High to Very High Fire Danger Continues During the Weekend

High to Very High Fire Danger Continues During the Weekend 

Prevent wildfires this weekend during high fire danger. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR

 MADISON, Wis. – Gusty winds, very low humidity, and little-to-no precipitation lead to a weekend of critical fire weather conditions. The threat is predicted to continue into early next week with elevated fire danger across the state.

To help us keep Wisconsinites safe, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources continues to request that the public avoid outdoor burning, including limiting the use of campfires and off-road vehicles and to avoid disposing hot ashes from wood stoves in grass or wooded areas.

Fire control officials are concerned that the cooler temperatures and slightly lesser winds will cause the public to become complacent as Wisconsin enters the peak of wildfire season. The main factor going into the weekend is the very low humidity levels (about 15-20%), coupled with tinder dry vegetation. Fires under these circumstances can start easily and spread quickly.

The greatest chance of precipitation will occur on Saturday evening, but will be confined to southern Wisconsin. Winds will be out of the north and northwest for the duration of this timeframe. Fuel conditions such as trees, shrubs and grasses are very dry. Please continue to take extra precautions as a dry stretch of weather remains.

The northern half of the state is entering a critical time for catastrophic fire, especially in sandy soil and pine areas. Fires in these locations are starting to see increased fire behavior, resulting in fire moving from the surface to the crowns of the trees, making fire suppression more challenging. The greening of vegetation is progressing in the southern part of the state which is lessening the fire risk.

Burning remains suspended with DNR-issued burning permits for debris piles, barrels and grass or wooded areas. We are also asking the public again to be especially careful with any activities that could potentially lead to a wildland fire such as smoking, chainsaws, dragging trailer chains, off-road vehicles or other small engines have the potential to throw sparks. Use extreme caution until the fire weather improves.

The DNR will be on high alert across the entire state this weekend, pre-positioning equipment for rapid response. The DNR has four contract tanker planes and access to the Wisconsin Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopters with bucket capability.

Continue to monitor the current situation here or by searching the DNR website using keyword "fire." 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 8, 2020
Contact: Catherine Koele, DNR Wildfire Prevention Specialist, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 608-219-9075

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Oconto County Set to Open ATV / UTV Trails on Friday May 8th

The Oconto County Tourism department released a Facebook post stating the county will open their ATV & UTV trails on Friday, May 8th 2020. 

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Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Reopens Boat Landings and Trails

Rhinelander, WI – APRIL 30, 2020 -- The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest will be lifting the closure order for boat landings (except for some within closed campgrounds) today. In addition, both motorized and non-motorized trails on the National Forest will be open May 8 or when local conditions allow for opening. Please check the website or with your local county to see what trails are open before heading out.

"The Forest takes the safety of our personnel, contractors, volunteers, and visitors seriously, and we also understand that outdoor activities like fishing and hiking are encouraged during this difficult time. It is important to stay close to home and limit travel when pursuing places to recreate," said Paul Strong, Forest Supervisor on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

While the boat landings will be available for use, they will not be maintained, nor will any associated facilities be available such as restrooms or garbage receptacles until further notice. Trails will be open however, without restrooms or garbage receptacles at trailheads.

"The Forest is working with trail partners to address eminent hazards on the trails prior to opening," said Strong. "The Forest and partners will be doing required maintenance only at this time while we work through the risks of field work"

The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest will continue to coordinate its COVID-19 response in alignment with all federal, state and local guidance. The Forest will be considering the risks associated with opening additional recreation sites, such as campgrounds, which remain closed. In addition, camping, campfires and groups of more than 10 people are prohibited on the National Forest until further notice. Please visit our website at www.fs.usda.gov/cnnf and click on Alerts and Notices to view the closure orders outlining what is closed and prohibited.

