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Breaking News:

 

Music Fest Fundraiser, Sat., Oct. 21 - Windjammer Room at Lakeshore Lanes. $10 entry fee includes all day music, a bowl of bouyah and kids’ activities. Children 7-12 $3, 6 and under free. Prizes and raffles. Pumpkin dessert contest and bake sale. Call Claudia to volunteer - 920-457-0525. More info coming soon.

DNR Board asked to STOP the proposed changes to our state park master plan. The plan cannot be amended for Kohler’s objectives as a matter of law. FBRF has also asked for an audit of state employee's hours on this private project. And the DNR has misrepresented the impacts of the Kohler easement requests.  9/27/17

Has Herbert V. Kohler, Jr. Gone too Far? thoughts from FBRF

Town of Wilson sues City of Sheboygan over Annexation, 9/19/17

Kohler provides missing information to DNR for Wetland Permit Application - prepared by Stantec Consulting Services Inc., Aug. 2017.

Commentary on Stantec response to DNR's Request for missing info: If Kohler wishes to build another 'world class golf course' I am sure that they could find an already-disturbed farm of 200+ acres in Sheboygan or southern Manitowoc Counties. Although not pristine, this area still has great conservation and natural area value, recognized decades ago by all including the Kohler family. Another world-class golf course is feasible to create in many settings but creating a replacement for the features in this natural area is impossible. This cannot be a “win-win” situation as stated early in the review process; if Kohler wins, the natural area loses. ~ Dr. Quentin Carpenter, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, UW-Madison

JOHN MICHAEL KOHLER'S HEALING FOREST? - An Alternative Sustainable Vision Board - It could enrich the Kohler family name, the state park, and would be beneficial to the community for future generations. To help them achieve their own vision to be 100% sustainable, to solve world wide water problems and to be a steward of the environment.

DNR to Kohler Co. - Wetland application is incomplete, from April 2017

Wisconsin’s public trust doctrine is part of the state constitution and it declares all navigable waters in the state open to the public, no matter what kind of private property surrounds them.

"State Park Giveaway?", James Bucholz, former Kohler-Andrae State Park Superintendent for 27 years. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 7/9

Kohler Goes to Governor's Office to Influence City of Sheboygan’s Proposed  Annexation of Town of Wilson - Records obtained indicate that Kohler attorneys contacted the Governor’s office. 7/7/17

City's long-term plan has been to annex Wilson - The City is planning to extend water to the area, create a new business park and grab any new subdivisions. "The City of Sheboygan’s Comprehensive Plan calls for absorbing approximately 6,000 acres of Town of Wilson," Town newsletter, Spring 2016.

Letter to Natural Resources Board from the DNR's Cathy Stepp: Recommends that a master plan amendment process be initiated. 6-24-17

In regards to Kohler "no runoff into Lake Michigan" claim: "The consultants are continually trying to "have their cake and eat it too;" and they are continually forgetting the law of conservation of mass." Dr. Quentin Carpenter, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

Wisconsin Wetlands Association: "While it is rare for us to weigh in on project-specific proposals, we do so in cases where the proposed project poses a threat to rare or exceptionally high quality wetland resources or when the decision will establish a precedent for how regulatory agencies implement existing wetland protection laws. We chose to respond to this project because it has the potential to do both."

Why No Wetland Permit Should be Granted, PhD Student Forest Science

Wisconsin Wetlands Association: "While it is rare for us to weigh in on project-specific proposals, we do so in cases where the proposed project poses a threat to rare or exceptionally high quality wetland resources or when the decision will establish a precedent for how the state implements existing wetland protection laws."

Map of proposed annexation

Kohler Co. goes around Town of Wilson to get its way... is asking the City of Sheboygan to annex the proposed course, including part of the Kohler-Andrae state park to avoid all accountability to the township and its 20 Year Comprehensive Plan.

Wisconsin Annexation Methods - Annexation is the process that transfers  unincorporated territory from towns to incorporated cities and villages.

Public Hearing Request letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from Friends of the Black River Forest re: Kohler Wetland Permit Application

Application for permit from Kohler Co. to Army Corps of Engineers to discharge dredged and fill material into 3.69 acres of wetlands adjacent to the Black River and Lake Michigan for the purpose of constructing an 18-hole golf course and facilities in the Town of Wilson.  Apr. 2017

 

Kohler permits for their joint state/federal applications, Mar. 2017.

Permit Files: Wetland mitigation, bridges, easements, economic impact, irrigation ponds, meetings, plans, maps, storm water, traffic impact, floodplains, utilities, tree clearing and more.

