The Ho-Chunk Nation has formally opposed the establishment of a proposed Special Use Zone for an ATV track and gun range on former Badger Army Ammunition Plant lands. In an August 28 letter to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), the Nation said that the proposal is inconsistent with the values and criteria of the Badger Reuse Plan and conflicts with the missions of the surrounding landowners. The letter was submitted as part of public comment on the WDNR Sauk Prairie Recreation Area (SPRA) Draft Conceptual Alternatives.
“A shooting range would generate more concentrated year-round noise from gunshots than that resulting from any normal hunting activities allowed on the property,” Ho-Chunk Nation President Jon Greendeer wrote. “This noise would affect the Nation’s use of the property and may also affect the Nation’s bison herd once established. Similarly, recreational all-terrain vehicles have the potential to generate noise that impacts lands far beyond the M parcels.”
The Ho-Chunk Nation has requested the transfer of an estimated 1552.5 acres of the Badger Army Ammunition Plant declared as surplus by the federal government. The Ho-Chunk recognize the former Badger property as part of their aboriginal lands that span the southern two-thirds of Wisconsin from the Green Bay area westward into Minnesota and then south including areas of northern Illinois. Within this area lays thousands of years of ancestors, traditional villages and spiritual sites attributed to the Ho-Chunk People. Specifically, the Badger property falls within a cultural district that is an important part of a Traditional Cultural Properties associated with the Day-wa-kun-chunk, or Holy Lake (Devils Lake) area.
“Restoration and land management is intended to be a cooperative effort with stakeholders and landowners including the Wisconsin DNR,” President Greendeer said. “Restoration activities will complement the future establishment of a bison herd on the Badger property and promote conservation agriculture as a land management tool.”
“In closing, the Nation requests that the M parcels not be used for motorized recreational vehicles or a shooting range and that no Special Use Zones are established on WDNR lands associated with the Badger parcel,” President Greendeer concluded. “Future land use and management of the property should focus on conservation with opportunities for low impact recreation. This approach is best outlined in the BOMC Planning and Land-use document known as ‘Alternative 4’. This alternative is most consistent with our mission for Badger and the values held by the Nation.”
The Badger Oversight Management Commission, Village of Sauk City, Town of Prairie du Sac, Village of Prairie du Sac, City of Baraboo, Town of Sumpter, Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB), Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance, Badger History Group, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, and U.S. Department of Agriculture have also gone on record opposing a gun range and ATVs at Badger.