On a hot August day in Southwest Wisconsin, four industrial silica sand mining permits sat on the table in front of the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board, and in front of that, over 200 concerned citizens packed the hearing room, the majority speaking passionately in opposition to the proposal.
Pattison Sand Company wanted to mine within the Riverway and was making the case that the Board had no option but to approve the permits under a loophole in Riverway law that considers all non-metallic mining the same as a small gravel pit for local use, no matter what the size. Pattison Sand asserted that the permits must be approved as, according to the studies they had done, the mine would be invisible from the river during leaf-on conditions, and therefore the Board had no basis to deny the permits.
However, an easel strategically placed by Crawford Stewardship Project in plain view of the Riverway Board held an image that told a very different story. As the mining company claimed to be invisible, the image silently refuted every word. From two miles across the Mississippi River valley, one could see the dust from a blast at Pattison’s Clayton Iowa mine billowing up in a plume and obscuring the horizon. After much debate and a recommendation from the Executive Director that they had no choice but to approve, the board stood their ground and denied the permits, earning applause and cheers from the crowd.
_Photo Credit: Kathy Kachel, August, 2013 _