The Birth of a Movement
On December 16, 1997 fifty representatives of a variety of local conservation and environmental organizations met for an open-ended discussion about the future of the decommissioned 7,300-acre Badger Army Ammunition Plant. These representatives became the Community Conservation Coalition for the Sauk Prairie in order to coordinate efforts to promote a community-based and conservation-oriented vision for Badger’s future. This vision would require not only involvement in the political arena, but improved scientific information, useful educational materials, community outreach activities, and partnerships with other community organizations.
To forge an agreement, the Badger Reuse Committee, comprised of 21 diverse stakeholder groups, including representatives from federal, tribal, state, county, and municipal governments and agencies, non-profit organizations, local schools, agricultural interests and private landowners. The committee convened for the first time in July 2000 with the aim of developing a community consensus built on commonly held values and related criteria for evaluating future land stewardship activities on the Badger property. In total, the committee reviewed 25 diverse proposals from various parties.
The group anticipated it would take years of effort to ensure a conservation future for the Badger lands… a prognosis that proved to be true! The Coalition coordinated a series of diverse public presentations, discussions and meetings to foster awareness and consider options for the decommissioned Army facility. These conversations and programs engaged a wide spectrum of the community and brought considerable public and media attention to the exciting potential, but there was also a great deal of contention. Various interests offered competing proposals for future uses of the Badger lands.
The final report, now called the Badger Reuse Plan, was completed in March 2001. Overcoming the long and contentious history of the property, the committee defined an exciting community vision for a revitalized Badger landscape. The report continues to provide the foundation for collaboration in the transformation of the Badger lands.
Evolution of the Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance
In 2002, the Coalition formally changed its name to The Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance to better reflect its evolving role at the Badger lands and was formally incorporated as a non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Since its incorporation, the Alliance has worked tirelessly to ensure that the Badger Reuse Plan is implemented to its fullest degree while continuing to bring public attention to the conservation value and potential of the property. The organization provides analysis and oversight on every major decision pertaining to the former Badger Plant where public input is possible and essential. We continue to communicate with the broader conservation community and with the general public, at home in Sauk County and beyond, about what has transpired at Badger. The Alliance has monitored the long, painstaking process of land transfer from the Army to the major landowners and has celebrated those transfers as parcels have been cleaned up and turned over.