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Message from FWSP President

State Parks Funding 2015-2017
The State Park System is a crown jewel of Wisconsin and a source of pride for many Wisconsinites.  The Wisconsin State Park system consists of 103 properties, State Parks, Forests, Recreation Areas and the  Aldo Leopold Legacy Trail System (State Parks System).  Many of these properties are directly managed and operated by WDNR and the rest are operated in a cooperative agreements with other agencies.  According to a recent study by the University of Wisconsin, these properties have over a $1 Billion impact on the State of Wisconsin annual economy.
The Friends of Wisconsin State Parks (FWSP) are very concerned the changes in funding for the State Parks System (SPS) contained in the Governors' proposed budget .    The SPS has been heading to self sufficiency in recent years through the budget process and last biennium budget was approximately 28% supported by general tax dollars.  To our knowledge 2015-2017 biennium budget is proposed at 0% support from general tax dollars.   This cut would be devastating to the whole SPS, unless the proposed user fee increases are allowed.  The fee increase would be a funding source that would help offset this drastic 28% cut, additional revenue from other sources may also be needed.  The $25 annual residents park sticker price has not been increased in 7 years and proposed to go to $28 annually.  Wisconsin residents are the owners of these properties, and it is in the best interest of each and every resident to keep these properties and infrastructure in good operating condition.  If these properties and services are not maintained at a satisfactory level, users will not return and this will affect the $1 billion impact these properties have on the annual Wisconsin economy.  The SPS is one large system and promoted as such.  The proposed cuts not only impact the State run properties, but also the cooperatively run properties.   
The Friends of Wisconsin State Parks, "Work to Preserve, Protect, Promote and Enhance  Wisconsin's beautiful state parks, forests, trails and recreation areas."  FWSP along with our 80 local associated Friends groups are willing to do what we can to help keep these State Properties stay up and running,  The much appreciated interpretive programs at the State Parks are also a vital part of this mission.  You are welcome to stay abreast with FWSP activities at http://friendswiparks.blogspot.com
FWSP are not opposed to having corporate sponsors.  This is a model FWSP has been working on for a couple of years and American Transmission Company is a sponsor.  This is a model that we learned about and other states are using.    This is information that is being shared through the development of a National Friends of State Parks.  FWSP is not in favor of naming rights of parks by corporations, but are willing to take their support through other ways.   FWSP, through our Local Friends groups last year donated over $540,000 to State Parks projects.  The majority of this money is raised through gift shops, concessions and firewood sales.  If concessioners are allowed in State Parks much of the Local Friends revenue stream would go away.  The Friends operate with mostly volunteer help and 100% of profits go to the local Parks projects and promotions.   A private vendor would need to drastically increase sales to offer the same value to the parks as they would be having labor costs and private profits.  This would have to be looked at seriously if it would be a net gain for the State Park System.
If you have feelings on this critical issue, please contact your local Wisconsin State Senator or Assembly person and state your concerns.
Bill Zager.
President FWSP

