Thursday, May 13, 2010

Changes proposed to rules governing the use of state properties

Hearing set to receive public comment

MADISON – Proposed changes related to visitor activities and fees on state lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources are available for public review and comment either online or at two scheduled public hearings.

“Every two years we review our operating policies for department managed properties in light of public health and safety, protection of natural resources and consistency,” said Steve Miller, director of the DNR Bureau of Facilities and Lands. “Changing recreational demands, new or growing technologies, changing environmental conditions and increased costs of doing business all contribute to necessary changes in the way we operate.”
The changes would be to Chapter NR 45, Wis. Adm. Code, which is the principle rule governing the conduct of visitors to the properties and facilities owned, acquired by easement, or leased by the Department of Natural Resources. Some of the change proposals affect all properties while others impact only single properties or groups of properties or specific parts of a water body.
The proposed rule and supporting documents (exit DNR), including the fiscal estimate, may be viewed and downloaded from and comments submitted electronically through the Wisconsin Administrative Rules website or by contacting Kathryn Fitzgerald (608) 267-2764

The State Natural Resources Board authorized public hearings on the proposed rule changes (pdf; 762kb) at its March meeting. The public hearings on the proposed changes will be held at 5 p.m., with the record held open until at least 6 p.m.:

• May 17, Madison – Room G09 of the State Natural Resources Building (GEF 2), 101 S. Webster St.

• May 18, Woodruff – Woodruff Town Hall, 1418 First Ave.

People may also submit written comments by mail or on line to Kathryn Fitzgerald, DNR-FL/6, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921, [].

Proposed changes being considered include:

• Allowing removal of invasive plant species from state property without a permit, making it easier to control spread of invasives and promote greater biological diversity.

• New language clarifying the collection of fruits and other edible plants for personal non-commercial use to prevent over collection.

• Prohibiting collection of driftwood and other downed wood from below the ordinary high water mark for campfire fuel on northern flowages to preserve aesthetic values and to provide habitat and help prevent shoreline erosion once flowages recover from a current long-term drought and water levels rise.

• Permanently installing a slow-no-wake zone in the narrows of the Dells of the Wisconsin River State Natural Area to protect shoreline habitat. An emergency slow-no-wake zone adopted by the Natural Resources Board on April 28, 2010 will sunset after 150 days.

• Allowing the department to designate roads within northern state forest properties as ATV routes if ATV use is authorized in the property master plan.

• Prohibiting the launching and removal of motorized watercraft at certain designated boat access sites on department lands when the property master plan has determined that motorized watercraft are not consistent with the uses of the property or would have an adverse impact on aquatic resources.

Changes to state park and forest camping fees are proposed and include:

• Reclassifying and equalizing camping fees in state forest campgrounds to match state park campgrounds when amenities are similar.

• Increasing in commercial use fees.

• Designating the Rock Island State Park campground and several campgrounds on the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest and Black River State Forest as “high demand” campsites with slightly higher per night fees.

• Establishing marina and special event permit fees at Lakeshore State Park.

“Our first priority is always visitor safety followed by high quality experiences and natural resource protection on public lands,” said Dan Schuller, Director, Bureau of Parks and Recreation. “Periodically we find it necessary to propose changes of this kind to maintain those standards. Public comment is welcome and all comments will be summarized and presented to the Natural Resources Board for its review prior to considering these changes.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kathryn Fitzgerald (608) 267-2764

Source: Wisconsin DNR

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