February 25, 2014
MADISON - Save the dates for Free Fun Weekend, June 7-8, when Wisconsin residents and visitors alike can fish for free, hike or bike state trails for free, ride public ATV trails for free, and, new this year, enjoy free admission to state parks and forests on both days as well.
New this year, all state park vehicle admission sticker fees on all DNR-owned properties are waived for both Saturday, June 7, and Sunday, June 8. Previously, the state park system's longstanding free open house was only the first Sunday in June; this year, vehicle admission fees have been waived for both the first Saturday and Sunday in June.
"We're excited to add a second free day of admission to our state parks to make this truly a "free fun weekend," says Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp. "DNR is your gateway to the outdoors, and we want to open the door wide to everybody to enjoy our beautiful state and diverse recreation."
Stepp encourages people to start planning now to maximize the free weekend. "Free fun weekend is a great time to get together with family and friends to try new activities or invite someone new along to enjoy your favorite outdoor activities."
People who camp at state parks will still pay for their campsites and other events or programs on those two days may require a fee as well.
Free fishing on June 7 and 8 applies to all Wisconsin waters. No fishing license is needed to fish any waters -- this includes inland trout and Great Lakes trout and salmon fishing, which normally would require a trout stamp in addition to a license. Fishing rules such as limits on the length and species of fish that can be kept do apply, however.
Dozens of free fishing clinics are typically hosted around the state by conservation groups and others to help encourage people to try fishing. Free loaner equipment is available at 50 locations, including many state parks, DNR offices, and partner organizations, according to Theresa Stabo, DNR aquatic education director.
On June 7 and 8, all state trail pass fees on all DNR-owned state trails are waived. Cooperatively-run state trails also may waive fees. Normally, a state trail pass is required for all people age 16 or older biking, in-line skating, horseback riding, cross-country skiing or off-highway motorcycling on certain trails. A state trail pass is not required for walking or hiking.
For the second year, Wisconsin residents and nonresidents can ride their ATVs or UTVs on public trails for free on those two days. A law advanced by the Wisconsin ATV Association and passed in 2012 created the free weekend.
Normally, Wisconsin residents have to register their ATVs or UTVs with DNR for public use to operate on public trails, or other areas open to the public like frozen water bodies. Nonresident riders normally have to buy a nonresident trail pass to ride on these areas in Wisconsin. On June 7 and 8, the registration and trail pass fees are waived. All other ATV and UTV regulations apply during the weekend.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: on Free Fishing Weekend contact Theresa Stabo, angler education, 608-266-2272; on ATVs, Joanne Haas, law enforcement public affairs manager, 608-267-0798; on state parks and trails, Paul Holtan, state parks, forests, trails and recreation public affairs manager, 608-267-7517