The Future of the Prairie Goes To Court

The Future of the Prairie Goes To Court

If average citizens have no recourse left but litigation to avoid simply being steamrolled by our own government, we’re in trouble. This is the underlying message of lawsuit(s) brought by the Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance against the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, The National Park Service and the U.S. General Services Administration.

When it comes to the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area (On the southern border of Devil’s Lake State Park), things are pretty clear. The DNR & the National Park Service had a signed agreement in place that had the support of practically everyone involved. So much so, that local organizations started working with the DNR to restore the land long before it was open to the general public. It took a long time and a lot of dedication to negotiate the final plan in a way that served the majority of the public and protected the land for future generations. This was not a political issue. The Badger Reuse Plan (Signed by 21 diverse stakeholders) survived both Democratic and Republican administrations. This was simply good planning for not only the environment, but for the area’s tourism economy as well. Then quite suddenly (Well, suddenly in a political sense!!), under the present “Let them eat cake” style of government, everything was once again “up for debate”. Except it wasn’t. Not really. The plan was changed by someone, somewhere with little practical justification. (There already is a dog training area just a few miles north of Baraboo, and Wisconsin is full of Motorsport Opportunities.) The agreements were dismissed and the DNR simply approved its own new plan because really, who had the power to stop them?

For the sake of our public land, our watershed, our local tourism economy and of course the wildlife that call that small remaining remnant of the Sauk Prairie home, I certainly support Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance on this endeavor. The Sauk Prairie as an extension of Devil’s Lake State Park, is no place for guns, loose dogs and motorsports.

Read:

For More Information you can contact: The Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance’s attorney, Brian Potts at Perkins Coie (608-663-7493bpotts@perkinscoie.com), or contact Charlie Luthin, Executive Director for the Alliance  (info@saukprairievision.org; 608-358-7120).

Disclaimer: And of course, my crazy opinions are my own and often caused by too many hours of isolation in the deep dark woods. My posts certainly don’t represent the opinions of the Wisconsin DNR or any other group, organization or book club.

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53 comments

  1. maryw

    I don’t understand??Do they want a dog trials w/horses held there or something?I worked those,,and its not kind to the horses AT ALL,,400 pound men riding the back of saddle,to chase a dog and the bird I have literally seen those men break the back of horses,literally,,,or the legs of horses,,soo????maryw

    1. Tim

      Now liberals want to dictate a weight limit of a man riding his own horse? What about women? How much should they weigh? Equal rights you know!

      1. Joseph salemi

        Not so much thst they break the horses back. Is thst resonable or
        Is that too far left for y’all? Does Animal abuse or animal rights mean anything to people who dont recognize a signed agreement developed over many years with multiple agencies and extensive public input? It should.

        1. Tim

          You’re probably against the Amish using horses to pull their plows as well aren’t you? I love animals too but i don’t tell others how much they can weigh to ride a horse. If you witness someone abusing an animal, call the police. Realistically, I don’t think a 400 lb man (or woman) could mount or dismount a horse. BTW, I’m not sure the dog training that will be happening at SPRA will include men on horses will it?

          1. Joseph salemi

            Off topic and name calling (as if calling someone liberal is name calling) in derogatory fashion.

          2. maryw

            AGAIN,,ITS NOT ABOUT SOMEONE PERSONAL WEIGHT,,ITS ABOUT HUMANE TREATMENT TOWARDS A HORSE,,,,BREAKING THE BACK LITERALLY,,,IS NOT HUMANE IS IT???USING HORSES FOR PLOWING IS NOT PUTTING 400 POUNDS OF DISPLACED WEIGHT ON THEIR SPINE IS IT?NOR RIDING A HORSE W/A SADDLE ,,RIDING HIGH ON THE BACK OF THE SADDLE BECAUSE LIVERY SADDLES ARE NOT DESIGNED FOR LARGER PEOPLE,,,ITS JUST MORE COMFY FOR A LARGER RIDER TO RIDE ON THE BACK OF THE SADDLE FOR THEY DO NOT FIT IN THE GIRTH OF THE SADDLE,,BUT IT LITERALLY WILL BREAK THE BACK OF A HORSE OR DAMAGE THE SPINE BEYOND REPAIR,,,,AGAIN,,ITS ABOUT ,”HUMANE” TREATMENT,,,,,NOT YOUR WEIGHT,,,AND ACTUALLY ,”COMMON SENSE,”’,,,,SORRY U HAVE NONE,,,maryw

