DNR Supports Park Land for Private Golfing?
Kohler would get state park land along the lakefront for its private golf course.
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.
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.