Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday ordered the Department of Natural Resources to close most state parks and forests in southern counties, saying people were gathering in crowds, not abiding by social distancing and leaving trash behind with no staff to pick it up.
Evers ordered 40 state parks and forests in the south and southeast regions closed at the end of the day Thursday and one in the northeast region. No parks in Northwestern Wisconsin were ordered to close, but that could change.
Wisconsin is under a statewide “safer at home” order during the COVID-19 pandemic restricting any unnecessary travel. While outdoor recreation is considered essential, state officials have told residents to be outdoors only in their community and only with their immediate family.
Ironically, the closures come just a week after Wisconsin waived fees at state parks, a move that likely encouraged higher use.
The governor’s office said the closures were due to “unprecedented crowds, litter, vandalism and out of an abundance of caution to protect public health and safety.”
The closures are in place until further notice.