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Chapter NR 45 is the principal rule governing the conduct of visitors to the properties and facilities owned, acquired by easement, or leased by the Department. This chapter is reviewed and revisions are proposed on a regular basis. Proposals seek to update fee structures, provide camping guidance, and address a variety of general and specific property uses governed by rule. A few rule changes are also included to implement recent statutory changes or to improve rule clarity.
Chapter 51 relates to the administration of the Stewardship grant program. The language is updated regarding the purpose of the state trail network, water trails are defined, and a state water trail is added to the list of state trails making that project eligible for funding under the Stewardship program.
Section 1 amends the definition of “Bicycle” to be consistent with state law and amends the definition of “Physically disabled person” to be consistent with the definition in federal law.
Section 2 creates definitions for “Shooting Range”, “Special event” and “Water trail”.
Section 3 modifies a rule that allows, by posted notice, the closure of land, structures, or property for safety and/or protection of resources. The only option under current rules is to close areas for all public use, and this may restrict use more than is necessary. The rule establishes flexibility to restrict access for one or more activities in order to preserve opportunities which are not a safety hazard or in conflict with management goals. The proposal codifies that the closures are to be authorized by the department secretary or designee.
This section also clarifies that wood collection for legally authorized campfires does not require a forest product permit and adds the Rainbow Flowage property to the list of properties where driftwood and other dead and downed wood located below the ordinary high water mark may not be removed or destroyed without written permission.
Section 4 creates a mechanism to authorize and regulate “special events”. This will help ensure that these events do not have significant adverse impacts to public safety, other authorized uses of the property, and/or natural resources. Property management staff have experienced an increase in requests for special events on Department properties in the past several years.
Section 5 amends the regulations on the possession of firewood by eliminating the reference to where the firewood is intended to be used. This amendment provides clarity for enforcement of this provision aimed at slowing the spread of invasive species. For clarity, lumber is removed from the definition of firewood because NR 45.045 (3) already specifies that dimensional lumber that is debarked, kiln dried and smoothed is exempt from the requirements regarding firewood possession.
Section 6 creates provisions for the cutting and gathering of firewood for home use as authorized under a valid forest products permit. Currently no administrative rule or statute allows for enforcement of forest product permit conditions for firewood gathering.
Section 7 clarifies that permit authorization for use of a motorized vehicle is restricted to individuals with a disability that impairs mobility. This section also specifies the requirements for proof of disability and provides that up to two additional people may accompany the permittee.
Section 8 codifies that the department may establish permit requirements for motorized vehicle use by an individual with a mobility disability. Permits conditions are established to protect public safety and property resources. Codifying the provision creates an enforcement mechanism if the permit conditions are violated.
This section also authorizes the use of motor bicycles on linear state trails open to bicycles provided that the motor is not engaged, or is operating at less than 15 MPH if the electric motor is engaged. It also includes requirements establishing when motor bicycles would be permitted on other trails, or sections of trails.
Section 9 establishes that the requirements that currently apply to bicycles on designated state trails also apply to motor bicycles. The rules require stopping at stop signs and prohibit riding in a reckless manner that endangers life, property or people.
This section also clarifies the department’s authority to establish ATV routes on department roads as authorized in a property’s master plan. Under current rules, the department only has this authority on northern state forest lands. The revision eliminates the specific reference to northern state forests and generalizes the language to state that the department may establish ATV routes on department lands over department roads. It further reflects recent legislative direction in s. 23.116 to evaluate motorized access.
Sections 10 to 14 and 31 to 33 modernize language related to hunting in state parks to reflect that hunting is now generally allowed in parks under current rules and by statute. These sections eliminate prohibitions on the possession of and requirement to enclose in a carrying case firearms, air guns, bows and crossbows on certain property types and on department lands in certain counties. These prohibitions have not been enforced since enactment of laws allowing concealed carry of weapons and elimination of statutory statewide requirements to enclose firearms and bows in a carrying case. The discharge of firearms in certain areas remains illegal under these rules but an exception is created which enables the department to issue a special use permit to facilitate hunter education, civil war reenactments, interpretive programs, and similar events. Finally, these sections clarify that it is legal to use a firearm to kill an animal that has lawfully been trapped in a state park.  Trapping has been allowed in state parks since the enactment of 2011 Act 168.
Section 15 creates general rules for department shooting ranges. Presently most shooting ranges on department lands have no codified rules, making enforcement difficult.
Section 16 adds restrictions on the number of days that camping is permitted on state-owned islands on the Mississippi River, and requirements that the campsites must be occupied daily and that camping property may not be left unattended for over 24 hours. The rule is written to be consistent with island camping regulations on the Upper Mississippi National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.
Section 17 places restrictions on canceling camping reservations made at the maximum window, 11 months prior to arrival, to prevent customers from abusing the reservation system by keeping control of their desired site by cancelling and rebooking camping site reservations until they get their desired dates.
This section also creates provisions related to equestrian campgrounds to ensure priority is given to camping parties that intend to ride an equine and use equine related amenities in the campgrounds. A campsite may be registered by a camping party not accompanied by an equine if that camping party is camping with another camping party with an equine which is being used by both camping parties. The rule also gives the property manager the authority to allow any registered camper to stay in the equestrian campground if no other family camping is available and the equestrian campground is not full.
