WI DNR Decides Kohler Andrae State Park Land is No Longer Needed for Conservation Purposes
Feb 17, 2018 — The DNR has circumvented the process that would allow the public to be heard on the issue of giving away our state park land. Hoping to overcome heavy opposition to the proposed Kohler Golf Course, the DNR has tentatively struck a deal for a land swap with Kohler. Kohler specifically purchased the property for the land swap in December 2017. WI DNR officials are asking the Natural Resource Board to approve this land swap transaction at their February 28th meeting in Madison. The land swap will allow the DNR to bypass amending the Kohler Andre State Park master plan and effectively take away the public’s opportunity to comment at a public hearing.
By creating a smoke screen to conceal the real issues, the DNR is flaunting the land swap as good deal. This is NOT a good deal for the residents of Wisconsin. The DNR is using their authority to take away YOUR State Park land. The DNR is then justifying giving it away to a developer under the guise of a good deal. This is a “good deal” only for Kohler who will profit from the use of YOUR State Park land.
Attorney Christa Westerberg, who represents the Friends of the Black River Forest, said that the time of the deal raises questions because the DNR has not yet completed all reviews of the project. The agency has approved a permit to allow the company to destroy 3.69 acres of wetlands for the course, but still needs other DNR approvals. Westerberg states, “It’s a bad precedent when a developer comes calling, that the DNR shuffles pieces of state parks around. It’s not like you are playing Tetris. These are public resources we are talking about.”
It is disappointing that this sensitive area of Kohler Andre State Park has suddenly been deemed “no longer needed for conservation purposes” simply because of the wants of Kohler.
Jim Buchholz, former Kohler Andrae State Superintendent for 27 years has stated: This 6.47 acres of land will not only be ruined for public use or wildlife habitat but also destroyed geologically as well. In addition, it will prohibit the public from ever walking or hiking this area again. This area of the park is used for hiking, bird/nature watching and other recreational pursuits and is being preserved for its value for wildlife and to protect the unique, valuable open and forested sand dune formation. All of this would be permanently destroyed by Kohler’s road and maintenance shops/parking area construction and off limits forever to park users in the future. The DNR’s Bureau of Endangered Resources and the State Park System have been successfully protecting these fragile and rare dune systems for many decades.
The land that Kohler wishes to swap is located across the river from the State Park. This land will be little utilized by park attendees.
We need you to join in the fight to stop our State Park land being given for the use of Kohler.
The only opportunity for the public to express their concerns is at the Feb 28th Natural Resource Board meeting. You must send an email and request to be put on the agenda prior to 11:00 am on Feb 23. Send email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you can not attend this meeting in person, please send your email prior to 11:00 on Feb. 23. Tell the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board that you oppose this land swap. Tell them our Wisconsin state parks are NOT FOR SALE. Tell them this is NOT a good deal for Wisconsin residents. Tell them the DNR must NOT set a precedent of stealing land from Wisconsin residents to give to a private corporation. Tell the Wisconsin DNR to PROTECT OUR ENVIRONMENT AND PRESERVE WISCONSIN'S PUBLIC LANDS. Tell the Wisconsin DNR to conserve ALL of Kohler Andrae State Park.
The Natural Resource Board agenda and supporting documents are here: https://dnr.wi.gov/About/NRB/2018/Feb/February-2018-NRB-agenda.html
Click on Agenda Item 2. B(3) for a map and summary.