"To oppose the construction of a golf course within the Black River Forest and to promote the preservation of the integrity of that river, its wetlands, the forest and the adjoining Lake Michigan shore as an ecological whole."
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 Black River Trails on STATE LAND that Kohler wanted to use for an entrance to their land-locked property. No one from Friends of the Black River Forest is concerned with personal access to the land. We are concerned with how a 'world class' golf course will affect surrounding properties. We are concerned about pesticide drift, pollution to well-water, Lake Michigan and the Black River; the destruction of "globally unique" dunes and "rarest, most irreplaceable" wetlands. We are concerned that the design appears to be driven by an intent to host professional golf tournaments and what impact that would have on the quiet Town of Wilson and Black River area. We are concerned about high-capacity wells. We are concerned about public rights to the Lake Michigan shoreline and Wisconsin's Public Trust Doctrine. We are concerned with the incomplete data being used for the DNR's draft EIS. And we do not agree that state land should be given to a private, for-profit enterprise.
Town of Wilson Zoning Ordinance - A proposed conditional use shall be denied unless the applicant can demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the Town, that the proposed conditional use will not create inappropriate or undesirable impacts on near by properties, the environment, or the community as a whole, as determined by the Plan Commission. Link
This is the reason the Conditional Use Permit should be denied
The proposed Golf Course will be a graphically major change to the nature of the land which is contrary to the Town of Wilson's Comprehensive Plan and doesn't meet the requirements for P-1 zoning. The only reason to allow a golf course in that area as a "conditional use" would be if it enhanced the Comprehensive Plan objective for P-1, which it does not… just the opposite and to the extreme. The Kohler Co. was mistaken in their letter to the Sheboygan Press in which they stated that the "land is now zoned for a golf course as a proper use." It is zoned recreational use and requires a conditional use permit from the Town of Wilson.
We encourage Town of Wilson residents to take the time to look carefully at the following issues:
Board's Adherence to Town of Wilson’s 20 Year Comprehensive Plan
Town of Wilson has Responsibility to Residents to protect the integrity of the Black River area. State law requires an update to the plan in 2016.
Need for an Environmental Impact Study
Clearing swaths of forest to create fairways will be a major physical change in the flora/fauna ecologic functionality between the ridges of “wetlands” and “uplands.” It would be prudent for the Plan Commission with support of the P&F Commission to retain (at Kohler’s cost) a qualified firm to perform an “environmental impact” study that includes mapping of the plant communities and characterizations of all aspects of the area’s natural ecology.
Implement Water Quality Testing and Water Well Survey
In 1994 , Miller Engineers performed a “watershed” evaluation report for the Black River under a grant obtained by the Town Park & Forestry Commission. The recommendations for ongoing water quality monitoring has not been followed by the Town of Wilson. The Black River is now listed as an “impaired waterway." Board members have also voted against the water well survey (bedrock aquifer characterization) that is also recommended in the Comprehensive Plan.
Implement Pilot Well and Pumping Test
The proposed Golf Course irrigation well will have the same effect of a 226 home subdivision. Nearby wells will experience a draw down. A more precise study needs to be done (at Kohler’s cost) for pilot well and pumping test.
Understand the Actions of the Town Board Are NOT Restricted to the Actions of the DNR
The Town's power is derived from having to provide for the public health, welfare and safety of the people as written in the General Welfare Clause of the Wisconsin State Statutes. Local governments (via their Plan Commissions even though that is “advisory” to the Board) have by statute and case law quite a bit of latitude in regulating what happens to land.
Realize Landowners Cannot Fundamentally Change the Nature of the Land
We as land owners do not have an inherent right to fundamentally change the nature of the land which the golf course plan that has been presented appears to do.
There have to be better alternatives than the forest in Black River
Lawrence Woolbright, a biology professor at Siena College in Albany, New York, who is spearheading research into the effects of golf courses on wildlife, has a short answer when asked whether a builder should consider placing a course in a pristine area: "Don't."
He urges people to locate their courses in places where the course improves land use, such as old landfills, degraded cropland, and industrial sites. One such course is now being built near the Dane County airport on a closed landfill and cornfields that were wetlands prior to 1940, but it's the only example of a course built on reclaimed land that DNR staff recall. Link
All runoff water in our watershed flows into area streams, rivers, and eventually into Lake Michigan. As water travels it picks up pollutants and sediment from many sources. How we build and maintain our cities, roads, farmland, and parkland all determine the quality of the watershed. Construction site erosion and impervious surfaces are generating threats to water quality, especially in the eastern portions, as the Sheboygan River basin grows increasingly urban.
Pristine Woods and Dunes
For the community, the preservation of the Indian Mounds and the ecological character of the area is of paramount concern. Since its organization in 1934, the BRAA has actively supported the preservation of our natural beauties and historical past. It appears safe to assume that the years ahead will pose threats to the Black River environment - both natural and man-made.
~ Black River Advancement Association's Historic Review, 1974
“There are certain places where you don't want golf courses. I fought to keep a course off of the Crystal River in Northern Michigan, where we taught our kids to canoe, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. A prime, sensitive area with pristine water, very rare plants and so forth - a golf course would be compromising the environmental integrity of that land. We were successful in keeping that one away.”
~ Brent Blackwelder, president of the U.S. branch of Friends of the Earth, and former golf team member of Duke University
Friends of the Black River Forest agree with Mr. Blackwelder. The Black River Forest is one of those special places where you don’t want a golf course. This property is a place where the waves are welcomed by wind-formed dunes, where the towering pines cast shadows on the whitetail below, where one can experience nature in it's purest sense, where one can walk the same paths the Native Americans did so very long ago, where one can feel the breezes off the lake, hear the wind whispering through those beautiful towering pines, where you can feel goosebumps from delight and smell the pines and earth in this precious piece of God's paradise.
"Living in the midst of abundance we have the greatest difficulty in seeing that the supply of natural wealth is limited and that the constant increase of population is destined to reduce the American standard of living unless we deal more sanely with our resources."
~ W.H. Carothers
The parcel of land includes a gorgeous stretch of Lake Michigan Shoreline, very rare dune network, old growth forest including majestic towering pines, and various wetlands including the Black River. All told a very diverse, environmentally sensitive parcel of land... one not found anywhere else on Earth! We believe that this land is a local treasure and important to the future of the Great Lakes and that it should be preserved. Here is an opportunity for the Kohler family to create a grand legacy for future generations.
© Copyright 2016 Friends of the Black River Forest
© Copyright 2017 Friends of the Black River Forest