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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.

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, meetings and operations 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 still key during this ongoing 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.

State park and trail visitors are reminded to practice social distancing of 6 feet 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.

Thank you for your patience during the COVID-19 public health emergency. As state agencies continue operations, please understand that most of our staff continue to telework 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.

As this is an ever-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

Father and son camping

Special park operations are in place to ensure the safety of staff and visitors. Visitors are reminded to practice social distancing of 6 feet, refrain from congregating in large groups, travel only within their 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. Please see below for additional details.

VEHICLE ADMISSION STICKERS AND STATE TRAIL PASSES

  • A vehicle admission sticker is required to visit most state park system properties. Stickers can be purchased online or at individual properties via drive-up window service, electronic sales kiosks or self-registration stations. Visitors must have an admission sticker adhered to their vehicle or proof of purchase for entry.
  • A 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. State trail passes can be purchased at individual properties via drive-up window service, electronic sales kiosks or self-registration stations.
  • The 2021 annual vehicle admission stickers and state trail passes are valid from the date of purchase through Dec. 31, 2021.

HOURS OF OPERATION AND BUILDINGS

  • State parks and forests are open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.
  • Beginning April 30, 2021:
    • Playgrounds and observation towers will reopen.
    • Capacity will increase to 100 people for open-air shelters and amphitheaters.
    • Concessionaires may open stand-alone concession facilities at 50% capacity.
  • Office buildings, visitor centers, enclosed shelters and nature centers remain closed until further notice. Some drive-up windows may be open for admission purchases.
  • Adaptive rental equipment at state park properties is unavailable until further notice.
  • Indoor group camps and indoor shelters remain closed until June 1, 2021.
  • Hunting and fishing is allowed at properties in accordance with legal season structure and hours.

CAMPING AND RESERVATIONS

  • Camping reservations are required before setting up camp. Reservations for the summer 2021 season can be made through the online reservation system or by calling 1-888-947-2757.
  • Check-in is not necessary at the office or visitor station when coming to a property with an existing camping reservation. Please proceed directly to your campsite and begin setup.
  • Campers are encouraged to utilize facilities one household at a time and respect/distance from other campers.
  • During the off-season (Nov. through April), some parks and forests may have campsites that are available only on a first-come, first-served basis. Check with the property office for availability of these sites.
  • Seasonal water systems, including flush toilet restrooms and shower buildings, drinking fountains and sanitary dump stations are shut down for the season and will reopen as weather permits. Vault toilets may be open at properties.

FIREWOOD

  • Firewood is available for sale at select state parks. At properties where firewood is not currently available, campers should purchase before they arrive.
  • Campers are reminded that only certified firewood or firewood originating from within 10 miles of the park is allowed into the park.

EVENTS

  • DNR-led events and nature programs are canceled until further notice.
  • Beginning April 30, 2021, special events and commercial use permits will be allowed with the appropriate application and mitigation forms for groups of 100 people or less.
  • Volunteer activities will also follow the Bounce Back Plan and be permitted on a case-by-case basis depending on group size and whether the activity can be done maintaining 6 feet of space between volunteers.

PROPERTY CLOSURES AND CAPACITY LIMITS

  • Rock Island will remain closed to all visitors through Thursday, May 27 to allow for repairs to the dock including dredging of the dock area. Reservation holders will be contacted directly and those scheduled to arrive on Wednesday, May 26 or Thursday, May 27 will be given the opportunity to shorten their stay to arrive on Friday May 28. Washington Island Ferry Line has suspended all trips to and from Rock Island.
  • Popular attractions within state parks where social distancing cannot be achieved may close as needed.
  • Due to high demand during peak seasons, some properties may reach their pre-determined capacity limits. When this happens, properties will close until existing visitors leave, and capacity is reduced. 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
  • The following State Natural Areas are now open:
    • Pewits Nest
    • Parfrey's Glen

BOAT LAUNCHES

  • Anglers and recreational boaters should continue to practice social distancing and keep travel to a minimum.
  • A list of launches and shorefishing access points is available on the DNR website to help anglers find fishing locations close to home.
  • Boats need to be registered, which can be done either online or via mail.
  • Minimize the spread of aquatic invasive species by removing plants and animals from boats before and after launching, draining all water from compartments, and never move live fish from any waterbody.

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. For specific information regarding COVID-19 we encourage the public to frequently monitor the DHS website for updates, and to follow @DHSWI on Facebook and Twitter, or dhs.wi on Instagram. Additional information can be found on the CDC website.

Be more than safe and stay healthy out there.