In separate meetings last night, the Baraboo City Council and the Sauk City Village Board voted unanimously in favor of resolutions supporting only low-impact recreation at the former Badger Army Ammunition Plant. Both supported a land-use alternative proposed by the Badger Oversight Management Commission (BOMC) which excludes a shooting range and ATV track.
As part of the Master Planning process for the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) has proposed three land use alternatives ranging from “do nothing” to a recreation-focused option that allows high-impact exclusionary uses such as an ATV track and shooting range in a 560-acre tract near the Wisconsin River. According to WDNR biologists, the extensive surrogate grasslands found on this tract provide critical habitat for grassland birds. This same area is also home to the historic Thoelke cemetery, and the best and largest remnant prairie at Badger.
Bill Wenzel, Chair of the BOMC, appeared before both boards and explained the advantages of the Commission’s fourth alternative which proposes recreational uses that complement the conservation goals for the property. Known as “Alternative 4,” it provides for low-impact recreation (biking, hiking, cross-country skiing, etc.), family activities, ecological restoration, conservation agriculture and outdoor education. It reflects the goals of the landmark 2001 Badger Reuse Plan.
In recent weeks, resolutions supporting Alternative 4 have also been passed by the Town of Prairie du Sac, Town of Sumpter, and Village of Prairie du Sac boards. The U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, a neighboring landowner, has submitted a letter to WDNR supporting these same goals.
BOMC Commissioners include the Town of Merrimac, Town of Sumpter, Sauk County, WDNR, and Ho-Chunk Nation. Community stakeholder members include the City of Baraboo, Sauk City, Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger, Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance, Badger History Group, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, UW-Baraboo and others. U.S. Army and U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center are liaison members.