Discussion with Senator Jennifer Shilling at the Watercrest Cafe
Jennifer lays out the grim state of politics with her charming positive spin. We wish her and her refreshing cooperative attitude luck working within such a divisive legislature.
Forest, Edie, and Ellen represented CSP among the roughly 20 in attendance. Many topics were discussed, including the Govt Accountability Board dismantlement and how it would effect local elections (not to mention accountability and corruption), the sale of public lands (which Jennifer deferred to Edie and Forest on for specifics) and other legislative shenanigans. We discussed what was the Democratic focus - named “Badger Blueprint” - on public education, job (and retirement) security and opportunities, infrastructure and rural broadband. The general divisiveness and dysfunctionality of the legislature was discussed. Charlie Pruesser brought up rail issues, which Jennifer is acting on on the state level (basic things like more inspectors) as well as Kind and Baldwin on the federal level (faster transition to safer cars, less volatile gasses in the Bakken oil...) Forest commented on CSP's experience with the railroads pulling federal preemption on anything we or local municipalities try to do, and asked how these new requirements would get around that if the companies decided they didn't feel like complying. There wasn't a really satisfactory answer to that, but that is understandable considering the truly incredible power railroads have been given and lack of local or even state authority. We also made sure to talk about the bad groundwater bills as Jennifer and her aide were on their way out.
“Stink-In” Protest at the Capitol
Rhonda Carrell, from the Central Sands region, addresses the crowd, detailing the threats in her community.
Forest attended, tabled, and spoke for CSP and Southwest Wisconsin. He talked of clean water as a right, the state's apparent inability to protect that right despite good people on the ground, brought up Midwest Envitonmental Advocate's Petition for Corrective Action, and touched on the precautionary principle.
There were approximately 100 in the crowd at its largest, maybe 120-150 throughout the day.
Representing the Driftless area with Forest were Jane Mussey, Brian Wickert, Jack Knight, and Rikardo Jahnke. I guess the Green County folks consider themselves Driftless as well, and it seemed like they had a good handfull there.
There was also strong representation from Wood County, Kewaunee County and the Clean Water Action Council (NE Wi), and Bayfield County, all of whom are facing threats of or already experiencing the effects of large industrial animal feeding operations.
The group mantra between speakers and songs was “Local Control!” and we hope the legislators take the peoples voice seriously in the five point message we delivered to their doorstep:
1) raise their awareness on the community impacts of CAFOs;
2) support enforcement of health and environmental standards allegedly violated by some of the state’s CAFOs; 3) champion upgrades in the Department of Natural Resources’ capacity to enforce the law;
4) ensure that regulations and safeguards are in place to protect Wisconsin communities from CAFO contamination threats;
5) and engage in open, impartial and sensible dialogue with impacted Wisconsin communities to seek workable solutions for CAFO created public risks.
CSP Signs onto the CEASE FIRE campaign,
which seeks to protect human health and the environment by calling for the immediate implementation of safer alternatives to open air burning and non-closed loop incineration/thermal treatment of military munitions. These alternatives must incentivize waste prevention and recycling; prevent, to the greatest possible extent, the release of toxic emissions and pollutants; and advance the principles of environmental justice by assuring that all people enjoy the same degree of protection and access to the decision-making process.
Rock Bottom in the Age of Extreme Resource Extraction with the Beehive Collective
Tyler, of the Beehive Design Collective, explains the fantastical and multifaceted images behind him, laying out the historical context and making a compelling case that our current struggles with fossil-fuels represent a serious civilizational addiction reaching the point of “rock bottom”, where we must either change... or perish.
Opening the event with some song, Lauren McElroy and Ilana Pestcoe lead the various groups in harmony before we got down to the serious topics at hand.
Crawford Steawardship Project became party to the Peoples’ Convention for the Establishment of the International Rights of Nature Tribunal
10/7 and 10/13/2015
Hearings on SB 239 and SB 291, further deregulating our groundwater resources
SB 239 is yet another deregulation bill based on the premise of “needing certainty for investments” and to “cut unnecessary red tape” for farmers. The bill does nothing to fix our state's serious current and future groundwater issues, is not based in science at all, and sets us on the path to privatization of our water.
The over four hour hearing with the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Small Business, and Tourism was packed and approximately 30 people (including Forest Jahnke and Edie Ehlert for CSP) who spoke to the bill with the author (Senator Gudex), the Dairy Business Association, the Farm Bureau, the Potato and Vegetable Growers Association, and the Wi Manufacturers and Commerce as the only ones speaking in favor.
Two committee members to be commended are Senator Erpenbach for his incisive and entertaining questions that pointed out the deeply flawed reasoning for this bill, and Senator Taylor for her active engagement through nearly the entire meeting and obvious concern for the issue and the position of her constituents.
Now there is another bill, SB 291, that has much the same effect. It is being promoted as a compromise bill, but is really not much better than the last one. Instead of ignoring the wider issues altogether, it sets up a process to create "Sensitive Resource Areas" that would receive some amount of state protection and management. However, the process to establish such a designation is so long, convoluted, and likely expensive, with many opportunities for political obstruction, that it guarantees that only waterways already in deep crisis will be able to get any sort of protections.
SB 291 also removes the DNR's obligation to take into account cumulative impacts of high capacity wells in their permitting process (a responsibility finally adopted, at least in theory, only nine months ago).
We find it very disheartening that we already have a good model for a comprehensive bill authored by Sen. Miller (SB72) and Rep. Mason (AB105) this spring that has yet to see a hearing, and yet these two largely-unhelpful bills are heard immediately upon being introduced.
CSP submitted official comments in opposition to both of these two bills and spoke out against them at the hearings. It is sounding like this is the session that something on this critical ussue is passed, so it is very important to keep up the pressure on our elected officials.
Youth Initiative High School Class on Water Footprint, Management, and Filters.
The students of Youth Initiative High School are lucky to have a class called “Water Cycles” where they closely examine this and many facets of our diverse uses can affect these cycles. Omarú Heras Ornelas has worked with many indigenous communities in her home-state of Morelos, Mexico, and used her experiences communicating the importance of how we treat our water to explain how privileged we are to have the water we do. That said, water issues are hardly relegated to impoverished communities in other countries. The Landmark Center itself, where the Youth Initiative operates, has old lead pipes and has to pay for an expensive filtration system to make the water safe to drink. This is on top of various other contaminants found in the tap-water of Viroqua (look it up by zip code, and your own municipal water provider if you have one, here).
After being pushed a bit, it was clear that most of the students had a decent grasp on the basics of the water cycle, and by the end of the class they had added to this a good idea of what a “water footprint” is and what makes up each person's “footprint”. Many were shocked that only 10% of our footprint in most industrialized nations is household use (drinking, bathing, washing dishes and clothes, etc.)
As a hands-on project, we built three simple water filters that can be used on a household level (and the class may even use for drinking water on their trip down the Wisconsin River!)
This kind of education is really critical in all schools and CSP will continue to find ways to bring these fundamentals into our educational system in ways that engage the students and give them a real picture of the wider connections of our every-day actions.
Clean Green workshop
This was a fun and very practical workshop that sent everyone who attended away with some samples of detergent, surface cleaner, dish-washing gel, and the recipes and skills to keep making these cheap non-toxic products themselves! No longer is the choice between polluting the environment and yourself or breaking the bank on expensive “green” products. We learned from Omarú that with a little gumption, we can all make our own inexpensive and eco-friendly products.
Mexican Biologist Omarú Heras Ornelas explains how easy it can be to clean green
Team up and get to work! Three different products were created in one hour by our enthusiastic participants.
Crawford County Fair
The County Fair is one of the few things in Crawford County that has remained in Gays Mills from the days when the village used to be the county seat. This, much like the fair itself, hearkens back to times when the county seat had to be a reasonable horse-ride from any point in the county. Crawford Stewardship Project was pleased to once again be a part of this celebration of our rural community.
The Driftless EcoScape from Valley Stewardship Network was awesome (despite the leaks, which served as further lessons on how uncontrolable water really is in a driftless karst landscape) and helped engage many more people than in past, especially younger folks. The value of having children spray down the model and watch how run-off can enter the river is hard to overstate.
The lovely little bookmark give-away was another nice little addition to the stand and helped get our name and information out more widely (again, especially to younger folks).
Crawford Stewardship Project is committed to continuing our presence at this event. This is one more key place to have our ear to the ground for upcoming issues as well as an important part of our outreach efforts to all citizens of the county who care about our communities and the land and waterways we all rely on.
Kids love making it rain on the Driftless EcoScape!
CSP Coordinator Marinella Pro and Board Vice President Rob Horwich share a laugh during a lull in the fair traffic
CSP has a new tool for aerial monitoring of Pattison's Bridgeport Frac Sand Mine...
Stevie Lewis, Matthew Lippencott, Don Blair of PublicLab and CSP Coordinator Forest went to the pastures behind Rodney and Mark Fishler's homes and there Forest learned the ropes of how to do kite monitoring. There are many details that Forest never would have understood without being shown (making a more secure camera housing, specific Delta kite habits, what knots to use when fastening various parts, adjusting for wind direction by attaching tails to one side or another of the kite, adjusting camera angle, taking a horizon shot to set the distance focus of the camera, never jerk on the kite, if kite begins to dive let out string, emergency protocols, etc), and he is eternally grateful for PublicLab's expert advice and guidance in how to go about it.
Unfortunately, it seems as though another flight in the near future is advisable, as the camera ran out of memory (after 1900 images) just as the kite was finally in position above the mine site. The final 5 pictures show a corner of the mine. With some technical adjustments and the right wind conditions a future flight should be able to capture better images
However, even this much information, when fitting these images to the maps on Google Earth and comparing to the images CSP took May 2014, shows us that the mine has grown significantly in size. Forest also learned the basics of MapKnitter which is used to stitch the images taken together into a cohesive map of the area. Here is a link to the map we made for a sample.
Adding another 1,500' of line, Forest, Don Blair and Matthew Lippincott discuss flight protocols.
Up up and away! Forest mans the kite as Don and Matthew look on, checking kite angle and wind speed.
Stevie Lewis stands by with rubber gloves for hauling in the line as Don (and a rubber chicken) let out another few hundred feet.
Matthew Lippincott, master kite flier, makes it look so easy.
Roth Feeder Pig CAFO Public Hearing Leaves Questions Unanswered
Mark Cain, Joe Baeten, and Tom Bauman of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) ran the public hearing on July 24th for the Roth Feeder Pig 5-year Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems (WPDES) permit. Just over thirty area residents filled the room in Wauzeka's Century Hall.
In his overview of the permit, Mark Cain explained that this WPDES permit is a “zero discharge permit”, though when it comes to monitoring and enforcement, he noted that it is essentially a “self-reporting system”. Many in the audience were also surprised to hear both the DNR and the owner, AV Roth, claim that there is no plan to expand the Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) or increase the manure output.
This was surprising because according to the revised Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) submitted – after the first was found to be incomplete and sent back by the DNR – the estimated amount of manure produced had more than doubled to 3.1 million gallons of liquid plus another 264 tons of solid manure. Many of the public comments heard commented on this notable increase in manure and the question was asked how this could be, if there was no planned expansion of the CAFO. In total, eleven members of the public spoke at the hearing, ten with concerns and questions and one in support of the operation. CSP was impressed with the respect and professionalism of all involved.
During AV Roth's comments he again used the Rountree clay layer as a counter for karst geology and, while CSP does not doubt his sincerity, any contention that this is a proper protective formation has been thoroughly de-bunked by Professor Kelvin Rodolfo's 2012 Study of the Geology and Hydrology of Viroqua Township.
Increased phosphorus levels in a number of fields was also stated as a concern, with many fields requiring retesting this fall. None of the questions or discrepancies were addressed during the hearing, and individuals were left try to get their concerns addressed as the DNR wrapped up their presentation equipment.
Crawford Stewardship Project (CSP) will continue working with the public, Roth Feeder Pig, and the DNR to clarify the situation and that the DNR does not permit an expansion, as the current NMP states. Had there been a substantive prior conversation to this hearing between CSP and the DNR, as in past years based on the annual expert review of the NMP funded by CSP, many of these issues could have been addressed before-hand. However, CSP's review was ignored and the public was once again left with a very short deadline to submit comments.
Fast Track Authority for this and the next US President to secretly negotiate and give congress only an up-or-down vote on the TPP, TIPP, and other international trade deals for the next six years was approved by the US Legislature. This could be a major blow to our work, if not addressed. It is yet another reason that our right to local self governance must be enshrined legally to protect against the unjust preemption of any and all protections our communities pass that is included in these trade deals. Any ordinance can be struck down if it interferes with the “estimated future profits” of a corporation and communities can be sued for the difference. Community Rights explicitly rejects this. Locally, Vernon County, Crawford County, and Clayton Township have all unanimously passed resolutions against this.
WI Natural Resources Board has approved changes to the state's air pollution permit process.
This changes its rules for issuing air pollution permits so that state issued air pollution permits no longer expire and business are allowed to begin construction before a permit is issued. The rules apply to “minor” sources, such as frac sand mines that emit less than 100 tons per year of six common air pollutants.
6/6/2015 Tar Sand Resistance March (St Paul, MN)
CSP Coordinator Forest attended with a few others from the region in solidarity with the interconnected struggles of the pipeline resistance in Minnesota. The organizers estimated 5000 in attendance at the end rally and Forest estimates about 2000 marched, led by the First Nations.
There was lots of chanting. “Rise up! Get down! There's revolution in this town!”; “Hey! It's hot in here! There's too much carbon in the atmosphere!”; “Hey! Obama! We don't want no pipeline drama! Hey! Barack! You talk the talk, now walk the walk!”; “Show me what Democracy looks like! This is what Democracy looks like!”; “We are unstoppable! Another world is possible!”, and many more.
Speakers were inspiring and things wrapped up with a great First Nations Hip-Hop act. The focus was on tar sands oil, but (especially in the speeches the first nations folks) the connections were made to not only to fracking and coal, but also racial discrimination, abuse of women, and all other exploitative, abusive relationships.
While the action did not feel particularly targeted, it was certainly an inspiring rally. A rousing of the rabble, a raising of energy around an important cause. A gathering and empowering of many disparate struggles of people from across the nation. Forest was glad to be there in solidarity and saw/networked with many folks he'd met before.
This is what Democracy looks like!
Biologist Omaru Heras Ornelas Presentation on Watershed Awareness and Management
A turnout of just over 30 folks filled the room and those present seemed very engaged and interested in the material presented. Omaru presented in Spanish, while Forest hopped in periodically to translate, giving our audience a chance to enjoy some more Mexican culture for Cinco de Mayo.
There was a good amount of interest in taking home the water filters and three went home with folks who planned on using them. The two remaining will be given to the Youth Initiative High School and a needy Amish family near Hillsborough.
Group discussion as well as individual conversations were of a high caliber. Forest is getting information on the best way to get more filters and we hope to have a follow-up event to expand these important conversations on water and how we manage it.
Here's the link to the April 29th interview with Forest Jahnke and our guest speaker from Mexico, Omaru Heras-Ornelas.
Folks hard at work creating low-tech water filters that remove coliforms and other pathogens as well as chemicals from water, creating water that is safe for anyone to drink.
Omaru, Cele, and Forest put the final touches on a water filter.
Chippowa Water Walk
Forest brought Omaru along to this lovely little ceremony in Wabasha, merging the waters and blessing and honoring them. There were about ten folks who had walked the full stretch in the five days before. Sharon Day has led various water walks and intends to “undo Lewis and Clark” spiritually/energetically along the Missouri River next. Forest recognized many faces and good networking was done as usual. Forest also got a set of hip waders from the silent auction just in time for monitoring training!
Crawford Stewardship Project Recognized for going “Above and Beyond”
Camile Smith of Crawford County Community Fund (CCCF) graciously recognized CSP for, “out-of-the-box thinking that promotes regionalism, cooperation among communities or organizations, creative strategies or innovative approaches to long-term problems, or diversity awareness...
They are a non-profit organization bringing together citizens who recognize the importance of good stewardship and the wide and lasting negative impact of ill-advised anti-environmental practices. Although we could place this nomination in Community Leadership, or Tourism, or even Education, we chose Above & Beyond for their tireless all-encompassing nature...
Leadership in the stewardship of the land makes CSP a force for the future in the county and well beyond. The wisdom to cooperate with other groups to fulfill shared goals is a model for community-building.”
CSP staff and board (minus Ellen Brooks), honored to be in the good company of other 2015 Crawford County Leadership Award recipients:
Front row – left to right: Liz Bransky (Educational Leadership); Star Valley Flowers - Phil Mueller and John Zehrer (Business Development); Gays Mills Village Stewards - Ed Block, Charles Drake and Kay Smiley (Tourism).
Back row – left to right: Sharon Murphy, CCCF; Chad Abram (Community Service and Leadership); Crawford Stewardship Project - Rob Horwich, Forest Janke, Edie Ehlert, Lamar Janes, and Kathy Byrne (Above and Beyond) and Camille Smith, CCCF.
The Land We Love: Ontario Earth Day Event
Forest attended along with around 25 others throughout the course of the day. There were two sessions of between one and two hours of conversation about the earth and issues and solutions. The general theme of the many things said, emerged as the importance of being for things, not only against, and how powerful our thoughts and intentions are. When we come to someone filled with negativity, the chances of us getting through to them is minimal. There are lots of solutions to nearly every one of our problems, but the system is too broken (or working too well for only a few) for them to be implemented on the scale necessary. A major shift in how we organize ourselves, how we relate to eachother and the earth, is essential at this critical juncture. We are bumping up against ecological deadlines.
