Yesterday, Wisconsin’s Natural Resources Board greenlit a 220 acre expansion for Devil’s Lake State Park. The board, which is the governing body of the state’s Department of Natural Resources, unanimously approved the roughly $1.6 million purchase.
Speaking before the board, Jim Lemke, the Real Estate section chief for the DNR, said that the Department is also planning to tack on about eighty additional acres to the park for a new nature conservancy.
“The entirety of the 300 acres will prevent development within the boundaries of the state park, and will be open to hunting, hiking, fishing, trapping and skiing,” he says. “It is truly a great addition to Devil’s Lake State Park. The land is very usable — it’s beautifully wooded with mature hardwoods, and has potentially many different opportunities for public use.”
The new parcel is located southwest of the existing, approximately 9,000 acre park property.
The Wisconsin State Journal reports that the park welcomed over 2 million visitors last year. Devil’s Lake is about an hour away from Madison by car, and it’s a popular destination for local hikers and campers.
The purchase also earned the approval of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress — which serves as an advisory committee to the DNR and the Resources Board. Tony Blattler, the Congress’ chair, says that the additional acreage will help preserve the topography of the greater Baraboo area.
“This piece of land carries on the unique topography that we see around the Baraboo hills,” Blattler says.
The money from the purchase will come from the state’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship fund. That fund was established in the late 1980s, and is used to fund purchases of new public lands and property.
During this year’s state budget deliberations, Governor Tony Evers proposed infusing the Knowles-Nelson fund with about $70 million per year over the next decade. The Republican-controlled budget committee cut that down to less than half, essentially freezing funding at $32 million per year for the next four years.
PHOTO: Yinan Chen / Public Domain