Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Save Kletzsch Park oaks, and see Wisconsin's biggest on Oct. 5th only

Respecting the oaks should be beyond disagreement because they preserve the land, clean the water, nurture countless other species and honor the state's history.

Here are two items which connect those dots.

* Props to the citizen work to save the ancient bur oaks in Kletzsch Park, as people turned out Tuesday night to hear Milwaukee County's latest plan to add more viewing space, dam repairs and a fish passage in the park along the Milwaukee River. 

Earlier iterations of the plan would have cut down many ancient bur oaks that anchor the riverbank;

the tree-cutting appears to have been removed from amended plan, according to this Journal Sentinel story.

But I am told by people who attended the meeting - - it was not a hearing, so public comments were not taken - - that possible project paving and other plan requirements jeopardize the oaks' extensive root systems, and that the revised plan does not address related issues, such as the fate of an Indian Prairie and burial grounds still in harm's way.

Government agencies win no friends when informational meetings are held and no one but the agencies' speakers are given a chance to speak. This was last night's format.

I know every meeting can't be a full-blown public hearing, but known examples - here and here and here, among others of one-sided, top-down meeting control mute communications, work against consensus-building and tip decision-making away intentionally from the grassroots, to say nothing of ham-stringing basic democracy.

My sense is that the plan and the physical, policy and procedural issues it continues to raise are far from being resolved.

The authorities need to do the right thing, quickly bring the public into the decision-making in a meaningful way and adhere to a 'do-no-harm' imperative.

I would point people to the "Glendale Natural Heritage Committee" and "Friends of Kletzsch Park" Facebook pages for updates.

* Call it a coincidence, but you only have three days left to register for the once-a-year-tour of Dousman farm land where the owners have preserved big oaks, including the state's biggest which dates to 1711. 

Here is a link to the registration process, which ends September 21st for the October 5th, half-day viewing. The modest fees are used for Waukesha-area conservation programs.

Of course, you can drive over to Kletzsch Park anytime, see all oaks and the setting for free and think about what constitutes an improvement what doesn't.

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