Crawford Co Conservation Congress
Forest attended this in Prairie du Chien along with perhaps 20some other citizens.
There were many small rules suggested to hunting and fishing regulations. Two citizen resolutions were put forward. One was by one Bob Ziel, one of our Conservation Congress representatives, to maintain the Natural Resources Board's authority. The second, introduced by Forest, proposed a moratorium on new frac sand mining licenses until the DNR completes its strategic analysis and comes up with some findings and updated regulations. Both citizen resolutions passed by wide margins not only in Crawford County, but state-wide. The resolution for a state-side moratorium on frac sand mining failed in only one of the many counties it was proposed in and generally passed with broad margins. Hunters and fisherfolk want the state to put the breaks on this runaway industry!
Wauzeka CAFO update:
Roth Feeder Pig, Inc.
Crawford Stewardship Project will once again be hiring Steve Oberle, formerly of the WDNR, to thoroughly review the Roth Feeder Pig Nutrient Management Plan as well as the Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit that has come up for review this year. We hope we do not find the kind of issues we have found nearly every year we have undertaken this review process. If we do, we'll be sure to tell folks about it.
Wi Farmers Union Spring Farm Tour (featuring the Rooted Spoon)
Forest attended this lovely little event and was surprised that only about 15 people (including 3 WFU staff and Dani Lind) attended. WFU started off with a presentation and discussion of the issues locally, nationally, and internationally. Forest was happy to jump in on the conversation about concerns with the Trans-Pacific Partnership and make some strong points in the presence of Karrie Jackellen, attending from Ron Kind's office and saw her taking detailed notes. A ruling on County Of Origin Labling (COOL) by the anonymous WTO trade tribunal is expected sometime in May and this may force the US to eliminate COOL!
Lots of time was taken discussing multiple parts of the Wi budget bill. Some points of note here:
Although there is the terrible $1.6 million cut in state funding for County L&W Con. Depts, there has been a $500,000 fund set up for “farmer-led” conservation initiatives.
WFU has come out in favor of most portions of the Nerison/Gudex high-cap well bill, but said they cannot support it without provisions allowing for periodic DNR review of all high cap wells and consideration for cumulative impacts on watersheds. They like the Groundwater Sustainability bill, but that has little to no chance of passing. “We appreciate what they are trying to do for family farmers, but you can't just go for the low-hanging fruit. There are larger issues that must be addressed”.
WFU thinks there is a good chance of removing the budget provisions that reduce DATCP and NRB boards to advisory roles. ***Update: these provisions have indeed been stripped!***
On a final note on international issues, a conversation with Brian Wickert (always interesting) led to the revelation that the international seed bank (the Svalbard Vault on a Norwegian island in the arctic) is being financed by Gates, Rockefeller, and a handful of Agro-chemical and GMO giants (Monsanto, Syngenta, Dupont/Pioneer...) Despite the ostensible humanitarian and practical reasoning for this project, many suspect it to be a continuation of the global biopiracy project to patent and privatize the global genetic commons.
The food was awesome and wholesome. Informal conversations were very good as well.
Mysteries of the Driftless
CSP's “Mysteries of the Driftless” film showing with introduction and discussion led by Executive Producer Tim Jacobson was enjoyed by 76 folks. The mysteries and amazing beauty and diversity of the Driftless is so wonderfully presented in this film. CSP thanks the Gays Mills Public Library and Lower Kickapoo Initiative for cosponsorship and getting the word out widely for this event. Liam O’Brien’s folk tunes added to the beauty of the Driftless evening. Copies of the film can be purchased through Mississippi Valley Conservancy and available at most of our local libraries.
Liam O'Brien strums away tunes both new and old on his shiny metal guitar.
Wi Grassroots Festival
Forest attended and tabled at this event. The three opening speakers were representative Mark Pocan who addressed the unfortunate political state of the state and Democrat's need to stop trying to get votes by “shifting to the middle” (ie: adopting a “toned down” conservative frame). Mike McCabe gave his progressive 12-point vision forward (local control, not control of the locals, invest in success – schools – don't pay for failures -prisons, end trickle-down economics, put people above corporations, no loopholes for corporate and wealthy taxes, universal civilized medicine, environmental sanity, declaration of independence from fossil fuels, digital access for rural areas, stop eating our kid's inheritance, cut out failing gov't programs, “end Titanic thinking” - raise up the common good, and replace representative democracy). Finally Mike Ippolito spoke on the climate realities and the need to restore our democracy now so we can address the problems at hand in our communities and so that when the proverbial shit hits the fan we no longer live in a country willing to brutalize the population to control us. His three pronged approach was: 1) continue current struggles on our local fronts 2) Play defense from “game changers” like the TPP 3) Play offense by passing the We the People Ammendment (corporations are not people, and money is not speech).
The first break-out session Forest attended was “The Golbal Ecological Collapse Happening Now and the Way Forward with Mike Ippolito. He points to the 2010 MIT study as the best one on the climate to date. In 2010 their best case scenario gave humans a 10% survival rate. This study did not include methane which is of equal or greater concern. Though we are over 400 ppm (2013) the fact that, a) the last couple years have not an El Nino year, b) the sun has been in a 14 year cool cycle and the next one looks to be a cool one as well and, c) the ocean is acting as a massive heat and carbon sink have all mitigated the effects. MIT scientists projected 450ppm as the “point of no return” where natural feedback loops would push the climate to uninhabitable (for humans) temperatures with no further human actions. Mike says that Inner Occupy, Move to Amend, and a wide coalition of other groups are pushing to get the We the People Amendment passed in the next couple years through an Article 5 Convention (must be called by 38 states and has never happened before) and there will be a long season of activity (occupations, direct actions, etc) starting on Mayday through Constitution Day 2016 (the 130th “birthday” of corporations and the 5th “birthday” of Occupy) in what is being called “Converge to Amend”.
The second breakout was with Scott Wittcopf who described how and why Mary Burke's campaign failed so terribly and gave the shpiel about progressive framing. How we need to stop refuting the conservative frame using facts, and start giving our own progressive vision (backed up with facts, but morals must lead). If the facts don't fit the frame, folks will toss the facts and keep the frame. The conservative frame is based on self interest, individual rights, and the patriarchal family model (over 60% of the population leans this way). The progressive frame is based off of empathy, community rights, and the supportive co-parenting family model (under 40% of the population leans this way). Key points here: Everyone has both frames in them, but tend towards one or the other to varying degrees. Repetition embeds frames. Unconcious thought = 98% of brain activity. Folks are looking for a moral connection. All politics are moral and policies reflect values. Thoughts are not rational as emotions are natural. Humans are not only evolved for self-preservation and self-interest, but also for empathy and we naturally unconsciously seek connection.
Forest Jahnke Invited to join Wisconsin Farmers Union Frac Sand Mining Steering Committee
Forest has accepted a place on the committee along with regional leaders in the struggle Pat Popple, Nettie Rosenow, Ron Koshoshek, Tim Zeglin, Lou Anne Robey, Ken Schmitt, Becky Glass, and Fred and Linda Harding. We will be networking and aligning strategies to see what can be done to bring some rationality to the debates and policy proposals that crop up around industrial silica sand mining, processing, and transportation operations. We have also committed ourselves to helping to protect communities right to keep
Monroe Co Zoning Bd Public Hearing on Mathy/Milestone Minerals mining permits
There were just under 50 folks in attendance, including the gaggle of six or so Mathy owners, lawyers, consultants, and other advisers, the five-person zoning board, and two secretaries.
Comments fell heavilly on the "against" side, with four of perhaps 30 citizens who spoke in support. Two worked for other local quarries, one owned/operated local quarries for 50+ years, and the last was leasing his land for the mining. Forest thinks it striking that the landowners leasing their land advocate so vehemently for less restrictions on the miners, even though they will have to deal with those operations as much or more than any of the other neighbors.
The presentation by Mathy was very helpful for Forest, not having the background info he likes to, and he learned that this will not be a frac sand mine and in the mining agreement with Wilton Township it only allows mining of limestone. Mining will take place 120' above the water table at the quarry floor and Mathy/Milestone Minerals has actually successfully reclaimed at least one quarry (Medary mine in LaX Co). That said, this is still a 280 acre property (135 to be mined) which will be sending a truck every 7 minutes down a 14% grade small road used by many Amish buggies and across the Elroy/Sparta bike trail for the next 35-50 years.
Attorney Glenn Stoddard managed to get his speaking time extended to 10 minutes (as he represented four local landowners who are suing the Township for the process of approval and ignoring their ordinance - which Glenn Stoddard wrote) and gave a long schpiel which included a thinly veiled threat of further litigation, should the county zoning board approve the permits that night.
In the end, the Monroe Zoning Board made two alterations to the permits granted by Wilton Township. One involves mining areas in a different order, and the more significant limitation restricts the hours of operation from 6am-8pm, with no Saturday operations (it had been 24hrs 5days/week, plus 6-4 operations on Saturday). These conditions were set for two years, at the end of which, there would be a review and potential loosening or tightening of restrictions.
SW Wi Karst Study Update:
Meetings going well with County Conservationists
Forest has met in person with Gregg Stangl, LaCrosse Co Con (2/20), and Bob Micheel, the county conservationist from Monroe Co (3/16). Both were supportive of the idea and had some good ideas for further partnering. The merits of doing this as a regional study have been mentioned by both folks Forest spoke with. Costs are lower for each county, the project would be more attractive to finance, USGS is more likely to take on the project (they like larger projects), and it makes more sense scientifically to have one study done at one time under the same criteria looking at the same features across the region than a piecemeal study.
We need more people on board pushing for this important information!
Valley Stewardship Network Agency Collaboration Meeting
Forest attended representing CSP and gave updates on sand mining, animal ag trends and findings, issues with the budget, and our push to get a karst study done in the area. Once again, feedback was very supportive of such a study. Kris Stepenuck attended by call and gave a report on the Water Action Volunteers program. There are new standards for P, and there are now over 200 sites being monitored for that. The WAV program has been growing and now includes 652 sites across the state and she estimated it saved the DNR $20,000. All data will now be going in to SWMS database.
Jeff Hastings reported for Trout Unlimited: We are at the very Northernmost edge of cricket frog territory, but a trained person must do a survey to remove them from areas where TU is trying to do rip-rap and stream-bank stabilization, and this is seriously hindering operations. He also mentioned the Mississippi River Basin Project which is trying to bring municipalities up to snuff with regards to P pollution in their treated discharge water. Karrie Jackellen attended from Ron Kind's office. She said Ron is interested in these things and is looking for Summer tours and events.
Carol Abrahamson from Mississippi Valley Conservancy reported that the conservancy has conserved 16,000 acres to date (4,000 of these open to the public). Most of these were purchased with Stewardship Fund money and current projects are up in the air with proposed spending freeze. Abby Church was at the hearings on the budget that day, speaking for MVC. There have been a slew of easements coming in from Trempealeau Co due to concerns around frac sand mining. Bob Micheel (County Conservationist from Monroe) reported on several townships creating Ag Enterprize Areas which made them eligible for certain conservation cost-share programs (RCCP is part of EQUIP from the NRCS... alphabet soup!...) Several townships are looking into implementing exclusive Ag zoning and there has been an educational meeting on this. They are using the P trading scheme to stabilize eroding banks (justified by the finding that stream-bank soils are 2-5% P). Coming into compliance with state P standards will be difficult in some areas as in Sparta, the groundwater is already above the state standard. After four years of clean-up and study, Jersey Valley finally meets P standards, however there is a CAFO expansion going on nearby and this farm has been by far the largest contributor to the contamination of the lake. Bob noted that sand mines in the area are still buying and leasing more acres, though not expanding operations yet, and he suspects this is speculating for the future when demand rises again.
Paul Krahn, from the Vernon County Conservation Department reported that their work on mobilizing volunteers to control Japanese Hops has done something, but the work left to do is overwhelming and they feel the need to bring in paid professionals with chemical treatments. There is a new RC&D person working on invasives in LaX, Vernon, and Crawford Counties that may be able to help out in these efforts. They are excited for various adaptive management opportunities to improve water quality. Vernon Co is considering purchasing both Jersey Valley and Sidie Hollow from the state who is willing to sell. They hope to get some $ to fund dredging out the nutrient-laden sediment that has settled in the aforementioned lakes as well as Rung Hollow and possibly others. The Vernon Co Con Dept is fighting getting combined with the Zoning Dept. Ben Wojahn was also at the hearings on the budget speaking out against this and cuts to funding for County Conservation Departments. Chris Kirkpatrick of the Prairie Enthusiasts reported on who they are and some ongoing projects. They, like MVC, are a land trust and have conserved 2,800 acres so far, mostly in the SW corner of WI and some in Minnesota and Iowa. They offer prescribed burn insurance, lend out equipment, and help landowners do burns on their property. They are in the process of launching a new website and are making a promotional video that will air on Wi Public TV.
Paul Hayes reported for the Kickapoo Valley Reserve. They are hiring 2 Summer field positions (interns). They are worried about the potential transfer from the Dept of Tourism to the DNR and are speaking out against it publicly as well as educating current DNR leadership of the contentious history of the KVR and DNR. They are providing lots of classes in such things as managed burns, chainsawing, and a Wi master naturalist course. They have concerns of gypsey moth spraying in sensitive areas planned for the peak of Spring migrations (will kill off caterpillars that are essential food for migrants). They are also opening up many stream-banks, taking out box-elder and willows and managing with fire.
Thomas Wise of Kickapoo Woods Cooperative popped in to report briefly on their for-profit member-based organization. Timber sales and writing MFL and non-MFL forestry plan-writing make them most of their $. They have hired an office assistant to free up Thomas for more fieldwork and are scaling up their educational efforts.
Kurt Rassmussen, stream biologist for the WDNR reported that the current priority watershed project involved Hillsboro Lake. Part of the main stem of the Kickapoo has been listed as impaired. They are looking for partners for adaptive management projects to deal with some of these issues.
Tom Lukens reported for Valley Stewardship Network. The Conservation Connections Building has been donated a large TV and they will be playing conservation films as an ongoing thing during the day for folks. Suggestions and donations of things to play welcome. He is particularly excited about a sustainable land lease project to help landowners leasing their land to be cropped put in some stipulations and conservation considerations that are effective and enforceable. There have been a lot of issues with folks leasing their land on a handshake or shoddily written contract and having buffer strips torn out and all manner of unsustainable practices. This has been a special issue for retired farmers, absentee landowners, and farm widows.
Rob Horwich gave a little Community Conservation perspective in pointing out how fickle government is, how important community managed landscapes are, and how far behind we are on this front in many other places of the world. He spurred a little conversation about what to do about the KVR that prompted some quality rhetoric, but no solution besides what we are already doing. "It seems like you are doing everything you are supposed to", helpfully prompted Karrie, of Kind's office.
Patrick Dayton of SW Badger showed up late and reported briefly on how they are hiring for a new executive director and that they are developing a new invasive species coalition for the state.
Randy Paulma (sp?) of the Ho Chunk could not make it and sent update via e-mail. The Ho Chunk Nation acquired 1500 acres of the Former Badger Munitions area. Their projects largely involve water quality monitoring and improvement and burning to maintain and re-establish prairie and savannah landscapes.
Know Your Land
A great multi-group collaboration featuring important topics and great information. Special thanks to the Lower Kickapoo Initiative for doing the bulk of the leg-work on this one. Crawford Stewardship Project was happy to co-sponsor, table, and take part in the background.
State Senator Jennifer Shilling listening session in Soldiers Grove
Forest and Edie represented CSP staff and board. Erin Martin attended for the Crawford County Independent. Conversation was top notch with biting critiques flying wantonly and Senator Shilling barely concealing her absolute contempt for nearly every part of the budget (ever the optimist however, Jennifer did find one small part that was good: a portion that improved dental care access for impoverished and under-served areas.) Perhaps ten citizens got to at least pop in briefly and make a comment to our kindly senator.
Discussion focused mainly on the budget and its likely effects to our environment and our educational system. Jennifer will do what she can, and she says it is important to pressure our other elected representatives to stand up for us on key parts, but she also said that the governor generally gets over 80% of their proposal... Hopefully enough republicans are so turned off by the presidential posturing and obvious lack of concern for this state and what we have valued for decades that they will buck this trend. Much depends on We the People and how much noise we make about the things we care about.
Upper Iowa University class presentation
Forest presented to Professor Mike Ripp's freshman level Environmental Studies class on frac sand mining. He introduced himself and CSP and gave an overview of frac sand mining here in Crawford County before showing the film The Price of Sand and continuing conversation from there. Conversation ranged from frac sand mining to fracking to bomb trains and pipelines and export facilities and all over the fossil fuels chain. This led to the inevitable question: but anything we do to get energy will have some of these consequences, right? What are the alternatives? Forest spent some time elaborating on how some of those might look and emphasized that he didn't have all the answers, but that the possibilities are really endless once we really shift our priorities in research and funding. Forest also learned that Pattison Sand Company (who had presented to the class the week before) had told the class that the dust coming off the sand piles at the loading site was steam! Forest thought they had long ago dropped that excuse, as they no longer say that to the neighborhood next to the operation or the City Council. Apparently only to those they think they can mislead...
FFD Annual Meeting
Roughly 20 or so folks in attendance (more kept trickling in).
The range of topics discussed was quite broad and interconnected and the collective knowledge and opinion on these was impressive. Forest continues to be especially appreciative of Family Farm Defenders connections to peasant struggles across the world and the effects of global commodity trading and scheming on food systems and farmers.
Conversation touched on and involved updates on:
-Police use of lethal force against minorities in this country as well as systemic police militarization and repression people's movements here and across the globe.