When visiting your public lands, it is important to be aware of current forest limitations. To protect public health and safety, all visitors to the Forest are encouraged to:

  • Avoid visiting the forest if you are sick and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Follow CDC guidance on personal hygiene and social distancing before and during your visit to the Forest.
  • Take your trash with you when you leave.
  • Please make arrangements to use the restroom before or after your visit to the forest. Unmanaged waste creates a health hazard for our employees and for other visitors.
  • If an area is crowded, please search for a less occupied location. Also consider avoiding the Forest during high-use periods.

"The public is asked to do their part to ensure the safety of ourselves, our families and our communities," said Strong. "Please remember to take your trash with you, practice leave no trace principles and social distancing when recreating on your National Forest."

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Riverview ATV Park (Kewaunee County) Closed to Public until Further Notice

KEWAUNEE, WI – The Kewaunee County Promotions & Recreation Department has delayed the opening of Riverview ATV Park, which typically happens in the beginning of May until the end of the month or once the "Safer at Home Order" is lifted by the State, due to COVID-19 concerns as well as wet trail conditions. 

The off-road recreational vehicle park allows for the use of ATVs, UTVs and dirt bikes. It is not only popular amongst locals, but out of county residents as well. "Aside from Kewaunee County residents using Riverview ATV Park, we see a lot of riders from neighboring counties and while we would like to open sooner, it's just safer for everyone that we delay the start of the season," said Dave Myers, Director of Kewaunee County Promotions & Recreation Department. "A benefit to this is also giving the trails time to dry out and allowing the Baylake ATV Club, our not for profit friends group, more time to groom and prepare the park for the season." 

For more information on Riverview ATV Park, visit www.VisitKewauneeCounty.com or call the Kewaunee County Promotions & Recreation Office at (920) 388-0444.

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Riverview ATV Park

Kewaunee County, located on the shores of Lake Michigan, is perfect for unique vacations! Enjoy charter fishing, beaches, vineyards, golfing, antique shops and cheese and meat markets. Take a Barn Quilt, winery, or brewery tour. Go snowmobiling, ice fishing and skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing or snowshoeing at Winter Park.
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Gov. Evers Directs DNR to Reopen Several State Parks and Forests with Special Conditions

MADISON – Gov. Tony Evers today directed the Department of Natural Resources to re-open several state parks, forests, and recreational areas originally closed due to unprecedented crowds and out of an abundance of caution to protect public health.

The DNR will reopen 34 state parks and forests on May 1, 2020 under special conditions to help minimize overcrowding, allow for social distancing requirements, and to promote a safe and enjoyable experience for staff and visitors.

"Outdoor recreation is important for both physical and mental health, and I know how important it is to Wisconsinites to get outside and enjoy Wisconsin's natural resources and spring weather," said Gov. Evers. "With a few adjustments, like closing one day a week for maintenance and reduced hours of operation, folks should be able to get outside and enjoy our parks safely and respectfully."

"Amid the immense uncertainty of this crisis, we are very fortunate to have such beautiful spaces in which to ease our minds and take care of ourselves," Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes said. "I am glad that we are able to reopen these spaces with new safety guidelines, so that people can enjoy our state parks and forests while we continue to prioritize public health and safety."

Here are the latest Wisconsin state park property updates:

ADMISSION REQUIRED STARTING MAY 1

  • An annual park sticker and/or trail pass will be required to visit state parks and trails.
  • Annual stickers will be available for purchase with credit card by phone 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. seven days a week by calling toll free: 1-888-305-0398. We thank you in advance for your patience as we may be experiencing heavy call volumes.
  • Annual passes are NOT available for purchase at individual properties. Visitors must have an annual admission sticker adhered to their vehicle or proof of purchase for entry.
  • Once proof of purchase is shown, visitors must place proof of purchase on the dash of the windshield while parked within the boundary of the property.
  • The 2020 annual vehicle admission sticker is valid through Dec. 31, 2020.


