Friday, April 2, 2021

Project opponents, Mother Nature make the case vs. shoreline golf project

Readers of this blog know I have been publicizing for years the grassroots efforts led by Friends of the Black River Forest to prevent state land inside popular Kohler Andrae State Park from being used for a privately-owned golf course that would require bulldozing much of an adjoining, privately-owned and pristine 247-acre nature preserve.

Here is one sample, summary post with excerpts from the project's environmental review; more items since 2014 are available by inserting key words in the blog's index box in the upper left corner:

Lakeside golf plan - including state land - advanced in Sheboygan

The City of Sheboygan, having annexed the site in a power move to box out opposition in the neighboring Town of Wilson, gave a preliminary permit approval Tuesday evening which could lead to the construction of an upscale golfing complex in a pristine, heavily-wooded nature preserve on the Lake Michigan shoreline that will also take acreage in the adjoining Kohler Andrae State Park.

Litigation pending in Sheboygan County Circuit Court and, separately before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, could soon decide a number of issues, including whether local residents have the right to contest the transfer of state parkland to a private party, and if permits issued locally to facilitate the project are legal as well.

But here are a few other things else to consider:

Can a golf course planned to hug the Lake Michigan shoreline a) reasonably comply with the state constitution's citizen access requirement known as The Public Trust Doctrine, and b) contend with rising, storm-driven Lake Michigan water levels which one Sheboygan County resident has been documenting? 

With relevant dates, here are two-side-by-side photos which show how the project's proposed 18th hole is holding up.

The images raise at least three more questions:

1. Will more state land inside the park be required if the course layout needs to be reworked?

2. Why would the DNR, and its governing board still stand by project approvals granted when Walker was governor as conditions at the water level and in public awareness of a climate issues are changing? 

Especially when a former career DNR civil service environmental expert said she'd been pressured by higher-ups to approve permits for the project:

[Pat] Trochlell determined the project did not meet state standards. But she said her bosses told her the permit should be approved no matter what.  

“I was in a meeting with managers … and I asked the question of what would happen if we wouldn’t sign off on these permits, and I was told that if we didn’t sign off on these permits, we would be … moved to another job or fired, I think that’s how I interpreted it,” Trochlell recalled.

3. Basically, why would any state agency, local official, Wisconsin judge or appellate panel think this is a good idea?

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