Crawford Stewardship Project works to protect the environment of Crawford County and neighboring regions from threats of polluting and extractive industries, to promote sustainable land use, environmental justice, and local control of natural resources

Crawford Stewardship Project is a nonprofit organization.
Donations are tax deductible.

Support CSP
Send a check to:
Crawford Stewardship Project
P.O. Box 284
Gays Mills, WI 54631


Crawford Stewardship Project is grateful for the generous support of RESIST, Inc. RESIST funds and supports grassroots groups organizing on the frontlines of the peace, economic, social, and environmental justice movements.

“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” ~Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

"CAFOs are only profitable because so much of the cost and damage is externalized onto the environment, neighbors and wildlife. The monitoring, supervision, clean-up, restitution, fines are not happening, thus the true cost of CAFOs never find the way onto the balance books." Talking point from the CAFO Conference.

“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”
~Aldo Leopold, 1948. A Sand County Almanac.

Crawford Stewardship Project Update

April 2008


It is the mission of the Crawford Stewardship Project to protect the environment of Crawford County by confining CAFOs in the County to areas where they will do no harm, and to promote methods of agriculture that are safe, humane, profitable, and environmentally sustainable, while preserving economic opportunities for all citizens.

At December and January meetings groups of CSP members gathered to decide on a formal mission/vision, identify the most pressing issues and develop an action plan. The actions decided upon were:

  • Educate the public on CAFO issues
    • Continue the series of public educational events
    • Continue PR campaign to keep the issue in front of the public
  • Resist CAFO permit applications in Crawford County
    • Continue to support neighbors of the first CAFO in their legal initiatives
    • Research legalities surrounding all applications
    • Pursue all legal avenues open to CSP to oppose this first CAFO
  • Monitor CAFO environmental effects in Crawford County
    • Collect air and water quality data near proposed CAFO
  • Promote sound land use planning decision in Crawford County
    • Research zoning options to limit CAFO's
    • Initiate Karst geological and soils study of Crawford County to determine vulnerability to groundwater contamination
    • Monitor County and Town planning surveys and publish results
  • Form state/ regional coalition to initiate public policy change
    • Lobby environmental groups to address the CAFO issue
    • Amend the rules of the Livestock Siting Law
    • Pursue federal enforcement of the Clean Air and Water Act
    • Promote sustainable alternatives to CAFO production
  • Improve communications to our membership on all current issues
    • Create website and list serve
    • Regular newsletters
    • Enlist the help of more members in action teams
  • Strengthen CSP as an organization
    • Develop fundraising plan
    • Grow the membership
    • Incorporate and formalize administration of the org

Currently, contributions are not tax deductible, but they are still very much needed and appreciated. Checks can be made to Crawford Stewardship Project and mailed to: CSP, PO Box 284, Gays Mills WI 54631.
Contact CSP via phone (608-735-4277) or email ( to volunteer to serve on one of the above listed Action Teams. You will be contacted by the appropriate chairperson to enlist your skills.

Thank you for your help whether financial, through letter-writing, or volunteering your time and energy.

Crawford Stewardship Project (CSP) formed in July 2007 in response to a permit application for the first confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) in Crawford County. Thirty three concerned citizens attended the first organizational meeting in July and formed committees to pursue these goals:

  • Research
  • Educate
  • Network
  • Investigate and monitor the first CAFO application
  • Develop CSP as a viable organization

Finding information on the problems with CAFO's was not difficult. There are volumes on the social, environmental, economic and human health hazards. The problem was in condensing this flood of information into easily accessible format for education and in choosing the best information for challenging the county permit. Our presentation to the county board of this information was over 2000 pages of expert testimony from engineers, nutrient management specialists, and soil scientists on the Roth application and peer reviewed articles from prestigious scientific journals on the threats of similar operations to public health and safety.

We worked to educate both the public and the county board about this issue. We stimulated a public discussion with informational meetings and regular letters to the editor. A local bartender reported that the CAFOs had become a regular topic in his establishment. Realizing the potential for polarization from confrontational tactics, we strove to listen to all opinions and to keep the debate civil. The permit applicant was a regular attendee at our public meetings. We consider the low level of polarization a major accomplishment.
We mailed out 2,200 letters to absentee landowners of Crawford County apprising them of the situation and asking for support. The response was overwhelming. Hundreds of individuals wrote letters to the county board and local papers and contributed money to help with our expenses.

CSP and Valley Stewardship Network co-sponsored two presentations by Dr. Maureen Muldoon (UW hydrogeologist), Dr. Fred Madison (UW soil scientist) and WI Discovery Farms co-director Dennis Frame on the effects of livestock operations on groundwater quality focusing on the karst geological formations common in Crawford County. The presentations were attended by over 150 people.

The next presentation will bring on May farmers to speak on their successful alternatives to large scale livestock operations.
We hope to develop a 5-10 minute documentary DVD.

CSP received assistance from several groups. Valley Stewardship Network, which was facing a similar threat in neighboring Vernon Count, helped tremendously with technical information and strategy. Russ Tooley of Centerville Cares and Toni Ends of the Town of Magnolia shared their experience, data and encouragement. Legal assistance and advice from Garvey McNeil & McGillivray, S.C. and Midwest Environmental Advocates was invaluable.
By January, we were receiving phone calls for our help from individuals in other parts of the state threatened by CAFO's. We attended by invitation the April 5 Environmental Impacts of Large Livestock Operation in Wisconsin conference in Madison to share our expertise. We are now creating a website to make our experience and technical info easily available.
We envision a statewide effort to change the livestock siting law and to assist local challenges of CAFO's.

