May 25, 2017
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STEVE LUND: A good addition to county park network


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By Steve Lund


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slund@kenoshanews.com

A walk around the lake at KD Park, the new county park near Twin Lakes, took about 50 minutes.

The hike could have been done faster, but I stopped to talk to a couple of fishermen, and I intentionally wandered off the trail a few times to get closer to the water’s edge. That was really the point of the walk, to find out how much of the lakeshore was really accessible on foot. (The answer: all of it.)

Kenosha County is blessed with numerous lakes, and most of them have pretty good access for boats, canoes and kayaks. The lakes have boat launches, and most of the boat launches have reasonable number of parking places nearby.

For people who want to fish from shore or just walk along the shore, however, access is much more limited. There are a few lakes in parks where the shoreline is open — Anderson Park pond in Kenosha or Lake Andrea in Pleasant Prairie, for example — but most of the lakes in the county are surrounded by private property. Public access is limited to the boat landings and in some cases a public pier, a beach or a small section of a park.

That makes the accessibility of the shoreline in KD Park a big addition to the county’s recreational resources. In a short walk from the parking area, a kid and his mom or dad could find a spot to cast a bobber into the lake.

Over this year, the Opinion page has emphasized certain topics that could be important for this area in the long term. One of the topics is the development of water resources.

KD Park, which had its official opening last week, is exactly the kind of thing we had in mind. The 234-acre park has hiking trails and is home to a sustainable-living educational center. The lake is relatively small, 39 acres, and is restricted to non-motorized watercraft.

It’s a pretty quiet place, except for the part of the hiking trail that gets close to Highway KD. Highway noise is noticeable there. When I visited, a few people were walking dogs, but a nearby dog park had quite a few more customers.

No doubt KD Park will develop a following as it becomes better known. It’s a relatively small but welcome addition to the outdoor recreational opportunities here.

Those opportunities are important mainly for quality-of-life reasons, but they have economic impact as well.

The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater reported this week on a study by an economics professor about water quality projects and the economy. The study looked at 79 projects funded by grants from the Fund for Lake Michigan.

One of the grants was to the Kenosha County Division of Parks for designing and planning of bank stabilization work on the Pike River. Other grants went to Somers, the city of Racine, the Root-Pike Watershed Initiative Network and numerous other municipalities and non-profits for water quality improvement in the Lake Michigan watershed.

“These are not just feel-good projects; they significantly impact the economy,” said study author and economics professor Russ Kashian in a press release. “Money invested through this foundation — which often includes the leveraging of additional private funding — is not an expense; it’s an investment in the community, and the return on investment is extremely high. The economic and environmental benefits go hand in hand.”

KD Park was not a Fund for Lake Michigan project, but it was supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Stewardship Fund. No doubt there were jobs, including summer jobs for local youths, during the development phase, but beyond that, the economic impact wouldn’t appear to be very big.

The quality-of-life impact, however, of having another outdoor recreational opportunity — a place to hike, fish, kayak, watch birds or just sit on a bench and watch the water — could be huge.

Steve Lund is the editorial page editor of the Kenosha News. His column appears on Thursdays.


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