Letter to the Editor: Opposed to Adding Parking at Eagle Tower

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is proposing a Master Plan Variance to add up to 100 parking stalls in the Eagle Tower area at Peninsula State Park.

The DNR seems to feel it is responsible to accommodate the expectation of every visitor for a parking spot at any time. It is not. Parking capacity should be allowed to self-regulate the number of visitors to the Eagle Tower area. Parking changes at Eagle Tower, Eagle Terrace, and Eagle Panorama should be limited to the current parking lot footprint at each area. 

During high visitation at Eagle Tower the rampways and observation platform are already congested – even with current parking capacity. The addition of more parking will lead to increased congestion in the tower area and on the tower structure. 

The variance proposal identifies significant adverse impacts of the projects including: vegetation clearing, extensive grading, addition of substrate, soil compaction, and increased runoff. The development of Eagle Tower involved extensive deforestation. Development of new parking at the Eagle Terrace picnic area will result in many more mature trees being lost. The trees are vital in stabilizing shallow soils as elevation slopes toward cliff edges. The trees and other vegetation are also crucial in filtering runoff from Eagle Tower and the impervious Shoreline Road above. Excavation of native soils and replacement with impervious pavement could permanently change the hydrology of the area and create the potential for greater and more intense runoff. 

Both Shore Road and the Eagle Terrace access road closely parallel the edge of the Niagara Escarpment. Escarpment geology is such that surface water – including runoff – rapidly moves through karst aquifers. Any development close to the globally significant Niagara Escarpment and Peninsula Park Beech Forest State Natural Area #12, both featuring unique and fragile plant and animal communities, should be undertaken with great caution and only after comprehensive study. The DNR gives no indication that studies have or will be conducted to evaluate the threats and long-term negative impacts of the projects.

The proposed Master Plan Variance should be denied.

William and Mary Bestor

Egg Harbor, Wisconsin