$21,045 of $150,000 goal

Raised by 411 people in 50 months
David and Goliath

We all remember the story
The current battle began with a small group of common people who believed that our bodies of government would protect our way of life and the land, air and water we need to live. It has become a David and Goliath fight against a system rigged toward money and power. The current system in Wisconsin rewards political donors with giveaways of our land, air and water to consume and profit from.

We are David, all of us who believe our natural resources and decisions regarding them should be made by the public, not a Giant.

We have the Giant, in the entities of a well-connected billionaire, and a Governor who forces the Department of Natural Resources to approve destructive projects for his donor's profit.

Over five years ago, a small group of people sat around a dining room table speaking of their concerns about a proposed Kohler Company championship golf course on the shores of Lake Michigan adjacent to Kohler Andrae Park within the Town of Wilson. Descriptions of teeming wildlife, rolling dunes, wetlands overflowing with aquatic life, the migratory flyover route, the site of prehistoric peoples and thousands of artifacts and burial mounds, were just a few concerns. Kohler intended to clear cut 160 of their 247 acres of forest and needed acreage from our State Park to complete the course. 

If approved, our wells would be threatened, pesticides would leach into our groundwater and Lake Michigan, globally significant dunes and wetlands would be razed and filled, environmental corridors would be destroyed, the topography of the area would be changed forever, currently polluted air would spike from tournament traffic, and state land not needed by Kohler would be given to the company for its profit. We also had to worry about the Kohler Company's record at Whistling Straits which consisted of violating every condition of their permit.

We decided to make sure the impacts of this course were studied diligently and scientifically. We believed the Department of Natural Resources and the Natural Resources Board would not approve such devastation to this coastal ecosystem. 

This is what we have learned:
We learned that the DNR was working for the Kohler Company for 5 years with the Governor's office on board. We learned that the average person has no control over his or her quality of life, their land, air and water.
We learned the Kohler Company was given environmental passes by the DNR that no homeowner would be allowed.
Our quiet, rural town was physically divided by a secret, hostile annexation by Kohler to move their land to the City of Sheboygan to avoid an independent environmental impact study required by our Town of Wilson.
We learned the DNR wrote incomplete, misleading, unscientific environmental statements based on Kohler-provided information and was told to withhold information from us.
We learned the DNR worked for 5 years trying to justify the destruction Kohler asked for, and when the agency couldn't, they circumvented the law and approved a wetland fill permit anyway and gave away our important state park land.
We learned that the voices of hundreds of people and petitions from 22,000 people have no import in this corrupted system.
We learned that Kohler Company was to get whatever it wanted without competent review.

                                   NOW WE SAY "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!"




What is more important than protecting our fundamental rights to breathe clean air, drink clean water and protect our homes and community?  Help us take a stand.



More at
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September 11, 2018


Dear Friends,
Save Our Songbirds has gone by and we have many people to thank. So many of you worked to fix art, haul, set up, cook, serve food, clean up, make art, donate art and spread the word. Our food, wine and beer were donated by wonderful supporters. Our many supporters have been loyal in contributing through GoFundMe. Thank you sincerely for what you did and continue to do.

We took in $4000 which is in line with our other fundraisers. These fundraisers help us pay our legal team for all its work of research, filings, briefs, hearings, FOIA requests. We will need approximately $75,000 to get us through the wetland fill permit lawsuit and are diligently seeking out grant opportunities.

What’s Happening?

Sometimes it might seem like we are in limbo with our goal of stopping the destruction of this ecosystem, however we have come far in four years. The golf course which was expected be built simply because the Kohler Company was the developer, has not been built. Many agencies needed to be involved-Town, City, County, State, Federal. We have been met with the withholding of records by the DNR, and incomplete information from the Kohler Company. It appeared that the company itself was not interested in providing critical information necessary for permitting. However, the DNR, citing the irreversible, adverse impacts to our park, and the unique characteristics of the land, approved the permit anyway.

FBRF has monitored the many permitting agencies’ decisions which were based on the DNR’s poor permit. We filed suit against the DNR, the Natural Resources Board, and soon federal agencies challenging the incomplete, misleading and often inaccurate information provided by the DNR in its wetland fill permit granted to Kohler Co. as well as the illegal land swap of our state park land for Kohler’s land.

Working with our lawyers at Pines Bach LLP, we have initiated legal challenges that are critical to the protection of Wisconsin’s natural resources and the public’s interest in state lands. These include fighting a state-issued wetland permit in a 5 day evidentiary hearing, and a court challenge to the unprecedented state park land giveaway.

The results of those cases are pending. Over the last four years, we have also gathered countless pages of information through freedom of information act requests, attended public meetings, and educated the public and ourselves.

We are the only nonprofit group fighting this appalling threat to the Lake Michigan ecosystem and unprecedented land grab in court. (We say this is unprecedented because Kohler does not require our state land for ingress and egress as the company has its own land. Therefore, this is a case of a well-connected developer asking for our state park land without need because it is less expensive and won’t disturb his land).

Through private fundraising and foundation donations, we have raised $100,000 for these efforts.

We continue to raise funds through social media and events that aim to educate the public about the impact of the project, and most importantly, about how citizens can effectively intervene in environmental policy and administration.

We stress the critical impacts to our land, air and water from this project. However, we began FBRF with a group of people that believed that there should be a level playing field between a developer with political connections and the public’s access to decision making on their own resources. There have been many factors against our fight to keep this ethical, legal and non-political. One is that it is a fact that Governor Walker influenced the annexation of Kohler’s and Wilson land to the City, and pushed the DNR to give Kohler what it wanted while refusing to inform the public. The other is the systemic avoidance in Sheboygan County of taking a polluter to task because the company has done positive things for the community.

