Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Dane County Land & Water Resources Department

Seasonal Changes and Park Activities

March 07, 2023
Land & Water Resources


Media Contact:
Joleen Stinson
Parks Director, Dane County Parks
(608) 422-0657,

Dane County staff will be closely monitoring park facilities over the next several weeks. Transitioning from winter to spring can lead to damage within the county parks. Warming temperatures and rain makes trails, dog parks and grassy areas wet, soft, muddy and easily damaged.

MADISON, WI - March 7, 2023 - With spring right around the corner, Dane County Parks Director Joleen Stinson is advising county park users that some county parks, or portions of county parks, may be temporarily closed during the next several weeks. The warmer weather brings out ground frost, making trails, dog parks and grassy areas wet, soft, muddy and easily damaged.

Over the next several weeks, visitors may find some park gates and facilities closed. Stinson requests that park users stay on hard-surfaced pathways and roads. “We’re aware the community values outdoor recreational spaces, especially through the pandemic. Visitor use of the county parks, trails and natural resource areas are at an all-time high, but the spring thaw period combined with high use can have long-term impacts, especially on hiking trails,” says Stinson. “If we can reduce the damages at this time of year, it reduces our maintenance costs and allows us to provide better services throughout the rest of the year.” After a few spring rains and drying winds, the ground will firm up and parks will be re-opened. Please contact the Dane County Parks Office (email/phone) if you become aware of park facilities that appear to be stressed or damaged.

In addition, the prescribed fire season is upon us. As the snow disappears, Dane County Parks, along with other conservation partners, will begin conducting prescribed burns within park lands throughout the county. “Burning is an important management tool for restoring and preserving our grassland and woodland habitat,” says Stinson. Prescribed fires are conducted under a predetermined set of parameters that include temperature, wind speed and direction, relative humidity, and fuel moistures. Before burning, fire managers ensure the process can be conducted safely.

Some parks, or portions of parks, may be temporarily closed during a prescribed burn. This may cause an inconvenience for users, especially at sites like Capital Springs Recreation Area, Indian Lake and Prairie Moraine County Parks that have a high number of daily visitors. Stinson says that the minor inconvenience of conducting burns can reap big rewards in helping to promote healthy native vegetation, stimulating plant vigor and species diversity in many different habitats.

For more information on Dane County Parks, please visit the parks website or call the Parks Office at (608) 224-3730.

About Dane County Parks:
The Dane County Park System is made up of 17,000 acres of land that features the best of Wisconsin’s natural beauty. Our Parks do not require an entry fee and offer countless opportunities to get away from it all to unwind, spend time outdoors, and make memories with friends and family. Dane County Parks takes an active role to enhance and preserve the county’s finest natural resources. We strive to create welcoming spaces, events and educational opportunities for park visitors of all backgrounds and ability levels.