Unprecedented crowds, litter and vandalism have prompted the closure of 40 state parks, forests and recreational areas, according to a Thursday, April 9, release from Gov. Tony Evers.

The areas will close starting at the end of the day until further notice.

The Department of Natural Resources had made all registration fees voluntary as of March 19, to encourage people to spend time outdoors during the COVID-19 public health emergency, although camping, park offices, visitor centers and non-essential buildings were closed.

“I wanted to keep state parks open for the public to enjoy during this challenging time, which is why outdoor activity is listed as an essential activity under the Safer at Home order,” Evers said in the April 9 release. “Unfortunately, growing difficulty with ensuring social distancing compliance, dwindling cleaning supplies and mounting trash are some of the challenges faced by our state parks staff. We have to address the growing public health and safety concern and protect Wisconsinites.”

The areas closed include the Capital Springs State Recreational Area, Blue Mound State Park, Lake Kegonsa State Park and New Glarus Woods State Park.

Others in the south central region are Aztalan State Park, Belmont Mound State Park, Cadiz Springs State Recreational Area, Cross Plains State Park, Devil’s Lake State Park, Fenley State Recreational Area, Governor Dodge State Park, Governor Nelson State Park, Lower Wisconsin Riverway, Mackenzie Center, Mirror Lake State Park, Natural Bridge State Park, Nelson Dewey State Park, Rocky Arbor State Park, Sauk Prairie State Recreational Area, Tower Hill State Park, Wyalusing State Park, Yellowstone Lake State Park, Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area, Pewits Nest State Natural Area, Parfrey’s Glen State Natural Area and Dells of The Wisconsin River State Natural Area.

-Mackenzie Krumme