How exciting! We are heading into peak parks and trails season when millions of people will enjoy one of our state’s most precious resources – our state parks system. Last year, we had a record-setting year with more than 15 million visitors. Maintaining these amazing natural wonders is costly and time consuming but our network of Friends groups within the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks (FWSP) help to keep our parks and trails vital. More than 80 individual Friends groups raise money for large projects at the parks such as shelters and cabins, volunteer to build trails and remove invasive species and help to enhance and maintain the properties, to name just a few tasks.
During times of increasingly tight budgets, what our Friends groups do, with the help of your generous donations and purchases of Parks stickers, is completely invaluable.
Last month, the executive board of the FWSP met at Pike Lake State Forest to consider this year’s “Affinity Naturalist Grant Requests”. It is the board’s way of giving back to the very groups who are so directly having a positive impact on local parks and trails. This year we purposely set the bar high and granted a record-setting $17,173 to Friends groups to afford various naturalist programs at 22 park properties, sanctuaries and nature centers.
This investment along with our increased financial commitment to a full-time state coordinator position – another first – shows FWSP is serious about providing support to its member groups. We’re not through. FWSP will be busy this summer and fall developing new relationships with independent sponsors, companies and like-minded environmental groups who have expressed interest in financially supporting the FWSP mission. Simply put, FWSP is committed to maximizing access to Wisconsin’s state parks and providing a safe, clean environment to recreate and learn about our native flora, fauna and natural history.
Stay tuned, the fun is just beginning and be sure to check out our website (FWSP.org), buy a State Parks sticker or calendar, join a local Friends group and enjoy the great Wisconsin outdoors!
Roger W. Putnam III
President of FWSP
May 29, 2013