Potawatomi State Park in Door County, Wisconsin is cutting down (according to my estimate based on the pictures I took) at least one thousand trees, many of which are 75 years old and older, in order to build a new RV group campground.
This is shameful for at least two reasons. First, this particular natural area was especially beautiful.
Second, on the other side of the park there is an abandoned ski area and former group campground. It currently has an overturned rotting picnic table, power poles laying in the grass, gravel roads and parking areas covered in weeds, a building with boarded up and broken windows, broken glass, rusted machinery, wires laying on the ground, and refuse strewn over approximately 20 acres.
The DNR could clean up and reclaim this abandoned area as a campground. There are many tall trees there, and if the garbage was picked up, it would be quite scenic. But rather than do that, the DNR is instead cutting down majestic trees in the park’s most pristine natural area.
How does the DNR justify this? The DNR says they are following the park’s master plan. However, there are at least two flaws with this argument.
First, when the master plan was approved over 21 years ago, the ski area was still being used for skiing. However, the amounts of rust on the abandoned equipment, the broken glass, and the decay of the wooden structures all testify that this area has been abandoned for many years. The master plan is hopelessly outdated.
Second, the trees are being cut east of where the master plan says the group campground should go, so they are not actually following the master plan.
Finally, it appears as though the DNR may not have gone through the public notice/public comment period required under the WEPA for a building project of this size. This new group campground is being paid for with conservation and stewardship funds of over $300,000. (I received this information from the Door County Environmental Council).
The DNR should halt this campground until the master plan can be updated so that there can be public input and participation on the project.
The Former Campground/Ski Area:
This is an overall picture of the abandoned former campground/ski area inside Potawatomi State Park. The trees behind and to the left of the lodge have areas cleared out for camping and/or parking. The trees on the right and far left are also inside the park. This picture was taken from the top of the former ski hill overlook.
This picture shows the condition of the lodge (the triangular shaped building in the first photo). Notice the rotted wood and broken windows.
This is a picture of rusted machinery and boards partly up the side of the hill. For additional pictures go to this Collection of Photos.
The Natural Area:
This is a picture of a stump from one of the trees that has been cut down for the new group campground. I count 75 tree rings. On a picture of another stump from the new campground, I counted 85-90 tree rings. The picture at the top of this post is also from this same natural area.
Make Your Voice Heard:
Office of the Governor
Wisconsin State Legislature
Potawatomi State Park
Friends of Wisconsin State Parks
Wisconsin Natural Resources Board