Wetland pre-application letter from DNR to Kohler, meeting, Feb.2017

Kohler's website update: Proposed Golf Course – Environmental Impact

Initial Review of the April 2015 EIR for Proposed Golf Course, from Stantec Consulting Services to DNR, July 2016

Kohler Co. has presented the DNR with an updated site plan that further protects the natural environs, respects threatened and endangered species, removes invasive species and opens private land to public use. Mar. 2017

Kohler Summary of permits needed, from DNR, Aug. 2014

Kohler's land use agreement with DNR at state park

 

DNR draft EIS comments:

Atty. Westerberg's comments regarding DNR's draft EIS:

"...the DNR will have allowed Kohler to complete a significant regulatory hurdle, in a premature fashion that is virtually without precedent, in a way that defies the purpose and requirements of the Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act."  8/24/16

Former superintendent of Kohler-Andrae state park Jim Buchholz:
"The DNR has no right and nor any responsibility to “give away” 4-­plus acres of publicly-­owned state park land to anyone, especially to a “for-­profit” business..." "The DNR’s own Bureau of Endangered Species has termed these rare wetlands (Interdunal wetlands) as the rarest, most irreplaceable habitat/ecosystems in the state of Wisconsin."

Vicki Hubert Menuge, Adjunct Prof, Dept. of Natural Sciences at Concordia U and former Naturalist at Kohler-Andrae state park

Federally listed threatened Pitcher's Thistle, Marlin Bowles of Morton Arboretum and Timothy Bell, botany prof Chicago State U

Link to Draft EIS (Environmental Impact Statement)

Don't Give Away Acres of State Park

Letter to the Governor in 2014 from Kohler Co. asks for:

1. Give Kohler Co. an access and utility easement from S. 12th Street/Cty Rd V due east to the Black River which would allow the Company to build a road and bridge to its maintenance facility and clubhouse.

2. Actively process environmental permitting.

3. Allow Kohler Co. to lease over 99 years for $1/year the 32.5 acres of State land located due south to the land Kohler Co. owns today. This piece of land is relatively innocuous and near land given to the State by Kohler Co. in 1965. It contains a maintenance building and a house for the park ranger which Kohler would replace in locations designated by the State.

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     The threat to pristine land next to and inside a popular state park on the Lake Michigan shoreline is getting more serious. The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board agreed to allow the DNR to begin amending the master plan which manages land use in and access to the popular, publicly-owned Kohler-Andrae State Park.

Proposed Buildings on state park land.

Proposed Roundabout inside the entrance.

     The proposed amended plan would allow the Kohler Company to directly impact 20+ acres of our state park land for its private profit. The DNR states that one use of the land will be for a maintenance building. It is in fact THREE buildings totaling almost 24,000 sq. feet along with an asphalt parking lot just north of the park entry.

     If the master plan for the park is to be updated, FRBF believes it must be done in a manner consistent with the public interests and the mission of our state parks, not specifically tailored to an individual private corporation interest. We cannot allow the Governor and the DNR to establish this precedent.

     Kohler is proposing to construct a new roadway with a roundabout that would provide access to the park and golf course. They also want to construct a new maintenance facility near the northern park boundary that contains an existing park building, and it is seeking utility access for electricity, sewer and water.

     Kohler has also submitted applications for wetland and waterway permits from the department, but those permits will be evaluated separately from the master plan amendment process. DNR Master Plan Amendment Process

 

Quentin Carpenter, Ph.D. in Land Resources. "Another danger that I see here that if a golf course is allowed this close to the lake, very quickly the DNR will receive a request to armor the lakeside to protect it. The detrimental effects of armoring on adjacent shorelines are well-documented (more erosion). The neighbors of this shoreline are the residents to the north and the State Park to the south."

"What 'Steward of the Environment' cuts down a forest for a golf course?
What 'Steward of the Environment' eliminates animal habitat shared with a State Park? Who installs 5 high capacity wells in a Town entirely dependent on wells, bringing its golf course water consumption to over 250 million gallons a year--IN THE MIDDLE OF A STATE GROUNDWATER CRISIS?"
Watch video or read the Read transcript

Native American Archaeological Reports:

Thousands of Indian artifacts on proposed Kohler golf course, qualifies for National Register of Historic Places, Journal Sentinel

Archaeological Investigation Report prepared for Kohler Co.; including Army Core of Engineers and Wisc. Historical Society letters

2010-2012 Archaeological Report by Tetra Tech

Wisc. Tribal Repatriations Meeting, FBRF letter

Kohler donations to Gov. Walker & GOP: Most of the contributions – $46,000 – were made by company Chairman Herbert V. Kohler Jr. himself.  $40,000 to Walker, the rest to Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Senate Maj. Leader Scott Fitzgerald, and former Sen. Joe Leibham, of Sheboygan.  Aug. 2016


Where we are in the process for the proposed golf course

There are links to all of the following on the DNR website, including:

 

  • Aug. 24, 2017 -  DNR holds "Open House" regarding changes to park Master Plan
  • Aug. 2017 - Sheboygan City Council votes to annex land
  • May 2017 - Kohler Co. announces scheme to annex land to the City of Sheboygan
  • 3/10/17 - Kohler permits released for joint State/Federal applications. Permits will go to the Town in April.
  • 6/29/16 - The DNR released its draft EIS for review of the proposed golf course project.
  • 8/26/16 - EIS public review. of comments from the July, 2016 public hearing and written public input. The department will consider all comments received, and may revise the analysis of draft EIS if warranted.
  • Public will be notified when EIS is final.
  • Kohler submits permitting applications. DNR may require additional information. Permitting process includes two public hearings.

