On August 11, 2015, DNR released its long-awaited “Draft Master Plan for the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area,” a 160-page tome that was more than two years in the making. The development of the Plan was guided by DNR’s earlier studies and documents, the Ecological Assessment (2011) for the property, and a subsequent Regional and Property Analysis (2012). In July 2013, DNR released its Conceptual Alternatives for public comment, and the Draft Master Plan was informed by those comments.
The DNR held a public hearing in September 2015 in Prairie du Sac to review the Plan and to receive brief oral and written comments. The Alliance provided detailed comments to the Draft Master Plan. You can see the Alliance’s comments here. Despite considerable public input into the Draft Plan, and especially concern over “high impact” activities retained in the Draft Plan, DNR’s final Draft Plan submitted to the Natural Resources Board (NR Board) in December 2016 included off-road motorcycle use, Army helicopter training, dog training/trialing events and unspecified “special events” on the state portion of the Badger Lands. The NR Board nonetheless approved the Draft Plan.
The Alliance sued DNR, the NR Board and the National Park Service (also complicit in supporting high impact activities which were expressly excluded from the original Badger Reuse Plan) shortly after the NR Board approved the Plan. The Alliance has lost several court challenges. In January 2019, the Alliance was provided a contested case hearing against DNR and the hearing lasted most of a week. Alliance professional witnesses offered scientific testimony to demonstrate how high impact recreation will have detrimental impacts on nesting grassland birds. In October 2019, despite the resounding evidence and arguments against high impact activities, the Natural Resources Board approved the same, identical Master Plan for the Sauk Prairie State Recreation Area. As a result, litigation by the Alliance continues.
You will find major components of the Master Plan below. You may also wish to visit the DNR’s website for the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area for all historic documents and the Draft Master Plan: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Lands/MasterPlanning/SaukPrairie/.
Draft Master Plan