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Friends of Wisconsin State Parks hire Executive Director

Patty Loosen - Executive Director FWSP
Friends of Wisconsin State Parks (FWSP) are proud to announce the hiring of Patricia Loosen as our first full-time Executive Director. FWSP has been organized as a 501©3 for over 20 years to help Protect, Preserve, Promote and Enhance Wisconsin’s State Parks, Trails, Forests, and Recreation Areas. Patty has been with FWSP/WDNR for over 5 years and has been the mastermind behind our FWSP On-Line Store as well as developing and promoting other FWSP programs. Under Patty’s direction and guidance from the FWSP Board of Directors, FWSP is becoming a stronger support group for the Local Friends Groups as well as growing as a funding source for Friends programs and projects at State Park System Properties. FWSP is embarking on a major fund raising campaign to fund current projects, special projects such as natural playgrounds in the parks and an endowment for sustainable funding. For more information, go to FWSP. ORG

Or contact Patricia Loosen


2017 FWSP Photo contest

The Friends of Wisconsin State Parks (FWSP) invites all interested individuals to enter their favorite state park, forest, trail or recreation area photo in our annual photography competition. Winners will be featured in the 2018 Friends of Wisconsin State Parks Calendar, released in November 2017.There are so many opportunities to enjoy the Wisconsin state parks during all four seasons. We are looking for photo entries that include beautiful scenery along with people recreating and enjoying activities like hiking, picnicking, cross-country skiing, kayaking/canoeing, horseback riding, biking and exploring.

Submissions are accepted from amateur photographers ages 14 and over.  Professional photographers who earn more than half of their income taking pictures are not eligible. The Friends of Wisconsin  State Parks Board members will determine winners’ eligibility. Employees of the  Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and board members of the Friends of  Wisconsin State Parks and their immediate family members are not eligible to win.


  • Photos must be submitted in high resolution (at least 300 UPI).  
  • Photographs must have been shot within the past three years (Since Jan 1, 2015).  
  • Photographs must portray a specific  Wisconsin state park, forest, or trail and cannot include illegal activities (i.e.  camping in an unauthorized area). We are looking for photos that show scenes from the parks, forests, trails and recreation areas.Wildlife photos will not score as high as people enjoying activities submissions.  
  • Cropped photos are eligible, Horizontal images are preferred. Photos that appear unnatural will not be considered.  
  • An entrant must hold all rights to a  photograph. For a photo in which a person is recognizable, you must secure a model release from the subject and include this with the submission
  • Photographs previously published or pending publication, or photos that violate or infringe upon another person's  copyright, are not eligible.
  • You may submit one photograph per season and up to 4 total entries. We do not accept more than one contestant per e-mail.

By entering a photo, you are verifying:
  • The image is your own;
  • The photo has not been altered beyond light editing/enhancements.
  • The photo is not subject to any third-party agreements;
  • No laws were violated in obtaining the photo.
Photos should accurately reflect the original image. Photos that have been digitally altered beyond standard optimization (cropping,  color, contrast, etc.) will be disqualified.  This includes the digital addition or deletion of objects in the photos. Photo eligibility is the sole discretion of the contest judges.  Photos may originate in any form but must be submitted electronically. A high-resolution image must be submitted. If a high-resolution photo cannot be provided, the entry will be disqualified. Photos may also be watermarked if desired when uploaded to the contest page, however; the watermark should be inconspicuous enough not to interfere with the judging of the photo and a clean, watermark-free version of the photo must be available at FWSP’s request. If a watermark-free version cannot be provided, the entry will be disqualified. Please do not include photographs that display people who are identifiable.    
FWSP will review each photograph received and will accept only those entries that meet the official requirements outlined in these rules. A panel of FWSP board members and staff will review accepted entries and select the winning photos. Selected photos are not official winners until high-resolution,  watermark-free versions are provided to FWSP. If such a version cannot be provided, an alternate winner will be selected. The decisions of FWSP and the contest judges are final.

Winners will be notified in September 2017 and invited to the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks  Awards Banquet on Saturday, November 4, 2017, to receive an award. Winning photos will appear in the 2018 FWSP calendar, tentatively set to release November 2017.    

 Internet access is required to participate in the contest. Participants must review the full rules before entering any photos. Photos must be submitted electronically via Friends of Wisconsin State Parks website There is no entry fee to participate. No more than four(4) photos may be entered by any one person. See website for instructions.


  1. The season. (Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter)  
  2. The Wisconsin state park, forest, or trail name where the photo was taken.  
  3. Name of Photographer. (first and last)  
  4. Photographers Address. (Street, City, ZIP)  
  5. Phone #.  
  6. Email Address.  
  7. Friends group affiliation, if any.  
This information will be required to submit the photos at the contest page. This information is needed so that FWSP can:

  • properly credit contest photos when utilized in promotional media
  • notify winners.      

DEADLINE Thursday, August 31, 2017

By participating in the contest, you hereby grant FWSP unlimited, non-exclusive, irrevocable permission to publish and reproduce your image in media including but not limited to the website,  and promotional materials into perpetuity. You retain all other applicable ownership rights to the photo. FWSP agrees to properly credit photographers whenever their photos are used. FWSP reserves the right to exclude any photo from the contest.

