Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Delays Opening of all Recreation Sites

Rhinelander, WI – APRIL 10, 2020 -- In alignment with current federal, state and local guidance for social distancing and to ensure health safety of its employees, visitors and volunteers, the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest will be delaying the opening of all recreation sites and not allowing camping or campfires until further notice. In addition, the Forest is implementing a group-size limitation of 10 people or less per group across the entire Forest. Last week, the Forest shutdown all restrooms and removed garbage receptacles at recreation sites.

The following are closed until further notice:

  • All Developed Campgrounds (Reservations will be cancelled, and refunds issued for the month of May). The Forest will continue to monitor the situation and respond accordingly with additional cancellations in June and/or the reopening of sites on a first-come, first-serve basis.
  • All Day Use Areas (trailheads, picnic areas, boat landings, beaches and the Mountain Fire Tower)
  • Lost Lake Cabins, Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center and Forest Lodge
  • Dispersed (roadside/Forest) camping on the National Forest
  • Trails (motorized and non-motorized designated trails)
  • All restroom facilities

The General Forest remains open to the public including Forest Roads for hiking, biking and scenic driving. 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, search for a less occupied location. Also consider avoiding the Forest during peak hours.

The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest takes the safety of our personnel, contractors, volunteers, and visitors seriously. With spring quickly approaching, the potential for crowded conditions increases in parking areas, trailheads, and at popular forest destinations, undermining the country's critical efforts to contain the spread.

"Personal responsibility is now more important than ever. Let's all do our part to ensure we are keeping ourselves, our families and our communities safe by being prepared and recreating responsibly," said Paul Strong, Forest Supervisor on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest will continue to coordinate its COVID-19 response in alignment with all federal, state and local guidance. When visiting your public lands, it is important to be aware of current forest limitations. Everyone is urged to take the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The most recent CDC guidelines are available at Additional information is also available at

The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest has moved to virtual services. Please visit us at and access our forest maps at You can also follow us on Twitter at or like us on Facebook at

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Gov. Evers Directs DNR to Close 40 State Parks, Forests, and Recreational Areas

MADISON Gov. Tony Evers today directed the Department of Natural Resources to close several state parks to protect the health and safety of Wisconsinites.

Due to unprecedented crowds, litter, vandalism and out of an abundance of caution to protect public health and safety and help flatten the curve, the following Wisconsin State Parks, Forests and Recreational Areas will close at the end of the day Thurs., April 9, and will remain closed beginning Fri,, April 10, until further notice:

Northeast Region

High Cliff State Park

Southeast Region

Big Foot Beach State Park, Harrington Beach State Park, Havenwoods State Forest, Kohler-Andrae State Park, Kettle Moraine State Forest Lapham Peak, Loew Lake, Mukwonago River, Northern Unit, Pike Lake, Southern Unit, Lakeshore State Park, and Richard Bong State Recreational Area

South Central Region

Aztalan State Park, Belmont Mound State Park, Blue Mound State Park, Cadiz Springs State Recreational Area, Capital Springs State Recreational Area, Cross Plains State Park, Devil's Lake State Park, Fenley State Recreational Area, Governor Dodge State Park, Governor Nelson State Park, Lake Kegonsa State Park, Lower Wisconsin Riverway, Mackenzie Center, Mirror Lake State Park, Natural Bridge State Park, Nelson Dewey State Park, New Glarus Woods State Park, Rocky Arbor State Park, Sauk Prairie State Recreational Area, Tower Hill State Park, Wyalusing State Park, Yellowstone Lake State Park, Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area, Pewits Nest State Natural Area, Parfrey's Glen State Natural Area and Dells of The Wisconsin River State Natural Area

"I wanted to keep state parks open for the public to enjoy during this challenging time which is why outdoor activity is listed as an essential activity under the Safer at Home order," said Gov. Tony Evers. "Unfortunately, growing difficulty with ensuring social distancing compliance, dwindling cleaning supplies and mounting trash are some of the challenges faced by our state parks staff. We have to address the growing public health and safety concern and protect Wisconsinites."

Despite waiving fees, closing state park offices, visitor centers, and non-essential buildings to help minimize the transmission of COVID-19 at parks, the situation has reached a point where public safety in the parks and surrounding communities takes precedence over keeping these locations open. If the public does not follow social distancing guidelines and vandalizes property, more state parks may have to close.

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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Oconto County Closes ATV/UTV Routes Due to COVID-19

​From the article: 

"There were 140 vehicles. They represented 34 counties, three states. There were no Oconto County residents parked there. However, over half of the vehicles that were there, were from counties that have 10 or more cases. So that's where our concern is, that there are people coming to Oconto County that are coming from areas that there is a high incidence of the illness," she said.

Konitzer says all County-owned ATV-UTV road routes are off limits until further notice. And the county's campgrounds, expected to open on May 1, will likely stay closed as well.

The latest closure ties in with another health department statement issued on April first, urging visitors to stay away from their seasonal homes and properties.

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Embarrass River OHV Park Update

COVID-19 Update:

As of today April 8th 2020 our campground and trails will still open as normal on May 1st.

Since our campground will not open until after the current safer at Home order expires, social distancing measures will not need to be taken.

That being said below are the current social distancing practices in place for any campground that is currently open (Per Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection) or what you can expect if this order is extended past our opening date.

1. Maintain 6ft between others.

2. Campsites may hold members of a single household only. No private gatherings of any sort.

3. Be as efficient as possible in places of common space such as our office building. Please go to the bathroom or take your shower and exit the building to reduce contact with others.

This year we will be increasing the frequency of cleanings in our building and will not be providing helmet rentals this year until everything is back to normal.
Our vending machines will still be stocked for the year but we cannot serve any pizzas or ice cream until restaurants are able to serve.

Please understand this is an ever changing situation so there may be new developments between now and May 1st

Thank you all for your understanding. We hope to see you this summer.


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Spring Riding Information

​It's almost trail riding season for the majority of the state! However, there are a few things you should know regarding opening dates and soil conditions. We frequently are asked what trails are open from folks wanting to get out and ride. To help answer this question, Randy Harden, President of WATVA, wrote a blog post explaining the answer. 

This time of year is know in our circles as "the spring breakup". So what does that mean you may be thinking?

The spring time is when frost is coming out of the ground, wet conditions add to the trail base instability, then add to this it's also a prime fire hazard time before things green up, it all adds up to why trails around the state are not open yet.

We really need warm, sunny conditions to dry out the trail base so it can become more stable so it doesn't cause massive rehab issues once we start riding. If our spring weather is wet and cool, this adds to the delays. Mother Nature controls much of these conditions, we just have to wait until our professional land managers and club trail captains make their assessment to approve opening.

Even different soil types of each trail system adds to the final assessment and opening approvals.

We have land managers from many county forest staffs, state DNR and federal managers from the US Forest Service that all enter into their assessment and approvals.

As a general time frame and in dryer years (also before COVID-19) some systems have opened mid-May, others the weekend before Memorial weekend. Wet years have even experienced an early June opening, it's all dependent on weather and soil conditions.

My goal in answering this short question with a fairly long answer, is to offer an explanation as to why the systems are not yet open. Hopefully you find this information helpful.


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