Tuesday, July 8, 2014

River Through Proposed Golf Course On Impaired List

When you read about a proposal to turn 247 acres of wetlands and forest into a golf course near the Lake Michigan shoreline south of Sheboygan, consider that:

*  Running through the site is the Black River, a waterway already on the official list of impaired (read: polluted) rivers; all information about the list is on this DNR website.

*  The Black River impairment is due to the impacts of phosphorus.

*  Phosphorus river impairment comes from industrial, municipal, farm and fertilizer runoff.

*  To maintain fairways and greens, golf courses can be heavy users of fertilizer.

These circumstances should be included in an environmental impact study for the proposal which the DNR could and should be ordering.

From the Lake Michigan shoreline, looking west. State park land, dunes and beaches are to the south, abutting the preserve on which the proposed golf course would be built. The Black River is hidden behind the tree line within the preserve.
From the shoreline, looking northwest towards the proposed site. Four holes could be located on a half-mile stretch over-looking Lake Michigan.
The DNR has an interest in the proposal beyond its agency role as lead steward of state waterways. You can read about that role and its origins in State Supreme Court precedent and the State Constitution, as the DNR itself describes that obligation to the public, here
The [state supreme] court has ruled that DNR staff, when they review projects that could impact Wisconsin lakes and rivers, must consider the cumulative impacts of individual projects in their decisions. "A little fill here and there may seem to be nothing to become excited about. But one fill, though comparatively inconsequential, may lead to another, and another, and before long a great body may be eaten away until it may no longer exist. Our navigable waters are a precious natural heritage, once gone, they disappear forever," wrote the Wisconsin State Supreme Court justices in their opinion resolving Hixon v. PSC.(2)
The DNR has a heightened role to play because Kohler Co., the golf course developer, wants an easement and permissions from the DNR to construct a road and a maintenance building on DNR-managed State Park land abutting the proposed golf court property.

Is converting the property into a golf course the best way to get the Black River off the impaired list?

Will the DNR require the golf course to avoid fertilizers or landscaping strategies without harsh chemicals and phosphorus?

Could the DNR tear itself away from its boosted land sale program long enough - - and, by the way, DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp has been cheer leading for larger land sales since 2011- -  to work on preserving she quality of land it already holds and rivers it is supposed to be managing in the public interest?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kohler is a major player for Scott Walker. A dollar here and a dollar there will not seem like much but when it's all added up it will amount to a purchase of the government response you paid for!