Below is a copy of the letter Rep. Bies submitted to the DNR regarding the proposed maps to expand hunting and trapping in Wisconsin's state parks. To learn more about the law, view the proposed maps, or find information on how you can submit comments please visit the DNR website. The deadline to submit comments is November 23rd
November 15, 2012
Dear Members of the Natural Resources Board:
I am the State Representative for the 1st Assembly District and I appreciate this opportunity to express my thoughts regarding the proposed maps for the state parks in our area.
I voted in favor of the law because I understand the people of Wisconsin believe hunting, fishing and trapping are constitutional rights and they overwhelming voted to add an amendment to our state’s constitution recognizing this right. I also supported this law because it gave the Natural Resources Board (NRB) the ability to analyze every state park individually and make sound decisions about applicability.
Door County is one of the most popular tourist destinations across the state and one of the main attractions are the 5 beautiful state parks. Peninsula Park is considered the second busiest state park and the most popular camping destination. Because of the potential impact on tourism, and additional concerns with safety, I and many of my constituents are concerned with the DNR’s proposed maps and the dates in which hunting and trapping would be allowed in these parks. It’s my belief the NRB should consider the following alternatives with regards to the parks in Door County.
1 – Hunting Dates: I recommend changing the open hunting dates to November 1 through April 30. This will better align with the tourist season in Door County and will lessen the impact the law may have on park usage.
May is the start of ‘early season’ in Door County. More campers are using the parks and many other visitors come to see the wildflowers at their peak color. Additionally, the Door County Half Marathon is held in early May in Peninsula State Park, which draws over 2000 participants each year and thousands more of spectators.
Late October draws many visitors to the area to see the fall color and enjoy the mountain bike trails. The proposed maps have several trails located in areas identified as hunting zones. Additionally, hunting is generally safer after leaf fall making November 1st a better date for the board to consider.
2- Proximity to Gibraltar School Grounds – When reviewing the map, it appears hunting will be allowed too close to the school, which abuts the park. I’m concerned there won’t be sufficient distance between the areas open to hunting and the parts of the park used by the school for nature-based lessons and physical education activities. The school’s cross country team also uses an area in the park to train for their competitions.
I’m also concerned there could be some legal issues with the states prohibition of firearms within 1000 feet of school grounds. A suitable alternative might be to move the hunting boundary in the southwest section of the park northeasternly to the old Evergreen Road corridor. This border is easily defined and provides a better buffer between the park users and the students who attend the school.
Once again, I appreciate the opportunity to express my concerns and those of many of my constituents who have contacted me on this issue. Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions about my recommendations.