          3. maryw

            THATS WHAT i WAS ASKING?????I do not understand exactly what is going on w/this prairie,,but i do know the dnr to me,,,is about D-estroying,N-atural,R-esources,,,now a days,,for that almighty dollar,,,not about preserving our lands,wildlife for future generation for the dnr anymore,,,,which is why we created the dnr long ago,jmo,,mary

      2. maryw

        Wow,,really????its not about weight,,its about humane treatment towards another mammal,,,Breaking the back of a horse is not humane,,Breaking a leg of a horse due to riding them thru a prairie full of holes is not about weight,,,its about HUMANE TREATMENT,,, man or women or child OR FELLOW MAMMAL,,!!MARYW

    2. Joseph salemi

      Right, quit being so loud and blowing polluting fumes over such a widespread area where people are trying to enjoy an agreed upon silent recreation area.
      I am quiet, i can hear and smell you from far away. Quiet and clean please.

      1. Tim

        Plenty of space for all of us. It’s called sharing. The European settlers took All the land from the Native Americans for their farms. The government took ALL the land from the farmers for their powder plant. Now you want to take ALL the land for only your interests. Don’t be a third time land hog. Let’s get it right and just coexist like your bumper sticker probably says.

  2. Joseph Salemi

    Government of the government , by the government and for the government.
    I am glad the suit was filed before the red hats come in and all is lost.

    1. maryw

      When any form of government evinces by design,to reduce its citizens to absolute DESPOTISM, it is our rite,our duty,to alter or abolish it,”Thomas Jefferson,Declaration of Independence,,,’,,thank goodness someone has the money in this day and age to save the prairie,,,,maryrw

    2. Tim

      It won’t ALL be lost, just a small portion of it for some of us with different interests than what you enjoy. You will still have more than your fair share of it. Quit being so closed minded and selfish.

  3. Mimi Wuest

    Well said. It really is a case of the DNR going back on a signed agreement and doing an end run around community process. At numerous public comment meetings, they have been told time and again that the people want a restored landscape and a place for quiet recreations, but for its own reasons, the DNR has chosen not to listen. So we have to remind them who they work for.

    1. maryw

      AMEN,, with government officials abusing ,”just power,” derived FROM the governed,,,,well said Mimi,,,couldn’t agree w/u more,,,maryw

    2. Tim

      They have also been told of others wanting more options than what you prefer. As we all know, liberals are much quicker to protest something over and over if they don’t get their way. Sore losers are abundant these days aren’t they?

      1. Joseph salemi

        tim, do you realize that there is nothing here that defines any of these points of view as liberal or conservative?

        1. Tim

          Joe, don’t be naive. Call a spade a spade. Maybe I’m generalizing but face the facts, the majority of the people who you don’t agree with are more right than left. Quit being so politically correct. Say what you want to say and so will I.

          1. Joseph salemi

            It is correct to say that i disagree with each of your sentences but not one bit of it has to do with the topic.
            I dont want guns, motorcycles, rockets (for crying out loud) or snowmobiles where i am trying to do activities that are completely incompatible with loud, stinky and dangerous.

  4. Tim

    Joe, let me try to explain it to once and for all. The topic is what to do with the property. The “columnist” and you only want it to be what you want it to be. I and many like me, would like to share it with you. We don’t want it all to ourselves, just a portion of it. You have MANY, MANY places in our immediate area to do the things you like to. If I want to ride my street legal, licensed and insured, dual sport motorcycle on anything besides a road, I have to travel to Wisconsin Rapids. Why can’t you share this property? “This land is your land. This land is my land. This land was made for you AND me.”


