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County residents stage protest

Fri, Aug 31st, 2012
Posted in All Government

Protesting Fillmore County residents want to keep large industrial frac mines out of the county. Photo by Karen Reisner

Before the Sand Committee meeting convened on August 27, a group of Fillmore County residents protested in front of the courthouse. The protesters would like to see a banning of industrial or frac sand mines. At the very least they are seeking more study and research before the county lifts the moratorium which was put into place on February 28.

It seems likely that it will be at least 2013 before the process to amend the county’s ordinance will be complete. The Planning Commission will need to review the committee’s recommendations when they are completed and hold a public hearing. The county board will then need to approve any changes in the ordinance before the moratorium will be lifted.

Protesters were concerned about the effects of industrial mining on water quality and quantity, air quality, road use, safety due to increased truck traffic, and a general degradation of the county’s scenic beauty. One sign read, “I love Fillmore County just the way it is.”

A woman spoke of the group’s love of the county they live in. She was concerned that so much is yet not known about potential damage to the environment, insisting accurate information is necessary. As a group they felt they were trying to look out for the interests of all of Fillmore County.

Bonita Underbakke explained she was a shy person and it wasn’t easy for her to protest, but she felt she had to “stand up” for a sustainable future. She said they are not protesting against the traditional mining industry within the county. She didn’t see how industrial mining could be just a little bit. Underbakke was in favor of a separation in the ordinances between construction aggregate mining, which the county has had for a very long time, and industrial sand mining. This separation is being pursued by the committee.

Underbakke insisted what Fillmore County has now is not compatible with industrial sand mining. Underbakke felt there hasn’t been adequate time for research on potential damaging effects from the ballooning industry.

There has been considerable concern at committee meetings from residents about the compatibility of the county’s tourist industry and industrial sand mines. Underbakke felt any proposal should be compatible with the county’s Comprehensive Plan.

Another woman wanting to be identified only as a Fillmore County resident related that she was put off about the use of the mining term “overburden.” She felt that the landscape she loved was not just overburden to be removed and scraped off to get to the sand. She said she takes great pride in where she lives, surrounded by the limestone bluffs and rolling hills.

During the time spent talking to the protesters, a few people passing by thanked the protesters for their time and effort.

Residents in the area that oppose the mining of “frac” sand and fear there is a possibility of large industrial mines have been speaking out more of late. On August 17 a documentary film, “The Price of Sand” was viewed in Lanesboro. It dealt with what the film maker perceived as possible costs to communities due to industrial sand mining.

One of the greatest concerns of those wary of the sand industry is the potential to have a concentrated cluster of mines.

Those in the tourist industry are threatened by the possible negative effect on their businesses. They question whether property values will be impacted.

In the Lanesboro Area Chamber of Commerce mission statement dated July 18, it is stated that “activities impact each other, sharing limited resources requires balance and limits to meet the needs of our diverse community and maintain our high quality of life.” It further states that “frac” sand on a large scale may adversely impact the quality of life in the county and the city.

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