Jeramey Jannene

Wisconsin Closes State Parks, Including Lakeshore in Milwaukee

Havenwoods State Forest on city's north side also closed.

By - Apr 9th, 2020 11:37 am
Lakeshore State Park and the Milwaukee skyline. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Lakeshore State Park and the Milwaukee skyline. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Governor Tony Evers announced the closure of 40 state parks, forests and recreational areas Thursday morning. Two Milwaukee locations are included in the list of closures, Lakeshore State Park on the edge of downtown and Havenwoods State Forest near W. Silver Spring Dr. and N. Sherman Blvd.

In his release announcing the closures, Evers said the measure was “due to unprecedented crowds, litter, vandalism and out of an abundance of caution to protect public health and safety and help flatten the curve.”

Wisconsin joins California, Florida, Texas, Oregon, Tennessee and a host of other states and park authorities in closing parks. Chicago has closed many of its most high-profile parks, including lakefront parks, while Austin, Texas has closed all of its parks.

“I wanted to keep state parks open for the public to enjoy during this challenging time which is why outdoor activity is listed as an essential activity under the Safer at Home order,” said Evers in a release announcing the closures. “Unfortunately, growing difficulty with ensuring social distancing compliance, dwindling cleaning supplies and mounting trash are some of the challenges faced by our state parks staff. We have to address the growing public health and safety concern and protect Wisconsinites.”

The closure goes into effect at the end of the day Thursday and continues until further notice.

“We know there are benefits to getting outdoors. By not doing this would put people’s lives at risk,” said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Preston Cole. “With the weather warming we are seeing increases in visitors and a myriad of challenges surrounding social distancing. In order to the protect the public, this is a necessary step.”

High profile state parks and forests, including Kettle Moraine State Forest, Bong Recreational Area and Devil’s Lake State Park are included.

Evers had previously waived all fees for state parks and trails.

Wisconsin has 56 state parks, including recreation areas, and 14 state forests.

Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee have closed playgrounds and other facilities at their parks, but the areas remain open.

A full list of the affected areas is available in Evers’ release.

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