The Madison Audubon Society (MAS) has submitted formal comments to the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board supporting much of the draft Master Plan for the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area (SPRA) but objecting to two proposed activities that contradict previous agreements and the conservation goals for the property.

“The plan does contain two activities that we believe are incompatible with other habitat/wildlife restoration plans, violate the agreement between the National Park Service and the state of Wisconsin governing the transfer of the land, and create an undue burden on the DNR’s management of the site, the organization’s November 28 letter says. “Those activities are allowing motorcycles on some of the trails and rocketry.”

However, the 3,400-member organization also lauds many of the provisions in the proposed land use plan. “In particular, we deeply appreciate the plan’s recognition of SPRA’s current and future importance to a variety of grassland birds,” MAS writes.  “The plan’s emphasis on the restoration of oak openings is sensible and based on a good understanding of the land’s natural history. The plan’s recognition of the possible use of the bunkers for bat hibernacula is a great idea; we hope that the DNR can work with bat conservation organizations to accelerate the needed improvements to the bunkers.”

“We also appreciate the DNR’s mission to provide a variety of outdoor recreation to Wisconsin’s citizens and guests and the complexity of balancing those goals with mix of habitats and the environmental legacy of SPRA’s history,” MAS adds. “For that reason, we accept many of the (other) recreational opportunities presented in the plan that might in some ways detract from a more pure, wildlife-focused restoration of SPRA.”

The SPRA is recognized as a critical bird area for the Midwest, having one of southern Wisconsin’s most extensive and continuous habitat for our troubled populations of grassland, shrubland and savanna birds.  Hundreds of Bobolinks, Dickcissels, Eastern Meadowlarks and Henslow’s Sparrows breed in the large grassland tracts, while shrubby areas provide for Bell’s Vireo and a myriad of Willow Flycatchers, Clay-colored Sparrows and Field Sparrows.

Click here for more information and a public comment form.

Madison Audubon Letter – Sauk Prairie Rec Area Nov 2016