From: Jeff Falk
Fountain City, WI
Sand mining has become quite a controversial issue in Western Wisconsin and Southeastern Minnesota. Major areas of discussion are, in no particular order:
Road and bridge deterioration
Neighboring property values
Cumulative effects of multiple operations in a small area
Irresponsible end-use of the sand
Everyone agrees that some conditions on mining should be set. Most of those who favor surface sand mining say conditions can be set that ensure mining is done in a responsible manner with minimal problems. Those who object generally contend that is not true, that not enough is known at present to responsibly set conditions, or regulatory oversight would be so minimal as to be totally inadequate as an enforcement mechanism.
Winona County has attempted to have a public dialogue. The Buffalo County zoning committee meeting I attended seemed, in contrast, to allow the public to speak and then ignore the issues. Not one of the members of the committee (Larry Balk, Del Twidt, Steve Weiss, Tom Taylor, Claire Wat Sunrise Kiwanis Annual Christmas Tree Pickup ers) expressed an opinion other than “conditions are adequate.” Not one felt a responsibility to address concerns in a manner that would display an understanding of the issues.
Responsibility however rests with the full County Board. County Board elections are coming up soon. Those running for election should be questioned and should be willing to indicate their understanding of the issues listed above. In the past I have paid little attention to County Board elections. But positions on the issue of sand mining can be seen as an indicator of a person’s general perspective on government, environment, economic development, education, and health. We can learn much about the candidates by their answers to good questions. Let’s make sure they get questioned and are required to answer.