Sunday, October 8, 2017

Court ruling for state park's integrity could assist another

[Updated from 10/8] Two reasons to celebrate a solid court ruling overturning a decision by the DNR to allow snowmobiles in Blue Mound State Park, as reported by the State Journal.
A judge has thrown out the state’s controversial decision to add a snowmobile trail to a state park known for silent sports such as cross-country skiing.
The Department of Natural Resources violated its own rules when it approved snowmobiling at Blue Mound State Park, Dane County Circuit Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn ruled Tuesday.
*  The court sent the DNR, and any other Wisconsin agency which might be listening, a strong message that the state cannot allow public property to be taken for so-called incompatible uses, especially when the agency overlooks its own guidelines and ignores the expressed will of people who registered objections through the state's established methods.

In short, the ruling a victory for democratic procedure and against special interests, as The State Journal noted when quoting the park's former superintendent:

“From the very beginning it was apparent to me that the DNR’s primary and unwavering goal …was to appease the snowmobile lobby …” Karl Heil, former superintendent of Blue Mound State Park
*  The ruling should give heart to people in the Town of Wilson along Lake Michigan who are fighting the planned expansion of a privately-owned golf course on to acreage in Kohler Andrae State Park - - and who as citizens and taxpayers are being dissed and dismissed through coordinated pro-developer actions by the DNR, its oversight body - - the Natural Resources Board - - and the State Department of Administration, (DOA), whose Scott Walker-directed managers approved a quickie annexation to move the golf course site from the Town of Wilson to the City of Sheboygan to mute and disenfranchise the opponents.

The golf course site is a 247-acre, lakeshore-hugging, heavily-wooded nature preserve long on the Town of Wilson's map - -  

- - that is bisected by The Black River and loaded with wildlife, wetlands, rare dunes and native peoples' artifacts.

It abuts Kohler Andrae State Park, one of Wisconsin's most popular publicly-owned hiking, camping and shoreline destinations.

The DOA said the golf course was "urban in nature," so more appropriately shifted onto a city's map. That's Walker's DOA carrying water for a Walker donor, for sure.

Kohler Co. Chief Contributed $40K to Walker in Recent Years
I'm not an attorney, but I see in the Blue Mound State Park ruling some good news for the golf course opponents as they struggle to keep the golf course project from grabbing public land in another state park land and, like the people who carried the day and preserved what is special about Blue Mound State Park, are also trying to stop state agencies and state power from running roughshod over public opinion.

Does handing over Kohler Andrae State Park land to a golf course developer for the construction of a maintenance building, parking lot and some access- road building to boost golf course revenue and its owner's wealth sound to you like a compatible use for public park land?

Again, listen to an expert - -  James Buchholz, the former Kohler Andrae State Park superintendent:

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...  
If this is approved for Kohler, “I“ would like to request and expect approval for my own 4 acres so I could set up my own business, perhaps a hotdog stand. Of course, like Kohler, I would have to ban park visitors from ever setting foot on my part of their public land again (unless they purchase one of my hotdogs of course).
Who would know more about the integrity of these parks than the former superintendents who gave the lands decades of daily, hands-on care?

So stay tuned, add your name to this online petition, spread it to your friends and list and check out the website or Facebook page of the Friends of the Black River Forest for legal, fund-raising and other pertinent updates.


Anonymous said...

Tony Evers is running for governor and one of his campaign promises is to try an return DNR to a board appointed Secretary. Are there other candidates who want to do that also? Just curious.

Anonymous said...

Excellent article.