Crawford Stewardship Project submits hearing request regarding sand mine

The Crawford Stewardship Project (CSP) submitted an Administrative Law Hearing Request pursuant to 227.42 Wisconsin Statutes on the Pattison Sand Nonmetallic Mining Operations General Permit WI-0046515-5 on Friday, July 26 to DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. The permit covers the stormwater control requirements and habitat issues for the frac sand mine in Bridgeport Township in Crawford County.

“We submitted the Hearing Request as this mine is located in a most precious and irreplaceable state resource, the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway and along the Highway 60 Scenic Byway. We are concerned that this frac sand mine will compromise the river health, as has happened in waterways in Wisconsin from other frac sand facilities,” said CSP Co-coordinator Edie Ehlert. In a recent article, DNR Stormwater Management Specialist Roberta Walls spoke to water pollution issues. “It’s very challenging,” Walls said. “I really don’t see the state being able to provide the staffing levels that the workload demands.”

“We want the opportunity to gain independent scientific review of the permit and the Pattison Sand Stormwater Plan,” said Edie Ehlert, who noted that the permit requirements are self monitored “quarterly site inspection of stormwater controls and visual check of storm water runoff.” Site inspections can be waived to an annual frequency and visual checks can be waived altogether under certain instances.

The nonmetallic mining permit lists impacts that must be avoided that could cause serious destruction of wildlife and habitat:

• To avoid take of the cerulean warbler, Acadian flycatcher, prothonotary warbler, no tree cutting and clearing of trees shall take place on any part of the properties from May 1 through Aug. 31 of any given year.

• To avoid take of the little brown bat or the eastern pipistrelle, no cutting or clearing of dead standing trees or dying trees shall take place on any part of the properties from June 1 through Aug. 15 of any given year.

• Although the gray ratsnake and bullsnake are only special concern, caution not to disturb any habitat during the active periods of March through October will help preserve these species.

There is no independent monitoring required within this permit for these species.

“One of our major concerns is cumulative environmental impacts. This mine site is slated to be in operation for decades, for generations,” said Ehlert. “Tourism impacts, fragmentation of habitat, riverway use and health and the specific storm water calculations all deserve independent review.”

As another part of this process, the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway (LWSR) Board plans a special meeting on Aug. 22, at 5 p.m. at the Crawford County Administration Building to decide whether or not to permit the part of the mine site land that is within the boundaries of the LWSR.

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