Crawford County Citizens Wary Of Proposed Frac Sand Mine’s Impact On Wisconsin River


Citizens in Crawford County want the state to reconsider a permit allowing a frac sand mine to discharge stormwater into the Wisconsin River.

The 300-acre frac sand mine would be located in the Town of Bridgeport and would be the first to stretch into a recognized scenic riverway. Iowa-based Pattison Sand got approval from the town in March, and last month the Department of Natural Resources approved a general permit for the mine, which allows stormwater to be drained into the Wisconsin River.

It’s the stormwater provision that has some residents in Crawford County up in arms. Kathy Byrne, a co-coordinator of the Crawford Stewardship Project, says industrial sand mining doesn’t belong near the river.

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“It just seems like an all around bad idea to be doing this in such a beautiful area, and there are concerns with sediment runoff from the mining operation,” says Byrne.

Byrne’s group has requested an administrative law hearing to contest the stormwater permit issued by the DNR. It says there are many examples of sand mines failing to treat stormwater, resulting in spills of sediment and clay into wetlands and streams. They also say a number of endangered species will be threatened by the mine. The DNR has 20 days to respond.

But either way, Pattison needs one last permit before they begin mining: The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board must decide if the mine would be visible from the river and harm its scenic beauty. Executive Director Mark Cupp says they’re still deciding that, but the level of input from citizens has been unprecedented.

“This issue has resulted in the most amount of public comment received on any issue in the history of the Riverway Board,” he says.

The board is expected to make a decision on the permit August 22.