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Vilas County to implement user fees at parks and boat landings

Katie Thoresen

Vilas County will soon require parking permits at many of its parks and boating landings.

“Our use has gone way up with COVID and everything and renewed insurgence of people wanting to get outdoors,” said Todd Bierman, the Vilas County Parks and Recreation Supervisor.

Like much public land during the pandemic, Vilas County has seen the usage of its parks and boating landings increase dramatically in the last few years.

The increased use has also meant more wear and tear on facilities and infrastructure.

“Nothing you put in lasts forever. A need for maintaining it and improving it has come to a point,” said Bierman.

Bierman says the county board unanimously approved implementing the fee system after more than a year of discussion among the forestry, recreation, and land committee.

The money from the fees will go into the county’s general fund.

“Hopefully by doing that, we can have some more leverage and levity with coming up with projects we need. There is money that comes out of the general funds for projects and hopefully that continues in the future,” said Bierman.

The following is a list of facilities where a permit will be needed: Boot Lake, Buckatabon Lake, Eagle Lake, Lake of the Hills, Hunter Lake, Muskellunge Lake, Pickerel Lake, Snipe Lake, McLeod Lake, Snyder Lake, Torch Lake, Tamarack Flowage, Buckatabon Creek, Cranberry Island, Lac Vieux Desert, River Road, Rummels Road, Tamarack Springs, Dr. Oldfield Memorial Park, Heart Lake Road, County Highway K, and the Vilas County Shooting Range.

Permit fees for the 2023 season are as follows:

- Daily Permit, $5.00

- Resident Seasonal, $25.00

- Resident Senior (oldest person in household over 65 years of age), $15.00

- Non-Resident Seasonal, $45.00

- Commercial Operator Seasonal, $250.00 (Single Vehicle)

- Commercial Operator Seasonal, $375.00 (Multi-Vehicle)

A convenience fee of $1.00 for daily permits and $4.50 for seasonal permits applies to cover transaction costs.

“It went online June 1. I had a conversation with the owner of the company [Monday]. He said as of Friday afternoon there were 30 people signed up already on it. It’s online. It’s working,” said Bierman.

You’ll be able to purchase permits onlineor at each site via your phone by scanning a QR code.

County parks and recreation staff will enforce the fees. People can face up to $50 in fines for not paying the user fee.

Bierman says there will be a learning period for everyone, but he’s hoping it will make people appreciate what the county offers while also benefiting people by improving what they offer.

“Hopefully it will not be restrictive to keep people out of the parks, but just to maybe have them have a more vested interest in the parks since they’re paying more for them. Hopefully everyone gets out and enjoy the parks and waterways we have here in Vilas County and they enjoy themselves,” he said.

The user fees go into effect on June 15.

They’ll run each year from May 1st through October 31st.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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