Breaking News:


Oppose the amendment to change the Kohler-Andrae State Park master plan at the request of the Kohler Company!  Deadline is Friday, 6/23.
The Wisconsin Dept of Natural Resources Board has on the agenda for their June 28, 2017 meeting the following: REQUEST APPROVAL TO INITIATE AN AMENDMENT PROCESS FOR THE KOHLER-ANDRAE STATE PARK MASTER PLAN.
We are asking that you please send your written comments opposing the giveaway of land of the second most visited State Park in Wisconsin for the profit of The KOHLER COMPANY immediately. Comments are due by Friday, June 23rd at 11:00.  Email to


   Tell the DNR you are opposed to the both the destruction of the beautiful, rare, open and forested Great Lakes sand dune ecosystem and the give away of publicly owned state park lands for the exclusive use and destruction by Kohler, a for-profit, private company.  Kohler Company is requesting to take State Owned land to build an entrance to the golf course and a maintenance building.  Kohler wants all of this built on our STATE LAND.  Kohler has its own access to the property and plenty of room to build a maintenance building.  There is no need to steal State Land owned by Wisconsin residents.

     Tell the DNR that you are opposed to an easement over State Park lands as this violates LAWCON. The Kohler Company was denied an easement in 1984 because the DNR chose to follow the rules.  The issue is no different today and their request to use any State Park land should be denied.

     Tell the DNR Natural Resources Board this is a bad request for approval. Ask them to refuse to facilitate an amendment which ultimately will create precedent to give away state park land to a company for its private profit.

     The residents of Wisconsin deserve that those entrusted with their natural resources do their jobs and protect them.


Letter to Natural Resources Board from the DNR's Cathy Stepp: The department recommends that a master plan amendment process be

initiated. 6-24-17

Letter to City Council and Exhibits from Town of Wilson, 6/14/17

Letter to City Council from Friends of the Black River Forest, 6/15/17

City of Sheboygan annexation documents and correspondence, open records request obtained through FOIA, 6/14/17

People who signed the annexation petition, documents

Town of Wilson board's Annexation letter to residents - We believe Kohler's stated reason for annexation (the need for City services) is dubious at best. With this rarely used method of annexation the fate of every property owner in the annexation path drawn by Kohler Co. could be decided by three renters who reside at two Kohler rental properties, not property owners.

FRBF Letter to Sheboygan City Plan Commission, The City was in talks  with Kohler about annexation for months, yet the public only became aware in April.

Video of Sheboygan Plan Commission Meeting, 5/30/17

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

Proposed Annexation Plan Moves to City of Sheboygan Planning - When asked if Sheboygan's process is rushed, Roger Miller, chairman of the Town of Wilson Planning Commission, laughed and said yes. "That's an understatement. It first appeared as a city item just a few weeks ago. It hasn't gone through any of the infrastructure planning process. It completely violates and bypassed their comprehensive planning process."   May 29, 2017  Meeting agenda for 6/12/17

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

Kohler looks to annex golf course land into Sheboygan. The land is currently within the boundary of the town of Wilson, but a legal notice in Friday's Sheboygan Press notes that Kohler Co. is petitioning to have the land annexed into the city of Sheboygan. Sheboygan Press, 4/29/17

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

Army Corps of Engineers taking Comments thru May 8: Comments to the USACE are due by May 6. Email or send to: US Army Corps of Engineers, Attn: Jessica Kempke, 211 N. Broadway, Suite 221 Green Bay, WI 54303. You may send similar comments as were sent to the Wisconsin DNR.

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 are in for their joint state/federal applications, Mar. 2017. Permits will go to the Town:

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


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:

"...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)


Other News

Retired, active scientists form Wisconsin Green Fire, responding to 'threat' to science from state government, Apr. 2017

Waters of Wisconsin belong to the people of Wisconsin, enshrined in our state constitution as a Public Trust. Our State Senate recently passed Senate Bill 76 privatizing Wisconsin waters for the benefit of high-capacity well owners, giving them permanent rights to withdraw water regardless of the impact on other water users. Apr. 2017

The Muzzling of the DNR, DNR Sec. Cathy Stepp has given speeches to business group saying her job is “to promote industry and create jobs.”

Kohler Co. seeks to limit wetlands loss from golf course Mar. 2017

Runoff puts drinking water at risk, when natural filters are removed such as wetlands and forest, the unfiltered runoff will go into the groundwater and the nearby bodies of water, article, Mar. 2017

FBRF Newsletter - Feb. 2017

DNR wetland restoration has yet to begin, collected $15M from developers last year, Mar. 2017

Mayors, conservationists blast possible drastic cuts to Great Lakes restoration work, Mar. 2017

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

FBRF Newsletter - Dec. 2016

DNR breakup plan called a boon to polluters, Jan. 2017

Wisconsin Wetlands Under Attack -  these combined rule changes could have profound impacts on Wisconsin's wetlands.

The Kohler Company is feeding the City of Sheboygan and the SCEDC with INCOMPLETE and INACCURATE information.

     "This should serve as a cautionary tale for all municipalities on the importance of working with business in order to enhance the tax base and overall economic diversity."   ~ Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation, on imposing their values on the Town of Wilson's desire to remain a quiet, natural community.


The cautionary tale here is one of  relying on incomplete and inaccurate information as factual and truthful.


Since 2011, the Town of Wilson has faced the INCOMPLETENESS of the KOHLER CO.  The Town spent three years working with Kohler on their Tented Forest project. The only application which was completed was the liquor license to take away the town’s only remaining Class B liquor license and sit on it for over 3 years!  And then they pull a bait and switch to a golf course.


Let’s understand that this proposed golf course still faces many hurdles. Kohler submitted an INCOMPLETE Conditional Use Permit to the Town of Wilson. The board has never voted on this issue. The town hired consultants to complete an independent and impartial evaluation of all impacts to the town. The reports of those consultants have not yet been presented to the town.


Kohler Co. submitted an INCOMPLETE Wetland Permit application to the DNR. Kohler was asked to provide a long list of additional information and many questions were asked by DNR experts. Like the Town of Wilson, the DNR will not make a decision based on an INCOMPLETE application.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) is just beginning its process of determining the proposed project’s potential impact on wetlands, Lake Michigan, the globally rare ridge and swale dunes, and all endangered and threatened natural resources. Will this process also uncover INCOMPLETE information?


Sign the petition - Say no to annexation

Write to Council Members

"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

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."

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."

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:


  • 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.
  • 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


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.

© Copyright 2016 Friends of the Black River Forest

© Copyright 2017 Friends of the Black River Forest