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Vilas County considers electronic payment system for county land users


Vilas County does not currently charge visitors for using public parks and boat landings. But that could change soon, as the cost to maintain facilities continues to rise.

The Vilas County Forestry, Recreation and Land Committee is considering charging visitors a fee for using county lands.

“Right now, we currently just ask for donations, but it just doesn’t seem to be bringing in enough money to upkeep the facilities,” says Todd Bierman, the county’s parks and recreation supervisor.

To implement the user fees, the county is debating using machines or signs with QR codes.

Visitors could scan those codes with their smart phones, virtually explore the areas they’d like to visit and pay the county a user fee. The method avoids paper passes and car stickers, and makes payment easier to enforce.

Bu it’s not without challenges.

“Cell service is really one of the bigger issues,” Bierman says. “In county forests, there’s not cell towers all around like in a city, so we do have spots where cell service is pretty spotty if there is service.”

The money collected would go directly back to the county lands.

The Vilas County board is still determining how much to charge visitors for parks, boat landings and campgrounds, but it stands to earn several thousand dollars for upkeep.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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