Friends' Handbook

Friends Handbook
The first edition of the Friends Group Handbook was published in 1989, after passage of the initial policy on Friends groups. At that time, it became the policy of the Bureau of Parks and Recreation to encourage park superintendents to form Friends groups for their properties. The growth in the number of Friends groups over the next decade was phenomenal, and their positive impact on Wisconsin's State Park System was readily apparent. This edition of the Friends Group Handbook is designed to provide policy and practical information on how to build and run a successful Friends group within the context of Wisconsin State Parks.

Wisconsin's State Parks and Trails are the jewels of the wonderful natural resources of the state. However, the resources available to manage, maintain, and service our parks and trails are increasingly limited as government agencies continue to operate under restricted budgets. Our parks have definite needs for assistance from Friends groups in the following areas:
  • Volunteers: Volunteers are needed to provide visitor services, such as interpretive guides for environmental education programs, maintenance crews for trails, concessions for campers and day visitors, and general assistance to the park staff.
  • Development: Friends groups can raise private and public money for improving the facilities of the park. Trail construction, boardwalks, picnic shelters, fishing piers, accessibility projects, and camping facilities are all in need of the fundraising potential of Friends groups.
  • Natural Resources: Parks are only as healthy as the resources they protect. Friends groups can help with the restoration of native species, and can provide" eyes and ears” for the park by identifying and taking inventory of plant and animal species that depend on the park for habitat. Friends groups can even look beyond the boundaries of the park to ensure that a buffer exists between the park and other land uses. Friends groups can acquire land or conservation easements to restrict incompatible 
  • development outside the park.