Sand mines are sweeping across Wisconsin at an alarming rate. Townships without zoning are being quietly invaded, as there is often no public process in place to require a thorough study of the science and of the health effects. The frac sand from these open pit mines is going to the hydraulic fracturing mining industry of gas and oil. Serious environmental issues have arisen in communities of the oil and gas mines, including groundwater pollution.
A sand processing plant is proposed for Bangor. A mine is in process near Tomah and in Trempealeau County. At least two landowners in Crawford County have been approached and a LaCrosse County landowner was offered double the current price per acre.
While the mines do bring jobs, there are considerations that need to be addressed by residents and landowners. Local issues brought in by these mines include the creation of airborne silica sand, which has been shown to cause lung cancer. The sand can remain airborne for hundreds of miles. Road destruction and heavy traffic overload, noise, water use concerns, and complete destruction of precious forests and farmland are other community concerns. Please take the time to check out this website below for information on these and other issues.
In the meantime, townships and counties can zone to include a permitting process for these operations. Rather than wake up one day to your little bit of heaven, suddenly with an 800-acre commercial strip mine next door, let’s pull together and encourage public and local government participation in deciding if this is the sort of development we want. Many of our township land use plans speak to “preserving the rural character, sustainable land use, and local control of natural resources” as goals. This sets the stage for us to put processes in place to include community involvement.
Crawford Stewardship Project is suggesting that citizens and each township look at their plans and present ordinances and zoning and identify processes for the permitting the sand mines. Check out this website for in depth information on sand mining. http://wisair.wordpress.com/frac-sand-mining-in-wisconsin/
-Edie Ehlert, Coordinator
Crawford Stewardship Project