Permit Application
Our scientific experts in the soil and manure management, hydrogeology, engineering, and medical fields reviewed the applicant's plan and its potential health effects on residents of the County. The soil and nutrient specialist found the nutrient management plan to be severely deficient and based on incorrect information. He called it a "plan to pollute." Our objections caused the Land Conservation Committee to require the applicant to slightly amend his plan, but most of the concerns were not addressed.
We were constant attendees at the Crawford County Land and Water Conservation Committee meetings, as well as selected meetings of the Health Committee and the Board of Supervisors, to apprise the committee members of these findings.

Although we objected to the WI Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), the County, and the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) that no County or WDNR permits were obtained and that there are no documented engineering inspections being done as the buildings are being built, the applicant continued construction.

The January Public hearing held by Crawford County was attended by nearly 200 people the majority of whom spoke eloquently against the application.
In January, the Land Conservation Committee voted to approve the license for the CAFO in Crawford County. The next step for AV Roth, the applicant, is to submit an application to the WI DNR for a discharge permit. To date, this has not been done in spite of the fact that we believe the facility is nearing completion. We are concerned that recent developments at the state level may eliminate the individual DNR permitting process and public hearing for CAFOs, but our still hopeful that we will have an opportunity to express our concerns both in written and oral comments to the DNR.

A challenge to the County's decision to issue a CAFO license to the Roth facility in Crawford County was brought by Midwest Environmental Advocates on behalf of twenty-eight affected neighbors who live or own land within two miles of the facility. On Friday April 18th 2008 the State Livestock Facility Siting Review Board unanimously voted to reverse the Crawford County decision. The Board reviewed the application for facility expansion prepared by Roth Feeder Pigs, Inc., found portions of it to be internally inconsistent, and expressed concerns with regard to the nutrient management data submitted by Roth. The challenge asserted that portions of the application submitted by Roth did not meet the state standards for nutrient management, which put local drinking water and the lower Wisconsin River watershed at risk for nitrate, phosphorous, and bacteria contamination. Mr. Ron Stadler, a landowner near the Roth facility, brought a separate challenge on similar grounds. Stay tuned!

Environmental monitoring
We are assisting Valley Stewardship Network in monitoring surface and ground water quality around the proposed CAFO site. We have also instituted a well testing program among neighbors to give baseline data for groundwater contamination. We are also monitoring testing of municipal wells in Wauzeka.

The Coordinating Committee met weekly from August through December to plan and coordinate the activities of CSP. The skills of the 8-10 dedicated volunteers in this committee were varied and allowed division of labor to cover many of our needs. The group strived for decision-making input from all members. Our passion for the cause and mutual respect for each other made for an effective and well functioning organization. We quickly developed an impressive level of knowledge, abilities and accomplishments. The organization is physically decentralized, with each of us working from our homes. This eliminated the need and expense of an office and equipment.

Realizing that this will be a long struggle, we have been utilizing a break in the action after the first county CAFO license was approved in January until the next part of the process to restructure our organization to make it sustainable. We need to utilize the talents of more members to expand our effectiveness. We see this as a statewide effort where both county residents and absentee landowners can find a valuable role to play. The sudden death of our friend and fellow activist Glenn Donovan in January was a blow to us all. Glenn provided us computer expertise, videotaping, a wonderful and much needed sense of humor and support for his partner Edie.

Crawford Stewardship Project is now incorporated. The Coordinating Committee is now the board of directors. We are looking into non-profit organization status.
Board of Directors
Chair-Emile Smith
Vice Chairs-Jennifer Nelson/ Edie Ehlert
Secretary-Gloria Derksen
Treasurer-Lamar Janes
Administrative Affairs Chair-Ellen Brooks
Governmental/Legal Affairs-Jennifer Nelson
Public Relations-Jane Holzhauer and Emile Smith
Research-Maggie Jones and Rob Horwich

Vision Statement

The Crawford Stewardship Project, judged by any standard, is widely and consistently regarded as a model of outstanding public participation, and as a provider of clear channels for citizens to positively protect the natural resources of their County.

This vision will be realized when:

  • Crawford County protects the interests of its citizens by assuring that no CAFOs are located in the County which would adversely impact the health, welfare or quality of life of its residents.
  • The County ensures the economic well being of all landowners through the use of zoning which protects property values and economic opportunity for all citizens.
  • The need for local communities to determine their own future course is protected and encouraged by laws of the State
  • CSP is a model of effective influence on State and local government.
  • Our well informed citizens are able to make clear choices on issues that involve the health and safety of citizens of the County and are able to democratically influence decision making on these issues by their elected officials.
  • A positive working relationship has been forged between CSP and other groups with similar missions throughout the state.
  • Sustainable types of farming are increasing in the County.
  • The DNR and Crawford Conservationist enforce the standards of the State and Federal environmental laws as they pertain to CAFOs within the County
  • Representatives maintain high ethical standards in their day-to-day activities.
  • CSP members are satisfied with communications, participation opportunities, the quality of leadership and the outcomes of their initiatives.

PO Box 284
Gays Mills, WI 54631