Wisconsin authorities announced Tuesday they will shut down one the nation's most popular nude beaches on weekdays in an attempt to lower sexual activity and drug use taking place on the sandbar and in nearby woods.
The state Department of Natural Resources announced the beach's new operational schedule after many failed attempts to control beach-goers' lewd antics, CS Monitor reports. Authorities claimed visitors had crossed a line.
According to Clarion Ledger, nudists from all around the U.S. have traveled to the public beach on the Wisconsin River, about 25 miles northwest of Madison, for years given Dane County's "ultra-liberal" reputation. But visitors soon went from tanning in the nude, to engaging in trysts and drug use around the area.
Bob Morton, executive director of the Austin, Tex.-based Naturist Action Committee, which lobbies for nudist rights, criticized the DNR for not consulting with visitors before making the decision.
"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."
But the DNR seems to think this is the only way they can curtail the violators' behavior.
Nate Kroeplin, DNR's law enforcement supervisor in Dane County, said closing the beach during the week made sense because that is when most of the violations occur. He said 83 of the 92 citations for disorderly conduct police have issued in the past four years were given on weekdays.
"Obviously we're disappointed when we have to shut any portion of our property down," he said. "But our ultimate goal is to have a safe place anybody can feel comfortable using. And with the current activity going on down there, that's just not the case."
Since the DNR purchased the beach in 1949, Wisconsin authorities have had problems with violators. The agency attempted closing the beach at night and banned beach camping in the late 1990's and in 2007 wardens closed part of the woods, but the problem has persisted.
"It's pretty incredible to see the amount of traffic that pulls onto the property," Kroeplin said. "Everything we've done has not made any difference."
The closures begin immediately.