Park prices increase to pay for improvements
A new demand-based pricing structure for Wisconsin State Park System goes into effect on Feb. 15. It is intended to encourage use and manage capacity while providing money for property improvements that directly enhance visitor experiences.
There will be no increase in the annual admission fees to park system properties; however, daily admission fees will increase at three properties — Devil's Lake, Peninsula and Willow River state parks. Devil's Lake daily admission fees will increase $5, with resident daily fees going from $8 to $13 and nonresident daily fees going from $11 to $16. Daily fees at Peninsula and Willow River will increase $2, with resident daily fees going from $8 to $10 and nonresident daily fees going from $11 to $13.
Camping rates will be adjusted across the system based on demand, by both increasing and decreasing camping rates. Depending on campsite type and time of year, some properties will experience both a rate increase and a rate decrease. The average camping fee increase will be $3 per night and will range to a high of $7 at Devil's Lake and Peninsula on electrical sites during summer weekends. The greatest camping fee decrease will be $5 per night.
"We believe this new pricing structure will help us better manage the demand we're seeing at some of our highly used properties while encouraging use at our lesser visited properties." said Ben Bergey, director of the Wisconsin State Park System.
The 2017-2019 state budget set new rates and authorities for the DNR including the ability to adjust camping rates from the base rates set in statute and the ability to adjust daily admission fees from the base rates set in statute, at all properties. Also included in the budget is a $5 increase on all electrical campsites at Devil's Lake, Peninsula, Kohler-Andrae, High Cliff and Willow River.
Also authorized in the 2017-2019 state budget, the park system plans to reinvest $2 million in user fees to fund property improvements, including the electrification of an additional 200 campsites at different campgrounds throughout the system including Big Bay, Blue Mound, Buckhorn, Copper Falls, Devil's Lake, Governor Dodge, Harrington Beach, Hartman Creek, High Cliff, Interstate, Lake Kegonsa, Mirror Lake, Nelson Dewey, Pattison, Peninsula, Perrot, Potawatomi, Wildcat Mountain, Willow River and Wyalusing. They will also fund technology improvements at parks and the addition of electronic pay stations at various properties.
Other improvements will be made at a number of properties throughout the state, and may include new fire rings, picnic tables and grills; graveling and grading campsites, and repairs and improvements to facilities, entrance roads and parking.
Under a separate funding act approved by the legislature, the park system will complete $4.5 million in water and wastewater infrastructure improvement projects at various state parks across the state, including the replacement of vault toilets and camper dump station at Peninsula State Park and replacement of water infrastructure at Devil's Lake State Park.
Implementation of the new rate structure begins Feb. 15.
For more information about the Wisconsin State Park System, search for keyword "parks."