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Large Crowd attends DNR Public Hearing

Published on September 11, 2015 under News
Large Crowd attends DNR Public Hearing

An estimated 175 people participated in the DNR’s public hearing on the Draft Master Plan for the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area.  The majority of attendees who spoke were in support of removing “high impact” recreation from the Plan and promoting recreation that is compatible with habitat restoration.  Several participants requested more emphasis on “quiet” recreation and suggested that considerably more hiking trails be planned for the property.  Various speakers highlighted the importance of Badger for rare grassland birds.  “Wisconsin is the second largest birding state in the country,” according to Laura Olah of Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB), and “those birders bring revenue to the communities where they watch birds.”

DNR representatives Paul Zajackowski, John Pohlman and attorney Kris Hess chair the hearing

DNR representatives Paul Zajackowski, John Pohlman and attorney Kris Hess chair the hearing

Rob Nurre, the Alliance’s president, stated, “The Alliance’s long held priorities for the Badger Lands are the restoration of the native prairie and savanna communities, and to provide for compatible, low-impact recreational opportunities that allow visitors to enjoy and learn from the natural and cultural features of this land.”  He further offered, “Some recreational components of the Draft Master Plan, however, are troubling.  The plan appears to be based on the idea that the SPRA is a vast, empty area that should be able to accommodate a wide variety of recreation that the DNR, or other interests, believe should be available in the region.  Some of the proposals appear to disregard the unique natural and cultural history of Badger lands, the agreements that have been made during the Badger reuse process, and the DNR’s own commitments to provide for low-impact recreation and recreation which is compatible with the restoration of the land. ” For a complete copy of Rob’s testimony, click here.

Gail Lamberty, the Alliance Vice President, shared these sentiments: “We are here because we the people of Wisconsin have been given an amazing gift.  We have over 3,000 acres of land that have been obtained at no dollar cost. …  The accounting, however, comes in the responsibility to honor that so beautiful, so abused piece of land.”  She challenged the DNR to stick to the promises and commitments the agency made in signing various documents that provided the state with a large portion of the Badger land.  For a complete copy of Gail’s testimony, click here.

Only a handful of the thirty or so individuals who spoke did so in support of a shooting range (1), rocketry (1), motorcycles (1), mountain bikes (2) and snowmobiles (3).

The Alliance handed out a printed version of its “Summary Analysis.” Please click here to see that document.

We remind readers that public comments on the Draft Master Plan are due to DNR by Friday, September 25th.  We strongly encourage you to visit DNR’s website to review the Plan and to offer your comments.