 

Expert opinions on Kohler's EIR

From an environmental attorney:

"The environmental impact report (EIR) that Kohler has prepared does not fully explore or acknowledge this project's significant environmental and other impacts. It provides some useful data but, overall, is better characterized as advocacy than informational." Read the full comment from attorney Christa Westerburg

 

From a professor who teaches how to write and grade EIRs:

"Were I to grade this (Kohler's) EIR, I would give it a B+ for investigation (though much of the source material is not provided) and a D- for communication of the results truthfully... Missing from the communication aspect of the report was any sense of responsibility to reveal the magnitude and permanence of the alterations proposed, work which the DNR must now perform in its EIS. The reality is that the proposed project will drastically and permanently alter the landscape and ecology of this large remnant of minimally-disturbed lakeshore habitat, and no feasible amount of avoiding, minimizing, IPMing or BMP’s will change that." Read the full letter from Quentin J. Carpenter Ph. D. and his response to the updated, second EIR from Kohler.

 

  • The DNR's review of Kohler's EIR (Environment Impact Report), 5/22/15
  • Kohler Co.'s Environmental Impact Study for Proposed Golf Course, 4/9/15
  • DNR Public Hearing - Read the Letters written to the DNR by concerned citizens at the public scoping
  • Town of Wilson Conditional Use Permit approval process
  • Excel Engeering Analysis – “The consulting company used the Theis Equation to analyze the pump test results. The Theis Equation is only applicable when the aquifer is homogeneous and isotropic and water is released from storage within each point of the aquifer. The Kohler site is a fractured bedrock aquifer and satisfies neither of these requirements. As a result, the concentric circles depicted in the drawdown contour maps of the Excel report are certainly misleading.”
  • Kohler Co. has erroneously stated that "Among the most vocal opponents of the project are some of those residents who apparently prefer that the land be maintained for their private use." They misconstrued statements that were made about the horse trails on STATE LAND. No one from Friends of the Black River Forest cares about access to the land. We are concerned about public rights to the Lake Michigan shoreline and Wisconsin's Public Trust Doctrine.

 

For a lot more information see our References page

 

1965 Kohler Newspaper announcing gift of land along Lake Michigan. Gov. Knowles said "Although the state will continue to seek recreational lands in the southeast, it cannot hope to match the quality of the Kohler tract, which we will henceforth cherished as a proud and honored memorial." See article.

Kohler has listed these areas as benefits to the Town of Wilson. We disagree!

 

Premiere golf recreational venue

This is not a benefit to the Town of Wilson, for the many reasons stated on this website, but chiefly it is against the Town's 20 Year Comprehensive Plan to preserve our natural areas and calls for REFORESTATION not deforestation. A premiere golf venue is a benefit for Kohler Hospitality. Most Town of Wilson residents cannot pay $400 for a round of golf.

 

Additional tourists

Obviously they never looked at the survey of residents contained in the 20 Year Comprehensive Plan.  There is no one who expressed a desire for additional tourists in the Town of Wilson. We chose to live here because of the area's natural beauty, peace and quiet and its hundred-plus year dedication to preserving the woods. Black River is a residential area.

 

Creation of additional jobs for the community

Why should the Town of Wilson pay such a high price for a few additional seasonal, low-paying jobs? Professional caddies will come from down south, because they work there in the winter and travel to northern golf courses in the summer. 400 golf pros have recently been let go from a major sporting goods chain, so they will be looking for jobs. Maybe the well drillers will make more money when our wells have to be dug deeper. The road builders will benefit when Kohler demands access for their tournaments.

 

Addition economic stimulus through construction and trade

The destruction of the forest and construction of new buildings is a one-time event. How many town residents or businesses will benefit from this project?

 

Marketing to attract visitors to the southern gateway of Sheboygan County including the State Park, Sanderling Nature Center, etc.

Again, residents are not living here to draw tourism to the area, exactly the opposite. Kohler-Andrae State Park is already one of the most highly used parks in the state. This point just simply makes us feel like they think we are stupid. The two gas stations and two restaurants may get more business. How does this benefit the Town of Wilson?

 

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