MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- The Department of Natural Resources is shutting down dozens of state parks, forests, and recreational areas as part of its effort to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
That means popular parks like Devil's Lake State Park and Governor Dodge State Park are closed until further notice.
The parks had remained open despite the statewide “Safer at Home” order urging people to stay close to home unless necessary and strict limits on mass gatherings that forced other businesses to close.
“I wanted to keep state parks open for the public to enjoy during this challenging time which is why outdoor activity is listed as an essential activity under the Safer at Home order,” Gov. Tony Evers explained Thursday while announcing his order.
He said the decision to close 40 of the Wisconsin's state parks was based on the unprecedented crowds filling them as well as recent litter and vandalism. His office notes they hope this move will help in their effort to reduce the speed at which COVID-19 is spreading.
“Unfortunately, growing difficulty with ensuring social distancing compliance, dwindling cleaning supplies and mounting trash are some of the challenges faced by our state parks staff,” Evers said.
These parks will close at the end of Thursday and remain shut down until further notice.
Evers added that more parks may need to close as well, if visitors do not follow social distancing guidelines and property continues to be vandalized.
List of parks that are closing:
High Cliff State Park
Big Foot Beach State Park, Harrington Beach State Park, Havenwoods State Forest, Kohler-Andrae State Park, Kettle Moraine State Forest Lapham Peak, Loew Lake, Mukwonago River, Northern Unit, Pike Lake, Southern Unit, Lakeshore State Park, and Richard Bong State Recreational Area
South Central Region
Aztalan State Park, Belmont Mound State Park, Blue Mound State Park, Cadiz Springs State Recreational Area, Capital Springs State Recreational Area, Cross Plains State Park, Devil’s Lake State Park, Fenley State Recreational Area, Governor Dodge State Park, Governor Nelson State Park, Lake Kegonsa State Park, Lower Wisconsin Riverway, Mackenzie Center, Mirror Lake State Park, Natural Bridge State Park, Nelson Dewey State Park, New Glarus Woods State Park, Rocky Arbor State Park, Sauk Prairie State Recreational Area, Tower Hill State Park, Wyalusing State Park, Yellowstone Lake State Park, Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area, Pewits Nest State Natural Area, Parfrey’s Glen State Natural Area and Dells of The Wisconsin River State Natural Area