The Friends of Aztalan**

***This is the first in a series of articles featuring The Friends who comprise The Friends of Wisconsin State Parks. Guest author: Daniel Seurer
aztalan_solstice1-_DSC6537-EditThe Friends of Aztalan (Web site: http://www.aztalanfriends.org/ )is an active group dedicated to the promotion, upkeep, and enhancement of a unique Native American ceremonial and residential town established around 1050 A.D.
Public interest in working with this unique State Park began in the 1980s when shortfalls in the State's budget led the Wisconsin DNR to recommend closing the park. A Friends group was formed as a means of keeping the park open to the public and maintaining its status as a significant historical site. This early group worked closely with the Town of Aztalan to maintain the park and keep it open during the year the DNR chose not to operate the park. After the DNR found enough funding to operate the park, the group went into hibernation, only to be brought back to life in 1993. In that year, the Friends of Aztalan achieved its non-profit status and has been active ever since.
In 2014, the Friends of Aztalan counted a membership of around 100 individual organizations and individuals. Over half of the membership is involved in various activities of the Friends of Aztalan. The group is led by a Board of Directors consisting of 8 highly dedicated individuals who work hard in keeping the organization moving forward.
Over the years the Friends of Aztalan has been involved in a variety of educational, promotional, and fundraising activities.
The most important and successful activity for the Friends of Aztalan over the past several years involves fundraising efforts for the construction of a visitor’s center as outlined in the DNR's master plan for Aztalan State Park. Matching funds for all donations for this project are being provided by a generous patron, Elizabeth Parker of Lake Koshkonong, Wisconsin, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. A preliminary design of the visitor’s center is currently being created by our selected architect, Dimensions IV of Madison, Wisconsin.
As an interim step, until the visitor's center comes to fruition, the group purchased a large office trailer to serve as a temporary visitor's center that has been staffed by Friends of Aztalan State Park Volunteers since 2010.
In addition to efforts directed toward the construction of a visitor's center at Aztalan State Park, the Friends group and its core of volunteers have also been actively engaged in a variety of endeavors. These include:
  • Publication of a quarterly newsletter
  • Funding production of a video, Aztalan: National Historical Landmark, promoting the park by Wisconsin Public Television (now available on-line)
  • Holding an annual membership banquet featuring noted guest speakers
  • Funding electrical lines to the park shelter for use during special events and the temporary visitor's center
  • Providing tours of the park every Sunday from June through Octoberaztalan__swmound_newsarticle-_DSC9082
  • Providing special tours for school children from schools throughout the state
  • Giving presentations to school classrooms
  • Providing special event programs which in the past have included:
  • Solstice in the Park
  • Native American dancers
  • Native American programs for kids
  • Native American weekend
  • Artifact identification day
  • Special lectures
  • Aztalan Day, in conjunction with the Lake Mills/Aztalan Historical Society
  • Funded flagpole memorial to late Park Manager, Tom Davies
  • Promotion of Aztalan State park at special venues such as Indian Summer in Milwaukee and the Garden Expo in Madison
  • Providing special presentations on Aztalan to groups throughout the state
  • Funding printing for the Aztalan State Park walking tour
  • Producing, acquiring, and selling 'gift shop' items that promote the park and raise funds, such as T-shirts, calendars, sweat shirts, hats, books, prints, posters and photographs
  • Funding signage at the park regarding the water trails of the new Glacial Heritage area
The Friends of Aztalan strives to increase interest in Aztalan State Park and the Friends group through a variety of public programs (Native American dancers, Sunday guided tours, etc.). News of these upcoming events are posted at the park and in the local newspapers.
For the most current information about the Friends of Aztalan and activities at Aztalan State Park, please check out our website and blog at: aztalanfriends.org
LocationAztalan State Park is the site of a ceremonial and residential Native American town established in 1050 A.D. This site has provided insights into ancient agriculture and gardening.
While people lived along the Crawfish River in Wisconsin's Jefferson County before 900 A.D., the Mississippians arrived at ancient Aztalan around 1050 AD. They established a hierarchal society that was culturally exotic for the area.
The Mississippian people built earthen pyramids used by the religious and ruling leaders. The largest Mississippian site is Cahokia, located near St. Louis. Aztalan has clear connections to Cahokia, the nature of which is the subject of recent investigations by archeologists from UW-Milwaukee and Michigan State University.
The Aztalan people built three earthen pyramids and a protective stockade complete with guard towers. Two of the pyramids and sections of the stockade have been reconstructed.

Membership Helps Preserve, Protect, and Enhance…2015

Wisconsin’s state parks, forests, trails, and recreational areas!

We invite you to join us in Preserving, Promoting, Protecting and Enhancing Wisconsin state parks, forests, trails and recreation areas in 2015! There are several ways that you can contribute to this effort and be part of the work that Friends of Wisconsin State Parks has planned for this year. Please consider one or more of these options so that we can continue to enhance our beautiful Wisconsin park system and the beautiful resources that we all enjoy for hiking, skiing, biking, camping, kayaking and so many other recreational activities. Click to download pdf
The Friends of Wisconsin State Parks offer the following opportunities:
  • Support the statewide activities of FWSP with a donation
  • Support the statewide Naturalist program- activities throughout the summer and fall season that include interpretive programs at state parks.
  • Support Environmental Education for children at state parks
  • Support FWSP by contributing to FWSP Endowment Fund  
  • Become a member of Friends of Wisconsin State Parks in 2015
Your dollars help us to enhance our beautiful state parks and trails! Also consider supporting these efforts in 2015:
  • Volunteer at Work*Play*Earth Day events around the state in April 2015 
  • Volunteer and join a local Friends group 
  • Attend Friends events at the parks, forests, trails and recreation areas

