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establishing goals and objectives for DNR properties.
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monitoring goals and objectives.
Feasibility studies
studying new properties.
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parks, forests, wildlife, fisheries, natural areas, trails, wild rivers and flowages.
Contact information
For information on the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area, contact:
John Pohlman
planner
608-264-6263
Steve Schmelzer
property supervisor
608-356-8301 ext. 111
Mark Aquino
regional director
608-275-3262
Dan Schuller
State Parks director
608-266-2185

Property Master PlansSauk Prairie Recreation Area

The Sauk Prairie Recreation Area, located in southeastern Sauk County, consists of a portion of the decommissioned 7,354-acre Badger Army Ammunition Plant (BAAP). The property has a natural and human history that is significant on many scales. The former BAAP is, or will be, primarily owned by three parties: DNR (3,500 acres), Ho-Chunk Nation (1,600 acres) and Dairy Forage Research Center (2,100 acres), approximate acreages. Our master planning process focuses on the DNR-designated acreage.

BAAP from the Southeast

Badger Army Ammunition Plant aerial view from the Southeast. Photo courtesy of Tom Thomas, Badger History Group.

Sauk Prairie Recreation Area open for spring turkey hunting and more

The Sauk Prairie Recreation Area will be open to the public for all six of the week-long spring turkey hunting periods, which start Wednesday April 16 and run through Tuesday May 27. In addition to turkey hunting, visitors may hike, trap and bike on the subset of roads within the complex that are open to the public. As with other State Park properties, activities such as bird watching, nature photography and mushroom picking are also welcome.

The property will open to the public Saturday April 12. The public may access the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area at the main gate off of U.S. Hwy. 12 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. An after-hour's entrance to the property on State Hwy. 78 (Gate 7, just north of Kilpatrick Drive) will be open one hour before the opening of turkey hunting hours through one hour after they end. Maps showing the roads and areas open to the public will be available at both entry points. Some areas within the property remain closed to public access due to safety issues. No bathroom facilities or drinking water are available on DNR lands.

In addition to the lands owned by DNR, the U.S. Army is also opening many of the lands it still owns at the former Badger Army Ammunition Plant to public use during this time. All remaining buildings and areas around them are closed areas and may not be entered. The USDA Dairy Forage Research Center lands are closed to hunting and all other public recreation activities. The Research Center has agreed to allow public access across their lands at two designated roads to accommodate visitors traveling to and from the southern block of DNR land.

Following the end of the final turkey season, the property will close May 28 to accommodate contractors that will be consolidating rubble piles throughout the property. The rubble will be crushed and used as base material in the planned reconstruction of U.S. Hwy. 12 starting in 2015. In addition, DNR staff will be conducting additional clean-up and deconstruction work throughout the summer and fall.

Map and access information

Master Planning update

Based on the extensive public input received this past summer, DNR staff are developing recommendations for recreational use and habitat management of the property. Although significant progress has been made, we now anticipate completing the draft master plan in the fall of 2014.

When the draft master plan is released, the public will have 45 days to review and comment. In addition, we will host a public hearing to formally record comments. The public will also have another opportunity to comment directly to the Natural Resources Board when the Board takes up consideration of the draft plan after the public review and comment period.

As part of the master planning process, earlier the department developed and released for public comment the preliminary vision and goal statements for the property as well as three draft conceptual management alternatives. Public comments were received from July 15 to August 30, 2013. Department staff reviewed the comments and prepared the following summary document.

summary of public input [PDF]

Because of the level of interest in the property, all the comments received are posted under the "Public comments" tab.

Vision and goals

Preliminary vision statement:

The Sauk Prairie Recreation Area contributes important areas of grassland habitat needed to reconstruct and experience a natural mosaic of prairie-savanna-woodland at a landscape scale. Directly adjacent to Devils Lake State Park, it serves as an ecological transition from the Baraboo Hills to the Wisconsin River, and creates a recreational corridor that enhances and complements regional recreation opportunities. The site's significant history is incorporated into the management and interpretation of the natural, agricultural, historical and cultural resources.

Preliminary goal statements:

Ecological management

Provide extensive areas of grassland and oak savanna habitats to support the significant grassland and shrubland bird populations. Restore and enhance the ecological transition zone between the Baraboo Hills and the Wisconsin River to promote quality habitat for desirable game and non-game species, including rare and special concern species.

Recreation

Provide for public recreation that complements and fulfills regional needs while providing opportunities that draw users past significant cultural and natural points of interest as well as aesthetic vistas.

Cultural resource preservation

Identify and preserve significant sites that contribute to the property's storyline from geological history, Native American life, Euro-American settlement, and the design, operation and decommissioning of the Badger Army Ammunitions Plant.

Education and interpretation

Provide interpretive and educational opportunities focusing upon natural history, restoration efforts, and the impacts of human uses. Integrate education and research related to restoration and conservation land use activities.

Documents

Planning documents

  • Draft Conceptual Alternatives [PDF]
  • Rapid Ecological Assessment for the Sauk Praiirie Recreation Area [PDF]
    DNR PUB-ER-832 2011
    • Appendix A: NHI Overview and General Methodology
    • Appendix D: Wisconsin Natural Heritage Working List Explanation
    • Note: Appendices B, C and E are not presented here. These appendices contain location information from the Natural Heritage Inventory (NHI) database regarding endangered resources. This database contains information on the location, status, distribution, and condition of rare species and high-quality natural communities in Wisconsin, including threatened and endangered species. Generalized information is available by township regarding what rare species and high-quality natural communities have been documented in a given town and range, with the exception of select species highly vulnerable to exploitation. Due to the sensitive nature of the NHI data, detailed information, including the location of rare species at finer scales, is specifically exempt from the Wisconsin Open Records Law [s. 23.27(3b), Wis. Stats.]. This exemption applies to NHI data or excerpts of NHI data in any form, format, or version. Data sharing is accomplished in a manner that safeguards the resources and promotes proper interpretation of the data. See more information on access to NHI data.