Please click here to enter your photo(s)

Direct any questions about the Photo Contest to:
Randy Paske
Board of Directors

Patricia Loosen
Friends of Wisconsin State Parks Coordinator
(608) 294-0810

2017 Gold Seal Award Contest


Clipboard1aThe Friends of Wisconsin State Parks are asking for your vote in this year's contest categories. If you are a camper, biker, hunter, hiker, angler, or park visitor, cast your vote for your favorite state park, forest, trail, or recreation area in the categories below.
The winning parks, forests, trails, or recreational areas will be honored with a Gold Seal Award at the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks Awards Banquet on Saturday, November 4, 2017. The statewide Friends of Wisconsin State Parks organization runs the Gold Seal Award program each year to highlight Wisconsin’s parks, trails, and forests.

Click here to make a nomination

Contest ends Friday, September 8, 2017.

The 2017 categories are:
  • Best state park system property for winter recreating
  • Best state park system property for  a short hike with children
  • Best state park system property for trail to ride horses with a group
  • Most scenic state park system picnic area
  • Best state park system office flower garden
  • Best state park system property for star gazing
  • Best state park fishing pier
  • Best state park system property to take nature photos
  • Best state park family beach area
  • Best view of the sunrise in a state park system campground.

Patty Loosen
Friends of Wisconsin State Parks Coordinator
608) 294-0810

Whitefish Dunes will host a 50th anniversary

b1a2b48245081891dd03542b50961a76The Friends of Whitefish Dunes will host a 50th anniversary event from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on July 14, celebrating the park and honoring those who have worked on behalf of the park since 1967.

Live music will be performed by Last Man Standing Blue Grass Band. Artists Lynn Gilchrist, Barbara Shakal and Mac Schubert will exhibit their work

Other events sponsored by the Friends during the summer anniversary season include hikes that will explore the unique flora and fauna of Whitefish Dunes, as well as its place in the history of the native peoples of this area.

The next sponsored event is from 10 a.m.-noon June 10, Exploring Wildflowers of Whitefish Dunes. If interested in exploring, meet at the Nature Center in the park at 10 a.m.

Whitefish Dunes State Park, one of the five state parks in Door County, offers visitors nearly 1½ miles of sandy beach, the highest sand dunes on Lake Michigan’s west shore, 14 miles of hiking and nine miles of skiing trails, and a host of other attractions. A state park sticker is required.

In 1967, the citizens of Door County passed a referendum that led to the establishment of the park. For 50 years the Park has been a cool water retreat for residents and visitors during hot summer days; a serene winter tableau to ski through; and a feast of remarkable flora, fauna, and physical features for nature lovers.

The Friends of Whitefish Dunes was organized for the charitable and educational purposes of supporting the Park with interpretive, scientific, historical, educational and other support services.

Newport State Park – Wisconsin’s first Dark Sky park


Newport-blog-image-700px-366pxNewport State Park, Wisconsin’s only wilderness state park, has now also become the first state park in Wisconsin designated by IDA as an International Dark Sky Park, one of just 48 parks in the world to earn the distinction.

Located at the northern tip of Door County on the western shore of Lake Michigan, Newport has a dark sky that offers excellent nighttime viewing with an unobstructed view of the eastern horizon.  As a designated wilderness park, the hectare (2,373-acre) park offers only backpack camping and has minimal developments beyond the park office and a picnic area with a park shelter.

“After more than 15 years, IDA International Dark Sky Places is still a program of firsts, and today is no exception,” said IDA Executive Director J. Scott Feierabend. “Newport’s entry into the IDA family of International Dark Sky Parks is a welcomed development for Wisconsin and the protection of dark skies in the upper Midwest United States.”

With today’s designation, Newport joins the ranks of such U.S. National Parks as Big Bend, Glacier and Grand Canyon.  Only 13 other state parks in the United States have received IDA accreditation.

“The prestigious Dark Sky Park designation opens the park to local, regional, national and international astronomical clubs and societies, increasing tourism, especially ecotourism. Obtaining this honor will accord national and international recognition to Newport State Park and the Wisconsin State Park system,” said Ben Bergey, Wisconsin State Park System director.

The idea for applying for the designation began four years ago when Ray Stonecipher, a local Door County amateur astronomer and member of the Door Peninsula Astronomical Society, approached Park Superintendent Michelle Hefty about seeking the designation.

“In a modern world that is accompanied by ever increasing levels of nighttime illumination, a truly dark sky at night is rare and unique,” explained Hefty. Sensing the value of dark night skies at Newport, Hefty agreed to formally launch the certification effort.

Newport’s supporting partners for the Dark Sky Park project include the Door Peninsula Astronomical Society, the Newport Wilderness Society, the parks friends group, and a committee of dedicated volunteers. Park staff carried out the work to complete the lengthy application and will continue to ensure the park meets IDA guidelines.

“From lighting projects to community education and outreach, our commitment to protect our dark sky is a priority we take seriously,” said Beth Bartoli, a Newport State Park naturalist who helps conduct astronomy programs at the park. “We never tire of seeing that ‘aha moment on the upturned faces of our visitors as they gaze toward the heavens.”

The park will host a dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 22 at which time an official International Dark Sky Park sign will be placed in the park.  The ceremony will feature talks by members of the Door Peninsula Astronomical Society and Newport Wilderness Society as well as local officials.  The ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. at the park shelter and is open to the public with light refreshments served afterward.