Section 18 adds Puckett’s Pond, in Harington Beach state park to the list of properties that do not allow the operation of motorboats. This rule is consistent with other urban fishing locations.
Section 19 Removes Robinson Creek Pond, in the Black River state forest, Jackson County from the list of properties where all boats are prohibited. Boats were restricted from Robinson Creek Pond use due to its popularity as a designated swimming beach. Due to years of declining use, the beach was undesignated for swimming in 2010. The pond represents a good location for beginning kayakers and canoeists.
Section 20 amends the description of one of the state forest vehicle admission fee areas within the Black River state forest from East Fork horse campgrounds to East Fork group camp to reflect the change in use of that site following plan amendments which have been adopted.
This section also amends two state forest vehicle admission areas within the Northern Highland state forest to eliminate fee collection at the beach and picnic areas at Clear Lake and Sandy Beach campgrounds. These changes will reduce administrative costs and will not result in a change to administrative or management practices.
Section 21 requires vehicle admission stickers in four new areas. The Dells of the Wisconsin River state natural area – Cambrian Overlook is being proposed as a vehicle admission sticker location because it is a heavily used, park-like setting requiring regular maintenance and staffing.
Straight Lake state park and Menominee River state park and recreation area are new properties administered by the state park program and are being added consistent with other state park and recreation area properties.
The Glacial Drumlin state trail – Sandhill Station’s property designation was changed from a wildlife area to a state park property and, consistent with other state park properties, a vehicle admission sticker is required.
Section 22 increases the fee to use the swimming pool at Blue Mounds State Park in Dane and Iowa counties from $2 to $3 for adults and from $1 to $2 for children 2-12 years of age. The proposal creates a season pass to the pool which would be $45 for adults and $30 for children.
Section 23 adjusts the fees for certain enclosed shelters to better reflect market conditions and the level of amenities. The fee for the enclosed shelters on the northern state forests is reduced from $70 to $40 for non-electric and from $80 to $45 for electric. The shelters are currently underutilized.
This section also increases the rate for the use of a dump station by non-registered campers from $3.00 to $10.00.
Section 24 establishes that the department may collect a base fee and receive compensation for anticipated costs of a special event and identifies criteria that may be used to assess fees.
Section 25 repeals two prohibitions on the consumption or possession of alcohol. Big Foot Beach state park is one of the few parks where this prohibition exists.  The prohibition is no longer necessary for governing the conduct of visitors at this park. Due to a recent statutory change, alcohol is now permitted on the golf course and clubhouse at Peninsula state park.
Section 26 updates a provision related to the operation of powered ice augers at Straight Lake state park to reference combustion engine powered rather than gas powered ice augers. This addresses the use of propane augers which are becoming more popular. The prohibition on power augers is contained within the property’s master plan.
Section 27 repeals the rules for the shooting range at Yellowstone Lake wildlife area. These rules are no longer needed because of the general shooting range rules included in this administrative rule package.
Sections 28 and 29 require that unopened or empty beverage containers and litter be secured in a container fastened to watercraft that is launched or removed from designated launching sites on the Flambeau River state forest. This is similar to provisions on the Brule River within the Brule River state forest.
Section 30 repeals shooting range rules which are specific to the McMiller Sports Center in the southern unit Kettle Moraine state forest as this rule package contains general rule provisions for all shooting ranges on department owned or managed properties.
Section 34 establishes the ability to close areas within Kohler Andre state park in Sheboygan County to swimming and scuba diving. This rule is needed to ensure visitor safety and prevent disturbance to park visitors who want to fish in the urban fishing pond.
This section allows the department to prohibit swimming and scuba diving in Quarry Lake and Puckett’s Pond within Harrington Beach state park. This rule is needed to prevent user conflicts on these small ponds and because the steep, rocky conditions are not conducive for safe entrance and egress to the water.
Finally, this section establishes that jumping or diving into the waterway contrary to posted notice along the Red Cedar trail is prohibited. Codifying this allows for enforcement authority and will help to deter this unsafe activity.
Section 35 updates the language regarding the state trail system to be consistent the state statute regarding who the state trail system serves. The language eliminates the perception that use of trails on department lands is limited to equine and bike riders, cross-country skiers and hikers.
Section 36 creates a definition for water trails. This provides structure for the new state water trail program approved by the Natural Resources Board.
Section 37 consolidates the list of state trails so that it includes the Ice Age trail. The Ice Age trail was listed separately in s. 51.73(2), Stats.
Section 38 codifies the Lake Michigan Water Trail, the first designated state water trail, as part of the state trail system.
Summary of, and comparison with, existing or proposed federal statutes and regulations: There are no corresponding federal regulations governing the public’s use of Department of Natural Resource properties.
DNR is a public entity subject to Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et. seq. and federal rules promulgated thereunder, 28 CFR Part 35. Federal rules (28 CFR § 35.137) require that public entities make reasonable modifications to policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of power-driven mobility devices by individuals with disabilities.
The restrictions on the number of days that camping is permitted on state-owned islands on the Mississippi River and requirements that the campsites must be occupied daily and camping property must not be left unattended for over 24 hours were written to be consistent with the nearby island camping regulations on the Upper Mississippi National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.
Links to Admin. Code and Statutes in this Register are to current versions, which may not be the version that was referred to in the original published document.