PLEASANT PRAIRIE — When developer S.R. Mills looks out over 400 acres of land in the southeast corner of Kenosha County, he sees a place with great potential. Potential to look a lot like it did back when Wisconsin first became a state.
“We’ll go back and and do native grassland plantings and return it to what it looked like in the 1850s,” Mills said.
Mills’ company, Bear Real Estate, want to turn this piece of farmland into wetland.
That’s what it was before farmers drained these fields to plant crops, and it’s just perfect for giving back to nature.
“This site is absolutely pristine. There’s a creek that runs through the center of it, there’s old oak trees. We just didn’t think it made any sense to put roads through there,” he said.
Preserving this place is also a shrewd business move for mills.
These fields will soon be a “wetland bank.”
According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, a wetland bank is, "restored, enhanced, or created wetlands whose purpose is to provide credits to offset unavoidable impacts to existing wetlands. A bank can be located on land that historically supported wetlands or currently holds degraded wetlands."
Something other developers can buy into when their work disturbs existing wetlands across Wisconsin.
It’s something Mills has had to do, himself.
“We were on the other side of it, having to purchase banks, and the thing that didn’t seem right to us us those banks were in northern Wisconsin,” Mills said. “Which does little good in southeast Wisconsin where the impact actually is.”
State law requires a developer to create new wetland whenever they disturb an existing wetland during construction.
There were just no good options in this part of the state.
Presented with the need for a wetland bank and owning land perfect for a wetland, Mills said the decision was only natural.
“It’s definitely not something that’s strictly monetary. It’s something we think is good for the area and there’s not a lot of places that work really, really well to be a wetland bank,” he said.