The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board will comment on the Riverway’s new Draft Master Plan when it meets in Muscoda tonight (Thursday) at 5 p.m. at the Kratochwill Building. It is the first update of the Riverway Master Plan since its inception in 1989.
“I think it goes in the right direction; it’s generally a very comprehensive document,” Riverway Executive Director Mark Cupp said of the 225-page DNR document. “I was pleased to see a number of our suggestions incorporated into the draft plan, like a new landing at the old Mark’s Riverside and additional bank camping opportunities for high water conditions.”
The two-year process to develop the Draft Plan began in April 2014 with a series of public hearings up and down the 92-mile river corridor stretching from Prairie du Sac west to the Mississippi River. It is one of the longest remaining stretches of free-flowing river in the Midwest.
The Draft Plan includes several significant improvements in the Boscobel area, including a new $57,000 boat launch and picnic area at the old Mark’s Riverside on Highway 60/61 northeast of Boscobel. In turn, the DNR would abandon its current undeveloped landing on the east side of Highway 61 across from the Boscobel municipal boat landing.
“The DNR landing consists only of a gravel access drive and a 10 car parking lot,” says the Draft Plan. “This site lies in a wetland area which is prone to flooding. Due to its wetland status it cannot be upgraded and it is expensive to maintain.”
The Plan also calls for a new semi-primitive campground at Prairie du Bay next to the Boscobel Airport.
“As part of the campground development, the large graveled turn-around area at the end of the road will be moved to the south and vegetation screening will be planted between the road and the river,” says the Plan. “Approximately 1,000 feet from the river shoreline the road would be gated with a cul-du-sac and small parking area added.”
The Plan also includes significant improvements at the DNR-owned landings at Muscoda and Boydtown.
The Muscoda landing off of West River Road would receive a new boat launch pad and improved parking, as well as a shower building and picnic area with shelter, pressurized drinking water and flush toilets.
At Boydtown the boat launch would be improved by reconstructing the public access road and parking area, and upgrading the launch approach and pad. A shoreline fishing area would also be established and maintained.
The Plan also calls for a variety of improvements at popular “off-river” sites, including trails between Avoca, Muscoda and Blue River, the Port Andrew Day Use Area, Garner Lake and Woodman Lake.
Of course, with state budgeting a constant concern, when any of this is concluded is anyone’s guess.
“The Master Plan doesn’t talk about funding,” said Ann Freiwald, DNR property planner. “It has a 15-year timeframe and since the Riverway is one of our top priorities, I would hope sooner rather than later, but our budgets are pretty tight right now. I would not even try to hazard a guess.”
The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Draft Master Plan & Environmental analysis is available on the DNR website and available for viewing at the Dodgeville DNR Service Center and at public libraries in Boscobel, Muscoda, Spring Green and Sauk City.
An open house meeting to gather public comments will be held on Tuesday, March 29 from 5-7 p.m. at the Tuffley Community Center in Boscobel. A short presentation by DNR staff will be held at 5:45 p.m.
Public comments can be submitted at the open house, posted online, or sent via email to DNRLWSRMP@wisconsin.gov
The public comment period closes April 8.
“We will respond to public comments and make changes if needed,” Freiwald said. “We hope to have a final version in place for the Natural Resources Board to consider by mid- to late-May.”