Wisconsin Interstate Park. Public lands were popular during the pandemic, prompting renewed interest in the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.

With nowhere to go indoors, Wisconsin flocked to state parks in pandemic

Wisconsin's natural resources are more popular than ever.

During the pandemic, the outdoors were a remedy for the stress of lockdowns, reports Steve Chamraz for TMJ-4 TV. Now, conservationists are hoping this trend continues.

A recent report by the Wisconsin Policy Forum found that “the pandemic drove people to Wisconsin state parks” and other public lands “in staggering numbers.” For example, “at Lion’s Den Nature Preserve in Ozaukee County, 269,000 people passed through the gates in 2020,” which is “two-and-a-half times the number in a normal year.”

High sales of outdoor equipment may indicate that “interest in the outdoors is not a passing fad,” since people now have incentives to go out and use their purchases for years to come.

The popularity of public lands – and in some cases, the overcrowding they experienced during the pandemic – has prompted Governor Tony Evers to propose reauthorizing the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program for another 10 years at $70 million per year. This funding will go towards the creation of new public lands and the maintenance of existing facilities.

Featured image by Aaron Carlson, 2011.

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