A family campsite at a Wisconsin state park.

A family campsite at a Wisconsin state park.

Campers are demanding more technological comforts and increased electrical support. That is altering the nature of Wisconsin campgrounds, and changing how state park leaders see their mission, the Green Bay Press Gazette reported.

For power-loving campers, the arrival of this year’s Memorial Day weekend, and the unofficial start of the summer camping season, carried an extra spark of excitement: The largest electrification project for the park system in decades will be completed in early July.

In all, 18 state parks and forests will have added electrical sites or upgraded existing ones.

The two-year project, budgeted at $2 million, created 192 new electrical sites and upgraded electrical systems at 285 more.

Work at some parks, including Roche-A-Cri in Adams County, Big Foot Beach in Lake Geneva and Kohler-Andrae near Sheboygan, is already complete. Work at Devil’s Lake near Baraboo and Peninsula in Door County is still in progress.

When the work is done, 1,172 of the 3,897 campsites in Wisconsin state parks will be electrified. That’s 30%, the maximum allowable level. The parks plan to add 119 new non-electric sites from 2013 to 2015.

Law limits electric sites

State law bars state campgrounds from offering more than 30% electric sites systemwide, with a 50% cap for any individual park.

Dan Schuller, state park director for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, said Wisconsin may be the only state in the country with statutory limits on how many state park campsites can have electrical access.

Wisconsin’s state parks have one of the lowest rates of improved campsites in the country, according to a 2012 report by the National Association of State Park Directors. In most states, more than 60% of campsites have access to electricity and plumbing in restroom facilities.



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