Clean Wisconsin on June 19 filed a challenge to a wetland fill permit in northern Monroe County because it would allow an out-of-state logging and frac sand company to permanently destroy more than 16 acres of a rare and valuable wetland forest.
“The Department of Natural Resources has found that this wetland provides ‘exceptional’ value to people and the surrounding ecosystem, and yet they’re allowing for it to be destroyed by issuing this permit,” Evan Feinauer, Clean Wisconsin staff attorney, said in a news release. “If a wetland of this rare quality is allowed to be destroyed, it could spell disaster for other rare wetlands across the state.”
Much of the 16.25-acre parcel consists of a unique White Pine-Red Maple wetland considered “imperiled” by the state. The wetland is home to several rare and endangered species of animals, as well as the Blanding’s Turtle and the Four-Toed salamander, considered animals of special concern.
Clean Wisconsin argues that destroying this pristine wetland would open the door to development of similar large-scale filling and permanent destruction of rare wetlands. The group also takes issue with the contradictions between the DNR’s findings stated in the permit and its ultimate decision to approve the permit.
“Despite the DNR’s admission in the permit that this project could set a negative precedent for filling rare wetlands, they issued the permit anyhow,” said Feinauer. “This is troubling, both for our unique ecosystems and for the integrity of the permitting process.”
Atlanta-based Meteor Timber is proposing to fill the wetland for a frac sand drying facility. If the project moves forward, it would be the largest wetland fill for an industrial frac sand project in the state.
“We can’t recreate this rare wetland. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever,” said Feinauer. “The permanent destruction of this unique ecosystem will cause a loss of rare ecology and human enjoyment that outweighs any proposed benefit from plans on the table.”