WI – State budget proposal includes flexible fee option for state parks

Chuck Quirmbach, Wisconsin Public Radio

Gov. Scott Walker’s biennial budget proposal would let Wisconsin state parks charge more for admission during peak times and could raise prices for some annual passes.

Officials say even with potential hikes, the state parks would still be a great value for residents, but some parks advocates contend the governor and lawmakers are relying too much on fees and donations to keep the parks system running.

The current state budget removed general tax revenue as a source of money for the parks but it gave the state Department of Natural Resources more flexibility in raising funds from park admission and camping fees, and the DNR has boosted those prices.

Walker’s proposal for the next two fiscal years would go even further by allowing flexible pricing at parks. DNR parks director Ben Bergey said that, for example, fees at some parks might go up on a busy weekend. But Bergey said those increases would be limited to $5, and a daily pass could go from $8 to $13.

“There are several other venues out there that you can compare to that still make that a really good deal,” Bergey said. “Wisconsin state parks and trails would still be a good option for economic value compared to a lot of other options that are out there today.”

Bergey said flexible pricing might also be used to discourage some people from going to a park that’s already crowded on a particular day.

An annual state parks sticker for Wisconsin residents for all park properties might increase by up to $10 to $38, while a more limited-access sticker might remain at $28, Bergey said.

Speaking to members of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee earlier this month at a public hearing, Whitefish Bay resident Virginia Goode pointedly asked lawmakers to restore some general tax revenue to the state parks because they are a shared resource.

Goode, who described herself as a retired parks and recreation worker, told lawmakers she’s worried parks can’t make it on fee revenue alone.

“Parks and recreation are sometimes viewed as discretionary. But professionals know there are costs that are to be made public and shared with all taxpayers,” Goode said.

It’s unclear if the Legislature will shift some dollars to the parks. Meanwhile, the DNR continues to rely on donations to enhance the parks experience.

For example, last week, the Friends of Devils Lake State Park gave $28,000 to fund limited-term employees in the visitor services, maintenance and interpretation areas at the park near Baraboo. A portion of the donation also will be used to fund ongoing maintenance and repair of park facilities and grounds.

Jackie Murphy, president of the friends group, said they have made similar donations during the group’s 20-year history.

“It’s needed,” Murphy said. “The state parks funds are very limited. We like to be able to do as much as we can to not only maintain, but also have fun activities.”

That includes things like monthly concerts for campers that the friends group pays for during the summer.

Also last week, the DNR announced the park’s concessionaire, Devil’s Lake Concession Corp., will donate $68,800 to fund temporary positions, maintenance and long-term lake monitoring of Devil’s Lake. The company has donated money before, according to the DNR.

Wisconsin Public Radio

Posted on Apr 18, 2017 at 2:16 p.m.

MISSOURI New admin halts state park expansion

Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Missouri’s state park policy has taken a sharp turn under Republican Gov. Eric Greitens.

For the past eight years under former Gov. Jay Nixon (D), the state has consistently bought land for the state Department of Natural Resources to preserve as parks.

The new administration has halted for now any new land purchases and stopped a purchase of a historic building in Ste. Geneviève, the last colonial French town in the country.

The moves come on the heels of the dismissal of Bill Bryan, the former parks director. The Republican governor’s administration also closed the state’s newest park, which had been named after Nixon.

An administration spokesman said the focus is now on maintaining existing parks.

The state added seven parks during Nixon’s tenure, angering GOP lawmakers. Some have proposed bills that would sell some of the land acquired with funds from a pollution settlement.

Last year, the last of Nixon’s administration, set a record for Missouri state park tourism (Kurt Erickson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Feb. 28). — NB

CA State Parks Bring Live Field Trips into Classroom Virtually


In order to provide unique, hands-on learning experiences for children, California State Parks has been working to expand its distance learning program, PORTS(Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Schools).

PORTS is a collaboration with innovative ed tech companies to provide one-of-a-kind learning experiences for teachers and students. For instance, in a partnership with Belkin Education, a networking and accessories company, PORTS is offering real-time virtual field trips in 10 California state parks, conducted by state park rangers. Units of study include kelp forests, redwood ecology, monarch butterfly migration and historical subjects like the Gold Rush.

