The former Badger Army Ammunition Plant is known for its decades of history providing ammunition to the U.S Army and now, years after it closed in 1975, the over 7,000-acre property will be open to the public for outdoor recreation.
"Well it certainly is an opportunity to explore the property a little bit. Get a little bit more comfortable, see what it has to offer. And it certainly looks a lot different than it did 10 years ago," Department of Natural Resources Public Affairs Manager Bob Manwell said.
The plant was once deemed as the world's largest ammunition plant in 1942, producing supplies for the U.S Army during three wars.
The Sauk Prairie Recreation Area that opened Saturday is just the beginning of the DNR’s plan for the property. Community members’ input is now bringing a fresh perspective on ways the land can be used.
"We're starting to see some light here but we are still a little ways away from having our master plan completed and having the property fully opened," Manwell said.
The recreation area will be open until May 27 for turkey hunting season. Visitors are encouraged to participate in other outdoor activities like hiking, biking and bird watching during the next six weeks.
The site will be closed starting May 28 so construction crews can start gathering rubble from the roads that will be used as a roadbed for the reconstruction of Highway 12 starting in 2015.
For those who plan to visit the area, it's important to note that not all of the property is open to the public.
The U.S Dairy Forage Research Center, which also has land on the site, will be closed to the public. A draft of the master plan for the property will be available for public comment later this fall.