bins. When you visit, please take your garbage and recyclables home with you. We all play a vital role in taking care of our natural resources. Following the Leave No Trace principles helps protect the land for generations to come.

Visitors are reminded to practice social distancing of 6 feet, refrain from congregating in large groups, travel only within your home communities and follow all existing state park rules and guidelines. Visitors are also encouraged to wear masks in situations where social distancing is difficult.

The DNR continues to receive the most up-to-date information and will adjust operations as conditions change. We will also continue to monitor on-the-ground circumstances each day to determine additional conditions that may become necessary. Before visiting other properties, please check with individual parks regarding changes to park operations.

Buildings And Events

  • All in-person public events and meetings are canceled for the duration of the public health emergency.
  • Counter service at all DNR service centers is also suspended.
  • The Natural Resources Board will convene for a special meeting via teleconference at 8 a.m. on April 1, 2020.
  • Spring Hearings in-person portion on April 13 are canceled. Online input option will be provided
  • In-person County Deer Advisory Council meetings are canceled. Public meetings moved to call-in format starting March 30; Call-in meetings open to public; Online public comment period remains unchanged.

Business Operations

As state agencies continue operations, please understand that most of our staff are teleworking and may have limited access to files and delayed online connectivity. Our staff will keep their voicemails and out-of-office messages up to date and will respond as they are able.

With this in mind, we ask that our customers:

  • Email whenever possible to communicate with staff.
  • Set-up conference calls or Skype meetings in lieu of in-person meetings.
  • Request electronic public records online using our standard system, whenever possible.
    • State staff are not currently available to access physical files and no staff are available on-site to allow physical inspection of files by the public until the Governor's COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.
  • Submit documents electronically, preferably via a download link (ftp servers, DNR system, etc.). Note: If that option is not available to you, DNR staff can receive emails up to 20 MB.

License Sales

  • Our Customer Service Representatives are available to assist you 7 a.m. - 10 p.m. daily. 1-888-936-7463
  • Hunting and Fishing Licenses are available for sale 24 hours a day at: GoWild.WI.Gov

Toll Free Hotlines

  • DNR Violation Hotline:
    1-800-847-9367
  • Emergency Spill Hotline:
    1-800-943-0003

Questions?

  • Our Customer Service Representatives are available to assist you 7 a.m. - 10 p.m. daily. 1-888-936-7463

THANK YOU

We at the DNR thank you for your patience and cooperation as we all go through the COVID-19 emergency. We will update information as needed during this fluid situation.

Be more than safe and stay healthy out there.

Last revised: Friday May 22 2020