The COVID-19 pandemic is still going on, but with lower percentages of positive cases and the need for both businesses and recreational resources to re-open, we're finally seeing more places do just that... with social distancing and cleaning precautions, of course.
Almost all of Wisconsin's state parks and recreation areas began reopening a few weeks ago; however a lot of facilities within those parks, including restrooms, remained closed. Today, June 3rd, marks the day when restrooms will re-open, although most of the towers, shelters, playgrounds, nature centers, headquarters, contact stations and concession buildings are still shut down for a while, due in part to staffing issues.
Also, it's Free Fun Weekend and Free Fishing Weekend coming up in the State Parks! What does that mean? Plenty:
Park admission fees, fishing license and trail pass requirements will be waived this Saturday and Sunday (June 6-7) to encourage us to take advantage of and enjoy Wisconsin’s outdoors.
• No state park admission stickers or trail passes are required.
• People may fish without a fishing license or trout/salmon stamps. All other fishing regulations apply.
• ATV, UTVs, and OHMs are exempt from registration requirements. Resident and non-resident all-terrain vehicle operators do not need a trail pass to ride state ATV trails.
• Capacity limits remain in effect at some properties to limit overcrowding.
• Visitors are asked to recreate responsibly close to home and practice social distancing.
Before heading to a state park, trail or waterbody near you, here are some additional things to know:
• Residents and non-residents will not be required to have a fishing license or trout/salmon stamps.
• All 2020-2021 fishing regulations apply including bag and length limits.
• Due to the public health risk, loaner equipment will not be available. Anglers should bring their own equipment and bait.
• Only anglers living in the same household (i.e. family members or roommates) should fish within six feet of one another.
• Events such as fishing clinics are canceled.
• Anglers are encouraged to have a backup plan in the event there is crowding or unsafe conditions where they plan to fish. We encourage everyone to fish safely and responsibly.
• Locate launches and shorefishing access points near you.
• Admission stickers will not be required.
• All state parks have updated hours of operation from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
• All group, family and indoor group campsites will remain closed through June 7. The status of events, reservations and camping after June 7 is currently under review.
• Some state parks have implemented capacity restrictions limiting admission. Make sure to look at current property information before visiting.
• Park-goers should remember to take their garbage and recycling home with them as most state parks, forests, and other day-use areas do not have garbage or recycling bins.
• Attractions at which social distancing cannot be achieved are closed at various properties; visit the park notices webpage for information about ongoing closures.
• All other facilities currently closed such as towers, shelters, playgrounds, nature centers, headquarters, entrance stations and concession buildings remain closed to the public.
• Fight the Bite! Ticks are out, and visitors should take precautions to prevent Lyme Disease.
• Make sure to follow the Leave No Trace principles to help protect these lands for generations to come.
• Trail passes will not be required for both residents and non-residents.
• All linear/rail trails will be open to the public, including ATV trails.
RESTROOMS AND BUILDINGS
• A limited number of day-use area restrooms at park properties will reopen for public use beginning Wednesday, June 3.
• 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.
BREWERIES, WINERIES, and CRAFT DISTILLERIES
A number of Wisconsin's craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries - all of which have been popping up like crazy all over - are inviting guests back to their tap and tasting rooms, or at least their outdoor patios, to enjoy their products. Some have their indoor areas open too, usually with social distancing and other precautions. Places like Tyranena Brewing in Lake Mills have been open, inviting people to their patio. G5 Brewing, a good and relatively new place on Beloit's east side, is re-opening their Tap Room and dining area today (June 3rd). Brewfinity in Oconomowoc has re-opened their tap room. Foxtown Brewing in Mequon is opening their patio today; at Southridge, The Exploreum Brewpub has its patio open already.
By Friday, Sheboygan's 3 Sheeps Brewing will open its interior space. Changes like plastic cups only, plexiglass around the bar, and no flights for now will be in effect, but hey, it's still progress.
Craft breweries in the city of Milwaukee are still not allowed to open their interior spaces for consuming beverages, but if you get a chance check out the new space at Broken Bat Brewery, which just moved from Buffalo Street in the Third Ward to a location on Pittsburgh - just over the river - in the Fifth Ward/Walkers Point area. You can't drink the beer inside there yet, but you can come and see the new space as you pick up beer to go.
More to come, but let's support the parks and these businesses as we all look to bounce back!