James Rowen
Op Ed

DNR Supports Park Land for Private Golfing?

Kohler would get state park land along the lakefront for its private golf course.

By - Jan 13th, 2018 01:14 pm
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The bright clouds over the sand dune trails at Kohler-Andrae State Park, Wisconsin

The bright clouds over the sand dune trails at Kohler-Andrae State Park, Wisconsin. Photo via Good Free Photos

For Wisconsin’s intentionally-underfunded and vulnerable state parks, a January 24th meeting of the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board (NRB) promises to be consequential.

As I’ve noted, the NRB, which oversees many Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources operations, will be considering a DNR plan to raise fees at some of the most popular state parks.

Today I’m also learning that at the same meeting the DNR will ask the Board to approve changes in the way a state park’s master plan can be amended.

The move is laden with jargon and bureaucratic language, but it appears designed to let the proposed controversial Kohler golf course south of Sheboygan change traffic patterns into and even acquire public land within the adjoining, popular Kohler Andrae State Park along the Lake Michigan shoreline, according to preservationists organized as Friends of the Black River Forest.

“There should be no change of rules which enables a private company to use our State Park land. For something as serious as changing rules which will allow all of our State Park lands to sell off, the public deserves an open hearing with more notice and information. It is our land,” the group says on its Facebook page.

When will we discover that state parks’ naming rights will be sold to businesses to make up for the loss of state operating funds Gov. Scott Walker and GOP legislators stripped from everyday park operations?

How soon will you drive into Buddy’s Big Bacon Burger Park? Take a hike on the Acme Insecticide Walking Trail?

If the wealthy industrialist and golf lover Herbert Kohler Jr. can tear up his woodland-and-wetland-and artifact-rich nature preserve and have state land next door he wants, it suggests we may be on the way to further privatizing the state parks.  And this move to have the NRB give additional support for a private business project — one that senior DNR management, the Governor, his Department of Administration and a compliant City of Sheboygan are all green-lighting – – further signals the project is a done deal, a fait accompli rapidly heading for a pro-developer/Walker donor win.

And, I suppose, to the courts, too.

So where does this march of Walker’s ‘chamber of commerce mentality’ DNR and the state GOP’s pollution policies stop?

Here is the Board agenda, and the item, #2.B.6, which would make it easier for a state park’s master plan – – read: Kohler Andrae State Park – – to be amended for private advantage, as well as information about how to register to speak and/or send comments on the issue.

The public is welcome to attend a Wisconsin Natural Resources Board (NRB) meeting. The NRB also provides opportunities for citizens to testify and to submit written comment about issues that come before the NRB. See complete information on public participation at Board meetings.

James Rowen, a former journalist and mayoral staffer in Milwaukee and Madison, writes a regular blog, The Political Environment.

Categories: Environment, Op-Ed, Politics

4 thoughts on “Op Ed: DNR Supports Park Land for Private Golfing?”

  1. GRNPAKWH says:

    Why should this surprise anyone. Scott Walker ruined the Milwaukee County Parks, now he is on a bigger stage and can do the same to the state parks. Just imagine if he did become president, what he could do to the national parks?

  2. MollyO says:

    No one with any say so will stand up for our parks. Our County reps are clueless. The DNR belongs to Walker. We have to save our parks ourselves. Unfortunately, I do not know how to do this.

  3. Terry says:

    The state parks are so much worse off under career politician Scott Walker. Just another way he has gutted the state and sold out every Wisconsin taxpayer.
    Hasn’t anybody told all these, old, white, bitter republicans that nobody except them golf anymore? Maybe that’s point.

    DUMP WALKER 2018!!

  4. Bob Heck says:

    All Kohler wants is an easement of 5 acres of very lightly used park land. Radical environmental extremists like the author of this op ed, oppose economc development. I use Kohler Andrae State Park regularly. This golf course will not hurt the park. I am so glad that a pro business person like Scott Walker is Governor. BTW Why is getting corporate sponsors a problem. A name does not change the park.

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