Park Rates Increase Today!

Park Rates Increase Today!

Camping rates go up today (Admission Rates go up Jan 1, 2016) due to changes in Wisconsin’s controversial new budget.  Here’s the press release below;

MADISON — Camping fees for Wisconsin state parks, state forests, state trails, and state recreation areas will increase beginning on July 28, 2015.

The fee increases were enacted as part of the 2015-2017 biennial state budget. The legislation calls for the fee increases to go into effect as soon as changes can be made to the camping reservation system.

The increase in camping fees is based on a three-level rate structure that will place the parks at a camping rate depending on demand, uniqueness, location and other factors. Camping rates will increase between $3 and $6 per night for residents and between $6 and $9 per night for non-residents. There is an increase in the per night charge for electrical service from $5 to $10.

Any reservations for 2015 and 2016 dates that were made prior to the rate change on July 28, will be honored at the price that was in effect at the time. Any extensions or changes to an existing reservation will result in the additional days being charged at the new rate.

“This new rate structure takes into account campsite demand at a property, uniqueness of the camping experience, and geographic locations in determining the rate placement of the property,” said Sanjay Olson, administrator of the DNR Division of Lands. “The placement of the property within these rates will be reviewed on a regular basis and the rates can be changed. We look forward to ensuring all Wisconsin residents and visitors are able to access and enjoy the natural beauty of Wisconsin’s state park system.”

Admission fees and trail passes were also increased in the state budget, but will not begin until annual stickers and passes for 2016 go on sale in December 2015, with an effective date of Jan. 1, 2016. Annual admission sticker fees will increase from $25 to $28 for state residents, from $35 to $38 for non-residents and $10 to $13 for resident seniors. Annual trail passes will increase from $20 to $25 for an annual pass and from $4 to $5 for a daily pass.

Over the last five years, the State Park System has collected an average of about $7.5 million per year in camping revenue. In 2014, there were 140,180 reservations processed through the reservation system.  Published  July 23, 2015

One thing I feel is important to understand when discussing the budget, is that the money collected by a particular park or trail DOES NOT go to support that particular park or trail alone. I regularly read erroneous arguments that Devil’s Lake State Park should make plenty of money and not need any taxpayer or budgetary support. Of course that opinion comes from a lack of understanding about how the parks budget works. Obviously if Devil’s Lake State Park kept the revenue it earned each year, there would be gold faucets in every bathroom and concierge service in the campgrounds, but that’s not the way it works. The money is pooled and distributed throughout the system. Devil’s Lake State Park has the same budgetary problems as every other park. In fact budgetary deficiencies often stand out at Devil’s Lake simply because of the volume of visitors each year.

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