-The ongoing dairy crisis: Price crash after recent high this past Winter.
- Frac sand mining, the Penokee mine likely not going to happen, and other current and potential mining projects - Genetically modified organisms - Aerial spraying of manure: Our state committee on this (which Lynn Utesch is on and was at the meeting for a short report) is fully expected to say - and is already indicating - that it's perfectly safe. They are testing for aerial transmission of 6 pathogens in their tests and it seems as if their recommendations will be based on this study. No quantification or testing is going on around odors, NH3, H2S, VOCs, and health or property value effects of these. - Proposed Ag-gag legislation
- Fast Track authority for Obama administration to sign the Trans Pacific Partnership and general discussion on international trade deals historically and their potentials - National Organic Standards: Being updated. Major changes include the possibility for an "organic check-off" program (failures of other such check-off programs for any but the largest producers was discussed) and considerations of organic standards for hydroponic systems. Public comment appreciated (especially from organic farmers). Cornucopia has worked on making this as user-friendly as possible. - Increasing interest in grass-based agriculture was a hopeful point for many, looking forward. On an intimately related note, on Sunday Forest took a long walk with good friend and Executive Director of the Savannah Institute, Keefe Keeley. There are really exciting things going on in the world of permaculture, polycultures, and perennial agriculture. Major in-roads have been made in large land-grant universities. Forest believes that the Savannah Institute's mission of spreading a Savannah-based agricultural system is especially appropriate here in our area which was once mostly oak savannah.
Necessary organizational annual meeting things were done briefly (election of officers, board nominations and elections, etc).
Buttons, stickers, and allied literature was great.
Forest did not stick around for the dinner and awards ceremony.
CSP Farmer Forum
Crawford Stewardship Project spearheaded a farmer forum, “Adapting Your Farm to Changing Markets”. This informational event featured Nadia Alber of the Center for Integrated Agriculture Systems, UW Madison; Paul Dietmann, Emerging Markets Specialist from Badgerland Financial; Bert Paris, rotational grazier and former conventional dairy farmer; and Ryan Ubben of Niman Ranch. A small but enthusiastic audience was in attendance. Special thanks to all the participating organizations and agencies!
Bring It Home Biofuels
Forest was pleased with the Bring It Home Biofuels event, despite the bad news from the industry. Sun Power has had to - hopefully temporarily - stop production on its 1 million gallon/year biodiesel plant due to low prices and oil company wranglings that skim off all the subsidies that are supposed to be incentivizing biofuels production. We learned that 35 plants have shuttered since the beginning of 2015 alone. The EPA was supposed to set minimum requirements for biodiesel in diesel two years ago and still refuses to make a requirement.
The benefits of biodiesel were extolled at length - it makes diesel burn more completely and more cleanly (15% less greenhouse gas emissions if at 20%, 75% less if pure biodiesel), cleans and helps lubricate your engine (translates to running at lower temperature, better gas mileage, longer service life). Apparently Dr Rudolf Diesel, inventor of the diesel engine, designed it to run on biodiesel and was a great proponent of biodiesel, but after his death the diesel engine was altered to take fossil fuels. There are lots of misconceptions about biodiesel that have come from oil industry propaganda, lack of knowledge, resistance to change, and some low quality "homebrew" biodiesels in the past that did cause issues. There are no conversion kits necessary when switching from fossil fuels diesel to biodiesel, though changing your fuel filter is recommended, as the engine-cleaning effect on old engines can clog it. Biodiesel can also be used for heating oil. Wider themes of climate destabilization, peak oil, local control, and farm and homestead self-sufficiency were also briefly addressed and discussed. There is a pump with B5 (5% biodiesel) in Chaseburg and B10 in LaFarge. There are plans to get one in Viroqua ASAP and increase the % biodiesel in the existing pumps. Forest came away from the event with the impression that, while not necessarily and end-goal, biodiesel is vastly better than fossil fuels, funds local farmers and industry, and represents a viable "bridge fuel", unlike fracking. He also came away with 5 gallons of B20 he won in the raffle! 2/23/2015
Paul Cienfuegos Speech on “Catastrophic Climate Destabilization and Community Rights”
Forest attended the speech (bringing three friends along to add to the roughly 80 folks in attendance) and took advantage of the open networking time to talk with folks from MN Citizen's Climate Lobby, Vote Climate, MN Green Party, and Honor the Earth folks tabling there.
Alternative Radio was also there and Paul's speech will be broadcast nationally.
***Update: to get a PDF of the speech, please contact CSP Co-coordinator, Forest Jahnke (firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul noted that, judging by the activism he has seen in the environmental movement so far, it seems like most people are operating on the assumption that we have a democratic system set up to be participatory and responsive to our needs. He disagrees with this assumption. It is Paul's assertion that the system was built from the outset to protect elite interests, this has only gotten worse over the years, and (while he won't say that going to hearings or writing to legislators is bad) he sees the work of restoring (or perhaps establishing for the first time) democracy and local sovereignty as primary, if we are to accomplish much of anything. He referenced the abolitionists, suffragists, and civil rights movement as examples of times in the US when civil disobedience to unjust laws was necessary to force rights into existence.
After a brief over-view of the immanent effects of catastrophic climate destabilization (Paul thinks “climate change” sounds too natural and benign) and quoting from Naomi Cline's book “This Changes Everything”, Paul made a powerful case that the community rights strategy addresses the root of the problems that prevent our communities from adapting to our rapidly changing world. We must solve our democracy crisis before we are able to solve our climate crisis.
Paul also laid out a list of potential ordinances that could be written once a community bill of rights was in place to combat climate change and transition to a sustainable economy. The list can be found at: http://paulcienfuegos.com/community-rights-ordinance-ideas-tackling-climate-change 2/19/2015
Winona LaDuke Extreme Energy Teach-in
With perhaps 80 in attendance, Forest was pleased with the event and is always happy to see events with long lists of co-sponsors.
Winona LaDuke gave a rousing speech on how we have been successful in stopping many individual projects, but we have failed to curb consumption and increase the efficiency of our wasteful and extractive system. She noted that while we are told this is the most efficient and productive we've ever been, 57% of energy is lost between the point of production and the point of consumption. We must overcome our sense of inevitability and stop accommodating polluters and extractive industries.
Toby Dogwiler (WSU Geosciences prof.) gave an alarming presentation on climate realities. Some key points: 60% of human carbon emissions have been absorbed by the oceans (leading to ocean acidification and many issues there) and this will not continue, meaning further emissions will have a greater impact than those in past. There are 5 times more known reserves of fossil fuels than we can afford to extract/burn and continue to survive on this planet. The solutions lie in carbon sequestration, clean “green” energy, and a decentralized and flexible energy grid.
CARS also gave some interesting information in their presentation: The dangerous and outdated DOT 111 cars being ever so slowly phased out of use for particularly explosive fracked oil, are simply being re-purposed to carry tar sands oil and up to 40% of DOT 111s are planned to be carrying HASMATs indefinately. There have been 60 rail expansion projects in the upper Mississippi River Valley since 2014. North Dakoda's new volatility standards are irrelevant and will do nearly nothing to improve the safety situation on the rails.
Driftless Community Turns Out in Force for Love the Land!
Once again, the Community Commerce Building in Gays Mills was bustling with festive folks on Saturday night, the 7th of February. Nearly 200 people from the region took advantage of the lovely weather conditions to come and dance and celebrate our special Driftless area. The sweet, folksey, and at times comical acoustic music of the Yellowbellied Sapsuckers started off the evening until the Bad Axe Blues Band took the stage and filled the dance-floor, keeping the music a-rockin' and a-rollin' until nearly midnight. Tea for the People and Driftless Brewing Company provided beverages for all tastes while baked goods filled those stomachs still requiring food.
“This year's silent auction spread was more impressive than ever. I think this really reflects the generosity of Crawford Stewardship Project's supporters and their dedication to the cause of environmental justice, sustainable land use, and local control of natural resources,” noted CSP Board Treasurer Lamar Janes.
“Everything was so lovely! Simply perfect. If I had put on this event, I'd be really happy with myself,” commented Annie Zylstra, who made the long drive from Decorah Iowa.
“Yeah,” agreed Eli Mandel, originally from Soldiers Grove who came back from Madison for the celebrations, “this is an organization that really knows how to throw down! I had a blast and am really proud of the work that CSP is doing.”
Judge Rules Against Residents, Pattison Sand Free to Mine Without Conditions
Crawford Stewardship Project is proud to have worked with the brave citizens of Bridgeport in an effort to hold the Town Board of Bridgeport accountable for its unscrupulous approval process that led to the permitting of Pattison Sand Company's Bridgeport frac sand mine without any health, safety, quality of life, or property protections for neighbors of the mine and other town residents. Conditional use permits are just that, an opportunity to put conditions on a permit, giving the Town and its residents adequate protections against possible negative impacts. The township choose instead to issue a 60 year conditional use permit with basically no conditions protecting the town and its residents and instead granting Pattison Sand every condition they requested.
Judge Day's ruling leaves Pattison Sand Company – the non-metallic mining company with the most violations of any in the nation – free to mine at Bridgeport for 60 years.
Already in the past year, this new mine has had runoff issues affecting neighboring property and has received seven violations from the Mine Safety and Health Administration on its first inspection. This is only the beginning of a long chapter in the story of Bridgeport Township that will leave its mark forever on the land and the community.
SW Wi Karst Study update
We have been told by the CC Land Conservation Committee that while they are interested, there is no money for such a project from Crawford. The estimate we have for Iowa County's similar study is roughly $100,000. If more counties could be convinced that this is a project worth collaborating on, it would likely be much cheaper per county. Staff will continue to build support for this among grassroots organizations and will see where there is interest in local counties. Jane will attempt to obtain Iowa County’s grant proposal, and use it to approach the grants library for ideas for grantors. It might be good to go back to Crawford County, after getting an updated estimate for this work in Crawford, to see if they could put any amount toward this project, especially in light of the finding and fines against the farm in Washington County. That ruling determined that farmers are liable for the contamination of neighboring wells and that their insurance does not cover that. This is a big deal and could be a big reason for this study.
Forest sent comments to the WDNR NRB urging them move on the proposition to update their air quality rules.
Forest submitted a TEDx video on Community Impacts of Factory Farms (in NC where aerial spray was allowed to become the norm, before they backtracked and tried to stem the tide) to the UWEx Manure Irrigation Workgroup as his public comment on the practice.
Forest Sent in a message to the DNR Natural Resources Board supporting the proposition to implement strategic planning for frac sand mining.
LaX Rail Expansion
Forest (1/9) and Edie (a couple days prior to that) authored letters in opposition to LaCrosse track expansion and damage to the LaCrosse wetlands.
Edie attended the public hearing. Her report follows:
DNR public hearing on the BNSF Railroad permit to add a rail line in the Marsh in La Crosse:
The room was packed. All spoke in opposition except one man who works for the railroad and said the RR brings 200 jobs to the La X area. He was a union worker and spoke that the extra line would be safer for workers and for residents.
Presentation for the RR was by the company who put the project together. Then Dan Bauman spoke for the DNR, basically saying that the RR had met all the required needs to get a permit. Carrie Olson, who is also the DNR person in charge of the permit at the PdC loading site was the DNR reviewer of the La Crosse permit, too. I introduced myself before the hearing to her so she had a “face” to CSP. She seemed uncomfortable throughout most of the hearing. I have a fact sheet they handed out I can share at the next meeting. WPR and at least 4 other media folks were there. I gave each my comments. Dan Bauman was interviewed, I saw, as was a Citizens Acting for Rail Safety leader.
The CARS folks were very well prepared with excellent information. Issues that were brought up included the talking points in my presentation which came from them. In addition, the piecemeal action on the part of the RR is allowing the DNR to permit one piece at a time, saying there is minimal damage in each case. I left my card with a young woman who spoke of the RR expansion many projects up and down the Mississippi River corridor, including Lake Pepin, Stockholm, Desoto, Genoa, Trempeleau, and she mention Harpers Ferry in Iowa, too. I asked that she send me the info on the many projects in process or proposed that she (and her dad) had researched. Cummulative effects was the overriding issue, more trains, more tar sands, more leaks, more potential spills, more noise and vibrations, more wetlands and floodplains filled, more disruption of habitat and recreation, and effects on residential areas. One woman said her dishes rattle, 4 blocks from the RR in LaX. The call for an EIS and long term effects were brought up. The Blanding Turtle habitat and the Black Tern habitat were particular concerns. The Tar Sands trains were labeled “Pipelines by Rail”, pretty scary really.
Also, a young woman from the UW LaX Students for Sustainability spoke to the educational use of the wetlands, that it is a classroom with 1000 students using the site each month.
At least 4 former DNR people spoke with impact concerns, including John Sullivan and John Collin. John Sullivan seemed to be well informed on issues of removing wetland soils, concerned where they are put, and understanding effects to the wetlands. Two elected officials spoke one is a city council member in opposition, another a county board person from Onalaska, calling for an EIS.
Most folks were from La X area, but there were Houston County folks from MN who had been at the public hearing the night before on their proposed frac sand ordinance. That ordinance is inadequate, lots of missed items and loopholes. Jack reviewed it with the Allamakee County Ordinance and presented suggestions at their hearing. Robert Nehman of ACP came yesterday, too. Was good to see rather wide spread opposition and the La Crosse community coming out. There had been a mistake in the LaCrosse Tribune that morning, saying the hearing was in the evening, but the CARS folks and the newspaper must have gotten a lot of calls, as folks did come.
The DNR will have to take the community concerns into account in their review. But to me it looks like as long as they view each of these “small” permits individually, they will all get passed. Degradation, a little at a time, seems to be the way it is going along the tracks.
Forest barely made it out Sleepy Hollow to make it to the meeting in Muscoda and was glad he did.
The meeting kicked off with four ATC representatives present to intro their proposed high-capacity line crossing alternative to the current one just W of Lone Rock. They are replacing an existing line and there is no planned voltage increase. They will submit to PSC this year and hope to begin construction in 2018. Burying the line was brought up several times by the board and ATC had a slew of reasons that would be a bad idea (main one seemed to be it would cost 5x more). The board requested images with photoshopped in potential paths and more info. No decisions were made.
George Arimond reported on some very successful water trails initiatives he had learned of at a MN water trails summit. Apparently Duluth got around bed tax limits which generally limit funds for such initiatives by instead imposing a small food and beverage tax which has helped them raise $17 million!
The plans to revise Riverway rules to exclude frac sand mining continue and Mark Cupp and assorted Board members continue to meet with Marklein, Nerison, and Tranel to get this done. A draft is finally ready and Forest hopes to get a hold of it soon. Mark: “Anything that gets done with this draft is going to have to be Republican driven.” He doesn't want to raise a big stink and attract much attention, but rather pressure on key legislators like those mentioned. Marklien even said he would sponsor it if the LWSRB could get support from all the quarries, townships, villages, and other businesses potentially affected...
Forest spoke with Ron Leys after the meeting and his talk of changing Prairie du Chien zoning to take into account more environmental concerns is so far all very informal and he has not pursued it with anyone yet. It was discussed that there is really no chance of getting the zoning updated in time to affect the loading site decision at all, but he said that Mayor Hemmer was “pretty set on not having the loading in town”. That said, it was also mentioned that Dillman was beginning to stockpile gravel on the adjacent property to the proposed site for the new loading building...
12/2/2014 Prairie du Chien Public Hearing re: WSOR proposed rezoning
Forest and Edie attended as well as around 70 others. The city opened with discussion on the city budget, which did not last long and there was no public comment.
Then the public hearing on the proposed rezone began with a painfully dull and repetitive hour-long presentation by the railroad followed by questioning by the council. Public comment kicked off with Kyle Pattison followed by 21 others speaking for 3 minutes each. Forest estimates around ¾ of those who spoke were in opposition to the zoning change and the loading operation in general. According to Edward Hayes-Hall (3rd Ward) who actually walked around his district on Sunday evening knocking on roughly 50 doors gathering opinions on this, the majority of the residents of PdC also oppose this operation and the proposed rezone.
In the end, after a good amount of discussion, the City Council entertained a motion to deny the rezone which passed by a narrow margin of 6-5! Myers, Boylen, Kozelka, Gilberts and Jones voted “no” (for the rezone), while Leys, Titlebach, Lechnir, Hayes-Hall, Solomon, and Thein voted “ay.”
After the vote, Aaron Kramer (City Admin) asked the council for some more direction. “If they start construction next week, what do you want staff to do?” He suggested (in addition to the declaration that the city considers the operation to be in violation already posted) possibilities of fining the operation or filing an injunction.
City legal council said, essentially, that a lawsuit would be fruitless and cost a lot. They cited precedent and painted a pretty hopeless picture. From Forest and Edie's understanding, though preemption challenge will be made more difficult now that the railroad is about to own the property they wish to load on, the picture may not be so bleak. Forest is following up on a lead that for preemption to apply and the site to be considered a railroad operation, the workers may have to be railroad workers (not at all the case). Disappointingly, no one on the council jumped on the fining idea.
Forest and Jane sent letters to Carrie Olson of WDNR requesting a Public Hearing on the wetland discharge permits for the WSOR. Jane had also sent a prior one and more were written by several neighborhood residents. The hearing was denied.
