Kohler-Andrae State Parks, located along the shoreline of Lake Michigan, are certainly some of Wisconsin’s most beautiful state parks. They’ve also become the center of controversy as the Kohler Company presses to build a golf course on the northern border and seems to be actively encouraging the city of Sheboygan to help make the process easier through annexation.
We took a drive over to the town of Wilson, Wisconsin last weekend for visit to Kohler-Andrea. From Baraboo, the 2-hour drive takes you from the hilly edge of the driftless region, through the flat eastern part of the state where glaciers some 10,000 years ago had their way, before finally arriving on the shores of Lake Michigan.
I have to say, a certain “sameness” has taken over much of eastern shoreline of the Wisconsin. (South of Two Rivers anyway!) The coast is of course, built up and urbanized far beyond most of the state, and while the never ending urban expansion goes on, the original nature of the Lake Michigan shoreline is lost under the construction. This is why our coastal parks are so important. Locations like Kohler-Andrae are the last islands of natural coastline open to everyone with a park sticker. Not to mention the last havens of wildlife and myriad migrating birds who travel the shores of Lake Michigan each year.
The 988 acres we non-locals often just call “Kohler-Andrae State Park” are actually 2 state parks; Terry Andrae State Park and John Michael Kohler State Park. In addition to the popular beaches, the parks offer many beautiful hiking trails, picnic areas, a modern nature center and campgrounds. Importantly, Kohler-Andrae also preserves some of last remaining Great Lakes dunes in Wisconsin.**
On our visit, we hiked the length of the Kohler Dunes State Natural Area on the Dunes Cordwalk which encapsulates the unique sand dune landscape that was once common along Lake Michigan’s shoreline. This 2-mile hike takes you through the “must see” landscape if you are coming from another part of the state! This time of year, keep your eyes out for monarch butterflies which seem to be everywhere!!
The one thing I learned about Kohler-Andrae during our short visit is that it is the most natural and pristine of southeast Wisconsin’s coastal parks. The park staff and the Friends Group should be proud of their efforts! For the rest of us, protecting the park, the shoreline and the lake itself should be taken seriously as well.
The issues around the proposed golf course, the annexation and a proposed round-a-bout within the park are complex and not easily addressed in a couple of sentences. It does seem though, that a golf course no matter how it’s proposed, will, in the end, be worse for the environment than advertised and by my reading, the whole annexation attempt by the city of Sheboygan seems a bit “janky”. Regardless, I invite you to have a look at the links below and make your voices heard to the powers that be, whichever way your opinion falls. If you’ve not been to Kohler-Andrae before, see if you can fit it into your plans before summer is over.
- Kohler-Andrae State Parks Offical Webpage
- Friends of Black River Forest
- Proposed Golf Course – Kohler Co.
- **Protecting Rare Plants at Kohler-Andrae
- DNR report on Kohler golf course spurs concerns
- Don’t Give Away Acres of State Park
***Obligatory Disclaimer: This website is NOT associated with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The views expressed in this blog are mine and do not represent the views of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.