Full story >>

Record Participation in the Guided First Day Hikes In America’s State Parks


American’s Enjoy the Guided Hikes in State Parks on January 1

Across the nation thousands of Americans started 2017 off on the “right foot” by attending a First Day Hike in America’s State Parks. On January 1, 2017, more than 1,300 First Day Hikes were offered in all 50 states from Alaska to Florida to 61,800 participants covering over 111,850 miles.

“America’s state parks offer diverse and unique natural and cultural resources. First Day Hikes are a way park rangers, naturalists and volunteers can bring history to life and share their insights of nature,” said Ellen Graham, First Day Hikes Coordinator and Chief Naturalist, Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites.

Iowa almost tripled the number of participants and miles hiked in 2016. This year they added nine new parks and the annual event is becoming a family friendly tradition with returning hikers in spite of the 30-degree temperatures. As a hiker in a Washington State Park stated, “I like walking in the park in the winter, no snakes and no bugs, and it is so quiet I can hear my heartbeat.”

Despite temperatures that never got above freezing in South Dakota, they saw the highest attendance in six years. Two parks got out the snowshoes and one even had cross-country skiers! In Montana with sub-zero temperatures and heavy falling snow in many areas, there were hearty souls hiking along the trails. Over 700 hikers braved 5-12 inches of snow in in New Hampshire parks and enjoyed the winter wildlife, spotting 3 bald eagles.

In Hawaii some hikers began their trek to see the sunrise at 2:30 a.m. over the ocean with views of Molokai and Maui from 560-foot cliff top perches. Several states hosted fun runs and fitness challenges. In Indiana there were over 200 participants for a 3.5 mile run.

As an Arkansas hiker stated, “We were here last year and enjoyed it so much we wanted to come back this year!”


The National Association of State Park Directors promotes and advocates for the state park systems across America in providing for conservation and management of natural and cultural resources, quality outdoor recreation experiences, connecting children and families to nature and the outdoors, and more. With more than 10,200 park areas and visitation of 760 million annually, the economic impact to local communities is estimated to exceed $20 billion each year. America’s State Parks is an alliance of state park systems in all 50 states.

Below is a brief video link from Hawaii on their pre-dawn hike, as well as a sampling of the media reports from various states.

AL http://www.annistonstar.com/news/state/rain-starts-new-year-dampens-mount-cheaha-hike/article_8b727f68-d084-11e6-bea9-53e886f1a078.html
AZ http://www.havasunews.com/news/first-day-hikes-boat-rides-a-hit-with-participants/article_389939e4-d0b6-11e6-83ae-ab53e83bfb24.html
IL http://www.newstrib.com/free/volunteer-serves-and-defends-starved-rock-promotes-park-etiquette/article_0707e67a-d0eb-11e6-9146-bfcc32c1aa45.html
IA http://www.thehawkeye.com/news/local/large-crowd-hikes-lake-darling-state-park/article_81a22c90-6bb9-5ddd-92fe-3f50f52edf62.html
FL http://staugustine.com/news-local-news/2017-01-02/new-year-new-look-nature
KS http://www.hutchnews.com/eedition/page-a/page_f7c7dc42-2a10-5c69-82a6-b0efbad2423f.html
MD http://www.capitalgazette.com/news/environment/ph-ac-cn-first-day-0102-20170101-story.html
MN http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/4190598-first-day-hikers-burn-calories-snowshoes-jay-cooke-state-park
MO http://www.columbiamissourian.com/news/local/columbia-residents-venture-to-rock-bridge-state-park-for-first/article_270c9f16-d059-11e6-9285-8b16098182a2.html
NHhttp://www.concordmonitor.com/new-years-nh-first-day-hikes-7212679PA http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-pa-first-day-hike-jacobsburg-20170101-story.html
NJ http://www.njherald.com/20170102/a-walk-in-the-woods-to-start-the-new-year#
NM http://www.lcsun-news.com/story/news/local/2017/01/01/hikers-walk-nature-new-years-trek/96071810/
NY  http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2017/01/01/hundreds-mark-launch-2017-stroll-walkway/96063914/
NC  http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/community/durham-news/article124095069.html
PA http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-pa-first-day-hike-jacobsburg-20170101-story.html
SD  http://www.blackhillsfox.com/content/news/First-day-hikes-gaining-populartiy-in-the-Hills-409205845.html
TN http://www.jacksonsun.com/story/news/local/2017/01/01/chickasaw-state-park-starts-year-first-day-hike/96022800/
TX  http://www.heralddemocrat.com/news/20170101/take-hike



