Thursday, April 14, 2011

Conservation Congress: Help save Rainbow Springs for wildlife!

The results of the balloting in Monday's Conservation Congress are in. Having been there, it comes as no surprise to me that most of the proposals passed, including the controversial ones to expand hunting and trapping in State Parks. To see the tally, go to DNR Summary of Results.

I plan to write up another post with reflections and concerns about the Conservation Congress meeting and process. In fact, I may have to make it a series. There are a number of issues that I think will be of interest. But I feel the need to begin with an appeal.

One of the things I learned about at Monday's meeting was the issue of using funds from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund to buy golf courses with the intention of converting them to natural areas. It's a complicated issue that may get more complicated and there are controversial aspects. I'll try to explain it as succinctly as I can based on my limited understanding of the issues. I welcome comments that will provide clarification and further information.

Stewardship funds are currently not allowed to be used to purchase golf courses. However, there has been a request for an exception to be made for Rainbow Springs Country Club, which was developed on the Mukwonago River. Environmentalists objected to this at the time, but it was done. Now a plan has been proposed to purchase the golf course using Stewardship funds, designate it as part of the Kettle Moraine State Park, and convert it to wetlands.  This is something the hunting/fishing community that form the majority of those attending the Conservation Congress approve. I.e., hunters/fishermen and conservationists are on the same side of this issue. As I see it, there are two potential problems:

1. Using Stewardship funds to purchase Rainbow Springs would set a precedent.
2. Some people - golfers, presumably - want to keep the golf course.

A group called Friends of the Mukwanago River are advocating for the restoration and protection of the river and this land. They are requesting help and recommend the following:

Take Action
Help us serve as the voice of the Mukwonago River

   Please contact Senator Lazich’s office and let her or her staff know that you are a Friend of the Mukwonago River. (Senator Lazich represents this area in the state legislature.)
   Tell Senator Lazich that the protection and restoration of the river is of the utmost importance to you.
   Urge her NOT to introduce legislation that compromises the future of newly-designated Mukwonago Kettle Moraine Unit. 
   Senator Lazich can be reached by phone at (608) 266-5400 or toll free at (800) 334-1442. Her email address is

A proposal to continue the existence of the Rainbow Springs golf courses could threaten the Mukwonago River and planned restoration.  The construction and operation of these golf courses in the floodplain and wetlands has been a detriment to water quality, aquatic habitat, wetland function, proper water flow through the area, and fish and recreational passage.

The Friends of the Mukwonago River believe that the Mukwonago River Unit’s future should be as has always been the plan: restoration of the Mukwonago River, surrounding wetlands, and the river’s floodplain for the benefit of water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and nature-based recreation opportunities for the general public.

For more details about this issue check out "Recent News" at
If you contact Senator Lazich, please report your call at

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