Speak Up on Badger! Now.

Speak Up on Badger! Now.

The future of the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area, over 3,000 acres of prairie, wetland and forest, which potentially expands the size and scope of Devil’s Lake State Park, is in your hands. You need to speak up now. Before December 9th. It could be your last chance.

It’s not hard to imagine the potential of a well-planned extension to the wildly popular Devil’s Lake State Park, adding more hiking, backpacking, biking, camping, bird watching, horseback riding, XC skiing, snowshoeing, the list goes on. Economically, the outdoor recreation industry is a monster for communities who know how to take advantage. Badger has the potential to draw more visitors & put more money into our local community’s coffers. More small business growth, money to fix roads, more people to help fill hotels, visit shops & restaurants. Oh, and not to mention what an amazing environmental gem! But we HAVE get our heads around it and act now.

SPRA Wetland

Wetland Area in the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and local environmental groups have alternated between working together & lobbing grenades at each other over this decommissioned ammo plant for some time. Personally think both sides aren’t hearing each other any more. To an outsider like me, it certainly does seem like the DNR is backing out of promises made back when I was just a kid. (I mean, we were supposed to have bison right??) Still the argument seems to be framed in a right/left, motorsports vs birdwatchers sort of way. This has got to change. Neither side seems to be doing a good job looking at the economic impact of simply expanding the floor plan on a park that brings in over 3 million visitors per year right now. It should be an obvious win-win. In a years-old argument of government vs environmentalists, they’ve become blind to the changes in our culture & economy since the 70s and haven’t fully recognised the growth and potential of the outdoor industry. (It’s not motorbikes & rocketry.) As it is, we can’t provide enough trail space for the number of visitors to Sauk County now.

What is frustrating is that the DNR seems to be out-of-touch with the modern world, still promoting the outdoor experience of the last century (Including up to 61/2 months of hunting!) and not catching on to the next generation’s needs & perspectives. While there are good ideas in the current plan, they still seem hellbent on being all things to all people when it comes to Badger (SPRA), allowing motorbikes, loose dogs and rockets into the new recreation area, clinging to uses that target a small group of users at the cost of everyone else, including the local community’s bottom line. (By the current logic, if I bought a sea kayak far from the water, the DNR would be obligated to dig me a sea!) What’s more, it looks suspicious to simply keep pushing the same old ideas even against the tide of almost all vested stakeholders. It’s weird really. It feels like someone high-up in the DNR must be a board member of a Wisconsin model rocketry club.

Now, in something that feels like a scene out of “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, the DNR has posted the last opportunity for folks to comment, while oddly not being too obvious about actual location of the final meeting in the notices. To find the meeting location (Madison by the way), you have to go to the website and find the meeting agenda when the location could have simply been included in emails, webpages, and other outreach right up-front. This matters in Wisconsin. Especially when meetings have been known to go on far from the affected region…. Maybe it’s an oversight, but that’s not how it looks.

Regardless, if you care, you need to act now. Here’s how,


First: You can read the latest “Master Plan” right here.

Read: The Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance Statement


So many of us will be long dead by the time these plans come to fruition. This is a decision for the young, those of you just looking to live or start businesses in Baraboo, Sauk Prairie and the surrounding area. It’s an important issue for those of you looking for “National Park” level experiences right here in central Wisconsin. Oh, and also for local government officials who’d simply like more money in the local coffers.  (In the Baraboo Hills region, our future is all about OR. Trust me on this!)


To Comment: You must fill out this form and mail it in before Friday, December 9, 2016.


Email: Written comments may also be emailed to Laurie.Ross@wisconsin.gov.

Pre-Register, Attend & Speak Up

The Natural Resources Board meeting will be held December 14th in downtown Madison, Wisconsin.  However, to be heard, you must pre-register by 11:00 a.m. on Friday, December 9, 2016. General guidelines for public participation and pre-registration for board meetings are posted at http://dnr.wi.gov/about/nrb/public.html. For more information contact: Laurie.Ross@wisconsin.gov. (Whom, I should add, was very responsive and helpful when I asked for location information.)

I’ve gone on and on about how the future of the Baraboo hills region is tied to tourism, outdoor recreation & silent sports for years. Industry & agriculture alone isn’t going to sustain us, (And hasn’t been for years if truth be told!) Motorsports, loose dogs & rockets are not compatible with Devil’s Lake State Park and are not compatible with the other uses planned for Badger (SPRA).

Speak Up.  Now.


** 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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