This past Saturday night I sat in on a discussion of what could be the future for thousands of acres of land where the Badger Army Ammunition Plant once stood.
For anyone not familiar, the Badger plant sat on over 7,000 acres of land between Prairie du Sac and the Baraboo Hills along Highway 12 near the Wisconsin River. Badger was built in 1942 to make ammunition during World War II. The plant continued to make ammo through the Vietnam war. The “powder plant on the prairie” was decommissioned by the U.S. army in the late 1990s. Since then Badger has undergone an amazing transformation. As the Army starting removing hundreds of buildings along Highway 12, a group of dedicated volunteers have worked to restore the land, bit by bit, back to what it was, prairie and oak savanna, creating a living laboratory for area students.
A little history. The Sauk County Board of Supervisors established a reuse planning process for the Badger property in early 2000. The 21 member Badger Reuse Committee included representatives from neighboring communities, local, state, and federal governments, and the Ho Chunk Nation. An inordinate amount of time was spent in meetings over a year and a half. Based on information gathered about the Badger property and its role in the community, the committee defined 9 key values to guide the consideration of future uses.
” The conversion of the Badger Army Ammunition Plant presents tremendous opportunities for the protection, and enhancement, use, restoration, and enjoyment of the property’s unique natural and cultural features.” The Badger Reuse Committee Report
And now, the future of this area is in question. The term recreation can mean many things to many people. In 2004 the WDNR defined the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area as “a recreational property with low impact recreation (hiking, picnicking, primitive camping) prairie, savanna and grassland restoration, environmental education and cultural/historical interpretation, with potential for an education center.”
But it seems that the new leadership at the WDNR have a different idea of what this recreational area should be. Paint ball, ATV trails, and a shooting range, have been mentioned as appropriate uses for this recreation area. Apparently the new DNR director and her associates deem the Badger Reuse Plan as dated and no longer relevant. I’m guessing someone with deep pockets may have their ear.
A draft management plan by the WDNR is scheduled to be released in March 2013. This plan will define just what restoration and recreation uses will be allowed at Badger. Watch for the latest developments at the WDNR web site.