On Friday, July 20, I traveled with a group from St. Charles to the Chippewa Falls area to view first hand the frac-sand industry. I was so impacted by what I saw I felt I had to share my thoughts. The size and scope of the processing facilities was far greater than I had anticipated. While we toured a few plants in operation there were many more under construction. City officials in Chippewa Falls felt by being pro-active they had mitigated some of their problems including truck traffic. While I looked at the processing plants under construction and land to be mined my thoughts were you’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. I wonder what this beautiful city of 57,000 people will look like when trucks are traveling to 5, 10 or 15 more processing plants.
City officials in Chippewa Falls talked of increased revenue from tax evaluations of processing plants. It appeared to me any increase in real estate tax would be consumed in trying to service the water, sewer, electrical and road needs for the ever expanding processing plants. Of all I saw that day I don’t think anything impacted me more than the stop at the Superior Sands mine site. As I looked out at what was once bluffs of beautiful pine trees now cut from top to bottom with no life left on them. The land was now covered with huge dozers and earth movers exposing unlimited amounts of white sand. I looked around at miles of pine trees still standing and knew they too faced the same fate. I can’t explain my feeling. Perhaps John 11 verse 35 “Jesus Wept” best explains my feelings.
Mine officials talk of reclamation; I have trouble envisioning that what was left behind could ever replace the beauty they were destroying. I wonder how many times more in tourism dollars over infinite life times is lost to the gain of endless years of frac-sand mining Has there been a time in which the City Planner of Chippewa Falls now wishes he had told that 1st request for a Frac-Sand plant OUR CITY IS NOT INTERESTED?
The City of St Charles is fortunate we still have a choice. I believe strongly in our community. We have a main street that is thriving and still adding new business. I do believe if the Farm 2 Rail project in its proposed scope and location is allowed to proceed the city of St Charles will never again be what it is today. I write this to prepare you for the realities that will go with becoming a mining epicenter.
Our mayor and the city council have wisely guided this community through some very difficult times, the devastating floods and the North Star fire. Despite these our community is strong and growing with a new industrial site already in place to accommodate new business. I look at this community and do not believe they have to sell their soul to the frac-sand industry to remain prosperous. Your City Council can only make good decisions if they know what the public wants of them. Don’t stand on the sidelines and then complain after the fact about the decisions they have made. PLEASE GET INFORMED AND INVOLVED! You have to step forward NOW be it a business owner or a city resident and contact your city council members. They do have the power as of yet to tell Farm 2 Rail THIS ISN’T WHAT WE VISION FOR OUR COMMUNITY. Buffalo County Wisconsin did it and we can too.
The St. Charles Township board has by unanimous vote given their wise decision against this project. This may be the most important decision ever asked of our Mayor and Council. Help them make the right choice. I can’t believe Farm 2 Rail is the legacy we as a community. want to leave for our children and grandchildren. So I will sign my name to this editorial in hopes I might encourage you to step forward to keep this community as it is. While I may not make a difference hopefully our grandchildren will know Gramps tried.