Nude beach shut down to curb sex and drug use at a beach on the Wisconsin River near Mazomanie. The popular nude beach, which draws from around the country, is shut down on weekdays, but not weekends.
(AP Photo/Carrie Antlfinger, file)
Wisconsin authorities announced Tuesday they will shut down one of nation's most popular nude beaches on weekdays after struggling for years to curtail sex and drugs on the sandbar and surrounding woods.
Nudists from around the country have been traveling to the public beach on the Wisconsin River near Mazomanie, about 25 miles northwest of Madison, for decades as word spread that prosecutors in ultra-liberal Dane County wouldn't go after anyone for showing skin. But visitors haven't stopped at just stripping down. They've been slipping off into the woods for trysts and drugs.
Authorities say that's crossing the line, but they haven't been able to stop the shenanigans. Their frustration reached a tipping point Tuesday, when the state Department of Natural Resources announced it will close the beach, the islands immediately off it and the surrounding woods to the public on weekdays, when wardens say troublemakers tend to operate unseen. The closures begin immediately. The area will remain open on weekends, though.
Bob Morton, executive director of the Austin, Tex.-based Naturist Action Committee, which lobbies on behalf of nudists, has visited the beach several times. He criticized the DNR for not consulting with beachgoers before closing the area.
"Honestly, we're on their side when it comes to enforcing things that are lewd and lascivious," Morton said. "There's something to be said about consulting the users of the place. There's got to be more to this somewhere."
Nate Kroeplin, who supervises DNR law enforcement in Dane County, said wardens reviewed data on citations and determined most violations happen on weekdays, when fewer people are around to police each other's behavior. Of the 92 citations wardens issued for disorderly conduct or drugs in the beach area between 2008 and 2012, 83 were given on weekdays, he said.