Call to Action

Victor Bakhtin print, courtesy of the Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance web site.

Victor Bakhtin print, courtesy of the Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance web site.

I attended the DNR open-house at the River Arts Center in Prairie du Sac on July 31st.  I was joined by about 200 other concerned citizens who came to look at the DNR’s three alternative plans for the area of Badger land that it will manage when the land transfer is complete.

We were encouraged to look at each alternative and ask questions of the DNR staff on hand.  The DNR then did a brief presentation summarizing what the three plans contain.

What didn’t happen was they didn’t acknowledge a fourth alternative put forward for this portion of the Badger property.  This alternative was proposed by the Badger Oversight Management Commission and the Conservation Alliance and its many supporters.

Alternative 4 states that its “emphasis is placed on land uses and management that complement each other and those of the surrounding land owners, enhancing the health, culture and economy of the Badger lands and the surrounding community.”

This plan honors the many sacrifices and contributions made by the people of Sauk Prairie.   It focuses on restoration, agriculture and education; all elements of the Badger Reuse plan.   It supports a greater understanding of the wildlife at Badger and  its “cultural history”.

The people who are the closest to Badger are happy to see the DNR move ahead.  What they find disconcerting is the “unexpected language, suggesting that Badger would be appropriate for “non-traditional recreational uses” such as ATV trails, a long-range rifle range, paint-ball competitions, etc.”

Such uses run counter to the explicit recommendations in the BRP, that recreational uses should be “low-impact  in nature,” “compatible with other uses,” and “have no significant detrimental impacts on the cultural and natural features of the property.”  These provisions of the reuse plan were built into the NPS-DNR land transfer agreement.
Curt Meine, Conservation Alliance and Member, Badger Reuse Committee (2000-2001)

The DNR’s alternative plan 3 sets aside 562 acres of Badger land to be used for high impact recreation activities such as motorized vehicles and a shooting range.

In a personal appeal sent by Meine prior to the July 31st open house he lists the many reasons why these high impact rec activities are inappropriate:

*Such uses, as noted above, run counter to the Badger Reuse Plan and the reuse process to which we have all been committed.

*They explicitly contradict provisions in the DNR’s agreement with the National Park Service.

*They will have detrimental impacts on neighboring landowners within Badger, and neighboring private landowners outside Badger.

*They will have detrimental impacts on other recreational users and visitors at Badger.

*They will have detrimental impacts on the sound environment of Badger, which is unique in southern Wisconsin for its degree of quiet.

*The proposed Special Use Zone supports significant breeding populations of grassland bird Species of Greatest Conservation Need (see This nearly one-square-mile block of grassland and savanna habitat supports high populations of rare and declining grassland birds including Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, Brown Thrasher, Willow Flycatcher, Field Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, and Henslow’s Sparrow. The impacts of the proposed high-impact uses on grassland birds and other wildlife has not been documented or analyzed.

*The area in which these uses are proposed includes, among other features, one of the important pioneer cemeteries of Badger (the Thoelke Cemetery), the highest quality prairie/savanna remnant on the entire Badger property, and a unique geological feature – the drainage channel of glacial Lake Merrimac, still visible after 12,000 years.

The DNR plans for Badger fall short. The only true alternative is alternative 4, the plan based on the framework provided by the Badger Reuse Plan, which the DNR signed onto.

 The potential to share lessons of history, science, and culture at Badger are boundless.  Similarly, Badger provides unique opportunities to show how conservation and agriculture can and must work together for the good of Wisconsin’s land, water, wildlife, people, economy, and future.   Curt Meine

What can you do?

Most importantly,  review the planning document and write a message or letter to the DNR.  The deadline for submitting comments is 4:30 pm, August 30, 2013.  Submit your comments to Ms. Diane Brusoe, 101 S. Webster St., Madison WI 53707, or via e-mail

Print and share this Call to Action form produced by the Conservation Alliance.

Attend these upcoming events to show support for alternative plan 4:

1. WDNR board 8/14 11:00am (public comment), Clarion Hotel & Convention Center, Baraboo (This meeting is open to the public.  If you want to make public comments you must register to speak before 8/11–go to WDNR board web site to register for citizen participation; only one person per organization/however anyone may speak for themselves.) You can also check the NRB website for registration details.

2.  TSPCA Open House 8/21 7-8:30pm, River Arts Center, Prairie du Sac

Finally, submit your comments by 4:30 pm August 30th to Ms. Diane Brusoe, 101 S. Webster St., Madison WI 53707, or via e-mail

Thanks to Curt Meine and Dave Tremble and the Conservation Alliance for the documents that provided the background for this post.

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