April 23, 2013
MADISON - Expanding High Cliff State Park, relocating the boat launch to provide better access to Lake Winnebago, and constructing a new educational and interpretive building are among the improvements recommended over the next 10 to 15 years in a draft master plan revision for the park that will be the subject of an upcoming public meeting as part of the public comment review period running through May 10.
High Cliff State Park is a 1,195-acre property located ten miles east of Appleton on the northeast shore of Lake Winnebago in Calumet County. The park is situated on the Niagara Escarpment, a dolomite ridge that parallels the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago and extends northeasterly to Door County. It is this 223 foot high ledge, with a panoramic view of the lake and surrounding countryside, which gives High Cliff its name.
Year-round attendance at the park is near 417,000 making High Cliff Wisconsin's fifth busiest state park. The master plan for the property was last updated in 1982.
The current draft plan proposes expanding the park to provide enhanced ecological, economic, and social value for the property and region. If the boundary expansion were acquired in its entirety, the property would encompass approximately 3,015 acres and would connect High Cliff State Park to Calumet County Park.
Land for the expansion would only be purchased from willing sellers. Because it is unlikely that all tracts within the boundaries would be available for acquisition simultaneously, and some may never be, expenditures would be spread over a considerable span of time. Lands purchased for addition to High Cliff State Park would likely be acquired using Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program funds or a similar bonding fund.
Other recommendations in the plan include additional camping opportunities, including a redesigned group campground and additions to the modern family campground. The plan also proposed separating the equestrian and bike trail and developing a new trail along the Lake Winnebago shoreline.
The plan recommends implementing the proposed improvement projects in three phases, with the rate of development depending upon available funding and the approval of the proposed improvement projects as part of the Department of Natural Resources overall capital development process.
The total cost of all three phases of the proposed park improvements is estimated at approximately $11.3 million distributed over a period of 10 to 15 years or more.
The plan is available for review by searching the DNR website for "High Cliff" and then clicking on the tab for Maps/publications and selecting the link for "High Cliff master plan in progress." The plan is also available at the park headquarters.
Public involvement has been an integral part of the planning process that began in 2009 with adoption of a public involvement plan, outlining the process, procedures, and tools used throughout the planning process to encourage public awareness, interaction and input. The Department of Natural Resources worked with local towns, non-governmental organizations, citizens, and businesses to create the High Cliff State Park Draft Master Plan. Public meetings were held in 2009, 2011 and 2012.
There will be a public meeting to present the draft master plan and listen to comments from the public about the future for High Cliff State Park on Tuesday, May 7, from 4-6:30 p.m. at the Sherwood Community Center, W489 Clifton Road, Sherwood. Public comments will be accepted until May 10, with Natural Resources Board approval later this year.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Carolyn Morgen, High Cliff State Park State Park Superintendent, 920-989-1106, extension 223