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FBRF Newsletter - Feb. 2017

FBRF's Wisc. Groundwater Association Presentation: Groundwater Flow in Fractured Media - Uncertain Impacts and Community Concerns

FBRF Newsletter - Dec. 2016


In June, the DNR released its draft EIS for review of the proposed golf course project. Here are a few comments regarding the DNR's draft EIS:

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

"Thus we disagree, with the DEIS from its very first sentence, i.e. that it "fulfills" the DNR's legal duties..." If and when it receives sufficient information from Kohler, the DNR must redraft the DEIS and renotice the draft for public hearing, before finalizing the EIS. Otherwise, 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 strongly opposed to proposed golf course; lists a dozen reasons.
"The Dept. of Natural Resources 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 or person for the purpose of increasing the revenue of such business or to increase the income of any person or corporation..." "The EIS document map shows a total of over 19 acres that are being considered for Kohler’s development with no detail as to the actual footprint of the development..." "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 Professor, Dept. of Natural Sciences at Concordia University and former Naturalist at Kohler-Andrae state park

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

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. We chose to respond to this project because it has the potential to do both."

Link to Draft EIS (Environmental Impact Statement)

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Other News
Kohler Company's proposed golf course has drawn opposition in the Black River Forest, WFRV TV, Green Bay, 10/27/16

Golf's Decline Takes Toll on Retailers: The number of U.S. golfers dropped to 24.1 million in 2015 from a peak of 30.6 million in 2003... Nike’s decision to stop selling golf equipment and a possible bankruptcy filing by the Golfsmith retail chain are raising concerns that the declining popularity of the sport is taking a toll. Journal Sentinel, 8/17/16

Wisconsin Tribal Repatriations Meeting, letter from FBRF

"DNR Report on Golf Course Spurs Concerns" - Sheboygan Press, 6/30/15

Conservation Score Card for the Wisconsin Legislature, including Honor Roll & Dishonor Roll and important conservation bills that moved through the legislative process.

Once it's gone it's lost forever - photo slide show

Why Must Town of Wilson Residents Must Pay Kohler Bills to Insure their Safety? 3/25/16

"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

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 DNR will receive a request to armor the lakeside to protect it. These are active dunes in a dynamic area of the lake shore. 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."

Kohler donations to Gov. Walker & GOP: Most of the employee contributions – $46,000 – were made by company Chairman Herbert V. Kohler Jr. himself, between Jan. 2010 and Dec. 2015. He contributed $40,000 to Walker, $2,500 to Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, $2,000 to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, of Juneau, and $1,500 to former Sen. Joe Leibham, of Sheboygan.  Aug. 2016

Bill Expanding Waterfront Property Rights Gets Walker's Signature  In its original form, Kerry Schuman, the executive dir. for  Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, called the bill a "grab bag" for developers. She still has concerns about the legislation, which allows developers to fill in wetlands that aren’t federally protected. Sponsored by Frank Lasee, Senator Cowles and Senator Olsen. 4/16

Kohler's land use agreement with DNR at state park

Sign the Petition: Ask the Kohler Co. to stop bullying the Town of Wilson

Where we are in the process for the proposed golf course

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


  • 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.
  • If it gets past all of this, the Conditional Use Permit application begins with Town of Wilson.


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


Other News:


Radium levels rise in Wisconsin tap water - "Growing populations and increased demand for water have caused the aquifer to become one of the most depleted in the country...“Part of the reason we are seeing high levels of radium is that the flow field was energized by over-pumping.” March, 2016 article


Friends of the Black River Forest recently met with the DNR Board and presented this overview.

AB477/SB291 GROUNDWATER BILL - Friends, this is a disastrous attack on our water and allows no defense against water depletion from high capacity wells. Here is our summary of the major points. And this is just the tip of the iceberg--the bill is long and complicated.

Rewriting the rules-Wisconsin Legislature is eroding protections of the state’s water resources, Mar, 2016

Number of polluted waters in state, counties continue to rise - Many environmentalists say that the number of polluted waterways proposed for the list that flow into Lake Michigan is particularly alarming because of the Great Lakes's importance as the largest source of fresh water in the world, supplying drinking water and recreational opportunities for millions of people.":  Feb. 2016 article

Wisconsin an 'arsenic hot spot' - Jan, 2016

Politicized environmental agency threatens Wisconsin’s water, critics say - Nov, 2015

The vanishing lakes of Wisconsin’s central sands - Many locals blame high capacity wells. In 1950 there were fewer than 100 in the region; today there are more than 3,000. Nov, 2015

Legislative Republicans Turn their Backs on Wisconsin’s Lakes and Wetlands, 02/16

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?


Please support our efforts to stay on top of new developments and get the word out by giving $10. It makes a difference! Click to donate.

Or mail to Friends-Black River Forest, P.O. Box 804, Sheboygan, WI 53082.

Contacts: Claudia Bricks,, 920-457-0525 or Mary Faydash,, 920-803-9001

© Copyright 2016 Friends of the Black River Forest

© Copyright 2016 Friends of the Black River Forest