The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation is urging state regulators to require restoration and cleanup of wetlands at the former Badger Army Ammunition Plant instead of restricting future land uses.

“We would like to see a new proposal from the Army that contains soil remedial goals which will achieve a level of cleanup at the Settling Ponds site that will be safe for recreational uses such as, but not limited to: hunting, trapping, wetland restoration (flora and fauna), bird watching, education, research, photography, and hiking,” the group’s March 8 letter to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says.

“Restricting use of these lands for these activities is just not acceptable,” said Don Hammes, the WWF Director for Sauk County and member of the Federation’s Wetlands Committee.  “The soil safety standards should be high enough to allow just about any public use of the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area lands.”

The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation is also concerned about the excavation and destruction of wetlands that Army has done without a Clean Water Act 404 Permit and without complying with DNR NR103 regulations.

“Wetland restoration in the Settling Ponds area should be a top priority for the Army and the DNR,” said George Meyer, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation.  “The work plan should include restoration of hydric soils, vegetative cover indicative of a meadow wetland and restoration of the hydrology in the area including Final Creek.”

The Settling Ponds are located along the installation’s southern boundary and were first used in 1941. During the years of production, these man-made ponds received sanitary and industrial wastewater from the entire facility and surface runoff from the Nitroglycerine, Rocket Paste, and Magazine areas.

In 1970 the ponds covered 25 acres. Sediments removed during dredging operations were placed alongside the ponds.  Subsequent testing by the Army identified metals and explosives as contaminants of concern.  Sampling in 2000 discovered mercury and nitroglycerine were also present, not previously identified as a problem.  Evaluation of risks to certain wetland species such as amphibians has not been completed by the Army.

“An obvious first step that should have been taken by the Army is to delineate the wetlands, however, the Federation has been told that the wetlands in the Settling Ponds area were never delineated as required under state and federal regulations,” Hammes added.

The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation is made up of hunters, anglers, trappers and others that are actively engaged in the outdoors.  The Federation is dedicated to the future of hunting, fishing, trapping and the shooting sports.  The organization carries out these goals through conservation education and the advancement of sound policies on a state and federal level.

Wisconsin Wildlife Federation Letter to WDNR March 2013