Increased incidents of public sex and drug use prompted a state agency to limit access to a Dane County clothing optional beach, upsetting the local nudist community.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said it intends to limit access to Mazomanie Beach, a nude beach located about 25 miles south of Madison, to weekend-only entry. The restrictions came after the beach saw a spike in crime, most of which involved acts of public sex and illegal drug use.
“The beach will be open for public recreation Saturday and Sunday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. throughout the year,” the DNR statement said. “New signage is being prepared and will be installed as quickly as possible.”
Nudist organizations such as the Naturist Society and Friends of Mazo Beach are taking issue with the new regulations and said the DNR’s measures are excessive for what they see as relatively isolated problems.
Cheri Alexander, a 65-year-old beach patron, said she thinks DNR should have talked to the groups’ leaders before making that decision, as she said the “genuine nudists” behave well.
“Nudism is about de-stressing, relaxing and returning to innocence,” Alexander said. “It’s the illicit and illegal things that the DNR doesn’t like rather than the freedom from clothing. I wish they would have spoken with some of the organization leaders about the issues rather than closing the beach during weekdays. Genuine nudists know how to behave and often police their turf.”
DNR Conservation Warden Nate Kroeplin said along with closing on weekdays, the DNR is planning on increasing security measures around the Mazo Beach area.
According to the DNR statement, Mazo Beach property was never designated as a “nude beach” at its acquisition in the 1950s but was adopted by local nudists due to a lack of enforcement since and has been an unofficial clothing optional beach ever since.
Kroeplin estimates between 100 and 200 people visit the beach on a summer weekend day and said the DNR’s first priority is making sure these guests feel comfortable and safe.
While shutting down property to the public for periods of time is usually a last resort for the agency, he said it is sometimes necessary to maintain ongoing respectful use of the land.