Contact(s): Brian Hefty, 608-275-3214
MADISON - Mazomanie Beach, or Mazo Beach as it is widely known, located in the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway about 6 miles southwest of Sauk City on the south side of the Wisconsin River, will be closed to public use beginning immediately, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has announced.
The department will close approximately 140 acres of the 46,000 acre Riverway property that has become an area of illegal behavior, such as drug use and public sexual activity. This illegal and illicit behavior that developed there over several decades has created a pattern that discourages broader use of the property, according to Brian Hefty, DNR natural resources area supervisor.
The area will be closed immediately until further notice, pending re-development. Ongoing updates to the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway master plan will gather public feedback and take steps to re-develop this area to provide a range of recreational opportunities to a broad group of citizens.
"Despite an increase in incremental management efforts implemented over a long period of time to curb illegal and illicit behavior at Mazomanie Beach, including weekday and partial closures, this type of behavior has continued on the property," Hefty said.
Illegal activity at Mazomanie Beach has limited user diversity, Hefty said, and has had an adverse impact on people who are interested in pursuing other recreational opportunities in the area, but who would avoid the area because of discomfort and concern with current illegal activity.
The planned vision for the new Mazomanie Beach outlined in the draft master plan includes improved recreational use opportunities of the shoreline by constructing a changing building and picnic shelter, providing toilet facilities, and improving the parking lot with a minimum capacity of 50 vehicles. The plan also calls for: a rustic day use area on the river shore at the north end of Conservation Drive that would provide picnic tables, water and grills and a picnic shelter; a new carry-in canoe landing; and 4 to 8 miles of primitive to lightly developed hiking trails.
"At a remote property like this, planned improvements will expand the range of use and opportunity for a number of user groups at Mazomanie Beach," Hefty said. "The expanded recreational facilities and re-development through master planning will provide for an overall enhanced experience for property users while reducing illegal and illicit activity."
The beach's current use has created law enforcement challenges and taken time and resources of DNR rangers and conservation wardens that is outside their core work and diverted license sales dollars away from conservation law enforcement.
Law enforcement officers will continue to actively patrol the property on a regular basis and individuals in violation of the closure will be cited. The department closing the area using its authority under NR 45.04 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code, which states: the department may close, by posted notice, any land, structure or property owned or administered by the state of Wisconsin and under the management, supervision and control of the department. No person may enter or be in any building installation or area that may be locked or closed to public use or contrary posted notice without a written permit from the property superintendent.
"We anticipate that implementation of re-development at Mazomanie Beach will result in overall positive outcomes and an anticipated overall increase in patronage of this area of the Lowers Wisconsin State Riverway," Hefty said.