The public is being invited to review and provide comments on a recently-released Environmental Impact Statement issued by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on the Kohler Co.’s proposal to build an 18-hole golf course on company-owned land just north of Kohler-Andrae State Park. Comments can be submitted via email or letters through Aug. 1. The DNR also will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, July 20, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Sheboygan Falls High School Auditorium, 220 Amherst Ave., Sheboygan Falls. Written comments should be sent to: DNRKOHLERPROPOSAL@wisconsin.gov or to Jay Schiefelbein, Wisconsin DNR, 2984 Shawano Ave., Green Bay, Wis., 54313-6727.
All comments received will be considered in the preparation of the DNR’s final EIS. Written comments carry the same weight and will receive the same level of consideration as oral comments provided at the hearing.
Representatives of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology have highlighted in earlier comments to the DNR the detrimental impact the course would have on important bird habitat and threatened bird populations. WSO President Michael John Jaeger said the draft EIS fails to adequately evaluate the potential impact on birds and WSO would again submit comments to the DNR.
In particular, the forested property is a major migratory stopover site. The DEIS, while noting that the area is recognized as an important stopover site, does not provide any specific evaluation of how the extensive forest clearing for a golf course would degrade the value as a migratory stopover site.
The draft study also is being challenged by the group Friends of the Black River Forest (FBRF) for what it calls unscientific, inaccurate work for a business that has yet to submit a project application to the agency.
The group is encouraging the public to attend the public hearing in Sheboygan Falls and oppose what it says is the lack of science and the favoritism shown to the Kohler Co. over the last three years.
The Kohler Co. is asking the DNR for four acres of Kohler State Park land and permission to change the park entrance into a rotary to facilitate entry to the proposed course. The friends oppose allowing Kohler to convert public park land purchased with federal funds into private land for the company’s profit.
The group has published information for two years on the serious environmental impacts of clear cutting and reconstructing 247 acres adjacent to Kohler-Andrae on the shore of Lake Michigan, arguing:
“Once you level rare dunes and fill rare wetlands, deforest 150 of 247 acres, the ecosystem is destroyed and it can never come back. “We need people to speak out against the Kohler Co.’s lack of environmental concern, and the DNR’s favoritism.”
Other issues raised by the FBRF:
• Destroying rare wetlands, animal habitats and migratory bird stopover sanctuaries
• Impacts and risks of building a septic system where water table is very high
• Impact of destroying thousands of years of Native American cultural heritage artifacts
• Impacts on residents’ wells from pumping millions of gallons of water for irrigation
• Groundwater contamination impacts • Impacts of spreading huge quantities of herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers on Lake Michigan, the Black River and Town of Wilson wells, plants and wildlife
• Impacts of traffic, congestion, safety and noise from a major golf tournament
• Loss of public beach access, impacts of fencing boundaries on state park
• Impact of high-capacity wells on a fractured rock aquifer