    1. Author
      derrick

      Hey Tim,

      We certainly want to share it with you. You can hike, bike, hunt, ride horses, explore, birdwatch, backcountry ski, snowshoe, take up photography, the list goes on and on. As you say, this land for you and me. However, you want me to behave a certain way in many public spaces. There are rules in everything from shopping malls, to roads to public parks. Even when you attend a shooting range, there are rules and you are expected to act responsibly. In this case, years of work went into a plan that everyone involved including the DNR and the National Park Service agreed to and signed on to. You are right, that agreement didn’t include motorsports for a variety of reasons. However, you do believe in keeping your word, honoring a contract right? This has everything to do with the government keeping their word. I think right and left wing people fully understand the importance of holding government accountable to its agreements with the public they serve? THAT is ultimately what this lawsuit is about.

      1. Tim

        Is the US Constitution now just like it was originally written? No. There have been amendments made when needed. The DNR realizes they can do what they agreed to a number of years ago as well as modify it to add even more options. We can coexist with each other. There is plenty of space. We’re not talking about only a few acres here. We can all get along in the same area. The days of segregation are long gone.


        1. Author
          derrick

          Tim, When you use “segregation” as an argument for ATVs, you’ve lost your standing in any discussion with me.

          If you’d like to continue to have a discussion with others here, you will have to reframe your augment and be more respectful of the folks you’re speaking with. With that in mind you are welcome to discuss…

          1. Tim

            Where in the masterplan do you see anything about ATV’s? You’ve already got your way about disallowing them in the park…for now!

          2. Tim

            seg·re·ga·tion
            ˌseɡrəˈɡāSH(ə)n/
            noun
            the action or state of setting someone or something apart from other people or things or being set apart.

            As you can see, segregation doesn’t only pertain to people.

    2. Joseph Salemi

      Pretty deep Tim. The answer is that I am quiet and I do not interfere with what you are doing because I am not chasing away wildlife, upsetting habitat and polluting the air, ground and water. I can’t do my thing next to your indiscretions.
      when you do your thing, it seriously effects my thing and affects me. When I do my thing, it does not effect your thing and does not affect you.
      Your land, my land? Your rights end where mine begin. If you are doing something that interferes with my thing, you have over extended your rights. And this is the purpose of having public hearings; to determine what the people want and in this case, the people have spoken and your thing is in the minority.
      The pollution, noise, environmental threats are the exact reason why your motorcycle is restricted to small infrequent and restricted areas.
      Your contingent may do better to recognize the problems you pose instead of whatever tact you may call the approach you are going for here.

      Realize that DLSP is silent with no motors anywhere except on pavement. The river is shallow for 93 miles to the Mississippi and almost no motor boats are seen there. There are no snowmobiles in the park Per se making skiing and snowshoeing not just enjoyable but possible. Bicycles are silent and we don’t want to have to look over our shoulders before taking the next breath. It’s also nice to not see cigarette butts everywhere- something that is much less with silent sports and rec.
      Do you feel that I get it now that you explained it just one more time.

      1. Tim

        You just validated my point. There are so many quiet, clean places right at your fingertips. I could add numerous other places like that to your list. I also enjoy those places when that is what I choose to do. Please give me a list of places in our area that my family and other families can go to do the things we enjoy doing. The DNR has realized the need for more places for tax paying, motorsport enjoying families to spend time together. Envision a place that as many people as possible can enjoy. It’s time to bring this country together instead of dividing it further.

        1. Joseph Salemi

          No Tim, it’s not time to add to pollution, not time to disrupt a vestige of recovering prairie, not time to allow motorcycles, rockets and guns to disrupt one of the only silent sport areas anywhere.
          When you do what you do, I am disrupted. When I do what I do. It does not effect you.