One of the most egregious actions to favor this golf course project was the Republican legislators’ push to stop using the air quality monitor at Kohler Andrae State Park as the source of air quality data which alerts residents to the daily state of the air. The air at KASP is beyond compliance levels because of southern cities’ pollution drift and Sheboygan County activity. Therefore, no pollution could have been added by the proposed course. So, the legislators, reasoning that the pollution wasn’t caused here, moved the reading to Haven Wi., enabling the hundreds of diesel non-road golf course machines to create ozone on a daily basis AND putting our residents health at risk. (non road diesel equipment is responsible for 45% of this country’s pollution. Hundreds of thousands of additional cars and trucks will add to this, which the DNR didn’t study).

Every environmental crisis in Wisconsin was started with one bad permit designed to favor a business with political ties. Every environmental crisis started with the carrot of jobs. This needs to be stopped here. Many of us are involved in battles for the soul of our country and a return to ethical behavior. Why don’t we start here? By the time new leaders bring this state back to the principles which made us great, another chunk of state park land will be given away, another shoreline will be covered in algae, more people will be hospitalized with respiratory distress.

Help us send a message to those handing out our air, land and water as thank you gifts for donations that it stops here.


Your FBRF team
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Calling birders, collectors, nature lovers, environmentalists, activists and everyone who wants to have fun supporting a great cause!
Saving Our Songbirds, September 8, 4-8 p.m. is FBRF's fundraiser which will highlight the importance of the migratory bird habitat marked for destruction by the proposed Kohler golf course. We are having a huge silent auction of new and vintage art in all media--wearable art, oil paintings, photographs, lithographs, block printings and much more. Landscapes, wildlife, birds, abstracts, maps are just a few of the subject areas. We will also have an antiques and collectible area with items for sale. A suggested donation of $10 includes food, beverages, relaxing music and a bidding number. Join us at a beautiful Sheboygan historic home to meet like minded supporters of our environment. 504 Ontario Avenue, Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
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Make no mistake-FBRF will be fighting this decision.

FBRF Press Release August 1, 2018

Attorney General Brad Schimel States Wisconsin Residents Have No Interest in State Parks

On July 30, 2018, Wisconsin’s Attorney General weighed in on a lawsuit that a group of Wisconsin residents have filed against the Department of Natural Resources. The DNR and Attorney General Brad Schimel are joining Kohler Co. in asking the circuit court judge to dismiss the suit before hearing it. The reasoning behind Schimel’s request will come as a great surprise to many Wisconsin residents.

Friends of the Black River Forest, Inc., and Ms. Claudia Bricks, a retired special education teacher, have asked a judge to decide whether the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources followed statutes and its own rules when agreed to give Kohler Co. land in Kohler-Andrae State Park. Kohler would use the land for storing fertilizer, fuel, pesticides, and maintenance equipment for the golf course, and for an access road so its clients could enter the adjacent golf course property.

The Kohler Company purchased a horse farm to the west of the state park to exchange for the natural and undisturbed state park land.

Ms. Bricks and the Friends are asking a judge to examine the DNR’s unprecedented decision to give state park land to a private company for private purposes.

Kohler, with Schimel's support, has filed a motion to dismiss the case without being heard. Schimel's reasoning, simply put, is that Wisconsin residents are not entitled to ask a judge to review a state agency’s decisions because they have no interest in state parks.

According to Schimel, statutes and rules governing state parks "are not designed to protect the recreational and aesthetic interests of the public." These statutes and rules are only meant to bind DNR as a "property manager."

Said Friends member Mary Faydash, "State parks are not like an apartment building the DNR manages for profit and can sell at a whim. Since when were the rules made to protect the interests of bureaucrats instead of the public?"

Wisconsin statutes provide that "The purpose of the state parks is to provide areas for public recreation and for public education in conservation and nature study." Wis. Stat. s. 27.01(1).

DNR's own rules recognize the importance of keeping land in state parks for the benefit of the public. Administrative rule NR 1.47 explicitly states: “State owned lands within state park boundaries shall not be sold or otherwise disposed of.”

"We're disappointed that our Attorney General would make arguments so at odds with the purpose of state parks and the statutes and rules mean to protect the public interest in these taxpayer-supported lands," said Faydash.

If granted, this motion to dismiss sets a precedent that should worry Wisconsin residents, regardless of how they might feel about building another luxury golf course on the shores of Lake Michigan. A legal precedent that holds that Wisconsin residents are not legally entitled even to request judicial review of a state agency’s decisions essentially means that monied interests are free to deal, literally, with public agencies for control of public assets maintained with public resources while the public is sidelined at a crucial moment.

Mary Faydash
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FBRF just finished a week long administrative law hearing challenging the DNR Wetland Fill Permit allowing Kohler to destroy globally significant wetlands, significant Kohler Andrae State Park acreage, and permanently alter the ecosystem of this rare central Wisconsin coastal area. With your donations and a generous grant for environmental litigation we have gotten through the first hurdle. Two more challenges remain. Please continue to share this very important fight to protect and preserve our Wisconsin natural resources and to prevent companies from contaminating our land air and water for their own profits. Thank you to all of you who have brought us to this point. Grassroots groups like FBRF are leading the fight to take back our state from environmental profiteers.
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$21,045 of $150,000 goal

Raised by 411 people in 50 months
Created August 1, 2014
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Happy Birthday Claudia. Keep up the good fight! We support you.

9 days ago
9 days ago
David Clemmer
11 days ago

Great work Mary & Claudia! You are heroes!

21 days ago
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