MT – Montana State Parks Experience Record Attendance for Fourth Straight Year

Flathead Lake state parks drew the most visitors in Montana during peak season

The outdoors are more popular than ever in Northwest Montana.

Alongside record visitation at Glacier National Park, the state parks across this region and all of Montana experienced record attendance in 2016, according to annual data released last week.

Montana State Parks drew more than 2.65 million visits in 2016, a 7 percent increase over 2015, according to statistics released by the state agency. The annual tally marks the fourth consecutive year of record visitation. Statewide visitation is up 33 percent over five years ago and 39 percent over the decade.


Court upholds gun ban in Delaware state parks


A Delaware Superior Court judge upheld a ban on carrying firearms in state parks and forests for purposes other than hunting.

The challenge to the rule was brought by multiple plaintiffs, including the Bridgeville Rifle and Pistol Club – a 1,200 member organization in southern Delaware. In a civil complaint, they argued the administrative codes are “inconsistent with and pre-empted by” both state law and the state Constitution.

The rifle club noted its members often like to camp at Trap Pond State Park or rent a cottage at Seashore State Park during nearby shooting competitions yet they are unable to do so because of the ban. Plaintiffs also argued a need exists to carry firearms for protection.

“A deprivation of constitutional rights can constitute irreparable harm,” the civil complaint stated.

Superior Court Judge T. Henley Graves said in his ruling the regulations do not run “afoul” of the Delaware Constitution, nor did they contradict state law passed by the General Assembly.

Full article, legal suit 

MO – Missouri is adding three new state parks, Gov. Nixon announces, each with outstanding natural features


Public is invited to guided hikes in early January at Eleven Point State Park in Oregon County, Bryant Creek State Park in Douglas County, and Ozark Mountain State Park in Taney County

JEFFERSON CITY – Missourians are gaining three new state parks in southern Missouri that will have some of the state’s most distinctive natural landscapes and features on their more than 8,000 acres, Gov. Jay Nixonannounced today. The addition of Eleven Point State Park in Oregon CountyBryant Creek State Park inDouglas County and Ozark Mountain State Park in Taney County will bring the total number of state parks in Missouri to 91.

“These new state parks ensure that we can protect and preserve these valuable natural landscapes for generations to come,” Gov. Nixon said. “At a time when other states are closing or even selling state parks or charging day use fees, we are expanding our system of state parks to offer more opportunities for Missourians to experience the outdoors, at no admission cost.”

The new parks include:

  • Ozark Mountain State Park, with 1,011 acres, features an open, grassy, flower-filled landscape of ridges and hills, known locally as knobs. The property is located in Taney County, northwest of Branson along Highway 465.
  • Bryant Creek State Park, with 2,917 acres, consists of thick oak and pine forests and nearly two miles of river hills and bluffs along Bryant Creek. The property is located in Douglas County, near the Ozark County line approximately 22 miles southeast of Ava.
  • Eleven Point State Park, with 4,167 acres, includes six miles of direct river frontage on the Eleven Point River, a nationally protected river corridor. The property is located in Oregon County approximately 45 miles east of West Plains, near Alton.

“These new parks were acquired to fill natural history gaps that were not previously represented in the state park system,” said Bill Bryan, director of Missouri State Parks.  “For more than 20 years, the park system has been looking to add properties with these unique natural features for the public to enjoy.”

