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Fees waived at Devil’s Lake, other state parks

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Devil's Lake, file photo

MADISON (WKOW) -- Wisconsin State Parks and Trails will remain open to the public for now, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said Thursday.

All entrance fees have been waived.

However, parks, law enforcement and property staff will be diligently ensuring groups larger than 10 do not congregate, as well as provide routine sweeps of state park system properties.

The DNR continues to receive the most up-to-date information and will adjust operations as conditions change, according to a news release.

Recent guidance from the Department of Health Services (DHS) recommends canceling or postponing gatherings of 10 people or more to help protect Wisconsinites, visitors and staff from the spread of COVID-19, particularly those who are most vulnerable to infection and severe disease.

"We recognize that spending time outdoors benefits both physical and mental health. Getting outdoors can also help relieve stress, especially during this public health emergency. A quiet walk does wonders to reduce our anxieties," said DNR Secretary Preston D. Cole. "The DNR is committed to providing a safe environment for our visitors to enjoy, while protecting the health of our staff."

Beginning Thursday, March 19, the DNR will implement the following changes to the operation of all state parks and recreation areas across the state consistent with guidance provided by the Wisconsin Department of Health and Department of Administration.

Here is what to expect:

Close all state park offices, visitor centers, and non-essential buildings for duration of public health emergency; bathrooms remain open

Effective immediately, the DNR will close the following state buildings to the public: Park headquarters, offices, visitor centers, nature centers, research stations, ranger stations, shooting ranges, fish hatcheries, shelters, showers, concessions, and indoor group camp buildings on all DNR owned properties open to the public.

Restrooms on state properties will remain open given there are enough resources, cleaning supplies and access to personal protective equipment for staff to maintain them.

Properties will continue to be staffed and outdoor recreational opportunities (hiking, trails, fishing, hunting, etc.) remain open at this time.

Visitors are reminded to practice proper personal hygiene to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to limit group sizes to under ten people when enjoying state properties.

Camping And Special Permits

All campsites (Individual, group, and indoor) are closed through April 30, 2020.

Refunds will be issued to all customers.

No new reservations will be accepted until further notice.

DNR staff or Camis Reservations staff will be reaching out to individuals with current or upcoming group camping reservations to issue refunds.

Any other questions regarding camping reservations can be directed to the Camis Call Center at 1-888-947-2757.

DNR property managers will also be contacting groups or individuals who have existing special event permits.

DNR customer service representatives also continue to provide service via phone at 1-888-936-7463 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

For updates on event cancellations and building closures at DNR properties, visit the DNR website or follow @WIDNR on Facebook, @wi_dnr on Instagram, or @WDNR on Twitter.

For specific information regarding the COVID-19 the DNR encouraged 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 about the COVID-19 pandemic can be found on the CDC website.

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