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May 22, 2012

Take advantage of an open air library to learn more about nature

MADISON - People visiting Wisconsin State Parks on Sunday June 3 will enjoy free admission, and if they visit one of the 49 parks participating in the "Read to Lead at Wisconsin State Parks" program, they can check out a book paired with that park intended to help them learn more about nature and the environment.

Read to Lead in Wisconsin State Parks
Visitors to any of 49 Wisconsin State Parks on Wisconsin State Park Open House Day June 3 can check out a nature book paired with the park.

The first Sunday of the first full weekend of June is always State Parks Open House Day, and admission stickers and trail passes are waived at all Department of Natural Resources properties. In addition, Saturday, June 2 is National Trails Day, and trail fees on state-operated trails are waived statewide that day. Cooperatively-run state trails also may participate in the statewide open house day.

The weekend of statewide open house day coincides with "Free Fishing Weekend," the first consecutive Saturday and Sunday in June.

"We hope people who come out to enjoy our beautiful state parks on open house day will take the opportunity to help their children or children they know learn more about our natural world by checking out one of our Read to Lead books," says DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. "Reading is integral to learning and learning about nature is integral to developing a fuller appreciation of our natural resources."

Read to Lead in Wisconsin State Parks challenges children, ages 5 through 9, to read 20 or more nature books from the DNR Read to Lead checklist [pdf]. A state park and nature book are paired each week throughout the year, with copies of the featured book available at each featured park, but kids don't have to read the book during the week it's featured. Many of the books are also available through public libraries.

The featured park and book for the week of State Park Open House Day is Lake Wissota State Park and "Flute's Journey: The Life of a Wood Thrush" by Lynne Cherry. It's the story of a wood thrush that hatches out of a little turquoise egg, learns to fly, eats berries and insects, flies to Costa Rica for the winter, and returns to start a family of his own.

People can search for "read" on the DNR website to find the complete list of which books are available at which parks.

Once a child has read, or had someone read to them, 20 or more books from the list, they fill out an entry form, send it in, and are entered to win a drawing for a Kindle Fire or other prizes. The Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin and the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks helped fund the prizes. Entries must be postmarked by January 7, 2013.

In addition to reading, visitors on open house day can learn more about butterflies and bats by attending programs at Devil's Lake State Park in Sauk County, enjoy "Fling into Spring" with family games and a fishing contest at Cadiz Springs State Park in Green County, attend "Spring into Summer Nature Fest" with four activity stations for people of all ages at the Northern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest in Fond du Lac County, or enjoy the "Art along the Willow" art fair at Willow River State Park in St. Croix County.

There will also be a kids fishing clinic at the Mauthe Lake recreation area in the Kettle Moraine State Forest, and people can search for "fishing equipment for loan" on the DNR website to find of list of parks that loan fish poles and tackle to also take advantage of free fishing weekend.

For more information on activities at state properties on National Trails Day or State Parks Open House, search "Get Outdoors," on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION on State Parks Open House Day contact Wisconsin State Parks - 608-266-2181; on Read to Lead in Wisconsin State Parks contact Carrie Morgan at 608-267-5239

Last Revised: Tuesday, May 22, 2012

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