          The area around DLSP and the lower Wisconsin river is one of the very few places to enjoy what has come to be known as silent recreation.
          You have never considered that snowshoeing and skiing are not done around snowmobiles even though, to you it appears possible. Motorcycles are heard for miles around. Oil and gas spills are exactly what DNR SHOULD,WANT TO AVOID ON THE RECOVERING MUNITIONS FACILITY.
          Let the birds return, wild life something that won’t happen with combustion engines blasting around all year.
          Let there be a continuous space with no off road engines running. Where one can hike in silence, ride bike, and relax.
          There is no reason for you to tread on that.

      2. Tim

        My motorcycle is allowed anywhere your automobile is allowed.It is not “restricted to small infrequent and restricted areas”. It is a dual purpose motorcycle. Apparently you are not aware what that is. You think it’s some loud, smoking, fire breathing machine when in reality, it is 100% DOT approved. It is licensed and insured. However, since it is a dual sport type, it can also be driven in an off road setting. Unfortunately, there aren’t any public places to do that in our area. The DNR has now realized the need for that and wants to allow as many people as possible to enjoy the property. It’s been a typical debate with you and its obvious you are unwilling to budge from your stance of only wanting what you like. I, and many like me are only wanting you to share this property that belongs to all of us. Good night now.

        1. Joseph Salemi

          Yeah we know all about your motorcycle. Amazing that it goes on the road and off road.
          You seem to know what the discussion is about.

          1. Tim

            No, I don’t think you do know. Why wold you think it is “restricted to small infrequent and restricted areas?” Do some research and educate yourself on what type of motorcycles you will be seeing on the trails of SPRA a few days a year. You can have it all to yourself the majority of the year under the current masterplan. If it becomes a problem like you are convinced it will, the DNR can eliminate it. I think you’ll be surprised that we are not just a bunch of hooligans. We are responsible, hard working, respectful people with good family morals, just like you probably are. We can coexist. Give it a try.

          2. Joseph Salemi

            Because your complaint is that you can only ride it off-road in Wisconsin Rapids and you wanted me to list places where you can be loud and stink real fast.
            Using your bike in that area is silly.
            Equipment should match the area. A bigger boat for Lake Michigan, no sail boats on a river, bicycles and hiking boots on resorted prarie, stiff poles for catfish and carp, whipped poles for crappie and gills. No big fat powder skis at Midwest no matter how cool they are.
            Your bike is out of place on a restored prarie by DLSP. Go to BONG AND RIDE. BUT your bike would stand out like a sore thumb no matter how many show up. It’s an oxymoron.
            It makes no sense that you wan to ride in a place that would otherwise be full of families and eagles and fox, deer, countless birds that will return to their natural habitat instead of out of place motorcycles.
            How would it be if you would organize for a place up by the interstate, you don’t need a wild area but we do.


        2. Author
          derrick

          Tim, I have a sea kayak.. There is no sea where I live. The DNR needs to build me a sea because I’m a taxpayer and I bought an expensive toy. Don’t be silly. If you buy expensive toys and have nowhere to go with them, you’ve just made an unwise purchase. OR as I do, you load up your toy and drive to a place where you can play.

          Should the DNR install snowmachines along the snowmobile trail because you bought a snowmobile and the base near your home isn’t to your liking?

          The state is under no obligation to facilitate your toys. Actually, you’re pretty lucky that the state spends as much time as it does and gives as much land access as it does.

      1. Joseph Salemi

        None of your business “Tim”.

        I am up there about 20-25 times a year equalling maybe 125 days/ year starting when I was 5. Why? For all the reasons I mention here, because it is a great place for silent recreation like hiking, biking, paddling. I raised my outdoor oriented family there andd I don’t mean hunters, snowmobiles and motorboats. The state is mostly set up for those things. We need more unique silent areas like this would be.
        We don’t need more motors blasting around as in that joke that goes something like; hey there is nowhere to ride motorcycles and nowhere to shoot guns and otherwise smell exhaust fumes.
        Hilarious.
        Why ruin a good thing?

