Motorcycles, Helicopters and Special Events– Oh My!
Dual-sport (off road) motorcycles, military helicopter training, dog trialing and training, and any number of undefined “special events” are activities that will continue to be allowed on state land at Badger. On Tuesday, October 22, the Natural Resources Board, the policy-making entity for the DNR, re-approved the original Master Plan for the Sauk Prairie State Recreation Area that the same Board approved in December 2016. No changes were made to the Plan despite considerable public comment–both written and oral– presented to the Board.
Nine of 13 oral presenters and the lion’s share of the 42 people who submitted comments (including Representative Dave Considine and Senator Jon Erpenbach) requested changes to the Master Plan that supported the promise made by DNR to the citizens of Wisconsin in earlier agreements (2001, 2004) to offer only “low impact” recreation at Badger. Nobody can argue that dual-sport motorcycles are low-impact, and helicopters are certainly not “recreation” whatsoever!
Despite tremendous public outcry about high impact activities that remained in the Master Plan, ultimately politics reigned on Tuesday. Five of the six Natural Resources Board members were appointed by Governor Walker, and they are the same individuals who approved the Plan in 2016.
If you wish to see the live webcast of the testimonies from Tuesday’s meeting, go to this website: https://dnr.wi.gov/About/NRB/2019/October/. You can also see the list of oral presenters and those who submitted written comments at that link.
Next steps? We are reviewing our options, but there is a strong likelihood that the Alliance will appeal the Board’s decision in court. We now have an extensive brief of materials, professional witness testimonies and many legal arguments that emanated from our week-long contested case hearing in January, all of which was ignored by the Natural Resources Board. We feel we have a compelling case and that we will prevail through the courts.
We’ll keep you posted!