Statement of Scope
Department of Natural Resources
Wisconsin DNR property management regulations under NR 45, including implications to stewardship grants under NR 51.
1. Finding/nature of emergency (Emergency Rule only):
The rules will be proposed as permanent rules.
2. Detailed description of the objective of the proposed rule:
Chapter NR 45 is the principal rule governing the conduct of visitors to the lands and facilities owned, eased, or leased by the Department. This chapter is reviewed and revisions are proposed on a regular basis, however it has been more than 4 years since this rule has been reviewed and any revisions have been approved. Proposals seek to update fee structures, camping guidance, general property use and specific property uses governed by the rule.
Chapter NR 51 implements and administers the Stewardship grant program. The proposals in this NR 45 rule package provide clarity for trail use and add a property to the list of state trail eligible for funding under the Stewardship grant program.
3. Description of the existing policies relevant to the rule, new policies proposed to be included in the rule, and an analysis of policy alternatives:
Ch. NR 45 related to the Use of Department Properties
Change in Fees
A proposal is to require vehicles parked at Cambrian Overlook in the Wisconsin River State Natural Area to have a Wisconsin State Park vehicle admission sticker. The access to this property is managed by State Park staff and recognizes the high volume of use and maintenance needs.
A proposal is to require vehicles parked at Glacial Drumlin State Trail – Sandhill Station to have a Wisconsin State Park vehicle admission sticker. This property designation has been converted from a wildlife area to a state park property hence the need to be included for vehicle admission stickers.
A proposal is to require vehicles parked at Straight Lake State Park and Menominee River State Recreation Area to have a Wisconsin State Park vehicle admission sticker. These are new properties that need to be included for vehicle admission stickers.
A proposal is to decrease the fee for the enclosed shelters on the northern state forests from $70 to $40 for non-electric and from $80 to $45 for electric to better reflect customer demand for the facilities and the amenities available. The shelters are currently underutilized.
A proposal is to charge a fee for special events on state properties. Fees would be based on a base fee plus the actual cost to the department anticipated as a result of the special event.
A proposal is to eliminate vehicle admission fees for beach and picnic areas at Clear Lake and Sandy Beach on the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest. This change would reduce administrative costs and would result in no change to administrative or management practices.
A proposal is to increase the fee for use of a dump station for non-registered campers from $3 to $10. The change is in response to a system wide escalation with the addition of new electrical sites as well as an increase waste hold volume on RV’s. Operational costs have increased as existing systems begin to fail. Increasing fees for non-registered campers is targeted to deter this use to prolong the dump station’s useful life.
A proposal is to increase the camping fee by $3.00 due to local market conditions for Castle Mound campground at Black River State Forest. The last time that NR 45 was amended in 2010 a proposal was approved to add 5 northern state forest campgrounds to the list of 16 state parks where fees were raised by $3 per night from $12 to $15 in response to local market conditions because these campgrounds were all popular tourist destinations. The 2010 rule change inadvertently left out the fifth state forest campground, Castle Mound at Black River State Forest, from the list of the other four campgrounds in the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest (NHAL) that are allowed to charge the extra $3 high demand fee per night. This proposal would remedy the inadvertent omission from 2010 and add Castle Mound campground to the list.
A proposal is to prevent cancelling and rebooking camping site reservations to prevent customers from abusing the reservation system to the detriment of other potential customers. Customer complaints are being received. Currently reservations made at the maximum window, 11 months prior to arrival date, are being canceled and then rebooked to move ahead in dates and control the site until the customer gets the dates they want.
A proposal is to limit the number of days camping is permitted on state-owned islands in the Mississippi River and to require that the site be occupied daily. The rule would be written to be consistent with island camping regulations on the Upper Mississippi National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.
A proposal is to restrict designated equine campgrounds to use by those accompanied by an equine except where there is no other family camping available and the property manager has authorized a camper to use the site. The proposal ensures the use of equestrian campgrounds to camping parties that intend to ride horses and use horse related amenities in the campgrounds.
A proposal is to change a horse campground to a group camp at Black River Falls State Forest. This change has already been made at the property and reflects an update in rule.
General Property Use
A proposal is to modify the code that allows the Department to close by posted notice land, structures or property for one or more or all activities for safety and protection of resources as determined by the Secretary. Presently code allows for just closure by posted notice to all access/activity; this would allow the Department to close by posted notice for specific activities while allowing other public use or activities to continue. The Secretary determination is designed to avoid such decisions to be made at the sole discretion of a property manager and allow for public engagement.
A proposal is to change the definition of “physically disabled person” to match the federal definition. The change is being made for the purpose of the Department’s implementation of the United States Department of Justice rules relating to the use of wheelchairs and other power-driven mobility devices on Department property.
A proposal is to codify persons with physical disability permit requirements for motorized vehicle use as a mode of personal conveyance to address abuses of the current permit system. A permit is currently issued with conditions but is not enforceable without administrative rule. Conflicts of the permit conditions related to assistants have been noted and the proposal aims to address those.
A proposal is to clarify the prohibition on possession of firewood at risk of carrying invasive species. The rule change will provide clarity to help enforcement of the existing prohibition.
A proposal is to allow the Department to issue permits to possess and discharge firearms, bows, crossbows, slingshots and other devices within state parks, fish hatcheries, or within 100 yards of a designated use area. This permitted exception to the general prohibition will enable the Department to facilitate hunter education, civil war reenactments, interpretive programs, and other special use events.
A proposal is to define and regulate special events on Department property. This reinforces the Department’s ability to regulate events which may affect other users of the property, natural resources, safety or inhibit authorized use of a property. Property management staff has experienced an increase in requests for special events on Department properties in the past several years.