        1. Tim

          Just as I expected, a “F.I.B.” I, on the other hand grew up in Sauk County. My Grandfather, Father and Uncle ran a automobile repair shop and filling station in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Therefore, my family was raised with the love of all types of motorized vehicles. If you weren’t raised that way, you wouldnt understand. Growing up, snowmobile trails were developed around the area so we were able to enjoy this as a family. On the other hand, if we wanted to ride our off road motorcycles, we had to do so illegally in the area ditches, marshes and gravel pits. As kids, we always dreamed of the day that trails would be developed for legal motorcycle use. Now, some 40 years later, that possibility is finally here. The DNR has neglected it for too long and they realize that with the extensive number of quiet places in the area, it’s time to use just a small portion of this property in our back yard to reward people like me. Why do you think we need another quiet only area? It’s time for something like this in our area and it will happen. When it does, I will see you there, unless you don’t survive this Friday. I know it will be very stressful for you. Good luck!

          1. Joseph Salemi

            The states biggest business is tourism and they love my opinion.
            They dislike your disrespectful attitude and behavior.
            No one wants you there so you won’t win. And as far as your politics I have no time the uninformed.
            I don’t think you will win with one big reason being what you have expressed here as representative of your group. I think you have cued us all in very well.

  5. Tim

    Yes, tourism is HUGE. Another reason the DNR will go ahead with the current masterplan. There are many more tourists who would spend a lot of money while motorcycling at SPRA. They will frequent our local hotels, gas stations, restaurants, etc. The same tourists that have been coming for the silent sports will continue to come just like you have for many years. You wont stop coming because of this as all the same old tourist attractions will still be there. Thanks for making a good point. We finally agree on something. We’ll have to agree to disagree on the rest.


    1. Author
      derrick

      The problem with your tourism argument is that your numbers don’t work. Motorsports Vr Silent Sports isn’t what it was in the 70s. We may lose money.

      1. Joseph Salemi

        There are other places where off road motor sports could be fully developed instead of just a small enterprise in an incompatible place.
        Is this the place to hold rallys, practice, track and back country off road motor experiences? If not, then let’s not disturb this recovery and the more comparable activities that come with it. Put a motor sports facility in an area where similar things already exist with infrastructure already in place at least in part. Put it in a place near roads that will more easily contain the traffic of cycles on trailers being pulled by larger trucks.
        Do we really want to add enough of this kind of traffic on hwy 60 and 12 to really make an economic difference? Wouldn’t it make more sense to put this type of motor sport facility up near 90/39 and 78 where you have big gas stations all set for traffic, land that is already “industrialized”, and wide interstate that does not go through small towns like Lodi, etc on winding otherspwise georeous two lane highways?
        Why put all of that traffic and noise in the wrong place when the right place is even better for its function and for economic reasons.

          1. Joseph Salemi

            Thank you for the articles and links. Silent sports make a lot of money and more and more people are getting involved. Smaller, more out of the way communities like Sauk city know this and need to develop the market. Motors ports facility on public land will kill that.
            I risk preaching to the choir but look at what is in the area. DLSP, SPRA, LOWER WISCONSIN RIVER, that big saddle shop, (no motors sold, yes,guns and fishing, camping), huge canoe liveries, two lane highways, small quiet communities, lots of agriculture.
            Why put motor sports there? Put a long bike path along the river, into SPRA, INTO DLSP, and on to Sparta trail. And market that!!!
            Kayak and stand up sales are ever rising. Hikers are everywhere and I think people are looking for shorter hikes in real nature with some landmarks and amenities nearby. But those areas are jammed so need to be expanded and what better place than right around the corner from DLSP and right next to the river.

            I would like to see some dispersed camping somewhere in the area. You would have to reserve permits well in advance due to popularity.
            But motor sports would ruin that for people like us and for state revenues in the area.

