May 13, 2014
New this year, parks admission free for both days
Editor's advisory: A live chat on Wisconsin's Free Fun Weekend begins at noon on Tuesday, May 27. To participate, visit dnr.wi.gov, and look for the box on the right to enter the chat, or search the phrase "ask the experts." Or join the conversation on the DNR Facebook page, www.facebook.com/WIDNR, by clicking the "Cover it Live Chat" box on the top of the page. Read the transcript later at the same address.
MADISON - For two days in June, Wisconsin residents and visitors alike can enjoy some of the country's best outdoor recreation for free.
On June 7-8, people can fish for free anywhere in Wisconsin, 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.
"Free Fun weekend is a great way for friends and families to enjoy the great outdoor throughout Wisconsin," says Preston Cole, Natural Resources Board chairman. "And, if you already have your fishing license or parks sticker, take someone new along to enjoy the free fun."
Cole also encourages people to help spread the word by printing off and posting or sharing a flyer on the Free Fun Weekend. Posters are available in English, Spanish and Hmong and are available in letter size as well as 11-by-17 inch size.
For the first time, vehicle admission fees to Wisconsin State Park System properties are waived for both June 7 and 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.
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.
So far, more than two dozen free fishing clinics are scheduled across the state to help encourage people to try fishing. Check back as the free weekend gets closer as more are expected to be scheduled.
Free loaner equipment is available at more than 50 locations, including many state parks, DNR offices, and partner organizations, according to Theresa Stabo, DNR aquatic education director. People interested in borrowing gear should check for a loaner location near them or near where they will be fishing and arrange to get the equipment.
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