Letter: Frac sand mining threatens road’s attractiveness, he saysTO THE EDITOR: Recently, Hwy. 35, following the Mississippi River south from Prescott, was featured in local news due to a Huffington Post contest to determine the “prettiest drive” in the United States.
By: Dennis Donath, Pierce County Commissioner, Wisconsin Mississippi River Parkway Commission, Prescott, Pierce County Herald
TO THE EDITOR: Recently, Hwy. 35, following the Mississippi River south from Prescott, was featured in local news due to a Huffington Post contest to determine the “prettiest drive” in the United States.
Those of us who live on the Great River Road weren’t surprised when it was declared the winner.
The GRR was established by Congress 74 years ago in recognition of its special status as a tourism destination, second only to the Grand Canyon. More recently, it was accorded the “National Scenic Byway” designation, further recognizing its importance to the traveling public. Hundreds of businesses in Western Wisconsin depend on traffic generated by the road.
Unfortunately, the very attributes which have contributed to the attractiveness of the GRR are being threatened by the rapidly expanding frac sand mining industry. While the 2,900 acre underground mine proposed in Oak Grove Township may not change the outward appearance of the landscape, that sand will have to be transported by truck and processed locally for shipment. At this point, state, county and local ordinances haven’t been established to address the problems related to frac sand mining.
In April, the Wisconsin Mississippi River Parkway Commission, which is responsible for the protection and preservation of the GRR, urged local officials to establish moratoria prohibiting the development or expansion of frac sand mining until regulations are in place which will address the concerns being raised. Oak Grove has issued such a moratorium and is now in the process of developing their comprehensive plan, which will address mining issues.
When protection and preservation of a national treasure is taken into account, the town board may decide to prohibit any frac sand mining activity within their jurisdiction. The number of Oak Grove residents who would support such action appears to be growing.