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Contact: Missy VanLanduyt, Recreation Partnerships Section Chief

Check Out Wisconsin State Parks At Your Library

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced a pilot program to make state park and forest vehicle admission day passes available to 1,000 library card holders at 20 libraries across Wisconsin.

Starting Tuesday, Nov. 1, library card holders can check out a pass from participating libraries. The passes will be valid for free admission for one vehicle at any state park, forest or recreation area where admission is required. The pilot program ends March 1, 2023.

“The DNR is continually looking for innovative opportunities to bring more people to state parks and forests and to ensure everyone in Wisconsin has access to our incredible natural resources,” said Steve Schmelzer, Director of the Wisconsin State Park System. “By partnering with Wisconsin’s library system, we can reach households who may not be as familiar with the wide array of opportunities Wisconsin’s state parks and forests have to offer.”

A kick-off event is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 20, at 10:30 a.m. at the Platteville Public Library in Platteville. The program will begin with remarks. There will also be a story time and nature-based activities beginning at 10:30 a.m. for toddler/pre-school-aged children. Refreshments and a visit from Smokey Bear will follow. This kick-off is free and open to the public.

The pilot program, Check Out Wisconsin State Parks At Your Library, is a collaborative effort between the DNR, Wisconsin Library Association’s Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries and Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Nicolet Federated Library System and Southwest Wisconsin Library System underwrote the cost of the day passes.

“We are proud to work with our partner organizations to develop and pilot this program with our public library members,” said Laura Sauser, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Library Association. “This program is another wonderful example of the role Wisconsin’s public libraries can play in connecting urban and rural community members with resources for both learning and enjoyment both in and outside the library building.” 

Along with the day pass, the cardholder will receive an informational kit of state park system materials and maps, a Wisconsin Explorer Program book, stickers, accessibility information and more. The goal of the program is to expand access to the Wisconsin state park system to new park visitors. Each of the 20 libraries is receiving 50 day passes available for a one-time use. Libraries were chosen based on economic and social variables.

The DNR plans to continue the program in 2023 based on participant feedback and funding. Each pass includes a survey link so the DNR can gather information about who used the passes and how they enjoyed their park experience. Participants who complete the survey after using the pass will be eligible to win one of ten 2023 annual state park and forest vehicle admission stickers paid for by the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks.

Participating libraries are: Argyle Public Library, Beloit Public Library, Deer Park Public Library, Edgerton Public Library, Farnsworth Public Library (Oconto), Franklin Public Library, Grantsburg Public Library, Hales Corners Public Library, Hedberg Public Library (Janesville), Irvin Young Memorial Library (Whitewater), Kenosha Public Library, McMillan Public Library (Wisconsin Rapids), Mercer Public Library, North Shore Public Library (Glendale), Oak Creek Public Library, Platteville Public Library, Sherman & Ruth Weiss Community Library (Hayward), Shorewood Public Library, Wauwatosa Public Library and Winter Public Library.

The Wisconsin Library Association is a professional organization representing all types of libraries – school, public, academic, and special. Its membership comprises over 1,400 librarians and support staff, library trustees, friends of libraries and business vendors who advocate and work for the improvement of library services for all Wisconsin citizens.

For information about the Check Out Wisconsin State Parks program, read more here.