Governor closing state parks, forests due to crowds, litter and vandalism

MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has ordered the closure of dozens of State Parks, Forests and Recreational Areas in response to large crowds and vandalism during the coronavirus outbreak.

The areas will close at the end of the day on Thursday, April 9. They will be closed until further notice.

The governor says the decision was made due to "unprecedented crowds, litter, vandalism and out of an abundance of caution."

“I wanted to keep state parks open for the public to enjoy during this challenging time which is why outdoor activity is listed as an essential activity under the Safer at Home order,” said Gov. Evers. “Unfortunately, growing difficulty with ensuring social distancing compliance, dwindling cleaning supplies and mounting trash are some of the challenges faced by our state parks staff. We have to address the growing public health and safety concern and protect Wisconsinites.”

The governor warns, "If the public does not follow social distancing guidelines and vandalizes property, more state parks may have to close."

Here is the full list of closures:

Northeast Region
High Cliff State Park

Southeast Region
Big Foot Beach State Park, Harrington Beach State Park, Havenwoods State Forest, Kohler-Andrae State Park, Kettle Moraine State Forest Lapham Peak, Loew Lake, Mukwonago River, Northern Unit, Pike Lake, Southern Unit, Lakeshore State Park, and Richard Bong State Recreational Area

South Central Region
Aztalan State Park, Belmont Mound State Park, Blue Mound State Park, Cadiz Springs State Recreational Area, Capital Springs State Recreational Area, Cross Plains State Park, Devil’s Lake State Park, Fenley State Recreational Area, Governor Dodge State Park, Governor Nelson State Park, Lake Kegonsa State Park, Lower Wisconsin Riverway, Mackenzie Center, Mirror Lake State Park, Natural Bridge State Park, Nelson Dewey State Park, New Glarus Woods State Park, Rocky Arbor State Park, Sauk Prairie State Recreational Area, Tower Hill State Park, Wyalusing State Park, Yellowstone Lake State Park, Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area, Pewits Nest State Natural Area, Parfrey’s Glen State Natural Area and Dells of The Wisconsin River State Natural Area

Spreading the disease

The coronavirus is spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes or breathes.

"These droplets can remain in the air and on surfaces for an extended period of time. When people breathe in (inhale) the droplets, or touch surfaces that have been contaminated and then touch their mouth, face, or eyes, the virus can make them sick," says the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

People infected with the virus can develop the respiratory disease named COVID-19.

COVID-19 symptoms and prevention

Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. CLICK HERE for more information on symptoms. Emergency signs include pain and pressure in the chest, confusion, trouble breathing, and bluish lips or face.

The CDC believes symptoms may appear between 2 and 14 days after contact with an infected person.

VISIT wbay.com/coronavirus for complete local, national and international coverage of the outbreak.

DHS recommends taking these steps to help stop the spread of the virus:

--Stay at home
--Limit your physical interactions with people
--Keep at least six feet apart from others
--Frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water
--Make essential trips no more than once a week
--Covering coughs and sneezes
--Avoid touching your face

Local and national health care providers are encouraging people to wear masks in public to avoid spreading the illness to others.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has issued a Safer at Home order restricting large gatherings, non-essential business and travel in the state. CLICK HERE to find out what the order means for you.