SW Wi Karst Study
Forest contacted SW Badger (which he noticed has no citizen reps from Crawford County) and USGS November 17th on getting this to happen in our area and, while he heard nothing back yet from the five or so relevant folks he e-mailed in the USGS, the thread started with SW Badger has had great response and has grown in size and scope, with lots of encouraging suggestions and good info on similar mapping projects. Apparently a good study was done mapping depth to bedrock and susceptibility of groundwater in Iowa County at a cost of roughly $100,000 in 2011. Forest is very much hoping to get this to be a multi-county effort (ideally Grant, Crawford, Richland, Vernon, LaCrosse, Monroe, Sauk, and Lafeyette... all the remaining SW counties with Karst... but we'll see where this goes) as that will seriously lower the costs associated with such an ambitios project. Of course when we think of things like this: “Viroqua eyes $1.5 million in piping for wastewater treatment plant” from a few months ago (they needed to re-route because they had been dumping their treated waste-water into a karst feature), that $100,000 really seems like small potatoes...
Forest is hopeful for where this can go and has heard lots of excitement about the project from a variety of folks.
Conservation Connections Open House
Forest attended this official opening of an exciting space in Viroqua. Valley Stewardship Network, Prairie Enthusiasts, and Kickapoo Woods Cooperative had quite the spread out with local wines, beers, and nice snacks. Attendance was very good and many good re-connections were made as well as a few new contacts. Forest used the opportunity to inform several key folks of the Karst geological study we are getting the ball rolling on and had good responses.
LWRB meeting in Avoca
Jane attended for CSP.
Long discussion about dredging existing boat landings, especially at Avoca. No real solution. FLOW wants to help. Need to find areas not in wetlands. Piles of sand from dredging must be moved. Expensive. About $50,000 for each dredging operation. Fills back in during/after high-water events. Sand could possibly be used for road-building.
Corps of Engineers has a lot to say. Could use temp landing. FLOW wants to try dredging at FLOW’s expense but it’s ultimately up to the DNR.
Pattison Sand’s attorneys met with DNR about judge’s orders for correcting whatever conditions were non-compliant. Pattison wants more latitude to correct the areas of visual concern; are still interpreting the judge’s orders. DNR is encouraging acceptance of the orders as interpreted by DNR so everyone can move forward. May have to go back before judge to sort it out.
LWRB member met with legislators to give current info on the river and Riverway issues. Will have a package for legislators next month. There has been no contact with governor’s office since election.
Need new language or definitions for non-metallic mines in Riverway boundary. Also need acreage limitation for municipal mines and inventory of ownership of these operations. (municipal, private). There was a court case and the regulatory language was not clear. Eg: “land” needs to include trees. More specified definition of “excavation” and “visual horizon”.
Discussions of individual requests for projects, etc.
American Transmission will be making new river crossings of power lines. Footprints are not in Riverway boundary but seeking board’s blessing. Actual proposal will be presented next year with project underway 2017-2018. Crossings at Avoca, Boscobel, Prairie du Sac.
PdC Plan Commission Special Meeting on loading site zoning change request
Forest attended along with Katie Garrity, her sister Mora and several other residents from the affected neighborhood. Forest also notified Todd Crotty (94.3 Great Country), who showed up as the only media presence.
The WSOR has moved their planned site for the loading operation about 100yds S of the last proposed site. To do this, they are purchasing property from Blair Dillman and have requested that the city change the zoning on the the purchased property from R2 (Med. Density Res.) to I2 (industrial and manufacturing).
The new location seems like a far better site for the wetlands, anyway (.36 acres affected, down from 1.83 under former plans). However, this brings the whole operation even closer to the impacted residential neighborhood.
The WSOR put on their power point about the new site and after that questions were allowed. Ron Leys spoke beautifully of the value of that area, being essentially the doorway to Prairie du Chien, and the value of the natural landscape, the view, and potential revenue from nice houses and future development. He also commented that he was glad to hear that (though as far as he could tell they didn't need to listen to the city at all) the message from the top in WSOR/Watco was to come and ask the city.
Forest later turned that comment into a question and asked the WSOR representative directly if they were indeed asking the city in good faith and would abide by the decision of the city. The reply was a bumbling from WSOR spokesman Tim Karp of, “we'll certainly take it into account” and some more empty rhetoric about how this site was better and they like to listen... More good questions were asked by residents and it was brought up by Mora Garrity that the sand silo was about twice the allowable height for even the new proposed zoning.
When she pressed the WSOR rep, he also admitted that though the loading facility would only be used for sand now, they were obligated to load and ship whatever substance came forward including dangerous chemicals and oil. It was asked if the loading would get a lot more intense when the Bridgeport mine was up to capacity and Tim Karp played dumb and said he had no idea and, referring the question to Kyle Pattison (who had lent him his laser pointer for the presentation) said “it's your business, I just know you come from Iowa”.
Kyle Pattison then talked for about five minutes completely off topic about all the good jobs that this site and the Bridgeport mine create.
In the end, the motion was made to recommend to the city council that the zoning change be made, seconded, and in a tight 3-4 vote, failed! The recommendation from the Plan Commission to the City Council is to deny the zoning change and a full public hearing will be held on the issue at the December 2nd City Council Meeting.
St Olaf students visit Dancing Waters and learn about environmental activism
Claire Branski brought eight other college students, mostly from St Olaf's College in MN to Dancing Waters Permaculture Cooperative, home of CSP's Lamar Janes and Forest Jahnke. Many had environmental studies or related majors and they were interested in learning about CSP and environmental activism work in general. Forest and Lamar had nearly an hour and a half of conversation with them on CSP, activism/advocacy, non-profits, and the challenges we are confronting as well as some movement in positive directions. After that, they were put to work helping our community achieve food, medicine, and energy independence (read: digging burdock root and a water diversion trench and chopping wood), before feeding them and continuing conversations more informally (much of the later conversation revolving around Community living). Forest believes they left here more energized than depressed, despite the oft-discouraging realities discussed. They signed up to follow CSP and promised to return.
At long last, Dr. Crispin Pierce's Monitoring Data Published!
Thank you for all who donated to the community-wide effort to fund these expensive monitors that now bring us some of the first reliable PM 2.5 readings of fugitive crystalline silica dust from the edge of an industrial silica sand mine. Dr. Pierce has just recently gotten his air monitoring research published in the Journal of Environmental Health. Abstract is available now and soon the rest will be. His monitoring indicates that there are indeed issues at times with fugitive silica dust levels going well beyond the standards set by the EPA (WI still has no standards).
Promising affordable monitors for citizens should be available within a year's time, thanks to a collaborative effort branching across many organizations and spearheaded by PublicLab.
Please feel free to contact CSP Co-coordinator Forest Jahnke (email@example.com, or 608-632-2183) for the PDF of the Abstract.
DustHack with PublicLab
Though not super well attended (18 or 19), the age-range in attendance and conversation was great and the event was very participatory. Forest and other participants were invited to add our thoughts/concerns/questions/goals for monitoring to big input sheets, play with creating stable housing for the minitors, and see the influence of air movement, humidity, and light on the little DustDuino sensor that PublicLab is working on. It was great to personally meet Matt Lippincott (Portland) and Stevie Lewis (New Orleans), with whom Forest has had a fair number of e-mail conversations and a couple phone calls.
So at the moment there are a few air monitoring options available. At the top of the line, there is the uber-high quality monitor that Crispin Pierce and folks had to have the big push to finance (around $34,000) which tests for particulates in the air at the PM2.5 level we have been told is the best to test for, as those are the ones that cause the most harm.
A step below that is the DustTrackII, which is on the market for roughly $6000. It will also monitor for PM2.5. Neither of these tools, however, do dust speciation (what % is silica, what is diesel fumes, what is carbonate rock...) and there are, in fact, no monitors available currently that sample specifically for crystalline silica.
PublicLab is currently playing with a couple models of air monitors that have come on the market recently in the $200 range, though both have issues that make them not ideal (one spits out arbitrary #s and the formula for what those #s mean and the actual concentrations of particulate matter in the air is proprietary). The software for one of them is being open-sourced and will likely be used in PublicLab's model.
Again, the monitor being developed by PublicLab would track PM2.5, but would not be able to parse out what was silica. However, at that point, either swab tests or a tiny filter-based air monitor ($50, plus $50-$80 per test for filter and analysis) developed by Tom Peters of UofI could feasibly be used to determine the % silica in the dust and extrapolate silica concentrations in the air that way.
PublicLab hopes to develop their monitors by April 2015 and will be calibrating them alongside the DustTrack monitors through the Summer. Though there is still a lot that is up in the air, they hope to be able to make them available to folks in the $100 range. An issue Forest learned with the current monitoring being done around some mines is that, while higher concentrations of dust will give a more accurate reading, the mines will monitor for 24 hours, and log that number (often at “negligible levels” allowing them to put 0 for the concentration) and then take an average of those daily concentrations. This gives them lower numbers since so many days were rounded off to 0, though at some points in that week dust concentrations may have reached unsafe levels.
PublicLab also really likes kites and balloons for aerial photography (with their software that allows one to stitch together the images into a whole.) Drones can only be legally flown 400' high and within sight of the operator as they are considered aircraft. Kites and balloons, on the other hand, are considered toys and can be brought up to 2000' quite easily. Mary Kenosian has begun testing out kite models, but is nervous about strapping a camera with a $1000 lens to one. Matt L is a wealth of knowledge on kites and has many models he has tried in high, medium, and low winds and recommendations for them. He suggests bamboo and tyvec for building materials.
Madison Action for Mining Alternatives “Wi Mining Standoff”/“Frac Sand Land” showing and discussion.
There were about 35 in attendance and the three videos shown were quite good. Frac Sand Land led, followed by “Wisconsin Mining Standoff”, a 25 minute AlJazeera special on the proposed Penokee mine, and a 4minute short connecting the Penokee mine resistance to the Crandon mine resistance. Bruce Noble, the 80y/o man biking the route of Enbridge's proposed pipeline expansion also attended and presented briefly.
Crawford County Land Conservation Committee Meeting
The latter half of the meeting was the public hearing on the new Crawford Telecom Tower Regulatory ordinance. This ordinance is extremely stripped down due to the state stripping much of our authority through a budget rider and now can only really ensure that an unused tower will be dismantled, and that there will be notice before construction. No more height limits, setback limits, requirement to install other antennae on the tower (incl first responders and emergency teams), or a few other provisions in our “formerly very comprehensive ordinance”, according to Harriet Behar. Forest (lone public commenter) commented on the unfortunate and underhanded removal of local control evident here. Response was positive and it was mentioned that they had been considering a “whereas” speaking to that, but they didn't want to stir the hornets' nest.
For the Conservation Committee meeting CSP report, Forest updated the committee on the progress of the Karst ordinance in Kewaunee County and mentioned again that CSP would be pushing for a study similar to what was done in the NE of the state and that we would welcome any help in that endeavor. Forest then briefed them on the recent MSHA visit to the Bridgeport mine and the 7 violations they had issued. The question was asked if they were running and the Committee was informed that they are running intermittently sometimes for a week straight, then idle for just as long. To close, Forest thanked the committee for the Clean Sweep day on the 31st of October.
Trout Unlimited has contacted the County Con office and asked their opinion and potential cooperation on easements, Dave Troester reported. Vance Haugen spoke strongly in favor of 99 year easements, rather than permanent easements.
The county has 5 landowners under NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program contracts bringing in $90,000 total.
There has also been lots of interest in grazing. Vance (UW Ex) commented on synergistic relationship between Trout Unlimited, Kickapoo Grazing Initiative, and the grazing brokerage (RC&D). Crawford County has the highest % of dairy grazers in the state claims Vance and he thinks with our slopes and 49% forests, this is a very appropriate land use if done well. Iconic Seldom Seen Farm (Ben Logan's place) is now fenced for rotational grazing.
The county aerial cover crop seeding program had 8 participants and there has been positive feedback from all involved. Vance commented on a couple neighboring landowners who called him with concerns based on misunderstandings.
Despite all the other competing events, fully 25 folks showed up from across the area (seven from over an hour away), and there were a couple unfamiliar faces in the audience. Skip Jones had contacted Forest weeks earlier about coming and he (joined by Ilana) played some lovely and much-needed tunes to soften the blows of information dealt out that night.
The 70 minutes of the two-hour film shown seemed to have a powerful impact and the discussion, led by friend and ally, Robert Nehman, was of high caliber and continued with everyone for half an hour after the alloted 2 hour time for the event and for well over an hour in unstructured conversation.
Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board Meeting
Mark Cupp congratulated Chairman Don Greenwood on his retirement from Jewell Engineering.
Dredging of Arena boat landing was briefly discussed.
ATC – Mark received mailings from ATC & ITC regarding the transmission line from Dubuque to Madison. Mark was concerned because the included map showed the proposed line going through Spring Green area which he was told was off the table. He tried to get a hold of someone at ATC but was unsuccessful so he went to a public meeting and asked about it. Mark was told that this was indeed off the table but ATC has to show alternatives in their study area. Their preferred route is along Hwy. 151/18. Mark said that the LWSRB is now on record that they are against the Spring Green line. Another transmission line project that is further down the road would go through Muscoda and Avoca to Gotham which will require a new power line cut therefore a permit will need to be issued by the LWSRB, however, this is still off in the future.
Board briefly discussed the success of their 25th anniversary celebration. They were pleased with the turnout.
Pattison Sand permit, nothing to report. The LWSR attorney and Pattison’s attorney are communicating and the ball is in their court. Mark will now focus much of his attention on getting the state statute changed to ban frac sand mining in the Riverway. Mark plans to have an outline and a draft for the board at their next meeting. He will be working closely with the staff of Senator Erpenbach and Senator Schultz as well as the WI Legislative Reference Bureau in drafting the statue change.
Ron Leys was asked what was happening with the Prairie du Chien rail load out building. Ron said that the city attorney determined that the land that the rails are on is owned by the state and Wisconsin Southern Railroad (WSOR) leases the rails. In the lease agreement it states that all local ordinances and zoning must be followed. WSOR and Pattison were told by the city that the building of the facility violated city zoning. No answer or action from WSOR so far. Building has not taken place.
It has been 50 years since the Wild Rivers Act was passed unanimously by both houses in 1965.
During public comment a Mr. Dieter presented a project that he began working on by accident in August and has now turned over to the Ho-Chunk. White Oak trees were pruned and shaped hundreds of years ago to mark Indian trails. Mr. Dieter has discovered some in SW Wisconsin, 1 in Crawford on a ridge near Ferryville, 1 in Vernon, and 2 in Richland. He plans to have an article in the local newspapers on this and hopes that hunters and others in the woods will look for more of these trees. He did not want to give exact locations out of fear the trees would be harmed. He had pictures of the trees available to look at after the meeting. Also, Mr. Dieter said Prof. Evan Larson from UW Platteville is gathering info on white oak trees in SW Wisconsin, researching their tree rings to gather historical data on droughts. White oak trees live hundreds of years, often 400+.
Rock Bottom in the Age of Extreme Energy Extraction
Forest, prompted by a conversation with Liz Rog, drove over to Decorah to see this simultaneously depressing and inspiring presentation by Tyler Norman of the Beehive Collective, sponsored by the Community Rights Alliance of Winneshiek County (CRAWC). The presentation included a good amount of audience participation and focused on three mining activities going on in North America: Fracking (which was tied in to FSM), tar sands extraction, and sulfide metal mining. The correlation between all these mining techniques: all are desperately scraping the bottom of the barrel, so to speak, expending huge amounts of energy and causing incredible amounts of destruction for minimal – and decreasing – returns (relying on the corrupt and submissive governments to pave the way through incentives and subsidies to profitability for this unsustainable economic model).
Rock bottom is a term used mainly in two contexts: 1) in the mining industry when every last drop of what is being extracted has been and one is forced to close down and 2) in regards to addiction. This is the point at which, generally, the addict is faced with two choices: change/quit, or die. At this point, the addict is capable of great violence and destructive behavior both to themselves and others. This is the point our civilization has reached in our addiction. Following the incredibly appropriate metaphor, often times the addict is incapable for one reason or another of quitting of their own volition, despite the immanent threats posed. This calls for an intervention, which can take many forms, but the important part to consider is that relying on addicts (and we must all own our parts in this too) to up and quit of their own volition – as a global society no less – is foolish and the ecological realities of our times no longer afford us the time to wait on everyone to come around when we are all so deeply addicted and the pushers of our addiction pull the strings of our government and the media.
MSHA Cites Pattison for Seven Violations at Bridgeport Mine
Pattison Sand Company continues their legacy as the non-metallic mining company with the most violations in the nation. On Tuesday, October 7th, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) paid a visit to the Bridgeport Mine. The report on their website lists the following rules as having been violated.
MSHA found issues with:
MSHA found issues with:
Proper training records
Notice of commencement and closing
Roll-over protection structures and seat belts
Material Safety Data Sheets
First Aid Materials
The actual cause of the violations, however, is not listed, nor will MSHA voluntarily disclose them, so CSP is following up with a Freedom of Information Act Request to obtain this information. We believe the public has a right to know what is happening out of sight, behind the berm blocking view from Hwy 60.
As the mine is listed as operating “intermittently”, this means that MSHA will only visit once per year. We are not satisfied with this level of monitoring of a potentially hazardous activity. There has already been documented sediment runoff due to inadequate berming and drainage systems and now we learn that the berms are once again in violation. There have already been issues with the access road, with truck traffic backing up cars on highway 60, and now we learn that MSHA has determined the access to be unsafe.
There are so many questions that must be answered here. What exactly is making these things unsafe/inadequate? How can this be addressed? How will we know if these and other issues have been fixed? What is the timeline for adressing these issues?