Be a Campground Host.

downloadWould you like to spend some time camping in one of Wisconsin's state parks and stay for free? Consider being a Campground Host!
Some of the Wisconsin State Parks are looking for Camp hosts for the 2015 camping season.

Host Benefits:
  • As a campground host volunteer, you receive free camping.
  • Each site usually comes with a free electrical hook-up and may include water and/or sewer.
  • The schedules of our volunteer hosts allow you ample time to enjoy recreational activities with friends and family members while providing volunteer services within the state park.
  • Hosts will have the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life and perhaps develop new friendships.
  • One of the most important benefits hosts receive is a sense of satisfaction that comes in knowing you have helped make the camping experience more enjoyable for other campers.

Who Can Host:
  • Hosts can be individuals or teams such as a wife and husband.
  • You must be 18 years of age or older and have your own camping gear. 
  • Hosts may stay from 2 weeks to the entire season and there could be an opportunity to rotate hosts among other state parks for a broader experience
As a representative of the Department of Natural Resources, a host:
  • Stays in a campsite at the campground and volunteers a few hours a day.
  • Greets and assists campers with information about the park and facilities.
  • Assists in daily campground operations and set an example by being a model camper.
  • May clean campsites, bathrooms, and facilities and assist with light maintenance.
  • Dispenses park information and assists with campground programs.
  • Enjoys the company of other campers and makes sure that they enjoy their stay.
You must be willing to provide services five days each week, including weekends and holidays (a minimum of 25 hours per occupant). The property manager will try to be flexible and balance a host's schedule with visitor season demands and the host’s own needs.
  • Expected to serve a minimum of two to four consecutive weeks
  • Must be 18 years of age or older
  • DNR employees are not eligible
  • Must provide own camping equipment, food, and other personal items for your stay
  • Required to pass a background check

If you are interested in volunteering in Wisconsin State Parks, contact the property supervisor where you would like to volunteer to discuss available opportunities. Anyone who would like be a volunteer must fill out a Volunteer Agreement (PDF). Property superintendents will review the agreement and interview and select all volunteers. Find a State Park, Forest, Recreation Area, or Trail Volunteer Agreement [PDF]


Wisconsin Master Naturalist Are you fascinated with nature?  Do you enjoy sharing your knowledge and skills with others?  The Wisconsin Master Naturalist (WIMN) program, a statewide effort to promote awareness, understanding and stewardship of the state’s natural resources, is developing a corps of informed volunteers throughout the state. You can become a WI Master Naturalist Volunteer!
A volunteer training course will be held at the Hartman Creek State Park Conference room, with field trips each week in the Park, beginning March 7 (the course will meet Six Saturdays from 9:00 to 4:00 on March 7, March 21, April 18, April 25, May 2, May 16.  The $250 (paid to the state) course involves 40 hours of training in natural history, interpretation and conservation stewardship.   Once trained, a Wisconsin Master Naturalist provides volunteer service in one of three areas:  education/interpretation, stewardship, or citizen science.   To maintain certification, volunteers must complete 40 hours of service each year, in addition to eight hours of advanced training.
For more information about the WIMN program, please visit www.wimasternaturalist.org. Go to www.wimasternaturalist.org/event/volcoursecalendar to register for this course.
Registration for the Waupaca course closes in late February.  If you are unable to register online, please contact Martha Martin, WIMN State Office, (608)262-0020, mlmartin3@wisc.edu
Instructors for this course:  Mrs. Sue Eiler (715-258-8086; aseiler@charter.net) and Dr. Mary Trainor (pastormaryt@gmail.com). Contact the website and them for more details.