DNR fires back to opposition of proposed Sauk Prairie Recreation Area

DNR fires back to opposition of proposed Sauk Prairie Recreation Area

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has been having trouble getting support to transform part of an old ammunition plant into a recreation area.

DNR has been working to turn about 3,500 acres of the old Badger Army Ammunition Plant into a public space known as the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area.

Charlie Luthin is the Executive Director of the Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance. He has been working with the group to promote a green future for the land. He said the DNR had six weeks of public comment to get the community’s input on its plan.

“A lot of people basically said, ‘This is a really good plan, with a few exceptions,'” Luthin said.

A few of the concerns include allowing “high-impact recreation activities” such as motorcycles and snowmobiles.

The department submitted a draft of its master plan to the National Park Service. NPS sent back a 10-page letter detailing several oppositions it had to the proposed plan. Its concerns were very similar to the public’s.

“We continue to be concerned about the level of opposition to some of the forms of the recreation proposed, specifically dual purpose motorcycles, rocketry and to a lesser degree snowmobiles and dog training,” the letter stated.

The DNR replied in a letter stating, “The DNR has long held that it is acceptable to include activities at properties (permanently or temporarily) even if they may displace other visitors.”

Luthin said he hopes the DNR and NPS can work out the differences and come up with a plan so the project can move forward.

“We would like everything to be resolved amicably,” he said. “We hope that DNR will understand that the high-impact recreation should not be included in its plan.”

Until a plan has been approved, nothing more can be done to the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area.

“It’s a great place to get away in an open space away from traffic noise, away from the commotion of the city,” Luthin said. “But the roads are in poor shape, there’s no signage, no restrooms, no picnic tables, no formal trails. These are all things that are planned in master plan.”