Crawford Stewardship Project is dedicated to finding as many of these answers as possible, informing the public and policy-makers, and to the best of our abilities, ensuring that issues are addressed to protect the health and safety of the citizens and environment
John Olivas – Community Rights
Forest met Jack Knight and picked up John Olivas in Lansing, before heading to Robert Nehman's incredible not-quite-finished house (“Once this hit, I stopped working on it.”). Robert had just returned from NY (at Josh Fox's place) and reported he met with many movers and shakers at the big climate rally in NYC.
John has a powerful story and a compelling case for Mora County's decision to go with a rights-based ordinance as a way to ban hydrocarbon extraction. A point Forest also appreciated was the recognition by Mora County that, yes, they could put regulations on the book, but in a poor county with a million dollar operating budget who would regulate? We can see many parallels to that here. Regulations mean nothing if not enforced.
Robert and Jack (and Ric Zarwell, though he was not there) very much like the community rights approach as an organizing tool and for its explicit empowering of We the People, however they also think their ordinance is very solid (Forest tends to agree). John was able to speak well on the ability to pass a rights-based ordinance (which would necessarily nullify any regulatory ordinance), with a section stating that if the ordinance is ever overturned or repealed, a moratorium automatically comes into effect. This would allow time for adopting a strict regulatory ordinance, or one could feasibly have an on-deck regulatory ordinance that would automatically come into effect.
Forest then drove John to Viroqua where they ate and went to the Viroqua High School.
Roughly fifty people attended that free and open to the public event where John gave a very educational talk with questions and answers going a half-hour longer than the 8:30 scheduled end of the talk. There were folks representing Sauk County, Monroe Co, Richland Co, Allamakee Co, Vernon Co, and Crawford Co for sure and possibly more represented. Some folks have drafted a Non-metallic mining ordinance for Viroqua Township which is being considered and will come up for a vote by the township soon.
Forest hosted John at Dancing Waters for the night and the following morning
Nine people (two of them public officials: Lumin Hobbins – Bell Center Village Board, and Tom Crofton – Richland County Board) attended CSP's unadvertised invite-only meeting in Gays Mills which was more in-depth and longer than the night before in Viroqua. We learned more about Mora County's struggle to get people elected to the County Board who were supportive of a ban, of abrasive anglo activists being largely shunned and ignored in a largely Hispanic area, before some of the locals took up their cries, of the of the haggling for oil and gas tax $ at the state level, of the eventual passing of the ban, and the subsequent lawsuit by landowners and the industry. It was heartening to hear that there were a slew of lawyers who were offering their time to defend the ban pro-bono, not just CELDF. However, this may not be the case as much with frac sand mining being lower profile and any new community rights bans not being as groundbreaking/precedent setting.
WI Farmers Union Meeting
Forest, Edie, and Connie Champnoise met at Dancing Waters with David Wright-Racette, the new Policy Organizer for Wisconsin Farmer's Union. The meeting went really well and we continue to be impressed and happy with the WFU (and they with us!)
The Farmer's Union formed around fair market access, promoting farmer cooperatives and the like, and are therefor a very different organization from, say, the Farm Bureau. They have a diverse membership (“anyone interested in food and/or ag”) and their democratic prioritization process has pushed frac sand mines and high-capacity wells to the top of the pile, along with CAFOs and farm consolidation. They wish to collaborate on these issues with grassroots groups like us because we know the folks on the ground, while they have connections in Madison.
WFU has a WI Food Hub Cooperative Initiative in its 2nd year.
They plan on having a 2nd part to the Powers economic study study which has been so helpful. They are thinking of using Steve Deller (ag economist) as their researcher.
They will be putting on a public forum on the recent high cap well ruling (DNR must take cumulative impacts into account) and various surrounding states methods of regulation.
David reminded us to be aware of the influence of the American City County Exchange (ACCE), the new local municipality-based branch of ALEC. Their mission statement: “The Mission of American City County Exchange is to advance limited government and free market principles in local government through model policies, conferences and online collaboration.”
He also informed us that Michael Kolz is the new head of the WI Towns Association (a very well respected association and key to our successes in rebuffing state preemption of local control). They will be feeling him out over the next months to see where he stands on issues. Concern was expressed that only elected officials can call in to the WI Towns Association and get information on legality of ordinances and other municipal advice.
It was really great having Connie at the meeting and getting a recap of what our allies to the East have been up to. Apparently things have slowed down for them since passage of their county zoning update, though Connie sees the Reedsburg Spur (in the process of being purchased/upgraded by state of WI and operated by WSOR/Watco) as very concerning as it may open up NE side of Richland County to frac sand mining.
25th Anniversary of the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway
Forest volunteered his time for this surprisingly large event in Spring Green and listened to Dale Schultz, Spencer Black, Tommy Thompson, and many others pontificate about their work in creating the Riverway. Riverway Board Chair Don Greenwood played a few choice songs about rivers including “Paradise”. Both Mark Cupp and Don Greenwood spoke powerfully about the need to protect the Riverway from frac sand mining and got good responses from the audience (majority were seemingly Madisonian upper-crusties with a smattering of Riverway advocates and landowners). Lots of good educational materials were available and it was a decent networking opportunity.
LWSR Board Meeting
Forest attended the meeting in Wyalusing State Park. Not much was said on the their lawsuit, as they are still under a gag order while things are sorted out and clarified as to what exactly being forced to sign the permits would look like.
There have been issues with the Arena boat launch and it either needs to be dredged or abandoned for another spot as so much sand has piled up. It is on a bend that tends to accumulate sand. Comments were made about that being the shifting nature of the river, Mark Cupp pulling out an old quote, “The Wisconsin River is a fickle jade upon which no reliance can be placed. A pilot of one season will scarce recognize her the next.” Most seem to agree that 15 years is about all that can be expected of a boat landing.
The board continues to plug away at their master plan. They had a brainstorming session for organizations and agencies who they considered partners and collaborators ans stakeholders in their mission.
There was a lot of talk by the DNR of a pine plantation that looks terrible right now and that will eventually be managed for oaks. Forest was as usual a bit put off by how much our “natural areas” are referred to as “plantations”.
Crawford County Land Conservation Committee Meeting
Forest reported briefly on the developments at the loading site and on the exciting (long overdue) proposed karst ordinance in Kewaunee County. He referred the committee to Dave Troester, whom he had already communicated with about this and had sent the articles and the ordinance itself.
The committee approved and passed along an ordinance regulating telecom towers (though the county authority here is extremely limited).
SouthWest Badger RC&D gave a report on their activities and funding. Funded mainly be grants with anywhere from $100 - $2500 from counties in their area, their projects include: an ash tree survey (still funding left for one or two more small communities); aquatic and terrestrial invasive species tracking, education, and some elimination; help with woodlot improvement; and promotion and help with transitioning back to a grazing-based (esp. rotational) system for animal agriculture.
Dave and Karyl have been busy setting up the aerial seeding of cover crops project and are hopeful for its success. It was reported that Crawford County has the most cover crop contracts and $ in the state!
CSP Water Quality Monitoring
Water monitoring of Boydtown Creek and Fred’s farm was done on Aug 20. Deb and Bill Hiller, and Kathy and Paul Byrne sampled. Kathy reports that the conditions on Boydtown Creek are worse (algal growth) than she has seen them in the past.
Lab tests showed once again a continuation of elevated levels of e-coli with the unnamed tributary site now at 10,000 and Paul and Kathy’s at 780. The unnamed tributary continues to have elevated phosphorus levels as well and the nitrogen levels were at their highest reading yet although still below limits. Due to scheduling conflicts and weather the Wisconsin River sites were not monitored in August. Jane is looking into options on how CSP monitoring can be more effective.
Prairie du Chien City Council Meeting
Forest attended this meeting show support for the afflicted neighborhood and to get the report on the results of the dust swab sampling the city had conducted in three residences near to the loading site, the loading site itself, and the hospital. City Administrator Aaron Kramer stated the obvious conclusion of the test that “there is no clear indisputable evidence that the sand in residential areas is coming from the Pattison Sand loading site.” How could there be with such a test?! Levels of silica ranged from between 1-5% of the dust in homes. The dust sampled from the sand loading elevator hood contained 60% silica (“angular fractured fragments”), 15-20% unidentifiable crystals of some sort, and 20-25% “particles that measure less than 2.5 microns in size and are difficult to resolve by polarized light microscopy”.
So based on a one-time test of a small handful of homes analyzed without the ability to distinguish the smallest and most dangerous particles, Aaron Kramer suggested that no more action in this realm was needed. Forest bit his tongue and kept his questioning to clarifying questions about the methodology of sampling, and did not comment on the gross inadequacy of this test. In retrospect he wishes he had.
Before the meeting began, Aaron approached Forest and handed him a printout of an e-mail update from Ken Lucht to him stating that as of August 19th the WSOR had:
“Secured 2/3 of the required wetland mitigation credits.
Submitted completed application materials to WDNR (currently being reviewed)
Submitted completed application materials to ACOE (currently being reviewed)
Obtained approval from Wisconsin River Rail Transit Commission
Obtained approval from Wi DOT
Gained support from the Wi Manufacturers and Commerce
and are now in our 5th week of delay as we work through details with the WDNR and ACOE”
Aaron simply told Forest this was public information and went and took his seat.
Wauzeka CAFO DNR Update
On the call were Steve Oberle, Forest Jahnke, Shawn Esser, Andrew Craig, Mark Cain, and Andy Morton. Andrew Craig expressed that the purpose of the call was to improve communication between the DNR and Crawford Stewardship Project so we could all most effectively use our time. They suggested meeting quarterly to share information and address concerns! As new NMPs are due on March 31st of each year and spreading reports for previous crop year are due January 31st, it was suggested those (or slightly after to give Roth some leeway for being late as he often is, might be good times to meet.
When asked how they thought their communication with Roth was, he said “I don't think we have a problem communicating with Mr Roth at all... I think we have good communication regarding these issues.”
Information was shared on the new SNAP Plus 2 program and details on how the WPDES forms and nutrient crediting systems work that was a bit over my head, but seemed to be helpful for Steve.
If soil samples are out of date, then P levels are set at 101ppm P and field must be managed accordingly (read: can still spread, but must be managed so that P levels are decreasing).
When the sheer quantity of animals and the small amount of acres was brought up, the DNR responded that nothing in WPDES permit that says that they must maintain a certain acres/animals ratio and that there are really no enforcement options there, though they have and will continue to ask Roth to find more acreage.
Shawn pointed out pages 54 + 55 of the NMP, which show that Roth is not even using all the land he has, and he has actually been spreading more manure his pigs are producing (from abandoning the old manure lagoon). It seems the reason we are seeing this nutrient buildup in some fields is that they are simply the closest and easiest and he does not feel like hauling to other fields.
What the DNR can enforce is the conditions in the NMP, namely: No spreading on fields over 200ppm Phosphorous, fields must remain below 6 Phosphorous Index (another way of measuring), and fields from 100-200ppm P must be spread upon at 50% of crop uptake, so they will be drawn down. When asked about the possibility of being granted exceptions to being over 200ppm P (which the DNR can grant at their discretion), Shawn Esser said that exemptions are rarely approved and he does not see any circumstance here where exemption would be granted.
When Karst features were brought up, Andy Morton said that in 2009 these were addressed based on the Soil Survey for the farm and that anywhere where there is less than two feet of soil over a karst feature, spreading is prohibited. He said that the farm's current maps include such features. That he knows of, there are no county-wide karst surveys of karst features.
Forest brought up concerns that it was a bit disconcerting that spreading was allowed on sinkholes with two feet of soil on top of it and that this constituted a direct pathway for pollutants – like those that we have been finding through our monitoring program – to enter the water table. This was the first time they had heard of our monitoring results and surface water issues and they did not know who Kurt Rasmussen was. Shawn Esser would like to see our monitoring results, though it was mentioned that if we provided this to him, it would go into Roth's file (where Roth would have access to see it). This was mentioned as a precaution to us by Andy Morton, though it seems more like an added benefit to Forest.
They also admitted that the spreading restriction maps are sadly outdated (though they didn't seem overly concerned about it, saying that the restricted fields were obvious from the tables and charts) and said they would follow up and ask for updated maps.
Putting them on the spot, at one point Steve asked, “If we hadn't done our review, would you have been aware that there were 11 fields over 200ppm P?” To which Andrew Craig answered surprisingly, “We may not have.” It seems as though some NMPs don't even get looked at! Our scrutiny here is key in keeping the rules and regulations enforced.
August 6-9, 2014
Crawford County Fair
In the four days and just under 30 hours of tabling we brought in $47 in donations and sales. Over 20 new people joined the supporter's list, 12 additional signatures were added to our online petition, and 14 mining updates and 11 factory farming updates were handed out, along with roughly that many newsletters and frac sand maps. We sold two t-shirts, one of each frac sand mining video, a lawn sign, a bumper sticker, and a few buttons at often reduced prices ($32 in sales, $15 in donations).
Forest gifted a karst poster or a t-shirt to any of the wonderful volunteers who helped out and wanted one (Connie, Jane, Lauren, Megan, Ilana, and Rikardo). Several volunteers stayed for the whole 6 hour day! Vance Haugan was talking up the poster and how he often uses it for educational purposes, for which he was awarded another free Karst poster for his use. Karst posters were also won by five lucky folks who signed up for our supporters list and entered for a chance to win (Don Lester, Kristy Mikkelson, Bob Tumi, Dorothy Hammerand, and Cheryl Mader).
Many good conversations were had with folks who would otherwise have never heard the message. A surprising number of folks didn't know the difference between our old quarries and frac sand mining. Forest only had one conversation that could be construed as tense with - surpise surprise - an employee from Pattison's mine in Clayton. He assured us that we have nothing to fear, and accused us of spreading rumors and lies. Despite the sheer amount of hours put in and the relatively low sales and materials distributed, many good connections were made and Forest came away with the overall impression that it is very important to have a presence at the fair on an ongoing basis.
Mississippi River Region Planning Commission Open House
The MRRPC is in the process of developing a 20 year regional comprehensive plan which they plan to approve a final version of in October. They are currently holding open houses to inform and gather information from the public.
Forest was one of two attendees at the open house in Westby and he talked with Dave Bonifas (Community Development Planer) for well over an hour about many regional issues. Dave was filled in on our activities, given our recent updates (on mining and factory farming), our last two newsletters, and a 2014 frac sand map. Dave knows a ton (he is the only other person Forest has run into that knows about the price of propane spiking in the area due to the pipeline shift from propane to fracking fluid), but was not very aware of the situation in Prairie du Chien and was rather taken aback especially with the recent developments.
Apparently in La Crosse the city is really fighting the new tracks with everything they can muster and BNSF has not declared preemption.
Aside from how sadly outdated the frac sand mine map they had was (forgivable), there was a ton of really quality information displayed. Demographic info, ecological info, economic info, opinion surveys... truly a wealth of information, all of which is on their website and much of which is broken down by county and some even by township.
WDNR Public Hearing on Surface Water Quality
Jane participated in DNR-run webinar for public participation in the DNR's triennial review of surface water standards. She was unable to stay on the webinar to ask questions, but was able to send our concerns via email. She later followed up with a phone call to the webinar moderator, Ashley Beranek, to go over our concerns and our top three picks for standards topics (see our FB page or Weekly News and Actions).
She was happy to hear that quite a few people had taken the survey. The deadline for the survey is August 7.
Jennifer Shilling at Viroqua HS
Though conversation revolved mostly around depressing trends in the Wisconsin public educational system and what was being done to further exacerbate those issues by the legislature, Forest did manage to ask about the potential for state preemption over local regulation of FSM coming up through the budget. Jennifer confirmed that this is also what she has heard, and though she considers it despicable, this is something she sees all the time when things are too unpopular to pass on their own merits. Forest also spoke with her about the best way to influence legislators (specifically Lee Nerison) and she said that it depends on if it is an election year or not, but generally petitions are effective if they have enough signatures, individual (especially hand-written) letters carry much more weight individually, and face to face conversations are ideal. She said that if she gets even five letters on a topic, it is seriously on her radar.
LWSR Board Meeting (Forest and Jane attended)
Little to report, as they went into closed session to discuss legal matters.
The Board continues to search for agencies, universities, etc who will do a study of the economic impact of tourism in the riverway area. Houses and railings need to be the right colors, steep slopes need to be logged, there is a patch of oak wilt to take out, Big Valley Ranch (a dude-ranch in Iowa Co) is expanding, the river flow is down, the voyageur canoe trips have been great... Timm Zumm (FLOW) presented an idea to develop a sort of PFD library system with a place at every landing for folks to take/leave free floaties. Forest commented briefly on the PdC Loading operation and gave Mark Cupp a copy of our comments.
We have heard no indication of whether or not they will appeal Judge Day's June ruling.
Bridgeport Recall Round 2
It was another poor turnout in the Bridgeport recall against Rodney Fishler. Out of a total of 215 voters - 138 went for Flansburg and 77 for Fishler. Yes, Allan Flansburg who has had test holes bored and is negotiating with Pattison Sand to have his land mined. We once again have a fully hostile Bridgeport Town Board to deal with (if we decide it is worthwhile to continue dealing with them). BCC folks are putting on a very brave face and it sounds like they will have another shot at it come April.
PdC Common Council Meeting (Proposed Resolution in Opposition to Pattison/WSOR Loading Operation)
The meeting was well attended and five of eight of those who spoke during public comment section were in opposition to the operation (the three who spoke for it includes Ken Lucht, spokesman for WSOR, Kyle Pattison, and a Pattison employee) and in favor of the resolution prompted by Ron Leys which stated that the Common Council was opposed to the loading operation where it was and asked that it be moved. In CSP's comments, Forest thanked the council for entertaining the resolution, but urged further action, stressing that the Surface Transportation Board must be asked to make an official ruling as to whether preemption applies or not.
