Parks, Public Lands and Access

Parks, Public Lands & Access

We recognize the importance of nature. Spending time in nature is cathartic, cleansing and healing. It is a human need and essential to a healthy, happy life. Access to green spaces increases one's connection and love for the outdoors, allowing people to cultivate a sense of curiosity and care for the health of their environment.

Parks and recreation opportunities improve the health of communities by increasing access to physical activity, mental relaxation, and access to local foods. Silent sports and particularly walking in nature have documented health benefits.

The Four Lakes Group Land Equity & Access Team works together and with allies and partners to provide and improve equitable access to green spaces in our region. If you are interested in joining the team or learning more, SIGN UP HERE, and a team member will get back to you!

Access to Public Lands

Outdoors for All!

As we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, people are getting back out into nature and rekindled their appreciation for the great outdoors. It has also shed light on the issues surrounding inequitable access to green spaces. Improving access addresses racial equity, climate issues, and human health. 

The Four Lakes Group Access and Equity team is working on access issues with a focus on our local parks. Be a part of a group where your ideas will lead the work! We would love to include you and your voice to guide us to the projects that matter most to you and your community.

Interested? Sign-up here! 

Outdoor Access - What do we mean? 
For many of us, we are privileged to have the bike, boots or boat for an outdoor adventure. We also have the car that can get us to the park and we feel safe in the campground or on the trail. But this is not true for a lot of people, particularly people of color and those of limited income. A growing focus in our Sierra Club work is creating, improving and expanding access to the outdoors by focusing on key questions:

  • Do you have parks/outdoor spaces nearby? 

  • Do the facilities meet your needs?

  • Do you have or can you afford or access the gear you need to participate in the recreation activity of your choosing?

  • Do you feel welcome on the trail, on the water, at the park or the campground?

There is also a growing movement to create communities in whcih 100% of the people "have safe access to a quality park or green space within a 10-minute walk of home by 2050." ~

And communities are being evaluated for how they are matching up!

Update on Every Kid Outdoors Pass for Wisconsin

Wisconsin can extend the national Every Kid Outdoors pass to Wisconsin State Parks.

Transportation and Park Access Survey

Earlier in 2021, Dane County parks and the Four Lakes Group promoted a survey to find out more about the transportation challenges faced in Dane County to access parks. here is a brief summary of some of the results from that survey:

Question 1: Have there been times that you wanted to visit a specific park or trail but didn’t have a way to get there? If so, please tell us about where you were trying to go and what stopped you from getting there.

  • 22 responded with only the text “No” or “No with an explanation that they had a car or some other way to get there.

  • 29 mentioned wanting more access to parks by bus.

“My family doesn’t own a car. Anywhere we want to go we rely on the bus to get there.  So when parks aren’t available to get to by bus we are also not able to go.”

“When I first moved back to Wisconsin from abroad, I didn't own a car for the first 6 months I was here in Madison.  Through ride-sharing, I could visit some parks.  I would have visited many more, had there been public transportation available.”

“People I work with have been prevented in accessing natural areas due to not having transportation.”

“Many of my friends on campus expressed wanting to go to the Lussier Heritage Center to hike, but it was too far to bike/ bus to.”

Question 2: Are there any parks or trails you would visit more if there were bus or bike routes that connected to them?

  • 12 respondents said “No” or gave no response. 

  • 13 respondents listed locations they would visit given better bus access

  • 19 respondents listed locations they would visit given better bike access

We are continuing our work with Dane County Parks to improve transportation and have started to look into a pilot project for a shuttle that would link the Capitol Springs conservation area and William G Lunney Lake Farm County Park. Join our Public Lands Access and Equity team to learn more and help improve public land access!

Dane County Parks

The Four Lakes Group’s members and supporters have a strong interest in the management and development of Dane County’s parks and open spaces. Our members and supporters participate in a broad range of recreational activities and we recognize these spaces as invaluable for community health and addressing climate change.

Four Lakes Group comments (2018)* on the 5 Year plan for Dane County’s public lands stressed:

  • Race and equity issues in our parks and open spaces need to be addressed.

  • Access to the parks and open spaces needs to be enhanced.

  • Continue to build on the youth education programs that have been launched throughout the county and the country

  • Improve communication where active hunting and trapping are taking place

  • Provide additional intimate experiences with nature.

  • Celebrate Dane Co.’s Natural Resource heritage.

  • Improving community health

Background & Resources

Activities & Fun Outdoors

We hope you will enjoy your adventures outdoors. And perhaps try something new like birdwatching, geocaching or orienteering. We will put ideas here for you to enjoy so check back regularly!