      The DNR takes a rigorous approach to assessing and conserving rare species and high-quality natural communities in the master planning process. Staff from the Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation program conduct field surveys on properties prior to master planning and incorporate all available data on rare species into the Rapid Ecological Assessment. As part of the assessment, staff describe and delineate primary sites, principally based on populations of rare species as well as high-quality natural communities with potential to harbor rare species. This and other information is incorporated into the development of the property master plan. A representative of the Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation is on the master plan development team.

  • Regional & Property Analysis: Sauk Prairie Recreation Area [PDF]
    DNR PUB-LF-063 2012
  • Sauk Prairie Recreation Area Timeline [PDF]

Background documents

Public comments

Online survey responses

The department developed a survey that presented the draft vision, goals, and conceptual alternatives and asked respondents to provide their comments and recommendations on how these statements could be improved. The contents of the responses submitted are copied here as received. Personal names of non-public figures and addresses have been redacted.

Hard copies of the survey

Hard copies of the survey were also available for people who preferred to respond in this format. The questions were the same as the online survey. Most people did not write responses to all questions. To reduce file size, only those pages with writing on them were scanned. Personal names of non-public figures and addresses have been redacted.

Letters from the general public

Many people sent the department letters regarding different aspects of the draft vision, goals, and conceptual alternatives. The letters were scanned and presented here. Personal names of non-public figures and addresses have been redacted.

Letters from organizations

A number of organizations sent the department letters representing their perspectives on the draft vision, goals, and conceptual alternatives. The letters were scanned and presented here.

Letters from government officials and agencies

The department received letters from government officials representing their perspectives on the draft vision, goals, and conceptual alternatives. The letters were scanned and presented here.

Emails from the public

The following comments regarding the vision, goal statements, and conceptual alternatives for the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area were received by the Department in email form. The contents of the emails are copied here as received; the contents have been formatted to a consistent font. Personal names of non-public figures have been redacted.

Resolutions from local units of government

Six local units of government passed resolutions with regards to the draft vision, goals, and conceptual alternatives. The resolutions or meeting minutes were scanned and presented here.

Petitions, postcards, and form letters

Some organizations presented public perspectives on the draft vision, goals, and conceptual alternatives through the use of petitions, postcards, or form letters. They were scanned and presented here.

Hunting

Spring turkey hunting on Sauk Prairie Recreation Area lands

The DNR-owned land and much of the land remaining in U.S. Army ownership (at this time) will be open to hunting during the six spring turkey hunting periods season (April 16 to May 27). There is no limit on hunters or assigned areas.

Access into the property for the hunt will be from U.S. Hwy. 12 (from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) and State Hwy. 78 (from one hour before the opening of turkey hunting hours through one hour after they end). Lands owned by the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center are closed to hunting. Hunters may access the southern block of DNR land (the "M" parcels) via two roads that cross Dairy Forage Research Center land.

Maps will be available at the access points on the days the property is open for hunting.

Some portions of the DNR-owned land remain closed and are marked on the map and, to the degree practical, will be signed on the ground. Hunters will need to keep vehicles on the roads marked as "open" on the map. The open roads are considered public highways and hunters may not hunt from these roads. Hunters should park on road shoulders.

Hunters are reminded to be safe while they are enjoying the property. The property is open to other recreational uses and there are likely to be many visitors, especially on the weekends.

Map and access information [PDF]

For additional hunting information contact:

Steve Schmelzer
property supervisor
608-356-8301 Ext. 111

Cleanup

Excavating contaminated soil from the Final Creek, settling ponds and spoils disposal areas of the former Badger Army Ammunition Plant and disposing of it in an approved landfill has been determined as the best clean-up alternative for ensuring that the health of even the most sensitive human populations is protected once Sauk Prairie Recreation Area is open to the public.

The final determination includes results of a study by the state Department of Health Services that examined potential human health risks associated with consumption of wild game harvested from this area of Badger. The study found that regular consumption of wild game from the area is not expected to pose a human health hazard.

Public comments received on the proposed clean-up strategy with responses are also available.

For environmental clean-up information, contact:

Woody Myers, team leader
Department of Natural Resources
3911 Fish Hatchery Rd.
Fitchburg WI 53711
608-273-5613

Contact

Your comments are important so please consider coming to meetings, mailing in comments or calling us. We welcome your feedback on the property management goals and master planning issues throughout the process.

To receive materials or provide comments as part of the planning process, contact:

John Pohlman, planner
Department of Natural Resources
P O Box 7921
Madison WI 53707-7921
608-264-6263

For property-specific information or questions including hunting, contact:

Steve Schmelzer
property supervisor
Department of Natural Resources
S5975 Park Road
Baraboo WI 53913
608-356-8301 ext. 111

For other information or questions about the master plan, contact:

Mark Aquino, regional director
Department of Natural Resources
3911 Fish Hatchery Road
Fitchburg WI 53711
608-275-3262

Dan Schuller, State Parks director
Department of Natural Resources
P O Box 7921
Madison WI 53707-7921
608-266-2185

For environmental clean-up information, contact:

Woody Myers, team leader
Department of Natural Resources
3911 Fish Hatchery Road
Fitchburg WI 53711
608-273-5613

Last revised: Wednesday April 02 2014