When the resolution came up, Ron Leys presented the resolution in a rather defeatist fashion and from then on, it was all downhill. Several council members voiced their opinions that the resolution was a political stunt and not really an answer and did not fix the issue, so they opposed it. The end vote was 6 against and 4 for the resolution (Leys, Thein, Hayes-Hall [new guy], and Fleshner).
City Administrator Aaron Kramer briefly described the rather slapdash air sampling that the city had undertaken for a day (two houses on Overview Ct, one on S Beaumont, and a couple samples from the operation itself). Air monitors were mentioned, but deemed too expensive to buy. Aaron said he would ask Pattison if he was willing to set up monitors on his own dime, but didn't give much hope that that would happen. CSP Staff will check up with the lab doing the analysis and see what they have to say about the sampling process, the results, and what that will mean, rather than having Aaron Kramer interpret what they said to us.
Since the meeting, staff has been rooting around for permits and ownership and preemption clarifications from the WiDOT and WDNR. On a tip from a supporter, we discovered that the WSOR has declared preemption (the first this has been officially declared, not just threatened) to the WDNR, saying, essentially, that though the permits to build were not issued yet, they were going to go ahead and start because they didn't feel like they even really needed the permits. The DNR seems more upset about this than the city, and we have heard that they are even considering an injunction.
We also learned in an e-mail from Aaron Kramer that Pattison received another NON on June 12 for not keeping track of (or likely doing) visual emissions checks at the loading site from Myron Smith, the new air compliance guy out of LaCrosse.
CSP/Humane Society Meeting
After a great extended staff meeting, Kathy, Jane, and Forest Met with Melissa Tedrowe (HSUS Wisconsin State Director) and Eric Swafford (HSUS Director of Rural Outreach and Development) both of them are right on message and fully realize the negative associations they carry in these and other parts. Eric is sent across the country, setting up “agricultural councils” by briefing farmers on the wider issues holding them down and helping them organize some form of making a living without exploiting the land, the animals, or serving one of the multinational corporations that have taken over animal agriculture. This involves setting up collective forms of buying, selling, slaughtering/butchering, processing, distribution, value-added, etc as well as developing certification systems for humane/sustainable which all allow farmers to get more money (and more stable income) for their product.
The conversation we had with them was a great continuation of the staff conversation leading up to that of how on earth to move agriculture away from current destructive methodologies (and not just mitigating the worst abuses and putting out fires as they arise). HSUS is ready to help us whether that means opposing CAFO start-ups (Eric reaffirms the rumors, reports, and our fears that this area is slated for big hog facilities) or doing more proactive work of devising alternative structures under which agriculture can be profitable. Eric is even willing to fly out again (it sounded like for free...) to help us when we are ready. The staff feels as though these could be very beneficial to look into how we can facilitate these alternative systems, whether this is under the HSUS banner, or another group, or something completely novel.
We also hear from other sources that swine farm expansions are or will be happening in SW Wisconsin, esp Grant County. The industry is starting to catch on to certification programs as a value-added commodity and are requiring their own certifications that do not necessarily benefit the wider community. We are looking into these with the help of HSUS. A Missouri swine farmer is also part of the HSUS effort, Joe Maxwell. We need to move on this issue sooner rather than later, as expansions are in the works and the contracts with growers aren’t much better than they used to be. We may be able to involve UW Richland and Platteville in presenting information to farmers.
July Frac Sand Mining Update
Kathy has continues to be in contact with Roberta Walls of the DNR on Pattison’s containment breach and stormwater issues in Bridgeport. Roberta made a site visit at the Bridgeport mine on June 6. Kathy requested and received Roberta’s inspection report. Roberta feels they are doing a good job addressing the issues but it isn’t clear on whether this will prevent future runoffs. The DNR is limited in what it can do and require.
Bridgeport Recall Election
BCC did not manage to unseat either John Karnopp or Mike Steiner. The loss was by a wide margin (nearly two to one...) Election monitors were in attendance to ensure no foul play.
Prairie du Chien Loading Site Expansion Public Meeting
There was a better citizen turnout than anticipated and most seemed opposed to the loading site. The presentation by the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad was long and laughable (which of these 8 colors would you like this giant industrial building to be in your open spaces riverfront area neighboring a residential zone?) They justify the expanded operation by saying that it will help with rail congestion, as well as dust, noise, and light issues. It became clear that Pattison Sand Company is the only user of this site, and is likely footing the majority of the bill for the developments, though the railroad still contends that this is their operation. Railroad representatives even deferred to Kyle Pattison when questioned about building specs.
At least four if not more of the City Council members have serious reservations about this site and some tough questions and strong remarks were made against the operation. However, all seemed reserved to the position that there was nothing they could do about it, no-matter how many reservations they had. We will pressure them to clarify if preemption actually applies in this case and to have some backbone, stand up for their constituents, and apply their zoning.
June 2014 Wauzeka CAFO DNR Update
June 16th (6 days after requested and 13 days after it was issued) Shawn Esser sent us the Notice of Non-Compliance (NON) for Roth Feeder Pig overspreading on a field. NON mentioned nothing about any of our other concerns, we were not told by the DNR about the issuance of the NON and had to find out through the grapevine, though we can be fairly certain this NON would not have been issued without our prodding.
We have now learned that Roth is contesting this NON and does not admit to any wrongdoing.
Our press release about our findings and the situation at the Roth CAFO went out to area news outlets on July 3rd.
We are still waiting for the DNR's response to our last round of comments (sent June 22nd) and for a meeting to be scheduled between CSP (Forest and Edie) and AV Roth facilitated by the DNR, as promised. Shawn Esser (the area DNR Ag. Runoff Management Specialist) is new to the job and totally overwhelmed with the amount of “contentious operators” (his words) he is responsible for.
June Water Quality Monitoring and CAFO Monitoring
Lab results are in for the water samples taken on May 27 and the only monitoring site that had slightly elevated e-coli levels was Kathy and Paul’s site on Boydtown Creek off of Hilldale Rd. This site is upstream of the CAFO and these levels most likely were caused by cattle further upstream. The weather had been dry for a couple of weeks before these samples were taken so most likely there hadn’t been much runoff. Fred’s site (now monitored by the Hillers) had phosphorus (P) levels over the set standard which has been the case since 2011. Also the nitrate-nitrite (N) levels were elevated. Mary Leuther of Leuther Lab remarked on the results: “Site 119 (Fred/Hiller site) sample had the highest nitrate-nitrite levels, but the lowest coliform [e-coli] and staph species counts. The fungi was the highest in this sample and one abundant species, that I have not identified, produced substances that not only killed other bacteria, using our standard test to check for antibiotics, it also inhibited other fungi. The sample itself was negative for inhibitory substances. Just an interesting aside!” When Kathy questioned Mary on her remarks Mary replied, “Possibly, the bacteria, counts were low because of the fungi numbers and species. The P levels at 119, at 0.20 are high and maybe were even higher before the plants/algae started using them.” Kathy noted that the algae at this site was abundant when the samples were taken. The DNR set standard limit for phosphorus in streams is .075. Fred and the Hillers did a macroinvertebrate assessment on June 24 and found a few more critters than last year.
Kathy was able to get out onto the WI River to do the CBM monitoring for May & June at the Bridgeport mine sites. This now completes the monitoring requirement for the DNR grant although monitoring will continue through this season.
Karst Geology Field Trip w/ Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo
The event went off beautifully with 23 (I believe) in attendance, not counting CSP staff. Folks came from a broad area and we obtained a good number of new additions to the supporter list. The presentation has been honed down to the point where Kelvin says it takes 45 minutes and with an engaged audience like the one that Saturday, it takes just under an hour and a half. Kelvin is a wonderfully engaging presenter, talking about technical scientific processes and sometimes frightening subjects in a way that is accessible and often comedic. Feedback for the event was strictly positive and much interest was expressed by those in attendance when Kelvin offered to do another of these through Vernon County (where there are many good karst examples) in the Fall for CSP.
Crawford County Board of Supervisors Passes anti-Fast Track Authority for TPP Resolution Unanimously
Dave Troester introduced the resolution briefly as almost the same as the resolution passed in January in Vernon County. He mentioned that the Finance Committee had urged him to find another opinion and contact the Farm Bureau. The county Farm Bureau had passed him to the state and the state simply quoted national Farm Bureau policy which was for the TPP “because it will benefit our membership”.
The baton was then passed to Forest who gave a brief overview of some of the nastiest implications of the TPP regarding food and other safety standards, labeling, job exportation, internet freedom, public safety, and the undermining of our national sovereignty by creating a dispute resolution system that puts corporations on an equal footing with nations and which is completely unaccountable and could override rulings of our highest courts. Forest emphasized that this was not even a resolution against this trade deal, just against giving the Obama administration the authority to unilaterally sign the treaty, write an “implementation bill” conforming US laws to the TPP dictates, and allowing Congress no participation or oversight until a last-minute up-or-down vote.
Pete Flesch commented that, despite some questions he had received on how appropriate it was for Crawford County to do something like this, he saw it as in the same vein as the resolution passed a couple years ago calling on the PSC to be more transparent with their high-capacity siting process, and opened it to questions and discussion.
Greg Russell said that it seemed like a good thing to sign on to, and talked about made in America and made in Wisconsin being a good thing to promote. He made the motion to adopt the resolution, Gerry Krachey 2nded, and the resolution passed unanimously.
CSP Featured at Driftless Edibles
On the 3rd Monday of each month, for “Community Minded Monday, Driftless Edibles donates 1% of the sales to a local non-profit organization. In June, Crawford Stewardship Project was the featured organization. Displayed were our Newsletters, the Karst Poster (also available for sale), the lovely karst informational sheets, a sign-up sheet and Forest's card for those who wished to become informed and involved.
This was a great little cross-promotional opportunity with an exciting (and long overdue) business in Prairie du Chien suggested by the business owner, Erika Stubbs, who said (and wrote): “Because Driftless Edibles cares about providing clean, organic, healthy food without GMOs, pesticides, or other practices which are harmful to our environment, we thought that Crawford Stewardship Project would be a perfect fit for our Community-Minded Monday sales program.” Thanks Erika!
LWSR Board Meeting in Mazomanie
Forest attended. Apparently the Board's attorney asked that they not comment on the case quite yet, so discussion was minimal on the loss of the lawsuit on Tuesday. Ron Leys: “So the judge is ordering the Riverway Board to issue the permits?” Mark Cupp: “It is unclear who is supposed to issue the permit.” Other than that, it was barely discussed. In the public comment period, Forest expressed our disappointment at the verdict, thanked them for their efforts in fighting and attempting to have Riverway law updated and clarified and asked what we could do to further support them. Nothing was mentioned, though Fred Madison (who was chairing, as Don Greenwood was missing) said they might, “come knocking on our doors for help in the near future”.
The Riverway Board intends to work through the office of Sen. Schultz (was a little unclear exactly how) to get the ball rolling on drafting the rule updates. There was brief discussion on how they would limit mining through size thresholds, dust, lighting, hours of operation, etc. and how they were limited by those mines already grandfathered in. They would like to introduce the rule updates as a bill by January, but this is loose and the process may take a full year or more.
Their Riverway Master Plan recommendations were exhaustive and very good. To name a few (from the lengthy list):
- Eliminate public access requirement for scenic easements
- More primitive campsites
- A trail from Wyalusing to Devils Lake
- More focus on promoting, preserving, and documenting archeological sites
- More focus on outdoor education
- Further highlight wetland areas
- Study economic benefits of the Riverway
Don Greenwood was re-elected as Chair by a narrow vote of 5-4 (Gerald Dorscheid ran)
LWSR Board Court Hearing in Lancaster
Kathy, Edie, Ellen and many of the Bridgeport Concerned Citizens attended the June 10th court hearing on the lawsuit brought forth by Pattison Sand and the four landowners against the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway’s (LWSR) denial of permits for frac sand mining. Judge Craig Day ruled that the Riverway must issue the permit.
According to state statute 30.44 (3e) NONMETALLIC MINING, (b) A person may not be issued a permit for an activity in par. (a) unless the following performance standards are met:
1. Any structure and any stockpiled minerals or soil associated with the nonmetallic mining activity may not be visible from the river when the leaves are on the deciduous trees.
2. The excavation for the nonmetallic mining activity may not be visible from the river when the leaves are on the deciduous trees.
The ruling came after Judge Day rejected the LWSR’s argument that the term “excavation” included the clouds of dust and night lighting that is a visible part of excavation and therefore did not meet their performance standard mentioned above. The judge cited a Webster’s Dictionary singular definition of a hole in the ground rather than including an additional definition of the act or process of excavating. According to other dictionaries excavation does indeed mean the act or process of digging out or up. Judge Day had previously considered a remand of the permit back to the board for reconsideration but decided that the same conclusions would be obtained. The judge did allow conditions to be placed on the permit with some language and other modifications made by the judge.
Don Greenwood, LWSR Board Chair, sent an email thanking CSP and the BCC for all their support. He stated that it will be important for citizens to monitor the mining activity to ensure that Pattison Sand is in compliance as well as document any activities that are not or can be seen from the river. We have sent this request out to our supporters and other groups as well. Photos and descriptions should be dated and indicate where they were taken from on the river. The materials can be sent to Mark Cupp at firstname.lastname@example.org. If something particularly egregious occurs that requires a rapid response, call Mark at the Riverway office 800-221-3792.
KD Partners Proposed Expansion Public Hearing
Forest, Kathy, Edie, Ellen and some of our supporters attended the KD Partners public hearing at the Crawford County Administration Building. KD Partners in Haney Township, Crawford County, off of county road W have submitted an Application and Nutrient Management Plan to the County to expand their dairy herd to 748 Animal Units. These documents are public information and are available to any who are interested at the Crawford County Land Conservation Department website: http://www.crawfordcountywi.org/landconservation/
Crawford Stewardship Project has completed its initial review of these documents and find them generally lacking due to the following concerns:
- According to the Nutrient Management Plan, the farm is expected to produce nearly 6 million gallons of manure and yet it only has 2 million gallons of storage capacity in the manure lagoon.
- The majority of the fields where spreading is proposed are quite steep and yet no conservation plan has been included to ensure compliance with maintaining tolerable soil loss levels and accurate manure spreading restrictions.
- There are no soil tests, nutrient recommendations, or field data provided for the neighboring Lazy K and Busy B fields even though the NMP narrative states that KD Partners has a “partnership” with these farms “for manure application” and they would be receiving 90% of the manure produced.
- The lack of manure tests, nutrient crediting, manure spreader calibration, and soil samples.
We look to the County and the Land Conservation Committee to work with the farmer to put together a solid plan and address concerns that came forward at the hearing and continue to come forward in the next days.
We had shared the above concerns about the major flaws and gaps in the application before the meeting and had received word from Dave Troester that there was really no chance that this would be approved at the public input hearing, so we were able to be a little less assertive at this meeting and everything went rather cordially. The farmers, Amy and Ed Doskocil and their children (young adults who hope to return to the farm) were all very friendly and Forest knew them from North Crawford. The turnout of immediate neighbors was quite low, despite quite a few calls and even a few door to door visits.
Forest delivered CSP's more technical comments, Kathy addressed water quality monitoring and offered to help the farmers, Edie gave a broader vision and spoke to trends and alternate pathways to conventional confinement “get big or get out” methods, and Ellen, Dave, and Jennifer spoke as concerned Haney citizens. These seemed to be received well even by the farm owners, who actually thanked us for being there a couple times. We learned (during the roughly 45 minutes of unstructured time where no one else was officially “commenting” and we were allowed to schmooze) that KD Partners only realized they had to do the Nutrient Management Plan and apply to the county for approval in late April! This unstructured time seemed actually quite helpful in building a sense of collaborative problem-solving, rather than antagonistic vying for position and many good conversations were had with the farm owners and others. They were told in the end that they had to include the 90% of the land they planned to spread on in their NMP and generally that their application was incomplete (CSP's position). They will be providing more information to Dave Troester as it becomes available and he will pass it on to us and we will pass it to Steve.
The application must be approved if it follows the livestock siting law specifications by August 14th +/- a day.
It seems unlikely that the LCV will require additional criteria (more than the minimum manure storage, water quality monitoring, well testing, etc) at this point. We will work with Harriet and Dave to come up with some recommendations at least and hopefully they will take us up on our offers of assistance managing 6 million gallons of manure.
May Wauzeka CAFO & DNR Update
The Roth NMP review continues. The second round of comments and questions Steve Oberle helped us put together was ignored for two and a half weeks until Forest sent another, more demanding e-mail. The response was vague, dismissive, and none of the additional materials requested have been provided to date. However, a meeting with AV Roth and the DNR was suggested which is an interesting twist in the discussion.
May Water Quality Monitoring and CAFO Monitoring
After numerous delays the first monitoring of this season around the Roth CAFO took place on May 20 and May 27. Water samples were taken for testing on May 27th and expect results within the next week. Fred’s little tributary was full of slimy algae which seems to be increasing. Excess nutrient levels have been apparent for some time and Kurt of the DNR saw this for himself when he visited the site last spring. Kurt did tell Kathy at their meeting on April 1, 2014 that the DNR has little interest in this site because of its size and won’t do anything. The Wisconsin River sites by the Bridgeport frac sand mine will be monitored on Saturday, May 31.
