Sauk Prairie land open for recreation
- Associated Press
- April 14, 2014 - 2:15 PM
BARABOO, Wis. — The south central Wisconsin property where more than 23,000 people once toiled in making bullets, bombs and rockets during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars will be open to recreational visitors for the first time since the 1940s.
Some 1,500 buildings have been removed from the former Badger Army Ammunition plant on 7,500 acres of land adjacent to Devils Lake State Park near Baraboo. Production of ammunition ended in 1975 and the deconstruction of the plant has been underway since 2004.
Over the next seven weeks, visitors will be free to drive, hike or bike through the northern two-thirds of the recreational area and a small section on the southern end of the property. They will be free to explore one of the state's newest recreational areas and a piece of southern Wisconsin's history that is slowly being transformed into a destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
Finding your way on more than 80 miles of crumbling paved roadway, however, could be a challenge.
"There are no road signs out here," said Steve Schmelzer, Devil's Lake State Park superintendent, who also oversees the former Badger Army property. "There are no (street) lights, nothing. You could get lost out here."
The property, renamed the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area, will be open daily through May 27, according to the State Journal (http://bit.ly/1qxsopB ). On May 28th, the property will temporarily close so contractors can consolidate piles of concrete from the old buildings.
Natural resources officials are finalizing a master plan for the state's 3,800-acre portion of the property. The Ho-Chunk Nation will have control of 1,500 acres and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Dairy Forage Research Center will oversee the rest.
© 2016 Star Tribune