BARABOO — Residents will have an opportunity Saturday to tour the future Sauk Prairie Recreation Area, a 3,800-acre piece of land carved from the former Badger Army Ammunition Plant.
While the self-guided tours are not part of the state Department of Natural Resources’ planning process for the property, regional director Mark Aquino said he hopes anyone interested in Badger’s future will go.
“It has not really been open to the public, in general, to visit the property and see what’s there, in some cases in decades,” Aquino said.
He said the experience of seeing the state-managed property firsthand could help people shape their opinions about what land uses would be compatible with the area, which is the question the DNR is try to answer.
The DNR recently released the 388 comments it received from the first phase of the master planning process for the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area, which ended in August. The comments were sharply divided between people who want a low-impact natural area with a focus on conservation and others who view the land as an opportunity to offer more rambunctious activities, such as all-terrain vehicle tracks, a shooting range and dog-trialing areas.
“Recreational use of this property, especially with regard to trails, dominated all the comments received,” states the DNR’s summary of the comments, which noted horseback riding was the most suggested non-motorized trail use. “Motorcycle trails, specifically single-track, were identified as a need in this part of the state. Opportunities for off-highway motorcycles and off-highway vehicles (Jeeps and trucks) also received support.”
Aquino said the DNR eventually will release two or three potential plans for the Sauk Prairie Restoration Area. The public will be asked to comment, and the feedback will be used for the final plan, which is expected to be completed in late 2013.