North Crawford 7th Grade Civics Class
Forest was invited to John Armbruster's 7th grade civics class for his unit on local government. Forest was given the entire 45 minutes to present to each of the two classes. Forest had initially intended this to focus mostly on the history of CSP and effective participation in local government, but John Armbruster had given them the pro-frac sand mining side of the issue and expected Forest to take the counterpoint, so frac sand mining and fracking were a major component of the presentation. Most of the students seemed very engaged and some good questions were asked. Students were also paired off to debate one side, then the other, of the issue in an effort to keep them engaged and as a lesson in seeing all sides of an argument and how respectful debate is critical in functional local government.
LWSR Board Meeting in Boscobel
Roelie Dregne presented on the proposed non-motorized, handicapped accessible, Wauzeka to Woodman hike, bike and ski trail. The trail would be 4 miles in length along the railroad tracks and over the rail bridge and would connect to a future Woodman to Boscobel trail. Communities have signed resolutions in support of the trail and Roelie was asking the LWSR Board for a resolution. The board agreed to bring a support resolution to the June board meeting. They emphasized that once final plans are done and WSOR agrees the group will have to come to the board for permitting.
With the state selling DNR land to pay down debt in the Stewardship Fund Mark Cupp was asked to give the board a brief history of the fund. It was created at the same time as the LWSR with a $25million/year budget with $2million of that going to the LWSR for compensation to landowners. The fund has gotten less funding so the money for the Riverway went away. The State now requires public access has to be included in any lands purchased by the Riverway and this is unattractive to landowners. The LWSR now has to compete statewide for funding which is very difficult. There is no chance of scenic easements being purchased without public access. Mark Cupp felt the situation is a breach of faith by the state. Don Greenwood, board chair, said the state’s one size fits all does not fit and it is sabotaging the intent of the Riverway.
Mark gave a brief overview of their recommendations on the DNR Masterplan. It was not yet completed or a public document yet so he could not present it in full. Some of the highlights are: Boundary changes and review, Land acquisitions – restore earmarks, Recreational river access points – lessen conflicts especially in Boscobel and Muscoda, Hiking trails with primitive campsites and scenic overlooks, 25 miles of equestrian trails, Archeological and historical sites, Habitats including wetland protection, forestry – sensitive areas, Research, Partnership – volunteer coordinator for school programs etc., Reach out to other states re: river protection. Mark requested the board submit any other ideas to him by June 1 for the next board meeting on June 12.
Matt, DNR land management, reported on the two Masterplan open houses. Boscobel had about 50 people attend and Sauk City about 60. Majority of attendees stayed for the entire meeting. Some of the organizations represented were FLOW, canoe liveries, and CSP. The DNR has extended the public comment period to June 16. Comments can be submitted online as well as folks are encouraged to fill out an online questionnaire.
Year of the Riverway on Sept. 14 update. Tommy Thompson, Senator Schulz and former Sen. Spencer Black who was part of the formation of the LWSR, have agreed to attend. Mark will be inviting Cathy Stepp, DNR Secretary, as well as others. Would like to see it as a reunion with DNR staff and landowners. Mark is reaching out to groups to do tours of the Riverway.
Officers will be voted on at the June meeting. Board positions up for re-election are Don Greenwood, Chair, Fred Madison, Vice Chair, and Melody Moore, Secretary. Melody would prefer someone else run. Nominations are to be submitted by June 1. Don said he is either up for reappointment or disappointment by the state’s executive branch. He said “I may not be here in a few months”. Crawford County approved Ron Leys reappointment to the board and Sauk County approved Don but also submitted 2 other names.
Mark mentioned that Kathy of CSP had sent him information on the Bridgeport mine breach and had put it in the board packet. Mark didn’t comment on it because he hadn’t had time to read it thoroughly. Mark did not know about it, DNR never told him and Pattison certainly didn’t offer him the info. Don said to give it to their attorney. The court hearing on the lawsuit filed by Pattison and the landowners wanting to overturn the board’s decision denying the mining permits will be on June 10, 2:30pm in Lancaster.
Richland Stewardship Project Price of Sand Showing at UW Richland
There were twelve in attendance total (counting Forest and the 4 RSP organizers), but conversation after the film was really good. The dean of the college was there and said he would attend the upcoming county meeting on the issues and was quite supportive. Also, two of the students who attended, Kevin Sobeck (who Forest knew from North Crawford Playhouse) and John Cleveland were very engaged and interested and were still scribbling away on a whiteboard on how to do their random sampling for the surveys they were going to conduct on public opinion and other matters when Forest finally left at 9:30pm, several hours after the program had officially ended. Quantity of people was low, but quality was high and a new demographic in Richland County was engaged into action!
The Land We Love – Echo Valley Hope Earth Day Event
Forest tabled at this event from 11-8 in the Ontario Community Center. Attendance fluctuated from 15 to 35 including organizers, presenters, and musicians. Disappointingly, despite their flier being in Spanish as well as English and a purported outreach effort to the local Latino community that lives in the trailer park, no local Mexicans were present. There were a smattering of local Ontarioans and the music was country-western by a local band and there was some two-stepping and line-dancing. Tabling were SOUL, KVR, Echo Valley Hope, VSN, and CSP. Forest was presented as one of the four “leaders” (along with Rob Danielson, Shelly Brenneman, and Andi Cloud) of the very good two hour circle-discussion on “stewardship”.
Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Master Plan Update
In the two hours that Forest was at the Tuffley Community Center in Boscobel, attendance fluctuated between 25-35 people (ten of those being the DNR staff). There were many tables and various DNR folks specializing in one field or another. Forest spoke with all of them and was especially impressed with Jean Unmuth (Kurt Rassmussen's equivalent for SW Wisconsin – Crawford is considered in the West Central Wisconsin region in their regional divisions) who was very helpful and receptive of comments. There was a presentation on the Riverway and DNR purpose for the Master Plan Update with time for asking questions afterward. When Forest asked about the DNR supporting the LWSRB in their attempt to get a rule change eliminating the FSM loophole for the Riverway, presenter was very cautious and basically said that was not their purview. Forest expressed concerns about agricultural runoff at each table, using Roth and CSPs monitoring program as the example, dropped CSP's comments on the Master Plan in the comments box, and left feeling that this was a valuable use of time and happy that the Master Plan is being updated with so much participation of the people. He continues to be disturbed, however, by the guarded careful tone most DNR take when talking about so many important issues. He heard, “...but I didn't say that” several times and sees this as further evidence of the top-down silencing going on in the agency.
Kickapoo Valley Reserve Earth Day Event
It was a blustery day with unfortunately low turnout. There were considerably more folks last year when it was held in Gays Mills.
The speakers that we heard were very good and Forest intends on getting the video of all the presentations, watching them all, and potentially putting them up on the website (or perhaps just certain ones). A couple shirts, a poster, and a button were sold, and roughly $50 donations were brought in. Good conversations were had at the table and more names were added to the supporter list. Good conversations and connections continued afterward at the benefit concert that evening.
Wetlands of the Penokee Hills
Crawford Stewardship Project and the Lower Kickapoo Initiative brought Tracy Hames, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Wetlands Association, to the Community Center in Gays Mills and gave a wonderful presentation on the breathtaking wetlands of the Penokee Range in Northern Wisconsin. The beauty of the incredible native functioning ecosystems there was juxtaposed with a conversation on Gogebic Taconite's proposed iron mine that would irreparably foul and bury thousands of acres of the pristine habitat. All hope is not lost, however, and between the collaboration of people on the ground at the site of the mine in Harvest Camp, supporting organizations, the tribes, the Army Corps of Engineers (who can no longer work with the WDNR as they have become so compromised), and even international attention on this site declared a RAMSAR site of international importance, we hope this economically marginal project will never come to bear.
Community Rights Organizer, Paul Cienfuegos gets folks fired up!
Paul's time in the area kicked off with a weekend workshop on community rights and rights-based ordinances in Decorah, Ia, where they have a very active group (Community Rights Alliance of Winneshiek County) who has proposed the first Rights-based ordinance to their county board in the Midwest. After his time there, Co-coordinator Forest picked him up and brought him to Gays Mills where he sat down and talked for a couple hours with the CSP board and staff on specifics of the community rights strategy and how to implement one of these rights-based ordinances. We are glad to have another powerful tool in our chest in this realm, as the threat of forces at the state level eliminating our existing ordinances becomes ever-more real.
Next, Forest and Paul headed up to Viroqua where nearly 80 people packed the three-hour mini-workshop on community rights! CSP is now proud to announce that a new group will be forming in Vernon County working in the community rights realm and on the issues we care so deeply about! Their first official meeting will be on Monday, March 17th in the Ark. This is exactly what we had hoped would come of our organizational efforts in bringing Paul Cienfuegos back to the area.
Wisconsin Local Food Network Day at the Capitol
WLFN is a relatively new organization and this was their first lobby day. There were a range of academics, state agricultural agency representatives (including Theresa Engel), and representatives from a range of smaller organizations. Jennifer Shilling was one of the speakers at the meeting/prep time before the actual lobbying happened and has been a big champion for them in past years. The two main lobbying points they focused on were Farm-to-School (maintaining/increasing funding) and Buy Local Buy Wisconsin (maintaining/increasing funding). Both of these are fantastic programs and CSP Co-coordinator Forest was happy to be able to end his lobbying stint in Madison on a high note with both of our area representatives. The lobbying was made easy by all the wonderful information backing up these programs as well as all the other less-tangible positive effects and there was a lot of joking about Forest living in the Capitol. Jennifer Shilling and Lee Nerison were both very supportive and pledged to do what they could to get as much funding as possible to these positive and productive programs.
Wisconsin Farmers Union Farm and Rural Lobby Day
The WFU lobby day was attended by perhaps 40 or so folks from all over the state. Representing CSP was Co-coordinator Forest Jahnke. We met first in the downtown MATC building where we had discussions and explanations of the four main issues:
1) SB 632/AB 816 restricting local control over frac sand mining
2) SB302/AB 679 eliminating the DNR's ability to look at cumulative impacts of high-capacity wells and imposing a 65 day deadline for approval
3) Money in electoral politics, specifically AB 225 which would double campaign contribution limits for state races
4) Investing in rural schools (special aid for transportation costs and debt-relief incentives to attract good new teachers to rural areas). There were also little postcard-style hand-ins in favor of the cookie bill (baked goods equivalent of the pickle bill allowing small-scale sales sans a legal kitchen and all that jazz).
The event went off smoothly, Forest met and networked with several great new people as well as friends/allies from before, and even got to lobby alongside Daren Von Ruden (the President of WFU).
Jennifer Shilling was, as usual very supportive of all our issues.
Lee Nerison was supportive of nearly all the issues including the newest frac sand bill, but was hedging seriously once again on the groundwater giveaway bill. Care must taken to help him understand the dire situation our water will be in if current policies continue on their current course and extraction limits are allowed to loosen. As much as we might want to, we cannot legislate as much water for everyone as everyone wants forever. Our water must be held in public trust and treated carefully and respectfully.
Hearing on SB 632/AB 816
Despite the ridiculously short timeline we were given to understand and prepare ourselves for this newest assault by the State Legislature on local control, Forest Jahnke and Edie Ehlert drove to Madison to testify in front of both the Senate Committee on Workforce Development, Forestry, Mining, and Revenue and the Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economy and Mining. No doubt the speed at which this bill is being pushed forward has something to do with how effectively we fended off SB 349, and Senator Tiffany and the industry may have been hoping this time there would be no public to deal with. However, well over 30 concerned citizens spoke out powerfully in opposition to the bills, once again outnumbering those in favor representing the industry. Again, all who spoke for the bills had financial ties to the industry, while those who spoke out against came from a place of deep love and concern for the land and their fellow citizens. We are sorry more of you couldn't make it out this time. We can only hope our comments will be heeded once again and that our local governments will be allowed to continue protecting the health, safety, and well-being of the communities they represent and are part of. We have already made great strides with the Towns Association, which was initially neutral on this legislation, has now unanimously voted to switch to opposing the bills! Thanks to all who contacted their local representatives and thanks to all who came out Monday to speak their truth!
Thanks to Wisconsin Eye, you can access the entire hearing here (those of us who are neither government officials nor industry representatives are at the tail end of things):
Let's keep the pressure up!
Read CSP's comments here -
State of the Tribes Address and Anti-mining Rally on the Steps
The address took place at 1:00pm in the legislative chambers and was well attended by both legislators and the public, who packed the gallery. It was delivered by Laurie Boivin, the newly elected (youngest ever) Charwoman of the Menominee Nation. She covered a huge range of topics from culture, society, and economics to health, economy, and the environment. One key point that she mentioned relating to the environment was how many native peoples choose to live far from grocery stores and other places deemed necessary for life and that what was truly
necessary for their lives was the ability to go into the woods and find food, medicine, and water there by which they could sustain themselves. For native people, a walk in the woods is not simply to take in scenic beauty or to get exercise, but it is a way of life and a cultural practice deeply rooted in tradition and practicality. She praised preservation and stewardship and sustainable ways of making a business, but avoided directly mentioning frac sand mining, or Gtac's proposed mine in the Penokees.
The rally on the steps was, attended by roughly 35 wonderful people who braved the cold to reinforce the message to the representatives in the capitol that their policies are wrongheaded and are leading us down the wrong path toward devastated landscapes and depleted and polluted waters. CSP Co-coordinator Forest was humbled to speak between President Jon Greendeer and Chairman Mike Wiggins, two leaders of sovereign first nations. The speeches were impassioned and articulate and pulled no punches, accusing those in power of abandoning their mission to represent the people of the state in favor of their corporate cronies and calling for a grassroots up-welling to resist the flawed policies coming out of Madison. Other speakers included Andi Cloud (the main organizer of the event and founder of Migizi Advocates for Turtle Island), Joe Kruse (member of the Rye House – a Catholic Worker House in Minneapolis), Thistle Petersen (Madison Action for Mining Alternatives), John Peck (Family Farm Defenders), Dena Eakles (Echo Valley Hope/Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice) and others.
February 11, 2014
Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters Lobby Day
Edie Ehlert and Forest Jahnke represented Crawford Stewardship Project at WLCV Lobby Day this past Tuesday, meeting with many more activists from around the state and a strong group from our district to advocate for conservation values. Specifically, the League had picked out local control (SB 349/AB 476), water (SB 302/AB 679), and frac sand mining to address to the legislators. There were many informational sessions and productive conversations were had with both Lee Nerison and Jennifer Shilling in the capitol..
February 8, 2014
2014 Annual Love the Land Celebration:
The snow this past Saturday didn't seem to hurt the turnout for Crawford Stewardship Project's Second Annual Love the Land music and dance benefit, as throngs of upward of 200 joyous driftless folk filled and overflowed the community room of the Community Commerce Center of Gays Mills.
While the people milled around tables stacked with donated art, goodies, and services, snacking on baked goods and chocolates, drinking Tea for the People, Kickapoo Coffee, and Driftless Brewer's beer, the tall tales and Irish-influenced yet deeply locally rooted tunes of Anreas Transø carried old wisdom and humor to all. Soon after came Bathtub Spring with some more local folksy acoustic music for a few more songs until, before everyone's eyes, they morphed into the Freaks of Nature who kept the dance-floor hoppin' until after 11:30pm!
CSP Receives $4,000 from RESIST
Crawford Stewardship Project would like to thank RESIST for their generous grant of $4,000 to continue our project of empowering local communities for environmental justice. RESIST funds “organizations that are actively part of a movement for social change and demonstrate an understanding of the connections among oppressions” and has funded many influential organizations over the years viewed as too far outside the mainstream to qualify for most non-profit funding from the United Farm Workers to the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice.
RESIST funds 100 organizations across the United States every year. “Most of our grantees reach across issues to connect communities and struggles. Their work spans anti-militarism, prisoners' rights, community organizing, GLBTQ justice, environmental justice, antiracism, disability rights, youth organizing, Native Peoples' rights and more. Since our founding in 1967, RESIST has awarded $5.5 million to nearly 5,200 dedicated progressive groups across the US. We rely 100% on the generosity of private individuals.”
To help this venerable group keep granting to great organizations (like us!) please consider donating:
CSP receives $5000 from Wisonsin Communities Fund
After merging with Forward Community Investments, Wisconsin Communities Fund took a year to restructure, but are now back at doing what they do best: supporting Wisconsin non-profits working for positive social change who are too new, too small, or too controversial for mainstream non-profit funding. Crawford Stewardship Project is once again grateful for the generous financial support of Wisconsin Communities Fund and would like to congratulate our fellow grantees:
Hmong American Friendship Association, Inc. – Hmong Youth Empowerment
Milwaukee Transit Riders Union – Enhancing Outreach: Engaging and Empowering Riders to Drive Home Change for Milwaukee County Transit
Native American Educational Technologies – HELP Protect Our Water Our Life
Reproductive Justice Collective – Integrated Voter Engagement
Sustainable Fox Valley, Inc. – Neighborhood Partners
Wisconsin Alliance for Women's Health – Ask. Learn. Vote! Campaign
Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, Inc. – Race to Equity
Wisconsin Jobs Now – Raise Up Wisconsin Leadership Program
Workers' Rights Center – South Central Wisconsin Wage Theft Mitigation Program
Help grow the pool of funds available for social justice grant-making in Wisconsin by donating to WCF
Crawford County Votes Unanimously in Support of Local Control
We are happy to report that as of December 17th, Crawford County has joined the ranks of counties, townships, and villages who have passed resolutions against Senate Bill 349. The resolution against SB 349 was unanimously passed by the Board of Supervisors after a presentation by Crawford County Conservationist Dave Troester who had been a part of adapting LaCrosse County's resolution for Crawford County in the Land Conservation Committee. “It would be a shame if all the time and money we spent on creating local ordinances were for naught,” Dave commented, noting that in his experience these were popular ordinances that local municipalities thought were important to protect the health, safety, and economy of their districts.
