Preserve Our Land, Air and Water
FRIENDS OF THE BLACK RIVER FOREST
FBRF's 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 has rewarded political donors with giveaways of our land, air and water to consume and profit from.
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 planned 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 Kohler Andrae State Park to complete the course.
If approved, 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 the company's profit. In other words, this rare ecosystem would be stripped of all its defining characteristics.
Our goal became the preservation of our rare Lake Michigan coastal ecosystem and the Kohler State Park land that belongs to all of us.
We decided to make sure the processes leading up to permitting were carried out scientifically devoid of environmental passes being given to a developer. 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 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 as well was giving away our important state park land.
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
We learned that the voices of hundreds of people and petitions from 22,000 people had no import with the DNR or the Natural Resources Board.
NOW WE SAY "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
FRIENDS OF THE BLACK RIVER FOREST RECEIVED A $50,0000 GRANT FROM THE BRICO FUND TO LAUNCH OUR FIRST LEGAL CHALLENGE AGAINST THE ISSUANCE OF A WETLAND FILL PERMIT TO THE KOHLER COMPANY BY THE DNR. WE HAVE TWO MORE ROUNDS TO GO, CHALLENGING THE DNR AND ITS ILLEGAL SWAP OF OUR PRIME STATE PARK LAND FOR INSIGNIFICANT KOHLER COMPANY LAND.
WILL YOU JOIN THIS GRASSROOTS EFFORT TO HOLD THE DNR TO WISCONSIN LAW?
WILL YOU HELP FBRF RAISE THE FUNDS TO SEE THIS BATTLE THROUGH TO VICTORY?
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 www.friendsblackriverforest.org
Read it here http://bit.ly/2qF7Suz
We are thrilled that the WCIJ investigated what FBRF have been fighting for 5 years. Your donations have enabled us to create solid cases against the DNR's poor permitting of the Kohler Company's proposed golf course. We need funds to carry on through our litigation. If you can share this we would greatly appreciate it.
Former DNR employee: Staff pressured to OK Kohler golf course on rare Wisconsin wetlands and state park
READ IT HERE http://bit.ly/2qF7Suz
We have been preparing for 5 years to challenge the poor work of the DNR and The Natural Resources Board. Now we have brought them to court and we need your help
THE STATE OF FBRF
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.
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
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.