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May 12, 2021

4/15/2021 9:28:00 AM
Construction begins on Equestrian Campground at Governor Dodge State Park

The Friends of Governor Dodge State Park recently signed a contract with Rule Construction of Dodgeville to build Phase 2 of an all-new 20 site equestrian campground at the park.
Located in a peaceful area on the park's north side, the new campground, designed by Parkitecture and Planning of Middleton, will offer spacious sites with gorgeous views of the park's forested bluffs. Phase 1 of the project, consisting of a new entrance road, multi-use trailhead with picnic area, and handicapped accessible vault toilet, was built in 2019 by Rule Construction with funding by the Friends, and has been used by horse day-riders, rock climbers and hikers for the past two seasons.
Now, after more than 5 years of planning and fundraising, Phase 2 of this long-awaited project is now underway. Prior to construction, a section of the park's 15-mile multi-use Driftless Trail is being re-routed around the 14-acre campground. Poor quality trees and brush are being removed, and heavy equipment will soon arrive to begin building the campground road, sculpting level campsites from the rolling terrain, and installing utilities. Placing of campsite amenities, including highlines or pens for the campground's equine occupants, will occur in the fall. The campground is expected to open on May 1, 2022, coinciding with the opening of the park's 25 plus miles of horse trails.
To allow the project to proceed the Friends previously received approval from the Wisconsin DNR to complete just 12 of the planned 20 campsites in Phase 2. In a happy surprise, the bid received from Rule made it affordable to construct all 20 sites now. Ongoing fundraising by the Friends will occur this year, with $70,000 or more still needed to reach the project's fundraising goal. Success of coming fundraising will determine how many of the 20 sites will actually be camper-ready for 2022.
Financial support for this $500,000- plus project has come from a variety of sources including the Wisconsin Equine Foundation on behalf of the estate of Iris Cooley, whose pledge of $69,000 in June of 2018 jump-started the campaign. Local car dealer Frank Hallada hosted a Chamber of Commerce Open House highlighting the project, and wrote a generous check in support. Grants from Knowles-Nelson Stewardship fund, Wisconsin Horse Council Trails committee, Alliant Community Fund, the Weizenicker Fund for State Parks, and the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks further grew the campground fund. Matching grants of $25,000 and $50,000 from generous park supporters spurred donations from private individuals, horse clubs, and area businesses.
Please visit for details on how YOU can help. Donations in any size are welcome, with donors of $1,000 or more permanently recognized at the campground.

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