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Planning begins for Wisconsin Point

Councilor Tom Bridge has long fought for a Wisconsin Point free of illegal dumping and signs that some people just don't care. That ideal led him to contemplate the notion of having the state take over the site for a park. But short of that idea ...

Wisconsin Point
A variety of people with an interest in Wisconsin Point begin developing a plan to manage the pristine dune. (Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

Councilor Tom Bridge has long fought for a Wisconsin Point free of illegal dumping and signs that some people just don't care.

That ideal led him to contemplate the notion of having the state take over the site for a park.

But short of that idea -- planning how to manage the pristine dune that separates Lake Superior and Allouez Bay gets underway Friday.

People representing the city of Superior, Douglas County, University of Wisconsin-Superior, Lake Superior Natural Estuarine Research Reserve, Fond du Lac Band of Chippewa and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources come together with Northwest Regional Planning Commission to develop a management plan for Wisconsin Point.

The goal of the plan is to establish a long-range vision for Wisconsin Point, said Jason Laumann, a planner with Northwest Regional Planning Commission.

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"There's been a lot of thought about what Wisconsin Point should be and a lot of different perspectives on that," Laumann said. "The purpose of the management plan is to take all of those thoughts and ideas, and enter the planning process to identify what is the best approach as far as the management of Wisconsin Point goes in terms of management, recreational use, a whole host of variables."

People involved in the planning effort have a stake in the point, but say public involvement in the process is important.

The planning process kicks off at 10 a.m. Friday in Room 204 of the Government Center, 1316 N. 14th St., Superior.

As a future property owner of land on Wisconsin Point, Fond du Lac Band of Chippewa tribal chairwoman Karen Diver said the tribe wants to be involved to ensure the plan is consistent with the tribe's short- and long-term goals. She said she's met with tribal members to represent their views on the panel.

"One of the main priorities that came from the tribal members was access," Diver said. "Whatever is done to preserve the point, there remains or improves public access to the point." She said the tribe, which is expecting the federal government to return of historic tribal land near the end of Wisconsin Point, envisions a place where members can gather and enjoy the beauty of the area.

While Bridge abandoned the idea of a state park, he didn't abandon the idea of getting the state involved. He lobbied for the help during Superior Days.

A Wisconsin DNR Coastal Management grant is paying for plan development.

He said the goal of the plan is to maintain the point and end the abuses.

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Vandalism and illegal dumping have long plagued the remote location.

Bridge said one of his goals is to develop the plan to include controls that would prevent people from doing "stupid stuff."

"It's probably the nicest thing we have in Superior," Bridge said. "It's not the scope of the municipal forest, but it's four miles of beach and five miles of Allouez Bay shoreline that's undeveloped."

During the inaugural session, the panel considers the goals, milestones and a timeline for establishing the plan.

"During this meeting, one of the things we have to tackle is participation and take a look at stakeholders and who's going to be involved," Laumann said.

The public is welcome to give input during the session.

Public input is very important, Bridge said.

"The plan will really look to establish some benchmarks and milestones as far as accomplishing tasks toward the betterment of Wisconsin Point," Laumann said.

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Parks and Recreation Administrator Mary Morgan said while the city has a lot of information about the point in various plans and resulting from studies of the environment, the one thing that it doesn't have is a comprehensive management plan.

The plan will establish a vision for Wisconsin Point and help the city access resources to make that vision a reality.

Morgan said the plan would establish goals and balance the interests of various people with a stake in Wisconsin Point.

"I think people need to be involved in this because this type of planning process is about balancing the needs," Diver said. "The more input people have on the front end of the planning process will result in a plan that's most useful to the most people."

Related Topics: ENVIRONMENTSUPERIOR
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