Wisconsin DNR board enacts nudity ban on state lands
A bleak outlook for nudity freedoms in Wisconsin following recent Department of Natural Resources ruling
In a board meeting held on January 24th, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) board voted unanimously in favor of a new set of rules, prominently featuring a ban on public nudity on state natural lands. The state agency, which is appointed by the Governor to oversee environmental and recreational policies, voted to pass the rule changes unamended, despite a strong public response opposing the ban. Beyond its adverse implications for naturists and advocates of nude recreation, this decision significantly diminishes any hopes of reinstating the once-nudist-friendly Mazomanie Beach. This decision gravely impacts the naturist community and dashes hopes of reviving Mazo Beach as a nude-friendly site. Coupled with two pending anti-nudity bills in the state legislature, this ruling by the DNR positions Wisconsin to establish one of the most restrictive stances on nudity of any state in the USA, setting a potentially alarming precedent nationwide.
The full five-hour hearing was live-streamed on the DNR’s YouTube page
(Relevant section starts around 00:09:15)
Public commentary overlooked in decision
Despite a significant public outcry against the proposed nudity ban, the board’s decision seemed to overlook these concerns. Brigit Brown, the Recreation Management Section Supervisor, highlighted in her presentation the overwhelming opposition to the nudity ban. “The next topic on which we received a fair number of comments was the proposal to prohibit public nudity,” Brown said. “On department lands, we received 28 comments, 27 of those were opposed to the proposal to prohibit public nudity on department lands. And one of those comments was in favor. We have reviewed all of the comments received, as well as a significant amount of research, case law, etc. And there has been a decision that we will continue to move forward with that rule as proposed initially.”
This proposal, part of Board Order PR-03-20, was met with notable opposition, yet the board moved ahead with the rule change.
Notably, the other three proposals that received public comments were either amended or removed. Most of the discussion during the meeting centered around a separate proposal related to rock climbing regulations, with no specific discussion dedicated to the nudity proposal. This lack of deliberation on an issue that clearly garnered significant public attention raises questions about the board’s consideration of public opinion in their decision-making process.
Next steps for the rule change
Following the board’s unanimous vote, the rule changes, specifically Board Order PR-03-20, including the ban on public nudity defined in “SECTION 37: NR 45.04 (3) (am) Nudity”, will now undergo further procedural steps. These include approval by the Wisconsin Governor, which is required by the end of February of the current year, and a subsequent review process by the Wisconsin Legislature. If these steps are successfully completed, the new rules are expected to be implemented in the summer of 2024.
Mazo Beach closure and naturist advocacy
The effort to ban nudity on state lands, particularly at Mazo Beach, has been a contentious issue for years. Mazo Beach, once a popular destination for naturists, was closed by the DNR in 2016 due to stated concerns about public sex acts, disorderly conduct, and drug use. Since then, naturist groups, who contend that there was never a pattern of such problems at Mazo, have been actively working to reinstate nude day use at the beach. However, the new DNR rule changes appear to be a nail in the coffin for these efforts.
Historically, there has never been a state anti-nudity law in Wisconsin, making this recent development particularly significant. When added to the anti-nudity bills currently coursing through the state legislature, naturist activists in Wisconsin now face the daunting challenge of a legal framework that is set to strictly regulate and criminalize public nudity.
Impact on the naturist community
For naturist advocates and body freedom activists, this decision represents a significant setback. It underscores a broader trend of increasing restrictions on individual freedoms and progressive values in Wisconsin. The rule changes, coupled with pending state senate bills, threaten to transform Wisconsin into one of the most restrictive states regarding nudity laws.
This move goes beyond the interests of the naturist community; it touches upon broader issues of freedom of expression and individual rights. In the face of these challenges, the naturist community’s participation and voice are more important than ever. Staying informed, voicing concerns, and actively opposing these legislative changes are vital steps in fighting for body freedom and individual rights in Wisconsin.
Stay informed and get involved
Planet Nude will continue to follow and report on what is happening on the Wisconsin front. For those who want to be involved in trying to stop these various attempts by the Natural Resources Board, the State Senate, and the State Assembly to make it illegal to be dressed or undressed in any manner not determined by them to be appropriate, it is not too late for concerned people, both in Wisconsin and out of state, to become involved with the grassroots efforts to stop this.
Please contact the Naturist Action Committee (NAC) immediately at 920-415-2900 to be placed on their mailing list as well as learn of simple ways to be part of this grassroots effort at preserving naturism in Wisconsin. 🪐
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