Forest Recreation Site Analysis

Father and son fishing on a pier.

The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest has been working to develop a strategy that will prioritize investments, as well as pursue changes in operations or maintenance of developed recreation sites and facilities to contribute to the sustainability of the Forest’s recreation program.

This strategy is intended to reduce operations and maintenance costs and maximize public benefits, while balancing social, economic and environmental factors.

The Forest has closed and/or reduced services at a small portion of recreation sites since 2015 in an effort to reduce operation and maintenance costs and balance the recreation budget.

Prior to 2015, the Forest continued to invest in the entire suite of recreation assets, however it can no longer afford to finance aging facilities, underused picnic areas, campsites and recreation areas.

The funding the Forest receives for the recreation program has remained relatively the same however, the costs to operate and maintain the sites and the amount of backlogged maintenance that continues to accrue on the aging infrastructure has made the program no longer sustainable.

To build a sustainable recreation program, the Forest is completing a process called Recreation Site Analysis. The Forest analyzed 193 developed recreation sites. In the draft proposed management actions, 45 sites would have no changes, 22 sites would be converted to general forest area as infrastructure is removed; the remaining 126 sites have varying proposed actions ranging from increased amenities to changes in the level of operation and maintenance.

The Forest held a comment period from October 15 to December 15 gathering feedback and comments on the draft proposed management actions. The comments received will be taken into consideration as the Forest looks to finalize the 5-year Recreation Facility Strategy in spring of 2019.

The Forest also hosted six public meetings/open houses in October and November to provide an opportunity for visitors to engage with staff, to learn more about the draft strategy, proposed management actions and to ask questions.

The forest expects to begin implementing the 5-year Recreation Facility Strategy during the 2019 recreation season. 

Some actions may require a level of environmental analysis through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  The comments collected during this comment period as well as contact information will become part of the project record. There will be an opportunity for continued public engagement through the NEPA process.

Recreation Site Analysis Documents

  1. News Release
  2. Draft Proposed Management Actions (by county)
  3. Frequently Asked Questions
  4. Comment Form (available to be filled out and mailed or emailed to