It's great that the WI DNR is promoting on Earth Day a statewide tree giveaway and reforestation plan to help battle climate change - a scientific reality which the previous administration approached by firing scientists and deleting climate change data and materials from its website.
So our reconstituted and better-focused DNR now needs to fully embrace its new direction by withdrawing support for privately-owned golf course construction Walker's DNR had approved which an expert says will require the environmentally-degrading deforestation of up to 45,000 trees:
Based on a quick density count viewing into the edges of the upland forest area of Kohler Company’s 247 acre parcel in Section 14 along the Lake Michigan shoreline in the Town of Wilson, I estimate the number of trees of greater than 6” trunk diameter to be roughly in the range of 50,000 to 70,000. Kohler’s grading plan for the golf course included on DNR’s website shows that about 63% of that upland forest gets re-graded, which would necessarily remove about 30,000 to 45,000 trees, as a rough estimate, having trunks greater than 6” diameter..
So the primary adverse effects on the environment of upland deforestation is the loss of quantity and diversity of habitat. This includes the loss of upland ecologic functions critical for the ecologic function of the adjacent wetlands that are not being filled. The golf course plan shows massive grading and deforestation and replacement with fairways right along the edge of great lengths of wetland along the Black River.
Ignoring that adverse effect in both Kohler’s EIR and WDNR’s EIS for this project is one of the major deficiencies that [another source] has repeatedly pointed out. The EIR and EIS are supposed to address all aspects of the proposed project, not just filling some of the wetlands. These reports entirely omitted any specific description of the adverse effects of the massive deforestation, including those effects on wetlands not being filled that is planned along more than a mile of wetland boundary.
Note also that the project (now stalled in court) would absorb public acreage within the adjoining state park, and calls for construction along a Lake Michigan shoreline increasingly pummeled (information, photos, here) by intensifying storms.
Again, does this sound like a good idea?
Promoted by a Department of Natural Resources, and its oversight Natural Resources Board?
Some history, here:
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has released, amid additional controversy, a preliminary Environmental Impact Statement, (EIS), based heavily on information provide by the company....
Here is a link to a Journal Sentinel story about the draft EIS....and here is a link to the draft EIS.
If environmental protection is goal of the state - - a supposition constantly put in grave doubt by Gov. Walker and his "chamber of commerce" DNR - - any reasonable person reading the document would conclude that the project's environmental harm far outweighs any perceived advantages.
Simply put, the DNR and its oversight board now must do the right thing by the land and water it holds in trust for the people and remove itself from tainted policy-makers -
Former DNR employee: Staff pressured to OK Kohler golf course on rare Wisconsin wetlands and state park
- who were rejected in 2018 by voters statewide.
Thousands of trees in this nature preserve will be felled for the proposed golf course. Aerial photos courtesy of Steve Back, here.