DNR keeps state parks open despite government shutdown

CREATED Oct 8, 2013 - UPDATED: Oct 9, 2013

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HORICON - Seven parks across the state were asked to close their doors after the government shutdown, but the DNR says most of the money for those parks doesn't come from the federal government.  Now, they're fighting to keep those doors open.

Liz Herzmann is a wildlife educator at Horicon Marsh, one of the state parks on the Ice Age Reserve Trail, which means they get some money from the federal government.

"We do get a little bit of federal funding from that and so they were interested in shutting us down," said Herzmann.

Parks were asked to close after government employees went of furlough, but the DNR is keeping the state parks open.

"Those are state properties, the lion share of the funding is state funding, they're staffed by state employees," said DNR spokesperson, Ed Culhane.

At Horicon Marsh, one third of the park is open, but two thirds is closed.  That portion is operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is a government agency.  Those closures are posing problems.

DNR spokespersons say although entrances are clearly gated off, people are still sneaking through.

"That area is closed and don't go around them or drive around them," said Herzmann.

The DNR can only keep open state parks.  Federal parks like portions of Horicon Marsh and the Nicolet National Forest are closed as long as the government is shutdown.

Although most state parks are staying open, if you do see a closed sign on the gate, don't enter because park rangers are patrolling the area and could give you a ticket.