HOURS OF OPERATION

  • State parks and forests will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, a change from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Properties will be closed to the public every Wednesday for maintenance and upkeep.
  • Northern Forests, Flowages, Lower Wisconsin Riverway, and Wild Rivers will be open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. Specific properties listed below.
    • Black River State Forest
    • Brule River State Forest
    • Chippewa Flowage
    • Flambeau River State Forest
    • Governor Earl Peshtigo River State Forest
    • Governor Knowles State Forest
    • Lower Wisconsin State Riverway
    • Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest
    • Pike Wild River
    • Pine-Popple Wild River
    • Turtle Flambeau Flowage
    • Willow Flowage
  • Hunting and fishing will be allowed on all open properties in accordance with legal season structure and hours. Access to some areas may be limited to walk-in or water access only.
  • The following properties will remain closed for the health and safety of the public, staff, and property integrity:
    • Gibraltar Rock state natural area
    • Pewit's Nest state natural area
    • Parfrey's Glen state natural area
    • Dells of The Wisconsin River state natural area


BOAT LAUNCHES

  • DNR boat launches are open at open state properties.
  • All anglers and recreational boaters should practice social distancing and keep travel to a minimum.
  • If individuals can lawfully access Wisconsin's rivers and lakes, they are free to navigate upon them while engaging in outdoor recreation.


TRAILS

  • All linear/rail trails are open to the public, which includes ATV trails.
  • The Ice Age Trail remains open.
  • An annual state trail pass is required for anyone age 16 or older biking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding or in-line skating on certain trails. A state trail pass is NOT required for walking or hiking. The annual trail passes are valid through Dec. 31 of the year they are issued.


RESTROOMS AND BUILDINGS

  • Restrooms at all state properties will be closed. This includes the closure of restrooms on properties currently open to the public.
  • All other facilities will remain closed, including towers, shelters, playgrounds, nature centers, headquarters, contact stations and concession buildings.
  • Attractions where social distancing cannot be achieved will be closed as needed at various properties.


PRE-DETERMINED SAFETY CAPACITY LIMITATIONS

  • At times, many properties will likely reach their pre-determined safety capacity. When this happens, visitors may be denied entry to the park until existing visitors leave. Visitors are encouraged to explore other DNR recreation areas or visit during non-peak hours before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m.
  • State Parks likely to temporarily prohibit additional visitors include:
    • Copper Falls
    • Devil's Lake
    • Governor Dodge
    • Governor Nelson
    • Harrington Beach
    • Hartman Creek
    • High Cliff
    • Interstate
    • Kinnickinnic
    • Kettle Moraine Southern Unit
    • Lapham Peak
    • Perrot, Rib Mountain
    • Roche-a-Cri
    • Whitefish Dunes
    • Willow River


CAMPING AND EVENTS

  • Camping, group camps and shelters will remain closed until May 26. Refunds will be issued to all customers.
  • Limited numbers of remote, backpack and boat-in campsites are available on a first-come first-serve basis. A list of some of the properties offering this type of camping include:
    • Brule River State Forest
    • Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area
    • Dunnville Wildlife Area
    • Flambeau River State Forest
    • Governor Earl Peshtigo River State Forest
    • Governor Knowles State Forest
    • Meadow Valley State Wildlife Area
    • Tiffany Wildlife Area
    • Van Loon State Wildlife Are
    • Willow Flowage
  • Volunteer activities remain suspended at DNR properties.
  • All events and special event permits are canceled until May 26.


The public should follow simple steps to prevent illness and avoid exposure to this virus including:

  • Avoid social gatherings with people of all ages (including playdates and sleepovers, parties, large family dinners, visitors in your home, non-essential workers in your house);
  • Frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water;
  • Covering coughs and sneezes;
  • Avoiding touching your face; and
  • Staying home.


This is a rapidly evolving situation and we encourage you and the public to frequently monitor the DHS website for updates, and to follow @DHSWI on Facebook and Twitter, or dhs.wi on Instagram. Additional information can be found on the CDC website.

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