We’ve reported previously on the proposed plan to renovate the Cherokee Golf Course, located in the Town of Westport. Westport’s Plan Commission requested a response to the concerns we raised about the renovation.
Jeffrey Kraemer of Heartland Ecological Services provided this response:
Cherokee has made revisions to their proposed project to further minimize wetland and waterway impacts. Wetland impacts have been reduced from nearly 10 acres to approximately 2 acres and all impacts to waterways through filling (1.33 acres) have been eliminated. Cherokee still proposes dredging of waterways for maintenance and water quality improvements; deep excavation and enlargement of a few of the existing ponds for water quality and obtaining construction fill material; and will be replacing undersized/perched culverts with appropriately sized and placed culverts while incorporating many clear span bridges and boardwalks to minimize wetland impacts. Cherokee is also proposing to restore all the wetlands on their property (33.5 acres) plus will create wetlands on-site to offset the wetland loss while also purchasing wetland mitigation credits.
Our response to the Friends of the Cherokee Marsh questions are as follows:
1. “The Cherokee Marsh wetlands provide crucial flood control and filtering of stormwater for Lake Mendota, the other downstream lakes in the Yahara chain, and their residents. Any loss of wetlands reduces the wetlands’ capability to provide these functions. We understand that the proposed 9.82 acres of wetland loss would be offset with wetland mitigation credits, but if the mitigation occurs in another watershed as expected, Cherokee Marsh and its downstream waters receive no benefit to offset the wetland loss.” Please describe where might the mitigation credits be used and how might the mitigation enhance the Marsh.
- Cherokee’s revised plans have further minimized wetland impacts from 9.82 acres to 2.06 acres. Of the proposed wetland impacts, 1.31 acres will result in a wetland loss through conversion to uplands, while 0.75 acres of wetland impacts will result from excavation activities and will result in a conversion of wetland type but not a loss. Cherokee’s on-site wetland mitigation plan is as follows and is detailed in a wetland restoration plan as part of the material at the link above:
|On-Site Wetland Restoration Methodology||Acreage|
|Establish Native Shoreline/Littoral Vegetation on Enlarged Waterbodies||1.31|
|Meander Channel Abandonment Restoration||1.45|
|Wetland Creation Within Uplands||1.64|
|Enhancement of Degraded Wetlands||33.52|
|Total Wetland Restoration and Enhancement||37.92|
As indicated, 1.64 acres of wetlands will be created on-site which will off-set the 1.31 acres of proposed wetland loss, while the restoration and enhancement of 36.28 acres of degraded wetlands and littoral zones will result in a significant overall beneficial impact to the ecological functional and values of the wetlands on-site. Furthermore, Cherokee will be required to purchase wetland mitigation credits at a likely ratio of 1.2:1 from a mitigation bank located within the Rock River watershed. This credits will be purchased from a private mitigation bank where the wetlands have already been restored.
2. “The application also requests to convert 1.3 acres of shallow open water to upland. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) strongly discourages the conversion of open water to upland as it is likely to be detrimental to the public interests of navigable waterways.” Please describe the shallow open water being converted and how the conversion might actually enhance the Marsh.
- Waterway conversion to uplands has been eliminated from the proposed plan. Further efforts have been proposed to avoid impacts to waterways through the use of clear span bridges and replacement of undersized and perched culverts. Maintenance dredging throughout the waterway channels are proposed to removed unconsolidated sediment that has accumulated overtime, which will limit the movement of this material downstream into the Yahara River, while improving fish passage and aquatic habitat.
3. “The WDNR’s Endangered Resource Review identified two species potentially present within proximity to the project area and provided required actions to comply with federal/state endangered species laws. Several other special concern, species of concern, and threatened species were identified as potentially being present, and recommended actions were presented to avoid impacts to these species. We urge consideration of these actions when evaluating the permit application.” Please describe steps Cherokee will be taken to address endangered resources in the project area to relieve the fears of the public in any potential loss of these species.
- Cherokee has coordinated directly with the WDNR Endangered Resources program staff and they have determined that the proposed project will not impact any known or potential rare species. WDNR has provided mitigation measures that Cherokee must adhere to during construction to avoid any potential impacts. Overall, Cherokee will be improving habitat, both wetland and aquatic, including habitats that support species of special concern, threatened and endangered with their proposed project. The information provided by WDNR specific to threatened and endangered species is confidential and unfortunately Cherokee is unable to provide specific details, but the WDNR determined that by using appropriate construction practices and timing no impacts would be expected.
We will continue to follow and report on this project.
Read about the announcement for plans to modernize the Cherokee Golf Course in our April / May newsletter,
Read about the DNR’s request for more information for the permit in our June / July newsletter.
Friends submit comments on golf course permit application – Aug / Sept newsletter.