Stower Seven Lakes Trail

Elroy-Sparta Trail

Chippewa River State Trail

Gandy Dancer Trail

Wisconsin parks volunteers and hunting groups fight DNR cuts

The Friends of Wisconsin State Parks (FWSP) are very concerned over a 28% cut in the 2015-2017 Biennium budget. The cutting of all general purpose tax funding would devastate the Park System. This deep cut would affect the operating practices and services of the Parks. We also have the concerns over the personnel cuts which eliminate most of the Naturalist at our State Parks. These Naturalists are the “heartbeat” of these parks educational program where many of the youth and other parks learn about nature and become regular park users.(Click to read more....)

For the Birds

The Great Wisconsin BirdathonThe state’s leading bird conservation organizations encourage Friends Group organizations to use the online Great Wisconsin Birdathon as an easy and engaging tool for fundraising and friend-raising. They established this annual event in 2012 to help create a rising tide of support for Wisconsin’s birds and those who work on their behalf.
The Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin processes all Birdathon donations and sends each participating organization 50% of the funds they raise. The balance supports eight statewide bird conservation projects through the Bird Protection Fund.
The Great Wisconsin Birdathon website – – is now open for business. Birding teams can conduct their Birdathon during any portion of a 24-hour period from April 15 – June 15.
The Great Wisconsin Birdathon is more about fun and education, and less about competition. It is also a nice way to survey bird use of state parks, natural areas and wildlife areas; attract new people to the cause; and create an interesting story for media attention.
Here are the simple instructions for conducting a Birdathon:
  1. Form a team (or teams) of one or more people. Come up with a creative name and pick a date for your Birdathon.
  2. Set up a team page at People will go there to read about your Birdathon plans and to pledge or donate.
  3. Complete the organization information form in the Participant Kit and mail it to the Birdathon Coordinator.
  4. Direct your members, contacts, and community to go to your team page to either pledge per species or donate a set amount.
  5. Do your Birdathon!
  6. Report your results on your team page and submit your checklist to the Birdathon Coordinator.
  7. Thank your donors and keep them connected to your organization year-round.
The Birdathon does all the rest! They handle all the money and record-keeping. You receive a check from them for half of your proceeds. You also retain a spreadsheet of your donor contact information that you access through your team page. Your donors will receive a monthly Bird News You Can Use e-newsletter from the Birdathon year-round.
Madison Audubon Society has raised $5,000-$10,000 through the Great Wisconsin Birdathon annually by getting up to 10 teams out at various properties. They do a friendly competition between teams to make it fun. The Faville Grove team found several new species at their property that had not been reported there before, so this annual snapshot of bird presence has conservation value, as well.
A 4-H member in Mt. Horeb does her annual Birdathon from noon on Saturday to noon on Sunday, taking a break to sleep. She invites friends and family over for a celebratory barbecue lunch on Sunday, and has presented her Birdathon findings at the Wisconsin State Fair.
Be as ambitious and creative as you want to be. Your team page allows for social media, photos, blogs, you name it. Have fun!
Questions? Peruse the Great Wisconsin Birdathon website and find the Organizational Fundraising tab. Contact Birdathon Coordinator Diane Packett at for more information.

Wisconsin parks volunteers and hunting groups fight DNR cuts

Friends of Wisconsin State Parks
2015/2017 Budget Concerns
 The Friends of Wisconsin State Parks (FWSP) are very concerned over a 28% cut in the 2015-2017 Biennium budget.  The cutting of all general purpose tax funding would devastate the Park System.    This deep cut would affect the operating practices and services of the Parks.  We also have the concerns over the personnel cuts which eliminate most of the Naturalist at our State Parks.  These Naturalists are the “heartbeat” of these parks educational program where many of the youth and other parks learn about nature and become regular park users.
The loss of all Stewardship funding would also be detrimental to the Park System.  FWSP has the position, that at times there are land purchases that are in everyone’s best interest.   A property adjacent to an existing park or an extension of an existing trail should be allowed.  Matching funds are many times available to help with these purchases also. 
The heading to self sufficiency is a noble cause, but cannot be accomplished in the present year.  A cut of $ 4.6 million to the Parks budget makes it so Parks could not function at the user’s expectations.    The items needed to make Parks sustainable are 3 fold.  The Fee increase needs to be approved, spending authority within the department needs to be approved and the general purpose revenue needs to be partially restored.
There are other alternatives being discussed for generating revenues for State Parks.  FWSP is in favor of incorporating Corporate donations and these are already in practice for Park improvements, but there is not a mechanism in place to make it work for day to day operating costs at this time.  FWSP does accept corporate donations and uses these funds for State property promotion and improvements.   FWSP is not in favor of selling naming rights to State properties.  
FWSP through our local Friends groups donated over $540,000 and nearly 187,000 volunteer hours to the State Park Properties. Much of this money is raised through the gift shops, firewood sales and other concession items.  This revenue stream would be eliminated if general concessionaires are allowed in the State Parks, and FWSP is not in favor of this practice.
Please plan to attend the Joint Committee on Finance Public Hearing in your area; this is an important part of the budget process.  Also contact your local Assemblyperson and Senator and voice your concerns about the urgency of this issue.
Thank you,
Bill Zager
Pres. FWSP

