(Dodge County) Camping has been temporarily suspended at Dodge County Parks. The county’s Land, Resources and Parks Department announced today (Thursday) that the closure is effective immediately and will continue through the end of the month. The closure is intended to more safely and effectively maintain the parks for essential day use activities of hiking and outdoor enjoyment amid the current COVID-19 shut down.
Parks Director Bill Ehlenbeck says the order is needed due to the unprecedented number of visitors to the Dodge County parks over the past few weeks since the Safer at Home Order was issued. County parks and trails, like other recreational facilities across the country, are experiencing very high day use visitor volumes. The Gold Star Trail and Wild Goose Trail have a combined 270-percent increase in traffic than the same time last year.
User counts for the month of April are on a pace to reach 1500 on the Gold Star Trail and nearly 2500 at some locations on the Wild Goose Trail. Ehlenbeck says there is concern with maintaining proper separation and avoiding congestion if camping visitors, many from outside the state and Dodge County area, are added to the increasing numbers of day use visitors. Recent State Park closures along with camping and some park facility closures in neighboring counties would likely add to potential crowding issues with improving weather.
Ehlenbeck apologizes for the inconvenience to those with reservations over the next couple weeks, but says they are hopeful that at least some camping will be available in May. A decision on camping availability for next month will be addressed over the next few weeks. Dodge County parks and trails are expected to remain open for essential day use activities of hiking and biking, but all visitors are asked to do their part by practicing social distancing, avoiding crowded areas and taking the necessary steps to limit the potential exposure to COVID-19. More information is at www.dodgeparks.com or their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Dodge.Cty.Parks