In a move aimed at promoting fairness and accessibility, the Shell Lake Municipal Campground in Shell Lake, Wisconsin, has decided to eliminate seasonal rentals through a process of attrition.
The City Council has resolved that the maximum length of stay on any one campsite will be 21 days, a decision made in response to the campground being filled to capacity most summers, with a waiting list of people looking for a site.
Previously, campers who had reserved a site were able to keep that same site year after year. This practice, while convenient for long-term campers, effectively prevented new visitors from enjoying the prime lakeshore sites. The new policy aims to make the reservation process fair and equal for everyone, opening up opportunities for more families to experience the beauty of Shell Lake.
Deb Nebel, an Alderperson, noted that the Parks and Recreation Committee voted unanimously to eliminate these seasonal reservations through attrition. This means that no one will be forced out of a preferred site, but when they decide not to return, they won’t be able to pass their reservation down to family or friends.
The decision has sparked conversations within the community. Jennifer Rizik, a Minnesota resident with family ties to Shell Lake, spoke at the council meeting about the perceived unfairness between seasonal and non-seasonal campers. She argued for equal and fair policies for everyone, regardless of whether the sites have been passed down generationally.
According to the Spooner Advocate, the council also approved changes to the campground rules, which included a $15 reservation fee, an 11-month reservation window starting in 2024 for the 2025 season, and a maximum of three dogs allowed per campsite. The new reservation policy was approved unanimously and online reservations will begin on January 1, 2024.
Council President Ken Schultz highlighted the importance of these changes in maintaining a peaceful and enjoyable environment for all campers.
The Shell Lake Municipal Campground is a cherished local resource, boasting 46 sites, including 12 along the lakefront. Five of these sites were previously designated as seasonal. The campground’s features are extensive, including sewer hookups, water and electric hookups on all sites, clean hot showers, and a public boat landing.
Additional amenities that make the campground a prime location include a fish cleaning station, walking distance to downtown, a public swimming beach, and a boat dock available for daily rental.
This policy change only applies to the Municipal Campground by the lake, not the ATV campground. This distinction is important as it shows the targeted nature of these changes, aimed specifically at addressing the issues within the lakeside campground.
As the policy is phased in, the Shell Lake community and prospective campers are watching closely. The decision represents a significant shift in how the campground operates, and it is expected to have a broad impact on the local tourism industry and the community’s relationship with this beloved natural resource.
The elimination of seasonal sites through attrition at the Shell Lake Municipal Campground marks a pivotal moment for the community. It is a step towards more equitable access to one of the town’s most treasured locations, balancing the needs of long-term campers with the desire to welcome new visitors to the scenic shores of Shell Lake.