A river runs through memories of an outdoorsman’s leadership

YOURCOUNTY
Jim Baumgart  Sheboygan County Supervisor

When Roy Sebald retired from employment with the United States Government, he came back home to Sheboygan County. He had left in the 1940’s during World War II, provided protectionto President Truman for a couple of years and then worked in the Federal prison system until his retirement.

Sebald loved the out-of-doors, including trapping, hunting, and fishing. He joined and was active with a number of local and state conservation organizations. Best of all, maybe because of his years of military and other government service, knew how to organize, bring people together and get things done. Best of all he did it with a minimum amount of conflict and a maximum amount of cooperation.

.In the early 1980’s it became clear to Sebald that the Sheboygan River was in trouble. As a young trapper he was able to harvest mink from that waterway. When he returned back home, the mink and other fur bearing animals were all but gone. As member of the Sheboygan County Izaak Walton League, he began a search for answers that lasted nearly ten years until health reasons slowed those efforts..

During that period he lead the development of the Sheboygan County Water Quality Task Force.

He helped bring together state and federal agencies, elected officials, private sector specialists, volunteers and others. One only needs to read the August 20, 1985 Sheboygan River Harbor and River Restoration Report to understand the full impact of the effort taking place.

That early work likely set the basic groundwork that led the final effort to complete the recent habitat and dredging work to clean up the Sheboygan River.

The work he and others did was long ago but the people involved never forgot the role he and others played..

On Tuesday evening, December 17, 2013, the Sheboygan County Board acted.

After months of reviewing and receiving input from the public and conservation community, they passed an ordinance that named two acres of land adjacent to the Sheboygan River and Taylor Drive, the “Roy Sebald Sheboygan River Natural Area”.

The ordinance, in part, reads as follows:

WHEREAS, Sheboygan County owns a parcel of land of approximately two acres in the City of Sheboygan on the northeast side of the intersection of Taylor Drive and Indiana Avenue, and which fronts on the Sheboygan River; and

WHEREAS, the parcel was originally part of highway land acquisition but subject to setbacks and rights-of-way, the Highway Department no longer is using the parcel, and

WHEREAS, as part of the Sheboygan River natural restoration component of the recent dredging project, the parcel has now evolved into an attraction for flora and fauna with awalking path, a canoe launch, and a fishing access area, and it is likely to become a trailhead for future bicycles and recreational trail expansion, and

WHEREAS, it is appropriate that this parcel be managed as a County Park by the

Planning and Resources Department under Chapter 24 of the Sheboygan County Code, and

WHEREAS, much of the impetus for the clean-up and restoration of the Sheboygan River Basin was driven by the efforts of the late Roy W. Sebald, a long-time Sheboygan County conservation leader who served as co-chairperson to the Sheboygan County Water Quality Task Force, and who was active in the leadership of such organizations as the Sheboygan County Conservation Association, the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, the Wisconsin Trappers Association, the Izaak Walton League, the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and the Ellwood

H. May Environmental Park, and

WHEREAS it would be fitting and appropriate that Mr. Sebald’s memory be honored by designating the park as the “Roy Sebald Sheboygan River Natural Area”.

The Ordinance went on to describe the location, amending Chapter and effective date. That was followed by the passing of Ordinance Number 8 by the full Sheboygan County Board.

Adam Payne, Sheboygan County Administrator and Roger Te Stroete, County Board Chairperson presented a plaque with a copy of the ordinance to Roy’s Sebald’s wife, Lillian, which was accepted by her daughter Lynn Borth- Heidemann.

Now, and maybe forever, this small county park will be a reminder of those people, past and present, who worked so hard to greatly improve and restore the waters of the Sheboygan River.


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