Groups urge against turning Badger Ammo Plant into ‘noisy’ recreation area

Twenty-six groups of citizens are expressing concern about the former Badger Army Ammunition Plant. Using a letter, the groups are urging the state natural resource board not to allow the state Department of Natural Resources to turn the  former plant, near Baraboo, into what they call a loud recreation area.

Speaking for the concerned parties is Laura Olah. She said  ‘noisy’ activities such as launching large rockets and riding motorcycles at certain times of the year are options board members are considering that are opposed by the 26 groups.

Olah, the executive director of Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger, said communities and environmentalists have worked for 25 years to turn the 3,500 acres into a low-use recreation area.  Olah said it was designed for activities such as hiking and nature watching. Currently, the area is state controlled natural prairie land, and it lies south of Devil’s Lake State Park.

 “Birds rely on sound a lot to establish their territory.  To call their mates.  It’s such an integral part of breeding and succeeding,” Olah said.

State Parks and Recreation Supervisor Paul Zajackowski emphasized the motorcycles  could only be used six days out of the year while the motorcycles would only get 10 days of use per year.

“It opens up opportunities for recreation they may not have had before, which is always great to have in the community. It also may help bring in economic opportunities to the communities,” Zajackowski said. “These motorcycles are legal to operate on the roads so they fall within the legal noise limitations.

But Olah says allowing the activity for even one day is like opening a Pandora’s box.

“And that detracts from the conservation goal of the property,” Olah said.  

The concerned citizens say they’re not against loud recreation vehicles but feel the former Badger Ammo plant is the wrong place.

Public testimony wrapped up Sept. 25. It is now up to the natural resource board to review public comments and decide what the final plan will look like.