The new park lands were selected based on goals identified in the 1992 Missouri State Park and Historic Site System Expansion Plan, which was developed following a nearly five-year process of public meetings, research and staff input. In 2004, Missouri State Parks also completed Missing Masterpieces: A Survey About Missouri State Parks and Historic Sites. The extensive survey gathered public input regarding the standards the division uses to evaluate potential new areas for their worthiness to become new Missouri state parks.

Plans for development of the properties and future use are in the preliminary stages. Early development will focus on natural resource stewardship. The park system will hold a series of events to allow members of the public to see the properties and provide feedback on park planning. The first of these events will be guided hikes on the property. They will take place at:

For information on where these hikes will begin, contact Missouri State Parks at (573) 751-0761 ormoparks@dnr.mo.gov. For those who cannot attend the hikes, a presentation and opportunity to provide feedback will also be available online atmostateparks.com beginning on Jan 6.

The state park system purchased the Eleven Point State Park for $8 million, Bryant Creek State Park for $4 million and Ozark Mountain State Park for $2.8 million. Money for the purchases came from settlements reached with mining companies that had operated in the state.  The purchase of Ozark Mountain State Park and Bryant Creek State Park also included some state park funds designated for land acquisitions.

In 2015, a record 19.2 million people visited Missouri state parks and trails. Gov. Nixon expects to release attendance figures for 2016 in the next few days.

Last week, Missouri reported the Fiscal Year 2016 annual impact report by Tourism Economics, a division of Oxford Economics, showed Missouri welcomed 41.7 million visitors, a 3.2 percent increase over the previous record of 40.4 million in FY 2015. Overall, the tourism had a $16.5 billion impact in Missouri in FY 2016.


Follow the Governor on Twitter @GovJayNixon

First Day Hikes in America’s State Parks Offer Invigorating Start to the New Year Copy

Find a First Day Hike in Your State

National Association of State Park Directors
P.O. Box 91567 Raleigh, NC 27675
(919) 218-9222 info@naspd.org

For Immediate Release, December 15, 2016

Contacts: Ellen Graham, ellen.graham@dnr.ga.gov
(706) 878-4703
Lewis Ledford, lewis@naspd.org
(919) 218-9222


First Day Hikes in America’s State Parks Offer
Invigorating Start to the New Year

Hashtag Your Hike:  #FirstDayHikes

Make a New Year’s resolution to your health and happiness by kicking off 2017 with an invigorating First Day Hike at a state park near you. On January 1, all 50 states will be participating in the sixth annual national event that encourages everyone to celebrate the New Year with a guided outdoor exploration.

“First Day Hikes offer families the opportunity to rejuvenate and reconnect with nature on guided outdoor adventures,” Wyoming State Park Directors and NASPD President Domenic Bravo said. “There are shorter options for families with young children, to longer treks for adventure seekers. State parks offer stunning views, unique cultural and historical experiences, and wintering wildlife for everyone to enjoy.”

Through the event, park rangers, naturalists and volunteers will share their knowledge of each state’s unique natural and cultural features. Adventures include a trek along a rail trail in Arkansas’ Delta Heritage Trail State Park and a Missouri hike amongst sinkholes, a geologic fault and serene woodlands in Ha Ha Tonka State Park. This year, many locations are including pet-friendly hikes, such as Greenbrier and Patapsco Valley state parks in Maryland. Details on every state’s hikes are located at www.StateParks.org. Participants are encouraged to share their adventures on social media with #FirstDayHikes.

“America’s State Parks provide havens for young and old alike to explore the beauty and serenity of nature through outdoor recreation,” National Association of State Park Directors Executive Director Lewis Ledford said. “Hiking offers inspiring ways to improve your physical and mental health, while discovering beautiful public lands in every state.”

The First Day Hikes originated more than 25 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation – a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. Last year, more than 55,000 people participated on guided hikes that covered over 133,000 miles on 1,100 hikes across the country.


The National Association of State Park Directors promotes and advocates for the state park systems across America in providing for conservation and management of natural and cultural resources, quality outdoor recreation experiences, connecting children and families to nature and the outdoors, and more. With more than 10,200 park areas and visitation of 760 million annually, the economic impact to local communities is estimated to exceed $20 billion each year. America’s State Parks is an alliance of state park systems in all 50 states.