Decorated rocks showing up across Fox Valley, nature reserve says place them elsewhere

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FOX VALLEY, Wis. (WBAY-TV) If you find a brightly painted rock the next time you're out for a walk you've become the beneficiary of a growing movement.

It's a goodwill campaign catching on across northeast Wisconsin intended as a simple way to brighten someone's day.

But a nature organization asks people to participate somewhere else.

Inspired by a group in Oregon, Fox Valley Hidden Rocks started about a year ago.

"Our group's mission is simple, to spread joy throughout our community,” Fox Valley Hidden Rocks Member Kala Peterson said. “If everyone went out of their way to make someone else smile, the world would be a better place."

With more than 2,500 members, the group is planting decorated rocks across the Fox Valley for others to find.

"Dropping of a large number of rocks both out on the trails and inside the nature center," said Tracey Koenig, Executive Director of Heckrodt Wetland Reserve.

Officials with the Heckrodt Wetland Reserve in Menasha say while the rocks are nice it's not appropriate to place them there.

"Hard to create a national habitat for the wildlife we are responsible for here,” Koenig said. “That, it needs to be respected and the painted rocks are not a natural part of the environment."

The reserve and Fox Valley Hidden Rocks have been in touch and the group says members have been told not to place their rocks in nature reserves.

But both Neenah and Appleton Parks Directors say they're fine with the rocks being placed in the parks if it’s done safely without damaging property.

"If you were to find something like that sitting on a bench or by a tree that says just have a great day, you know, hey you feel a little bit better," said Michael Kading, Neenah Parks Director.

Similar groups in the Fox Valley, Green Bay and Lakeshore Areas can be found on Facebook.