Michael Belot, General Manager of Destination Kohler, assured residents that the planned golf course “will respect the sand dune structures, use sound forest management practices, and operate within stringent federal and state rules.”
Michael Belot, General Manager of Destination Kohler, has penned an open letter published in the Sheboygan (Wis.) Press in response to a “Letter to the Editor” published earlier this month.
“We read with interest the recent letter to the editor (Commentary: Stop DNR from giving state land to Kohler Co. for private profit July 12) regarding Kohler Co.’s proposed public golf course in the Town of Wilson. We are listening to the concerns of our neighbors and incorporating their input into our planning. Our discussions have been fact-based, and we believe our neighbors’ thoughts matter. While there may be some differences of opinion, we have more in common than many might think. Some neighbors want to make sure the landscape is protected, and so do we. Others want to make sure the project benefits the community, and so do we. Above all, it would appear that everyone wants a committed environmental steward of the land, and our company has an established reputation of being that.
“Kohler has a long track record of respecting the environment, and this public course will reflect that commitment and sensitivity. Our public course will respect the sand dune structures, use sound forest management practices to remove invasive species, thin out trees where needed to create new growth and wildlife habitat, and operate within stringent federal and state rules before, during and after construction.
“This property has been owned by Kohler Co. for more than 75 years. With it we hope to ensure Sheboygan County as the premier golf destination in the United States. And we hope to do something that enhances the environment, respects the dunes, opens the land to the public, and provides jobs and tax revenue for both the Town of Wilson and Sheboygan County. The plan for this public course will remove invasive species, increase the diversity of native vegetation, enhance wildlife habitat and make the forest more sustainable. Our plan also includes a commitment to preserving, enhancing and minimizing the impact to wetlands, and any fertilizers and pesticides will be strictly and thoroughly regulated on both state and federal levels. Our track record with our existing five championship golf courses shows that Kohler complies with all state and federal regulations, and we have never had a problem or citation at any of the existing courses.
“The existing land requires attention because non-native species have invaded and displaced natural vegetation. Our forestry management plan will have multiple benefits including the improvement as a place for wildlife, allowing younger trees the chance to grow and become centennials, reducing the risk of disease infestation and returning the ground layer to its natural state. Indeed, removing the invasive species can help protect the dunes and improve the land by making it more sustainable.
“We at Kohler Co. share Wisconsin’s history of respect for our natural resource heritage and the land. We, too, honor it, not by words alone, but by our deeds and our actions. Our plan for a public golf course not only will protect the habitat and the land, but it also will help preserve and enhance it. While we respect and appreciate the views of our neighbors, it was disappointing to read the various claims and allegations that were not backed up by any facts at all. Our project will create an estimated 100 jobs on an on-going basis and will initially create significant opportunities for local contractors and trades people who will help build this public course. The work on this course, which will open public access, will be done in strict accord with all local, state and federal regulations. To suggest that the project will create a “cloud of pollution” and result in the destruction of 247 acres is misleading and wrong. Suggesting that the 247 acres will “be covered with herbicides, pesticides and fertilizer” is not grounded in fact.
“As noted in the Town of Wilson’s 20 Year Plan, there is strong support for projects that will increase recreational opportunities in the area, and that is reflected in the fact that the land is now zoned for a golf course as a proper use.
“As the writer noted, land does not exist in a bubble, which is why our plan is focused on making this a one-of-a-kind public course whose design follows sound environmental sustainability principles.
“We believe it is important that the ongoing discussion be driven by fact-based information rather than broad generalities that prevent all of us from reaching the common goal of enhancing this property and making it a world class destination for everyone’s enjoyment. We look forward to continued dialogue with the community and the Town.”
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