By DAVID KRIER
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is beginning the two-year process to review and update the 25-year-old master plan for the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway and gave the public an opportunity to weigh-in on the process during an open house meeting held at the Tuffley Community Center in Boscobel last Wednesday.
“The department is very interested in the public’s input as to the future management of this unique property,” said Matt Seguin, DNR Riverway manager. “This area is rich in high quality habitats and rare plant and wildlife species. Recreational opportunities are diverse and include such activities as canoeing, camping on sandbars, fishing, hunting, hiking, wildlife watching and mushroom picking.”
Established by the legislature in 1989, the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway is a 92-mile river corridor stretching from Prairie du Sac to the Mississippi River. It is one of the longest remaining stretches of free-flowing river in the Midwest and includes miles of meandering shoreline and sandbars, as well as acres of wetlands, prairie, forests, tall bluffs and backwater ponds.
Last Wednesday’s meeting was planned to share information about the upcoming planning process and public participation opportunities and to hear what issues the public would like to see included in the plan review.
A Boscobel group named the Wisconsin River Trail Project is hoping to get several projects included in the new DNR master plan, including the extension of the Sanders Creek Walkway to the Floyd Von Haden Boat Landing. They are also hoping to create a bike trail from Wauzeka to Boscobel via Woodman and would like to see the creation of a campground, preferably near the boat landing. There is also an effort to create more disabled fishing access along the Riverway, perhaps at the site of the former Riverside supper club.
“Our staff listened to their proposals and they had some very interesting ideas that need to be evaluated,” Seguin said. “We look forward to working with the city and any other groups interested in the Riverway master planning process.”
DNR staff on hand for last Wednesday’s meeting included representatives from Recreation, Forestry, Fisheries, Wildlife and Endangered Resources.
“We had a lot of DNR experts for people to talk to,” Seguin said. “The purpose of the meeting was two-fold, to give the public an opportunity to learn about the master planning process and to provide input. Hopefully, a year from now we’ll have a draft master plan, then more public comment. We hope to have everything approved by the Natural Resources Board by early 2016.”
In addition to the meeting, people may submit comments to the DNR by mail or email. The comment period for this beginning phase of planning runs until July 31, 2014.
Information on the Riverway and the planning process, including a Regional and Property Analysis and maps, and a Public Involvement Plan can be found by searching the DNR website dnr.wi.gov, for keywords "master planning," and then clicking on link for "Lower Wisconsin State Riverway." Copies of the materials are also available at the DNR's Tower Hill State Park office or by contacting Matt Seguin at 608-588-7723 or by email at Matthew.seguin@Wisconsin.gov.