MADISON, Wis. – Ninety-five percent of Wisconsin residents participate in nature-based recreation, and nearly two-thirds find their fun, adventure, and relaxation on public lands.
Such sky-high participation is one reason why National Public Lands Day and National Hunting and Fishing Day, observed on Sept. 28 this year, are worth celebrating in Wisconsin, says Department of Natural Resources Secretary-designee Preston Cole.
“Every day is a great day to enjoy Wisconsin’s great outdoors, but September 28 is special,” Cole said. “It’s a day to get out and enjoy, explore and care for the lands that belong to you, including the 6 million acres in Wisconsin that are managed on your behalf by county, local, state and federal governments.”
Cole says National Hunting and Fishing Day highlights the conservation work funded by hunters and anglers through their license fees and excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment. It also highlights their volunteer work to help improve habitat, pass along hunting and fishing traditions to new generations, and advocate to expand recreational opportunities.
To find public lands to enjoy outdoor fun or to relax and soak up the beauty of a fall day in Wisconsin, visit the DNR website for information on public access lands. It contains links to DNR managed properties as well as those managed by federal and some local governments.
People looking for opportunities to help improve public lands have several options on Sept. 28. The Friends of Kohler-Andrae State Park are teaming up with the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin for a Public Lands Day of service, food, and fun. Participants will start the day with a guided tour of the park, followed by volunteer projects, and then finish the day with a celebratory meal and s’mores. The event is limited to 100 volunteers, but at this time more are still needed.
The Flambeau River State Forest is holding a Public Lands Day event that will focus on cleaning up along forest roads. Volunteers are asked to meet at the Flambeau River State Forest headquarters at 9 a.m. Following the cleanup, Flambeau staff will grill brats for a noon lunch. Call 715-332-5271 EXT 112 to RSVP.
The Ice Age Trail Alliance is holding a Public Lands Day Mobile Skills Crew Trailbuilding event at the Bohn Lake Trail Segment in the Bohn Lake State Natural Area in Waushara County. Crews will be adding nearly three-quarters of a mile of new trail and improving access to the Mecan River Segment.
To volunteer for workdays at DNR-managed properties including State Natural Areas, State Wildlife Areas, and State Parks, visit DNR’s volunteer webpage.
Here are just a few things Wisconsin has to celebrate on National Public Lands Day and National Hunting and Fishing Day:
- Six million acres of public lands belong to all Wisconsinites and are managed for them by county, local, federal and state officials.
- Sixty percent of Wisconsin residents rely on public lands and waters mostly or entirely when participating in their favorite outdoor activity.
- Wisconsinites love the outdoors and participate in nature-based recreation at twice the national rate or more for fishing, hunting, hiking and biking, and one-and-a-half times the rate for wildlife watching.
- Wisconsin’s public lands and its outdoor recreation are an essential foundation for the state’s economy. Consumer spending on outdoor recreation in Wisconsin totals $17.9 billion.
- Wisconsin’s public lands and nature-based recreation are essential for healthy families. A significant and growing body of research shows that spending time in nature is good for mental and physical well-being. Doctors around the world have started prescribing time in nature to improve patient’s health. Recent research in Scientific Reports found that people report significantly better health and well-being after spending just 120 minutes in nature a week.
Statistics from: Wisconsin Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP).