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Friday, December 2nd, 2016
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Bondhus: DNR has a strong bias toward closing fish farm

Fri, Apr 28th, 2006
Posted in Commentary

(The following letter was sent to the Fillmore County Board for their April 25, 2006 meeting).

I understand the Fillmore County Commissioners will be deciding whether or not to be the RGU (regulating governmental unit) on the EAW (environmental assessment worksheet) for Spring Valley Ponds. I would like to attend this meeting but it is not possible due to earlier commitments. I would like to strongly encourage you to be the RGU. In making your decision, please consider the following facts:1.The DNR (Department of Natural Resources) has requested to be the RGU. This will undoubtedly make the project more difficult, and I can assure you the DNR has a strong bias toward closing the farm. They have already revoked my hatchery permit pending appeal, and it now appears that they are intent on setting operating conditions that I cannot possibly meet and still stay in business.2.The DNRs opposition results from my failure to get the necessary permits at the onset. My opponents claim that I have intentionally avoided applying for the permits and have convinced the DNR that this is the case. I have repeatedly explained that this was not intentional - I simply did not know the permits were needed. The DNR will not excuse this mistake even though I have paid after-the-fact fines and done everything in my power to meet their ever-increasing demands. In addition to the $1,000,000+ invested in this project before I learned that any permits were needed, I have spent an additional $500,000 gathering information, filing permits, and responding to the endless information requests from the DNR and the PCA (Pollution Control Agency) since this nightmare started. The entire project is now at risk because of this continuing harassment. In fact, I am not sure anymore if I am any closer to a solution with them today than at the start. 3.The Minnesota Trout Association, Trout Unlimited, and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy have retained an attorney and are trying to intimidate the DNR into supporting their position and opposing my project using the threat of a lawsuit against the state. It is very likely that you will also hear from them if you have not already.4.The vast majority of the people I have talked to from Spring Valley, the County, and the Minnesota Trout Association members themselves are clearly in favor of this project.5.If this project is allowed to continue, it will bring significant economic benefits to the Spring Valley area.I understand that it would be easier for the county to pass this decision off to the state. But in the interest of improving the local economy while protecting the valuable trout resource of Spring Valley Creek, I desperately need your help in moving this project forward.

John Bondhus is the developer of Spring Valley Ponds fish farm.

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