Great Waters Group
GOOD News from The Friends of the Black River Forest
March 18, 2019 – Press Release for immediate release.
JUDGE REVERSES KOHLER WETLAND PERMIT
An administrative law judge on Friday reversed a permit granted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to Kohler Co. last year. The permit would have allowed the company to fill nearly four acres of high-quality wetland for a new golf course complex in Sheboygan County, on land north of and within Kohler-Andrae State Park.
In reversing the permit, the judge found the standards for issuing the permit had not been met and that DNR lacked sufficient information to grant the permit. “We are grateful for this decision, which thoroughly addressed each adverse, irreversible impact of the proposed golf course,” said Mary Faydash, President of Friends of the Black River Forest, Inc. The group filed the petition challenging the permit, which was heard during a five-day evidentiary hearing last year. “We are definitely delighted,” added Friends member and co-petitioner Claudia Bricks. In the decision, the judge found that the project will require deforesting over half the site and significant regrading, resulting in changes to wetland and site hydrology. He concluded, “the Department’s determination that these adverse impacts will be significant mandate that the permit application must be denied.”
The judge also found that the DNR lacked sufficient information to conclude that the project would not harm water quality associated with chemical and fertilizer applications, and that some of Kohler’s submitted information was erroneous or incomplete. Said the judge, “[t]he Department should be making its determinations based on completed plans, not trusting that management plans that will be prepared will adequately protect the groundwater and wetlands. Once the golf course is constructed, the adverse impacts will be permanent and irreversible.”
“This decision shows that the DNR must base its decisions on evidence it has in-hand,” said Friends attorney Christa Westerberg. “In this case, the DNR should have denied the permit based on that evidence.” The proposed golf course is located on forested property between the Black River and Lake Michigan. It hosts rare ridge and swale and interdunal wetlands, is an important stopover site for migratory birds, is home to rare plant and animal communities. The property is highly susceptible to groundwater contamination due to sand soils and a high groundwater table. Kohler’s proposal also called for using land in Kohler-Andrae State Park for a golf course entrance road and large maintenance building. That land is characterized by dunes, wetlands, and forest, and is used by park visitors for hiking and wildlife observation, among other activities.
Said Ms. Faydash, “ “this decision is a victory for all of Wisconsin, particularly the grassroots groups who have worked tirelessly to hold the DNR and developers to Wisconsin conservation law."
Great Waters Group Earth Day Celebration
A Celebration of our Planet and the Grassroots Environmental Community
Date: Saturday, April 27th Time: 9am – 1pm
Location: Urban Ecology Center - Washington Park, N 40th Street, just south of LIsbon Ave., Milwaukee
Earth Day is a time to celebrate our Mother Earth and the vibrant environmental movement in our own community. Join friends and neighbors in a morning of service to Urban Ecology Center and Washington Park, as part of the Milwaukee Riverkeeper Annual Spring River Cleanup. Join us for Lunch and for Community Exhibits.
- 9am - Volunteer Registration * Sign up in advance and get a t-shirt: www.milwaukeeriverkeeper.org *
- 9:30 am to 1:00 pm – Environmental & Community Resource Exhibits
- Noon – Lunch for volunteers and exhibitors
- 12:30 - Keynote address by August Ball, Founder and CEO of Cream City Conservation and 2018 YWCA “Eliminating Racism” Award winner.
Stewardship at Havenwoods State Forest
A new monthly workday of stewardship activities is starting at Havenwoods State Forest at 6141 N. Hopkins Street, Milwaukee 53209.
Date: Saturdays - April 20, May 18 Time: 10 am – 12 pm
Location: Havenwoods State Forest , 6141 N. Hopkins St. Milwaukee 53209
Join the Great Waters Group and the Friends of Havenwoods State Forest every third Saturday to cut invasives, plant trees and other vegetation, and enjoy one of the best places in Milwaukee. Havenwoods State Forest is a 237-acre property full of forests, prairies, wetlands, and interesting history. While working on the site, we will also learn about the impact of invasives on local ecosystems.
No experience or equipment is needed, just appropriate clothing.