“Privatization” and Your Wisconsin State Parks (The Bold Grab of Kohler, Part 2)

A park ranger with the DNR patch on the arm of her uniform became impatient with me as we checked out the map of Kohler-Andrae. She raised a forefinger and said, “You’re not listening to me.”  I somehow had the notion that because the park is known as Kohler-Andrae, Kohler Company played some role in its day-to-day operations due to a process known as the “privatization” of state parks.

But that is not what “privatization” of state parks means.  Kohler-Andrae is so-called because a wealthy Wisconsinite named Theodore “Terry” Andrae donated much of the land back in 1927, then the Kohlers donated another 280 acres in 1966.  It is known officially as Kohler-Andrae, but is still sometimes called Terry Andrae.

Kohler has no role in the day-day-operations or support of the park.  “Privatization” of state parks simply means that there is no money available from state coffers to support them.  They must be self-sustaining.  Or, as Carolyn Morgen, the J.M. Kohler-Terry Andrae superintendent, writes in the park visitor guide, the “DNR has changed the way that Wisconsin State Parks are funded.  This change means that Wisconsin State Parks must provide for their own operation expenses, based on revenues generated in the parks.”  She also informs visitors that, “As of January 2018, Park Rangers are no longer sworn officers.”

Maybe that’s why the ranger was so sensitive about her authority.  She’s been demoted from an officer of the law to a glorified park security guard.

And BTW – where is the Black River Forest?

As far as I know, the Black River Forest is a state forest near the town of Black River Falls in Jackson County.  A forested area called the Black River Trails is located inside Terry Andrae park across from the Kohler land.  Some of this forest extends onto the Kohler land and is part of the 160 out of 247 acres that Mary Faydash of FBRF says is going to be “clear cut.”

For a map of Kohler-Andrae State Park, click here:





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