Rainbow Springs Golf Course Proposal Requires Our Vigilance

Help us voice the importance of the Mukwonago River

The proposal to continue the Rainbow Springs golf courses is a potential threat to the Mukwonago River and the planned restoration of that stretch of the river.  The construction and operation of these golf courses through the years 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. Since the DNR purchased the land in 2008, we have looked forward to helping to restore this section of the river.  Now even the significant funding that the DNR and partners like Ducks Unlimited have provisionally raised through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act to help pay for the restoration is threatened.

The Friends have been working diligently on this for over a month, and we appreciate the participation from many of you in the process to date.  We have seen the Summary of Public Comments of the DNR’s visioning session on March 10th and the majority of comments (56%) were in favor of restoration and nature based recreation.

The latest development is that Senator Mary Lazich is contemplating introducing legislation to change state law to allow the continuation of these golf courses despite the general ban on using Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Funds to purchase golf courses.  We have shared the Glacial Refuge video with Senator Lazich and communicated our concerns to her.  Her office has been receptive.  Let’s make sure she is clear how strong the local support for the Mukwonago River is.

We are happy to report that the Town of Mukwonago’s Planning Commission and Town Board took up this issue Wednesday April 6, 2011 and voted unanimously and communicated in a letter to the legislator that the golf course area of this property be restored to its floodplain and wetland habitat as was the plan since the DNR’s 2008 purchase of the property.  They cited environmental and economic arguments in coming to that decision.

Our letter to the Town included the following summary of our position on this issue:

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.

Other conservation groups—including the Waukesha County Conservation Alliance, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association, and Ducks Unlimited—share our position in opposition to the further use of this property for golf and support its restoration and opening for passive recreational enjoyment, hunting, and fishing.  We will continue to work with them closely on this issue.

Stay tuned for more updates.  Thank you for taking action to make sure that a reasonable, common-sense, environmentally-sound decision is made on this issue.

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