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Newport State Park Trails May Close During Hunting

The opening date for hunting and trapping would be moved back in certain parks with a high volume of late fall visitors and horseback riders, and areas around high winter use trail systems in some parks would be included in closed areas, under revisions the Department of Natural Resources State Parks Program is proposing to its original plan to accommodate broader hunting opportunities and open trapping on state park properties.

The changes are being made after review of more than 2,000 written and oral comments the parks program received on their initial proposal to implement the part of a new law the legislature approved earlier this year -- Act 168, known as the Sporting Heritage Bill – that expands hunting and trapping in state parks.

Act 168, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2013, allows the DNR to prohibit hunting and trapping within 100 yards of a designated use area such as a campground, picnic area, or beach. A determination to prohibit hunting and trapping in any other areas of a state park, a portion of a state park, or during certain time periods must be approved by a majority of the Natural Resources Board.

The parks program will present the revised implementation plan to the State Natural Resources Board at its meeting Dec. 11 in Madison. Board members held five listening sessions around the state in late October and early November to gather feedback on the department’s preliminary plan to implement the law. In addition, the DNR accepted written and electronic comments on the draft plan through November 23.

In total, the department received 2,033 comments including written and oral comments provided at the listening sessions and those sent directly via email and letters. There were 157 oral comments presented at the five listening sessions.

“Many of the comments were directed at reducing hunting and trapping in specific state parks, and we reviewed each of those circumstances and made appropriate adjustments to the implementation plan where warranted,” said Dan Schuller, Director of Wisconsin State Parks.

Changes made to the department proposal in the revised implementation plan for Act 168 include:

  • A total of 20 state park maps were changed after the listening sessions. These maps were amended to reflect changes in the allowable hunting/trapping areas.
  • A total of 14 State Ice Age Trail Area maps were updated. Most were minor updates closing very small areas cut off by the Ice Age Trail buffer from the rest of the property.
  • Certain highly used trail systems at Blue Mound, Council Grounds, Hartman Creek and Newport state parks are now being recommended for closure due to density of other park users during general hunting seasons.
  • Hunting and trapping opening dates were recommended to be moved back to Nov. 15 on portions of Hartman Creek and Lake Wissota state parks due to heavy late season use by equestrians. The other properties with partial Nov. 15 openings would be Council Grounds, High Cliff, Peninsula, and Wildcat Mountain state parks, and the Elroy-Sparta State Trail.

The Natural Resources Board will also be taking testimony and written comments on this issue today. 

All of the proposed hunting and trapping maps for state parks properties are available by searching the DNR website for “parks” and then clicking on the link for hunting in state parks 2013.


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