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State Park and Forest Heritage Trust Fund

Grant Program for Friends Groups

The Wisconsin Legislature created the State Park and Forest Heritage Trust Fund to provide grants to Friends Groups for the maintenance and operations of state parks, southern state forests, state trails or state recreation areas. A Friends Group must have established an endowment fund for the benefit of the property. Only interest generated by the endowment fund can be used as the applicant’s match.

How Much Money is Available?

Money for this program is derived from donations to the Fund and from revenue received from the sale of utility easements on state park property. Grants will be available on an annual basis as funds are available.

  • Grants are awarded for one-half of the amount that is provided by the Friends Group (2-1 ratio). For example, if the Friends Group provides $100 as its match, the Department can award a grant of $50.
  • A Friends Group may only use the interest from its endowment fund for its match.
  • The department may not grant more than $30,000 per year for any single property.
  • The department may advance grant funds to the successful applicant once they can show they have 100 percent of the match.

Who can apply?

Who can apply?

To be eligible, a Friends Group must be a nonstock, nonprofit corporation described under Section 501(c)(3) or (4) of the Internal Revenue Code and exempt from taxation under section 501(a). In addition, the Group must have been formed to raise funds for state parks, southern state forests, state trails or state recreation areas and have a written Friends Group agreement with the Department of Natural Resources.

To qualify for a grant under this program, the Friends Group must also have an endowment that was established for the benefit of a state park, southern state forest, state trail or state recreation area. An endowment fund is defined in the state statues as “an endowment, trust or other segregated fund for the benefit of a specific state park, southern state forest, state trail or state recreation area.”

Southern state forests include those located in the following counties: Manitowoc, Calumet, Winnebago, Sheboygan, Fond du Lac, Ozaukee, Washington, Dodge, Milwaukee, Waukesha, Jefferson, Racine, Kenosha, Walworth, Rock and Outagamie.

Eligibility

Eligible Projects

Grants are awarded for projects that are consistent with DNR approved plans for the property. Grant awards may be used for operation and maintenance expenses including materials, supplies, services; labor, salaries and fringe benefits if directly related to the grant activity; and rental or lease of equipment.

Priority shall be given to projects that do any of the following:

  • Provide, maintain or operate department-approved interpretive programs.
  • Provides special events, programs, public information for marketing strategies consistent with the goals of the property.
  • Provide or maintain accessibility for people with disabilities.
  • Assist in the restoration or rehabilitation of native plant communities and projects that protect or enhance species of special conservation needs.
  • Maintain or operate basic facilities already provided at the property.

Ineligible projects include:

  • Acquisition and development of areas and facilities that do not meet the definition of nature−based outdoor recreation. “Nature-based outdoor recreation" means activities where the primary focus or purpose is the appreciation or enjoyment of nature. These activities may include but are not limited to hiking, bicycling, wildlife or nature observation, camping, nature study, fishing, hunting, trapping, public shooting range, boating, picnicking, cross-country skiing, canoeing, and multi-use trail activities. Eligible support facilities for these activities may include but are not limited to access roads, parking areas, utility and sanitation systems, sanitary and shelter building, signs, interpretive items, and other features that enhance nature-based outdoor recreation or improved disabled accessibility. Playgrounds and playground facilities that supplement the appreciation of nature, occupy a minor portion of the grant property, and do not distract from the primary purpose of the grant project may be considered an eligible support facility. Ineligible activities include but are not limited to sports that require extensively developed open space such as dedicated sports fields, swimming pools and tennis courts.
  • Construction of new facilities

Ranking

Ranking Sheet

Friends Groups are encouraged to apply for projects that meet current statewide program objectives such and projects will be scored accordingly:

  • The support of interpretive programming; especially activities that encourage outdoor recreation-based skills and social, cultural, and historical projects as identified in the Property Interpretive Plan.
  • Increased accessibility experience throughout a property including, but not limited to: maintenance of accessible cabins, trails, ramps, maintenance and operations of accessible recreation equipment, enhanced operations of accessible recreation opportunities.
  • Development of special events, program, public information strategies to encourage health and wellness in the outdoors including those that further the mission of OutWiGo objectives and enhance the marketing of Friends Group volunteer activities throughout the year.
  • Vegetative management that occurs in “designated use” or “day-use” areas and enhances recreation-based activities in those areas as determined by the Property Manager and Bureau of Parks and Recreation Management. Examples include trail brushing, invasive species management, and tree planting.
  • Basic facility operations and maintenance, especially for facilities and recreation spaces that were originally funded with the help of a Friends Group.
Objective Max Points Objective Max Points
Provide, maintain or operate department-approved interpretive programs. 1 The support of interpretive programming; especially activities that encourage outdoor recreation-based skills and social, cultural, and historical projects as identified in the Property Interpretive Plan. 2
Provide or maintain accessibility for people with disabilities. 1 Increased accessibility experience throughout a property including, but not limited to: maintenance and operations of accessible cabins, trails, ramps, maintenance of accessible recreation equipment, enhanced operations of accessible recreation opportunities. 2
Provides special events, programs, public information for marketing strategies consistent with the goals of the property. 1 Development of special events, program, public information strategies to encourage health and wellness in the outdoors including those that further the mission of OutWiGo objectives and enhance the marketing of Friends Group volunteer activities throughout the year. 2
Assist in the restoration or rehabilitation of native plant communities and projects that protect or enhance species of special conservation needs. 1 Vegetative management that occurs in “designated use” or “day-use” areas and enhances recreation-based activities in those areas as determined by the Property Manager and Bureau of Parks and Recreation Management. Examples include; trail brushing, invasive species management, and tree planting. 2
Maintain or operate basic facilities already provided at the property. 1 Basic facility operations and maintenance, especially for facilities and recreation spaces that were originally funded with the help of a Friends Group. 2

Deadline

Application Deadline

To receive a grant under this subchapter, applications shall be submitted and postmarked no later than November 15 each year. Send applications to:

Friends Grant Program Manager:
Noah Balgooyen
Department of Natural Resources
PO Box 7921
Madison, WI 53707-7921
Phone 608-264-8841

How to apply

How to apply

Start planning your project early and contact your DNR Property Manager about your project goals and obtain their approval.

To apply for a State Property grant, complete the following:

Reporting

Records Retention

Each Friends Group that receives a grant award shall maintain accurate and complete financial records of project expenses for 4 years following final payment from the department in accordance with department reporting requirements. Each Friends Group shall perform accounting in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and practices. Each sponsor shall submit a final accounting of project expenditures to the property manager within 90 days of the completion of the project or by the date indicated in the grant agreement, whichever is sooner. If the project is to provide for general operations or maintenance on the property, then with the approval of the department, the final accounting of project expenditures may consist of a year−end financial statement. If actual expenses for the project are less than estimated, the Friends Group shall return any unused grant funds it has received with the final report.

Help

More Information

For more information and assistance, please contact your DNR Property Manager about project planning, or the Friends Grant Manager for grant application and eligibility questions.

Friends Grant Program Manager:
Noah Balgooyen
Department of Natural Resources
PO Box 7921
Madison, WI 53707-7921
Phone 608-264-8841

Learn more about supporting an individual property through Friends Groups of the Wisconsin State Park System.

Friends Groups that support one of the Wisconsin State Park System properties may also be eligible for a Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Friends Grant.