According to the Post Crescent, A.F. Gelhar of Markesan plans to purchase at least 190 acres adjacent to Tellock’s Hill Woods State Natural Area 40 miles East of Stevens Point “for the extraction of silica sand to be used in metal casting factories in east-central Wisconsin”. An explosion of sand mining has taken hold in Wisconsin in the past year due to lax regulations and the presence of high quality sand deposits. The following is a letter regarding the proposed mine from a local resident.
I went to the Town of Union Board meeting on August 20th. Having grown up in Wisconsin, I saw and heard things that I never thought would happen.
I never thought that farmers would sell cropland for a sand mine that has been zoned heavy industrial in some sections of the state. I never thought I’d see people turn a blind eye and deaf ear to their friends, neighbors, and community. These were people that, at one time, would come to their aid if a neighbor were in trouble. They were people who shared their resources and saw themselves as stewards of the land. Money makes people blind and in tough economic times I can understand the temptation. But how can a few people be willing to put their neighbors’ health at risk?
How can they be willing to risk the air being turned brown with silica sand dust that is known to cause life threatening diseases of silicosis and lung cancer?
Silica sand clouds will, almost certainly, be breathed by everyone; every child, adult, bird and animal for up to a hundred miles and along the truck route. Especially in a drought year like this one, how can a few people even think of allowing two high capacity wells to be drilled for use in processing sand when the same groundwater is needed for drinking water for people, livestock and crop irrigation? How can we allow a few people to benefit and risk contaminating the nearby wetland, Beaver Creek and Shaw Creek that feeds into the Little Wolf River?
Do we then sacrifice all the businesses that stand to suffer loss of income from fishing, hunting, camping, and vacationing in this area? How will we count the jobs lost when they will dwindle away slowly and never be counted into the equation because you can’t prove the link to loss of the very character of Wisconsin that draws people here to be enjoyed?
Will we lose tax base from decreased property values, due to increased noise, dirty air, gone or contaminated water and truck traffic? When we’re told that state, counties and municipalities are struggling with budget shortfalls how can we trade the higher property tax rate for the lower rate that a sand mines pay?
Does anyone realize that this is just kind of insane?
At the very least, why weren’t the pleas from the people heeded to get a moratorium until independent experts could be called in to evaluate the legitimate concerns of the people?
If and when this conditional permit is granted the damage will be done in a matter of days. There will be no recourse, it will be very difficult to rein this beast in, and people will realize that what they thought they were going to gain cost more than it was worth. A lot more. This will cost us our way or life, our very core values. The ones that can’t be measured by dollars and cents, especially when the profit has been pocketed by a very few people. We’ll be able to see it go, hauled away first to the Foundry and then to other states. We’ll be left behind to ante up to pay for road damage, pay health care costs of Wisconsin’s current citizens, their children or grandchildren and, in 50-100 years, we’ll be paying reclamation costs.
– by C.P.
The Town of Union in Waupaca County has held at least two meetings on the matter. C.P. informed me that Waupaca Foundry is claiming it will use 75% of the sand that is extracted from the mine. C.P. [the above letter’s author] claims Waupaca Foundry was purchased on May 15,2012 by KPS Capital – a firm owned by 9 Texas investors. In addition, C.P. states that she has heard that “the whole ridge” is to be mined – not just 190 acres.
Tellock’s Hill Woods State Natural Area location.
See detailed maps and learn more about Tellock’s Hill Woods HERE.
More on this proposed mine:
Firm’s plans for Waupaca County sand mine worry town residents – Aug. 4, 2012, Post Crescent
More information on sand mining in Wisconsin:
Wisconsin frac sand sites double – July 22, 2012, WisconsinWatch.org
Wisconsin sand rush: Open pit mining races ahead with help of “hush money” – June 22, 2012, blue cheddar blog