Cows GrazingUSDA officials say that they are supportive of most aspects of the Draft Master Plan for the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area but have concerns about certain recreational uses that will negatively affect the mission and activities at its Dairy Forage Research Center farm near Prairie du Sac. In written comments to the Wisconsin DNR, USDA has requested that dog activities, dual-sport motorcycle or other motorized vehicle activities, and unspecified special events be removed from the final plan.

As one of the three major land owners of the former Badger Army Ammunition Plant, USDA said that it will be “greatly affected by the designated uses, level of activity, and ability of the DNR staff to effectively monitor the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area”.

USDA is most concerned with proposed recreational activities on a 500-acre parcel in the south-central portion of the Badger property which is surrounded on three sides by Dairy Forage Research Center (DFRC) land.

“As adjacent land owners, the DFRC priority is to have this area dedicated to non-invasive activities and land/habitat restoration,” USDA officials wrote. “Because the area is separated from the rest of the property, it is an ideal place for those who want to find the peace and solace of an unspoiled, quiet area, and as a primary location for native prairie and wildlife habitat restoration.”

Additionally, because the Magazine Area is separated from the rest of the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area property and essentially land-locked by the DFRC, officials said that it will be more difficult for the DNR to monitor activity taking place here, there will more motorized traffic going through DFRC land, and a greater risk of accidents or conflicts between the public and farm vehicles.

“For these reasons, the USDFRC strongly requests that no dog activities, dual-sport motorcycle or other motorized vehicle activities, or unspecified ‘special events’ take place in the Magazine Area,” officials wrote.

Despite these objections, USDA said that it is very supportive of the emphasis on land restoration in the State’s land use plan and that it will continue to support DNR efforts to restore the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area to native or preferred species and improve wildlife habitat through agronomic practices and other means such as the removal of invasive species.

The public comment period for the Draft Master Plan and Environmental Impact Statement ran from August 11 to September 25, 2015. Based on comments received, DNR staff are currently revising these documents. The Department anticipates presenting this information to the Natural Resources Board in the spring of 2016.

The Natural Resources Board will discuss and take action on the Draft Master Plan at one of their regularly scheduled monthly meetings. The public will have the opportunity to submit written comments or register to speak directly to the Board at that meeting.

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