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]

Vote for Your Favorite Wisconsin Rail Trailblazer

11084239_929035800493955_7112888198462616573_nIt’s full steam ahead for the "Wisconsin Rail Trailblazers" contest. As part of the 50th anniversary of rail trails in Wisconsin, the public is invited and encouraged to join the celebration with a friendly Wisconsin rail trail competition on Facebook. DNR Facebook fans can participate in the "Wisconsin Rail Trailblazers" contest by voting for their favorite among the 16 trails that were established after the Elroy-Sparta. People can vote once a day and help their favorite trail advance to the championship.
To take part in the fun, go to the DNR Facebook page ( and click on the "State Trail Contest" tab. Then, click on one state trail in each matchup and fill out the short form at the bottom. The trails with the most votes move on to the next round, culminating in one trail being named the winner.
Each person casting a vote will be entered into a random drawing for a prize package consisting of a 2015 Wisconsin state park sticker, a 2015 Wisconsin state trail pass and a three-year subscription to Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine. Entrants can vote once per day until April 7. The winning trail and the winning entrant will be announced on Wednesday, April 8.

Friends of Kohler-Andrae State Park, Inc.

Our friends group began on February 23, 1987
Members of the local Audubon Society had been active with volunteering at the Sanderling Nature Center at Kohler-Andrae. Park Superintendent, Jim Buchholz suggested that a friends group be formed. Articles of incorporation were drawn up and filed. In October 1987, Fran Grandlic attended a meeting and was asked to be president. She accepted and was president for twenty years. In January 1988, the articles of incorporation were accepted by the State of Wisconsin. Some of the early members loaned money to the group to purchase books and clothing to sell at the park because the group had no money at the beginning. In January, 1989, the friends received the IRS certificate of exemption as a 501 (c) (3) organization.
At present there are approximately 130 members in our group. The one problem we have that most other organizations have is attracting younger members. Young people just don’t seem to want to join anything. I am a member of several other organizations and all have the same problem.
  • Activities;
Our group has been involved with coordinating volunteers and staffing the Sanderling Nature Center. We have made improvements both at the Nature Center and throughout the park since we were organized. We have done many of the improvements using Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund grants. Some of the earliest were air conditioning, an epoxy floor, and a video projector at the Nature Center. We provide all the funding for the programs at the park because there is no State funding available. Other projects have included an outdoor shelter, playground equipment, a Kubota UTV for the camp hosts, a $125,000 accessible cabin, and a 110.000 fishing pond.
  • Events
We staff a summer candlelight hike and two winter candlelight ski/hikes. There also is a Halloween guided hike with themed characters on the trail. There is also pumpkin carving, nature crafts, and a story teller around the campfire for this event. The last Halloween hike had more than 750 attendees. These are the most popular events at the park. There are activities on weekends from May through October.
  • Getting the word out
We have brochures for the friends group available at the park office and at the Nature Center. There is a notice about the friends group in the park newspaper and in all the bulletin boards in the park.
  • We tell the community about our events through news releases to the local newspaper and radio stations. We have a website for our group; and we are on Facebook at; Friends of Kohler-Andrae State Park.
  • About Kohler-Andrae
LocationKohler-Andrae State Park is located on the shore of Lake Michigan, about five miles south of Sheboygan Wisconsin. There are dunes along the entire shoreline of the park. We have camping, swimming in Lake Michigan, hiking, biking, picnicking and just plain relaxing. It is a pedestrian friendly park with a four foot wide biking /walking lane along both sides of the main park road. About 450,000 visitors come to the park every year.