            I was trying to buy stock in a large ATV company last year because we could see outdoor recreation expanding. They had new products, great management, wide distribution, an ad campaign. But I could not find a good entry point. Why? Sales were depressed for motor sports at a time when other outdoor related was expanding.
            I am afraid that the wider area is not at all set up for the traffic with narrow roads, smaller gas stations, already crowded public facilities apart from the pollution, noise, ecological recovery issues.


          2. Author
            derrick

            You bet. Yeah, it’s complicated and could take many articles to write out the details, but yes.. the “last generation” of outdoor sports are slipping for many reasons. Some of it is weather, some is that kids don’t grow up outdoors, and some is cultural.. the people with the $$ are increasingly into silent sports. Just like industry, you can’t go back. We have to learn to stop trying to flog a dead horse and think we’re going to “educate” kids into the old DNR tagline “Hunt, Fish, Camp”. The next generation is Climb, Bike, Camp.. (and a milion other activities) ATVs will not bring in what a diverse silent sports destination will. Not in 2017 anyway…

    1. Joseph Salemi

      Hi Maryw,
      I have only been on a horse a few times in recent decades but used to ride as a youngster. So I cannot say that I am a horse rider.
      But I am an off road bicycle rider. So I have been involved in discussions concerning shared bike-horse trails especially in the early days of rails-to-trails when compatability was in question.
      I realize that horse-bike shared trails will never be completely compatible but it appears to me that things are better than ever right now as bicyclists have learned how to approach horses with at least some level of understanding the natural dangers involved.
      But even stil, whereas many bicyclists will stop and allow the horse to be composed, many inexperienced riders have no idea or take no such actions.
      We see the same thing with snowshoeing-ski trail compatability where trail users seem to reach only a certain level of rule compliance even with familiarity.
      Similarly, downhill skiing has a skiers responsibility code (SRC) designed to keep things “safe” but only a certain level of compliance is achievable by users.
      Roads have speed limits that reach only a certain level of compliance no matter the intentions of users or the actions of law enforcement.
      It seems as though human nature or nature it’s self has its limits that operate outside of best intentions, values or well intentioned laws.

      So it is easy to see that because of these natural limits on compliance we can predict that certain activities are only partially compatible even when the motivation to share is high as in the case where a spooked 1500 lb horse meets a fast moving bicycle coming up from behind because only some bikes will ever be in compliance no matter intent, training, law, signs posted because it is just the unfortunate nature of things.
      Bicyclists don’t hate horses and horses riders don’t hate bikes but things just don’t workout much of the time.
      Can we not then predict the compatibility of motorcycles with hikers and cyclists? Not just on the trails but on the area roads where transport takes place, at the entrance gate, parking lots in the park, local parking at bars, resturaunts, gas stations, and on the restored prarie ground and air.

      So I think your point about horses is a great example of the conglomerate of these issues. Thanks for sharing as best as can be expected.
      I gotta get back into horses. I don’t think that place across from Wheelers is open anymore is it?

        1. Tim

          The masterplan only allows dual sport motorcycles on the trails a few days a year. During those days, horses will not be allowed. You can have the trails all to yourselves the majority of the days. Again, were not asking for much.

          1. Joseph Salemi

            Motorcycle ruts are not just ugly but damaging to the ecology. Ecology and esthetics are central issues to the restoration. Motorcycles and other ATVs obviously counter these central issues.
            The question in most areas like this is whether to allow bicycles off road and how and where to restrict foot traffic. No fires, no firewood collection, leave it as you found it, pack out what you packed in, no dog waste, leash your dog, don’t pick the flowers are all considerations.
            ATVs are incompatible with prairie restoration.

  6. Joseph Salemi

    I want to thank Derrick for bringing his in depth knowledge to this forum and for keeping it apolitical while multifaceted. This information is a great resource for the communities at large, individuals and is hopefully useful to the agencies involved.
    We have a unique opportunity here to expand our ability to get out into nature and for the state to take advantage of an ever expanding market using its great natural resources in a unique region.

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