To Whom It May Concern,
This past summer my wife and I tried to become avid campers and enjoy the outdoors. We chose to try out some of the state parks in Minnesota and Wisconsin but instantly became frustrated with the permit system and requirements. The tipping point was last weekend when we purchased the Wisconsin state park permit since we were going to be in the area for about a week and wanted to camp for at least half of our trip. When we arrived at Governor Dodge State Park, the park ranger rudely declined our entrance because we didn’t have the sticker adhered or affixed to the windshield. I tried to calmly tell the park ranger that we were not driving our own car, it was our father-in-law’s, and that we were not going to stick it to the windshield because we would not be able to use it.
Since the park ranger threatened us with a $170 fine if we tried to use our $35 dollar permit (that we got to use once) at any other park we then proceeded to drive 4 hours home. As a result, the local economy lost at least $200-300 of our money from an out of state couple because we were not able to use a $35 dollar permit.
After doing a little research, on my own, I was able to find out more information that would have been useful when purchasing the permits.
Rules and Regulations
All vehicles entering a state park must display a valid Minnesota state park vehicle permit affixed to the lower right hand corner of the windshield. Annual and day permits can be purchased at a park. Funds from state park vehicle permits and fees are used to help manage park resources and facilities.
A vehicle admission sticker is required on all motor vehicles stopping in state parks and recreation areas. Some state forest and trail parking areas also require a sticker. Buy your sticker either when you get to the park or in advance. You can buy either an annual sticker, for admission to all state parks and forests for the calendar year, or a daily sticker, valid only on the date of issue. If you have only a little time to visit, you can buy a one-hour sticker at most state parks and forests. Any vehicle licensed for road use that is towed or carried into a state park fee area is provided free admission.
Please note that the above excerpt doesn’t state that the sticker must be affixed to the windshield. However, there is mention of getting a replacement sticker if you get a new windshield. Assume that it’s affixed?
Cited From: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/admission.html
Recommendations and Solutions
- The stickers already have a serial number on them. Is it possible for the DNR to track the serial number to the household address/family?
- Require a state issued ID card or driver’s license to be associated with the permit or don’t require a permit at all – use your driver’s license (there’s a magnetic strip and a bar code).
- Don’t require stickers to be affixed to a windshield. Not only is this a pain to remove but it is also a severe safety issue. MN requires the stickers to be on the right and the park ranger in WI said theirs needed to be on the left. If I do this then I will diminish my field of view through the windshield even though it is legal according to MN Driver’s Manual (page 22). The WI law is a bit ambiguous… According to the WI Driver’s Manual (page 9) – “Do not hang things from your mirror or clutter up your windshield with decals. Besides being illegal, they could block your view.” Does this include the park stickers?
Passes that can be mounted on mirror. These can be transferred among vehicles, but IDs should be checked, and they will not hinder you ability to see and it won’t leave a nasty residue on your windshield. There are times where we might take the truck vs. the car depending on where the campgrounds are located and the terrain. I understand this is another revenue stream for the park. Charge more for a single permit if it’s going to be used on multiple vehicles.
- A simple intake form and spreadsheet for looking up historical information. Here’s an example of the form and spreadsheet that I quickly created using Google Docs. You can get fancy and create a nice application and database backend if you really wanted…
All that I’m asking for is the following:
- Make it easier for me to purchase and use my state park permit
- Don’t require them to be affixed to the windshield
- Have clear rules and guidelines posted online and at the state park
- Recommunicate to the park rangers that soft skills matter
If the permit system was easier to follow and use then more people might take advantage of this valuable resource that we have. However, if it’s cumbersome and hard to understand then it just might be easier to use the nearest KOA.