Saturday, April 28, 2018

Walker, WI DNR actions undercut their Arbor Day/Forest Week words

Nice words about trees and forests have little meaning when Wisconsin is encouraging wetland-filling, forest-cutting and wildlife habitat destruction.

As I said the other day, Wisconsin's DNR needs a new mission statement that reflects the 'chamber of commerce mentality' Walker installed and enforces there.

To wit:

The DNR highlighted in a news release Walker's Arbor Day and Forest Appreciation Well words about the importance of trees and habitat with some of its own:
Wisconsin celebrates trees and forests this week
MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker issued a proclamation recognizing Friday, April 27, 2018 as Arbor Day in Wisconsin and April 22-28, 2018 as Forest Appreciation Week. Arbor Day is an annual observance celebrating the role of trees and forests in our lives and promotes tree planting and care. Wisconsin has celebrated Arbor Day on the last Friday of April since 1883.
And from Walker's proclamation, these phrases detached from reality and his record:
...trees are a valuable resources, creating a myriad of wildlife, habitats...economic, social, cultural and ecological values...."
These words may come as a surprise to anyone following Walker's eagerness from Day One to dismiss the DNR's wetland-permitting processes:
...[he] has accelerated special interests' access with state government assistance to water that began in the early days of Walker's rule:
Walker was sworn in as Wisconsin Governor on January 3, 2011 - - five days after announcing his selection of [developer and DNR-basher Cathy] Stepp to run the DNR - - and nine days later he suspended the review of a wetland filling permit application so one of his campaign donors could more quickly begin building a project near Lambeau Field... 
A year later, Walker signed in front of cheering Realtors at their convention a bill which weakened environmental protections for wetlands.
Also surely surprised by Walker's words and the DNR's platitudes:

*  Wisconsin residents trying to prevent the loss of trees and habitat on the 247-acre Lake Michigan shoreline nature preserve and inside an adjoining state park for golf construction which the DNR has moved closer to bulldozing

with the award of a key wetlands-filling permit.

Details from a DNR review of the site, here:
*  Page 50: The Kohler Property is almost 100 percent contiguous forest. Up to 50 percent of the forest would be removed if the proposed project is constructed. The remaining fragmented forest would provide some habitat during songbird migration. Invasive species management and restoration of native trees and shrubs in invasive removal areas would help control exotic and invasive species in the retained forest. The forest edge along turfgrass and human use areas created from fragmentation of the forest would probably increase the challenge of exotic and invasive species management. 
The edge would likely provide some habitat for species that inhabit transitions between forest and openings. Habitat value would likely be diminished. 
Tree clearing would occur on the Property for each hole, the access road, the clubhouse/parking lot complex, the practice range, the maintenance facility, the restrooms, and the irrigation pond. Tree clearing may also occur in forested areas between tee and fairways to provide lines of sight. Interior forest bird nesting habitat is likely present within and adjacent to the Project boundary and would essentially be eliminated. Wildlife species inhabiting these areas would be permanently impacted by the loss of habitat. 
* Page 63: Some trees bordering the beach would be removed, allowing longer sight lines between the Project and Lake Michigan. Trees present in dune habitat that is utilized by a rare species may not be able to be removed unless additional authorizations are obtained (i.e., an incidental take permit). Additionally, the number and area of trees removed would have to be reviewed to determine the potential impacts on the beach/dune community. 
* Pages 69-70 Summary of Adverse Impacts That Cannot Be Avoided
The site’s nearly 100% forested canopy would be reduced by nearly half. Habitat value will diminish along forest edges near turf grass and human use areas.
Approximately 3.7 acres of wetland would be lost due to filling including impacts to approximately 1.36 acres of Great Lakes ridge and swale wetlands, a wetland type that is considered “imperiled” in Wisconsin. Additional wetland impacts resulting from alterations to wetland hydrology and the influence of increased nutrients could change the wetland type and allow encroachment of invasive species.
Reduction of the forest to 50 percent cover would result in a substantial reduction of available migratory bird stopover habitat on the Kohler Property. Interior forest bird nesting habitat is likely present within and adjacent to the Project boundary and would essentially be eliminated...
*  Wisconsin residents concerned about the wholesale paving of farmland, woodlands and wetlands on the 3,000-acre Foxconn site which the state has exempted from routine environmental reviews and protections - -  including a separate DNR approval-in-advance of the destruction of rare Monarch butterfly habitat for state-paid road-building serving the site - - which the DNR has moved closer to unprecedented levels of bulldozing with the award of four air pollution permits and a daily diversion of Lake Michigan water equal to a line if water tanker trucks 14 miles long.

*  Wisconsin residents contesting the DNR's award of a wetland-filling permit in Monroe County for sand mining operations that will destroy a rare stand swamp oak trees.

*  Wisconsin residents who opposed the removal of state protections for 100,000 wetland acres statewide.

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