Visitors to the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area can enjoy a year-round picnic shelter and restrooms next year at a popular overlook after the State Building Commission Thursday approved the $501,600 project.
The picnic shelter will be built just north off Palmatory Street just north of Horicon, at the site of the former visitor center and offices. The offices were demolished after moving to the Education and Visitors Center off Highway 28, which was built in 2009.
“The Palmatory Overlook provides some of the best views of the marsh. It makes a great spot for a picnic,” said Bret Owsley, the Department of Natural Resources Southern District Wildlife manager.
The overlook also has been the “premier spot” to watch sunsets and migrating birds, he added.
The new building will have a large vestibule, indoor restrooms and a covered area outdoors for about nine picnic tables.
The shelter is designed to accommodate expansion and to enhance the site in the future, according to the DNR.
The overlook is now served by pit toilets, Owsley said.
There is parking nearby, but the picnic shelter is located along a hiking trail about 1.5 miles from the Visitor Center and provides a good connection to the area’s looped trails and boardwalk.
The number of visitors to the 11,000-acre state wildlife area have increased in recent years coinciding with the opening of the education center and the Explorium in 2015, Owsley said.
While the wildlife area is busiest during the spring and fall migratory periods, the year-round shelter building will be welcome by a growing number of those who cross-country ski or snowshoe, he said.
The project was funded in the 2017-19 state budget and uses a $500,000 state Stewardship grant and $1,600 in program revenue.
There is no admission fee for the Wildlife Area except the exhibits at the Explorium, which is $6 for adults and $4 for children ages 5 and older.
The project now goes to Gov. Tony Evers for final approval. Evers chairs the Building Commission.
The project is scheduled to be bid in October and construction is to begin in March and be completed next July.