Crawford Stewardship Project couldn't agree more and we applaud our Crawford County Board of Supervisors for speaking out against the state's attempt to strip away local powers of self determination.
Let's keep this momentum going and keep adding to the resistance to this undemocratic bill before the State Senate takes it up again! Keep up the pressure on your state representatives, county government, and town and village governments to oppose this bill. And don't forget to thank those brave enough to stand up for our rights!
Crawford Stewardship Project Awarded MoveOn Minigrant
Crawford Stewardship Project co-coordinator, Forest Jahnke, has been selected as one of a hundred MoveOn Fracking Fighters in the US, further expanding Crawford Stewardship Project's reach into ever-wider networks of active citizens. Besides a $500 mini-grant, which is always appreciated, we look forward to receiving a number of tools to add to our toolkit as well as some trainings and networking which will allow us to coordinate and collaborate with other groups nationwide. Our struggles are too interconnected for us to work in isolation of each other. We hope to contribute our unique voice to this growing movement for sustainable solutions to our interconnected problems.
For those of you unable to catch Forest Jahnke, Kyle Pattison and others interviewed on Frac Sand mining on Q94 Great Country on November 26, 2013: audio
November 17, 2013
Edie's Retirement Party
Thanks to all the wonderful folks who helped make Edie's retirement open house the magical experience it was. It was a lovely community gathering with delicious food, speeches from those wishing to honor Edie (including Senator Shilling), and even a ballad to Edie's wonderful spirit composed and sung by our local Bard, Carl Schlecht. The full moon was shining down brightly by the time the open house was over, welcoming Edie to her new life of relaxation.
Listen to Carl sing his song to Edie
Crawford Stewardship Project attended the hearing, lobby-day, and rally to do what we could to put a stop to SB 349 which would strip local governments of the ability to regulate mining through anything but zoning. The hearing went on for nine hours and many important voices never had the chance to speak before they had to leave. The rally and testimony from those affected by mines in their neighborhoods was as powerful and moving as the rest of the hearing was uninspiring. The bill appears to have been beaten back until Spring or at least January, but we must remain vigilant and continue pressuring our representatives at all levels, lest it come back slightly tweaked and with more support.
If you didn't get a chance to tune into the Chris Moore show and hear CSP's Edie Ehlert speak on a panel discussing frac sand mining and fracking, don't worry. Here is the archived link:
Sand miners from across the globe gathered to plan the exploitation of our beautiful hills and bluffs in the Radisson hotel ($1400 to attend and $700/night minimum – sorry, no moles!). There they were met by over 60 fractivists from across the Midwest drumming, chanting, singing, and making the silenced voices of the Earth and the People heard! It was an inspiring action with rousing speeches, a farcicle fracking skit, banner drops, and a rowdy surprise mass drop-in to the conference itself!
For pictures visit:
We are sorry to report that the Bridgeport Town Board voted 2 to 1 against an administrative hearing for the Plaintiff's who filed a lawsuit against the Town for the decision to give a permit to Pattison Sand with virtually no conditions. News release on the decision follows. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6VyF6hexQA
CSP outing on the Wisconsin River Sept 1 2013. In the background are the lands just to the east of the proposed sand mine.
8/22 LWSRBoard Meeting
The Lower Wisconsin Riverway Board denied the four sand mining permits within the State Riverway in Bridgeport Township (6 against, and 2 for). They voted for the Riverway, the people, and for the intent of the law. We applaud the board members for their courage and thank all those who helped us to overflow the city hall and give a more inspiring vision for our River than the one Kyle Pattison has.
8/21 Lawsuit Filed
On August 21, CSP and Bridgeport Plaintiffs issued a legal challenge of the Bridgeport Town decision. That challenge does not stop the mine from proceeding at this time. The basis of the lawsuit is that the town failed to follow it's zoning, failed to address questions from citizens, failed to put any conditions on the permit, and there are concerns of conflicts of interest with some of those who made the decisions.
Aug. 17, 7:00 pm
Crawford Stewardship Project Benefit Concert with Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist Andy Juhl from NW Iowa, New Community Center Village Hall, 16381 State Hwy 131, Gays Mills. Local, homemade refreshments available, $5 donation requested. Check out Andy at andyjuhl.com. More info to come your way!
Download the poster
June 27 and 28th, 7pm:
Screening of "Frac Sand Land, The Incredible Story of the Vanishing Hills"
by Robert Nehmann of Allamakee County Protectors. Event will be held in Richland Center at UW Richland Campus Melvill Hall--Pippin Conference Room, 1200 Hwy 14W
. There will be a panel discussion following the film with Robert Nehmann and Bridgeport Concerned Citizens (BCC). Event is co-sponsored by: Crawford Stewardship Project, Richland County Stewardship Project and Gays Mills Public Library
Thanks to everyone who came to our screening of, "The Price of Sand." We filled the board room...and the hall! We also had some great discussion after, including updates from a few leaders on what their towns are doing to prevent frac sand mining in their communities.
7pm: Screening of "The Price of Sand" at Gays Mills Community Center. Hosted by CSP. Event is free, but donations are appreciated. See trailer of documentary here: http://thepriceofsand.com/. Download a copy of the poster as a PDF or JPG.
The "Love the Land" fundraiser on Feb. 9 was a success, with spectacular music, silent auction, beer, and snacks. Thanks to all who volunteered and came to share the celebration with us.
Bad Axe Blue Band
April 21, 2013
CSP's Edie Ehlert speak on a panel discussing frac sand mining and fracking.
on the Chris Moore show (Pittsburgh). Here is the archived link:
April 10, 2013
Crawford Stewardship Project was awarded the Citizen-based Monitoring Awardfor group Effort at the Monitoring Conference held this last weekend in Wisconsin Rapids. Of course, it is only because of the dedication of our water monitors that we are able to do this work. Thanks for all you do! Please see the news release below for more information on the award. If you would like more information on becoming a water monitor please see the article below on training dates.
April 12, 2013
Pattison Sand Frac Sand Mine Permit Passed in Bridgeport Township
Bridgeport Township Planning Commission and Board passed the Pattison Sand frac sand mine in March. Crawford Stewardship Project, Bridgeport Concerned Citizens, and Friends of the Lower Wisconsin are seeking legal review of the permit from attorney Glenn Reynolds of Reynolds & Associates of Madison, WI.
Kewaunee Cares Launches New Billboard Campaign
New Photos available of sand mines in Chippewa County.
Crawford Stewardship Project is co-sponsoring a public discussion on silica sand mining with the Prairie du Chien Memorial Library on June 23, 2012. Speakers will present information on the issues that affect citizens including health, safety and quality of life. For information....
April 17, 2012
Crawford County Board Passes 6 Month Moratorium on
Silica Sand Mining. More....
April 6, 2012
Crawford County Copper Creek High Capacity Well Information Update
February 4, 2012
Save Copper Creek
Dr. Long has decided to proceed with the test well near Copper Creek. This Wisconsin State Journal article was printed in the La Crosse Tribune and covers this development: http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/crawford-well-plan-moves-forward/article_3c05704a-3f32-11e1-8720-0019bb2963f4.html
Attorneys and scientists will be monitoring the test well operation on behalf of our organization. We will keep you informed.
Crawford Stewardship Project has been awarded a $3,200 grant by Wisconsin Community Fund to use to work on the sand mining issue and sustainable development in Crawford County,
August 15, 2011
Crawford Stewardship Project has been awarded a $4,000 grant by RESIST, Inc., a national progressive foundation based in Somerville, Massachusetts.
Sat, Feb. 9, 7:00pm
Crawford Stewardship Project Music and Dance Benefit, "Love the Land" with Bad Axe Blues Band, Gays Mills Community Commerce Center. Join us for an evening of celebration of the beauty of the land and people working so diligently to regulate and/or oppose frac sand mining in our communities. We're planning a silent art auction of local art. Local micro-brewery beer will be sold from the new Driftless Brewing Company. Proceeds will go to help pay for the many staff hours and legal expenses incurred working on this issue. Please save the date!
Saturday, June 23
Public Sand Mining Presentations and Discussion
Event will be held from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm at the Prairie du Chien City Hall, 214 E. Blackhawk Ave. This CSP sponsored event will include local government's role, citizen experience locally and from the NW part of the state, health concerns, geology, etc. plus participant discussion. Read more...
Crawford Stewardship Project is co-sponsoring a public discussion on silica sand mining with the Prairie du Chien Memorial Library on June 23, 2012. Speakers will present information on the issues that affect citizens including health, safety and quality of life. For information....
April 22, 10 am Deer Browse Impact on Forests Workshop, sponsored by Kickapoo Initiative. Event is in Scott Township, Crawford County. Fee is $10, bring a bag lunch, and contact email@example.com or call 608-872-2297 to register Read more...
April 17, 2012
Crawford County Board Passes 6 Month Moratorium on
Silica Sand Mining. More....
April 6, 2012
Crawford County Copper Creek High Capacity Well Information Update
February 4, 2012
Save Copper Creek
Dr. Long has decided to proceed with the test well near Copper Creek. This Wisconsin State Journal article was printed in the La Crosse Tribune and covers this development: http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/crawford-well-plan-moves-forward/article_3c05704a-3f32-11e1-8720-0019bb2963f4.html
Attorneys and scientists will be monitoring the test well operation on behalf of our organization. We will keep you informed.
Crawford Stewardship Project has been awarded a $3,200 grant by Wisconsin Community Fund to use to work on the sand mining issue and sustainable development in Crawford County,
Tuesday, February 28 at 7:00 p.m
Join us in the Board Room of the new Gays Mills Commerce Center, 16381 State Hwy 131, Gays Mills and enjoy viewing “Troubled Waters: A Mississippi River Story”. This film is sure to spark our discussion, which will follow the viewing. Popcorn and drinks will be provided.
This Emmy Award-winning production is from the team that created “Minnesota: A History of the Land”. “Troubled Waters” traces the development of America's bountiful heartland and its effect on the legendary river. Through beautiful photography and inspiring narrative, the film offers solutions to the river's pollution problems through fresh ideas and concrete solutions.
Sponsored by Crawford Stewardship Project and the Gays Mills Library
July 30, 2011
Kickapoo Country Fair at Organic Valley Coop at La Farge. CSP will have a booth. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up to staff. Event offers an opportunity to share information with folks from all over the state. Materials and staffing information will be at the booth.
July 21-24, 2011 Thursday-Sunday
Crawford County Fair in Gays Mills. CSP will have a booth. Please contact us at email@example.com to sign up to staff. This is an opportunity for conversation on CAFOs, farming, and resources with a wide variety of folks. Materials and guidelines for staffing will be at the booth.
July 13, 2011
Letter to DNR - Comments on the “Comment Summary and Response Related to a Proposed High Capacity Well Near Mount Sterling, WI
"On behalf of the 900 supporters of Crawford Stewardship Project, I am registering our opposition to granting approval of the high capacity well proposal of Darrell Long in Utica Township. Our opposition is based on the comments made by hydrogeologist Bob Nauta and the lack of study on effects on fish and other habitat of Copper Creek." Read more...
July 13, 2011
Comments to DNR Wasau on the proposed Richfield Dairy CAFO owned by Milkscource
June 24, 2011
Update on High Capacity Well from Save Copper Creek.
June 11, 2011
Karst Workshop with Dr. Kevin Rudolfo - free presentation and discussion of karst geology. Field trip to nearby karst features.
Read report. . .
June 7, 2011
A group of local citizens has formed an organization called "Save Copper Creek
" to fight a proposed high-capacity well in the Town of Utica. A resident of Lima, Ohio, Dr. Darrell Long, has asked the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to approve the drilling of a well on his property just west of Mt. Sterling and within 500 feet of the North Branch of Copper Creek, a Class I trout stream. The pump would have a pumping capacity of as much as 500,000 gallons per day. Fifty to 100 tanker trucks could be filled daily and the bulk water would be trucked away and sold.
Save Copper Creek will be affiliated with the Gays Mills umbrella organization, Kickapoo Cultural Exchange, which is a 501 (c) 3 organization; thus, donations to Save Copper Creek are tax deductible.
Save Copper Creek welcomes concerned citizens to become involved in the organization. Inquiries can be made to Bob Van Hoesen, 18641 Gays View Road, Gays Mills, WI 54631, or at 735-4117 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations can be made out to "Save Copper Creek" and sent to the above address.
May 21, 2011
Migratory Birds and Plants Of the Lower Kickapoo Valley
May 14, 2011
Karst Identification Workshop poster to download
May 13, 2011
CSP sent a Letter to the DNR about Proposed High Capacity Well
May 5th, 2011
May 10, 2011
A High Capacity Well is being proposed by Mr. Darrell Long for the North Branch of Copper Creek in Utica Township.
Crawford Stewardship Project representatives and neighbors met by phone with Mr. Lawrence Lynch of the DNR and Mr. Darrell Long, the owner of the proposed high capacity well. This well could take as much as 500,000 gallons of water per day from our local aquifer. Suggested actions:
Read the Environmental Assessment on the DNR website at: http://dnr.wi.gov/org/es/science/eis/eis.htm
Send Comments to: Lawrence.email@example.com. Lawrence Lynch, Hydrogeologist, 101 S. Webster St., Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707, 608-267-7553. Email is preferred. Official comment deadline is May 16, but Mr. Lynch said he will take comments the week of May 16.
March 24, 2011
The Supreme Court of Wisconsin issued their decision in Anderson v DNR today. The Court really got it wrong. They denied the right for citizens to challenge state-issued pollution discharge permits when the terms don’t comply with Clean Water Act requirements. Justice Ziegler may have just as well said let them eat cake when directing citizens to federal courts of appeal as their only venue. The Seventh Circuit court of appeals has clearly said they will not review state-issued permits. The Fort James permit allowed unlimited discharges of mercury, a known neurotoxin, but citizens have been told they have no access to the legal system to challenge the permit for non-compliance with federal standards.
Please stand shoulder to shoulder with us as we fight the war on public health and the environment on multiple fronts. I knew you would want to hear about this alarming development in the fight for public participation and clean water in Wisconsin. It is critical that we stand together at this time and work to restore the people's right to have a say in the health and safety of our environment!
- Kim Wright
March 19th, 2011
GETTING RENEWABLES and
GREEN DESIGN NOW FOR THE FUTURE
March 12, 2011
About 85,000 people flooded the State Captiol March 12 to join the farmers Tractorcade protest led by Wisconsin Farmers Union, Family Farm Defenders, and Land Stewardship Project. Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network along with CSP supporters joined the parade with the now famous “Herd of Cows” with the message of “Solidarity”.
Report and more pictures....
March 9, 2011
Letter to Senator Kohl - About Funding Bill to Threaten Clean Air and Water. It includes measures that would threaten our public health and environments. Under this bill, the Environmental Protection Agency would be barred from taking any action to clean up carbon dioxide and other global warming pollutants from coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and other industrial pollution
March 3, 2011
CSP joined with over 100 people gathered in Viroqua at a Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network (SRWN)-organized rally unifying a number of groups concerned about the governor’s budget bills and other actions that impact rural Wisconsin. Read the report...
February 19, 2011
Birds and Music - DNR Forest Ecologist Mike Mossman in a presentation of bird and habitat surveys in the lower Wisconsin River and lower Kickapoo River
February 18, 2011
CSP signs on to High Voltage Powerline Letter
February 24, 2011
Letter to Senator Dan Kapanke Information presented to Senator Kapanke's aide at his Feb 25 listening session in Gays Mills. Since he is now Chair of the Senate Ag Committee, we want to inform him of our concerns in this region of the state
Rock Prairie Dairy
Letter from CSP to the DNR. This CAFO is going to have the largest manure storage facility in the state. Letter DNR environmental assessment
The Food & Climate Connecton
Here's an interesting discussion on global warming and factory farming
November 9, 2010
Farmers Panel - Presentation and discussion of farming in the Driftless region
October 19, 2010
Movie - "Food Inc."
October 16, 2010
What is Karst? - Karst Identification Workshop and Field Trip
October 6, 2010
What is Karst? - Karst Identification Workshop
Downloadable version - PDF
August 7, 2010
Karst Identification Workshop and Field Trip
June 26, 2010
Karst Identification Workshop
April 17, 2010
Popcorn and Movie Event - King Corn and Big River
April 6 2010
DNR Public Hearing on General Permit for CAFOs
March 20, 2010
Learn about Red Shouldered Hawks
March 5 2010
WRSN ACTION ALERT - A Public Hearing regarding the DNR's intent to reissue a WPDES permit for Larson Acres near Evansville, Rock County
December 1 2009
Action at the Dairy Business Association Annual Meeting - News Release
November 25 2009
Concerns about Crawford County Operation - CAFO over limit without permit
November 12, 2009
Farmer Panel Discussion
October 24, 2009
Popcorn and Movie Event - "Fresh"
October 10, 2009
Karst Identification and Reporting Workshop and Field Trip
August 1st and 22nd, 2009
Karst Identification and Reporting Workshops and Field Trips
May 14 2009
State Representatives Address Water Quality and CAFO Issues
April 24, 2009
Popcorn and Movie Event - "The Organic Opportunity: Small Farms and Ecomonic Development" and "King Corn"
April 2, 2009
Methane Digesters - Fact and Fiction
March 19, 2009
Birds, Plants and Animals....
March 13-15th 2009
CAFO Conference - Family Farm Defenders
Food Sovereignty: Food, Agriculture and Democracy
Download Printable Version (PDF)
Newsletter - PDF
April 5, 2008
Notes From CAFO Conference - Environmental Impacts of large Livestock Operations Conference.