Mazo Beach closed, state cites ‘illegal’ activity

Mazo Beach will be closed to the public beginning on March 8, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Mazo Beach, which has enjoyed a reputation as one of the nation’s most popular nude beaches, is in the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway about 6 miles southwest of Sauk City on the south side of the Wisconsin River.

The DNR, in a news release, said it would close 140 acres of the 46,000 acre Riverway property. Three years ago, the state announced it would close the beach on weekdays. Already the DRN closed the area at night and banned beach camping in the late 1990s.

The reason for the closure is “illegal behavior, such as drug use and public sexual activity.This illegal and illicit behavior that developed there over several decades has created a pattern that discourages broader use of the property,” according to DNR natural resources area supervisor Brian Hefty.

The announcement from the department said the area would be closed until further notice and “pending re-development.”

The state is updating a master plan for the riverway, which involves gathering public comments. The redevelopment would be to “provide a range of recreational opportunities to a broad group of citizens.”

“Despite an increase in incremental management efforts implemented over a long period of time to curb illegal and illicit behavior at Mazomanie Beach, including weekday and partial closures, this type of behavior has continued on the property,” Hefty said.

This activity, according to the DNR, “limited user diversity … and has had an adverse impact on people who are interested in pursuing other recreational opportunities in the area, but who would avoid the area because of discomfort and concern with current illegal activity.”

State changes would involve constructing a changing building and picnic shelter, providing toilet facilities and improving the parking lot to handle at least 50 vehicles.

The plan also calls for “a rustic day use area on the river shore at the north end of Conservation Drive that would provide picnic tables, water and grills and a picnic shelter; a new carry-in canoe landing; and 4 to 8 miles of primitive to lightly developed hiking trails.”

Hefty stated, “The expanded recreational facilities and re-development through master planning will provide for an overall enhanced experience for property users while reducing illegal and illicit activity.”

The DNR said law enforcement officers still would patrol the property and individuals in violation of the closure would be cited.

The DNR closed the beach under NR 45.04 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code, which the department “may close, by posted notice, any land, structure or property owned or administered by the state of Wisconsin and under the management, supervision and control of the department. No person may enter or be in any building installation or area that may be locked or closed to public use or contrary posted notice without a written permit from the property superintendent.”

Where in Wisconsin is Mazo Beach?

The beach on Google Maps.

Recommended reading …

Nature in the buff.