Dream to Reality: Nature Preserve Replaces Failed Golf Course

I have a dream. Too. And it looks something like Forest Beach Migratory Preserve, in Belgium, Wisconsin.

Now Forest Beach was not always a migratory preserve. In fact, for 80 years it was the Squires Country Club. But according to the former owner, Bruce Bloemer, a drop in club membership and a 35% decline in golf green fees over the last five years made it impossible to continue operating the course.

Like the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve, the Forest Beach Migratory Preserve is also on a bluff along Lake Michigan with grand vistas and many of the other attributes Fort Sheridan golf proponents claim will make their proposed course a winner, drawing from throughout the region. And it is conveniently accessible to the large population of Milwaukee, much like Fort Sheridan is close to Chicago. But Squires Country Club is no longer a winner. As a golf course, today,  it is a loser. What worked for years no longer works. Things change.

But wait, there’s more. Not only did the Squires Country Club golf course fail but it was also a bad Lake Michigan neighbor. According to Shawn Graff, executive director of the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust that now owns this land, the reclamation of the golf course into the Forest Beach Migratory Preserve will lead to reduced erosion and improvement of the water quality in Lake Michigan. In fact, Graff estimates more than 6 tons of fertilizers and herbicides annually will no longer flow into Lake Michigan from the former golf course.

That’s my dream. And there’s plenty of room for others of a like mind to join in. Just say the magic words and put them into an email to fort@lcfpd.org. Just tell Lake County Forest Preserve: “No golf at Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve.”

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