Revising rules for use of recreational lands requires citizen input

By Jim Baumgart Sheboygan County Supervisor

Changes are in the air. Sheboygan County will be offering to enact a new recreational fee and developing new ordinances and redefining old ordinances for its recreational lands. So it is an important time for users of county lands to pay attention.

The proposal is to charge a recreational fee for using the Old Plank Road Trail (for most users, but maybe not walkers and hikers), boat ramps, campgrounds, and some other county lands. The fees would include different daily and seasonal family rates for residents and non-county users.

So, if you use county recreational lands, you will want to come to the public informational meeting planned for 5-6:30 p.m. at the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan Extension office on Monday, Sept. 14. You will find the Extension office on the northeast corner of the U-Wisconsin-Sheboygan campus. Ample parking will be found just south of the Extension office.

After the proposal draft is reviewed and adjusted, the final draft will be voted on by the Planning, Resources, Agriculture and Extension Committee, followed later by a vote of the whole Sheboygan County Board.

At the time this column was being written, the proposal was to charge an annual family resident fee of $16 and a non-resident family fee of $24. A daily family fee for residents is to be set at $4 and a nonresident daily fee at $6.

The fee would cover use of all parks (Taylor Park is handled differently), recreational trails, boatlaunching areas and waysides. Refinement of the proposals is being worked on by the county attorney, Planning Director Jim Hulbert and his staff, and the county committee listed above that has oversight. At the time of the writing of this column, the proposal was still a work in progress.

Along with the fee proposal, it was felt that an update in the county’s ordinances covering these recreational lands was in order. That is a good thing to do, but they will also redefine present land uses and add some restrictions. The present and new draft rules cover such things as use of fires, campground parking, camping rules and permits, charcoal use, fireworks, firearms and archery use (carrying cases, transportation, etc.), hours of operation, peddling and soliciting, citizen conduct, trespass and tampering, disposal of garbage and household items, cleaning of fish and game, vehicle speed, obstruction of roads and trails, handicap parking, hunting and trapping, use of recreational trails, snowmobiles, mopeds, and horseback riding, pets and a host of other ordinances.

Many if not most of the rules listed are presently in force. But some clarification of the proposed rules needs to be made – such as no pets allowed on the public snowmobile trails. Obviously, an exception needs be made for the Old Plank Road Trail. The proposal that a crossbow needs to be unstrung and enclosed in a carrying case presents a problem, because crossbows are very difficult to unstring.

The county attorney and the staff of the Resource Department and the Planning, Resource, Agriculture and Extension Committee are working to improve the ordinances but the public needs to be part of this extensive review.

There is certainly a need to update Sheboygan County’s recreational ordinances. A major and worthwhile fundraising event took place on the Old Plank Road Trail this summer without the knowledge of the Planning and Resource Department. It could have been a major problem if two groups, unknown to each other, planned an event on the same day. A permit system is expected to be part of the new county ordinances.

Beginning on Wednesday, Sept. 9, the revised proposed draft ordinances will be on the Sheboygan County’s Web site for all to review. To get to the proposed draft ordinances, go to:, click on (left on the computer screen) Departments, click on Planning Department for the draft. If you want, Planning and Resources Director Jim Hulbert, will e-mail you a copy; his number is (920) 459-3060.

A reminder to those planning to attend: the meeting planned for Monday, Sept. 14, is intended to be a constructive meeting. Bring your ideas. You can have strong views in suggesting changes in the fee system or changes in the county ordinances. But always be respectful of everyone’s views, it is their government, too.

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