Wisconsin’s State Parks: More than a Hundred Years of Memories
As we approach the 4thof July holiday, I want to take a moment to look at the history of Wisconsin’s State Parks. There are a lot there are a lot of Wisconsinites heading to the parks this weekend and a good amount of people from Illinois and Iowa are crossing into our state to enjoy our treasurers. We know Minnesotans are heading to the northern Wisconsin parks since a state government shut-down there over failure to pass a budget has their park system closing; unfortunate for Minnesota, beneficial for us!
The Wisconsin State Parks program, the first in the entire country, tried to kick off in 1878 but the plan fell apart. In 1900, the state began acquiring land for Interstate Park on the St. Croix River. Slowly, but surely, a land board was created, and other state parks started forming; the park system as we know it erupted in the 1910’s as the State Conservation Commission formed. Wisconsin currently has 66 state park units, covering more than 60,570 acres!
14 million people visit our state parks every year and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is charged with maintaining the parks. It does so via fees for usage and state taxes. The fees provide for operational costs and educational programs. If you like to spend any amount of time in a state park, the $25 admission sticker for your car isn’t a huge amount to invest to ensure the park is there for future generations. From July 2010 to May 2011, car sticker fees provided nearly $12 million to the park system. You can get more information on admission fees by clicking here. The DNR is also provided with a Stewardship Fund to help preserve our natural resources. Stewardship lands anchor a good portion of the state’s economy — from the $13 billion tourism business to the $22 billion forestry industry and the state’s $4 billion hunting and fishing investment.
Go out and enjoy your great state this weekend…and make sure to help keep the public lands preserved for your kids, their kids and generations beyond that.