Wisconsin's most popular state park is set to offer more space for nature lovers to enjoy.
On Wednesday, the state's Natural Resources Board unanimously supported purchasing a 220-acre property for $1.64 million to add onto Devil's Lake State Park.
"It is truly a great potential addition to Devil's Lake State Park," Jim Lemke, real estate section chief at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, told the board. "The land is very useful. It's beautifully wooded with mature hardwoods and has potential of many different opportunities for public use."
Located on the southwestern edge of the park, the 220 acres could be used for hunting and wildlife watching, while it could also be developed into hiking and mountain biking trails, according to a memo on the proposed purchase.
With 2.1 million visitors last year, Devil's Lake is Wisconsin's most popular park, drawing outdoor enthusiasts to its miles of hiking trails, scenic bluff views, clear lake, sandy beaches and hundreds of campsites.
The money to purchase the land would come from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, which the state uses to purchase new land for parks and recreation areas. Lemke said the $1.64 million purchase price comes in below two appraisals on the 220 acres, which valued the property at $1.78 million and $1.73 million.
"It is a very exciting property," said Terry Hilgenberg, a member of the Natural Resources Board, which is the policy-setting arm of the DNR.
The 220 acres — owned by Alex and Alma Steuber Family, LLC — is mostly wooded and bordered by Highway 12 to the west, Ho-Chunk Nation-owned land to the south, and the park and conservation land to the east and north.
Located outside of Baraboo and 45 minutes north of Madison, the approximately 9,200-acre Devil's Lake was created in 1911 and is the third-oldest state park.