Notes From The Field
Take Action Today!
Dear Friend of Farms Not Factories,
The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board (NRB) is holding their August board meeting in Ashland, WI on August 2nd and 3rd and I'm hoping you'll take some time next week to let the board members know what you think about the proposed Badgerwood CAFO and its 26,000 hogs! While Reicks has been quiet lately (the WPDES application is still incomplete and the Environmental Impact Statement is on hold), the citizens and waters of the Chequamegon Bay region are still threatened by those 26,000 Iowan hogs and their 10 million gallons of manure.
Dale Reicks has not withdrawn his application, the farm is still owned by Reicks View Family Farms LLC, and the Livestock Facility Siting Rule still provides 'regulatory certainty' to CAFO owners, at the expense of Wisconsin citizen's water, air, health and property values. Until citizens have their rights to clean water, air and a healthy quality of life restored, our community must remain vigilant and engaged. Your presence at the tour on Tuesday or your testimony (written or verbal) at the board meeting on Wednesday is a way to let the DNR know that CAFOs are not welcome in the Chequamegon Bay region.
Per WI statute 15.34 (1), "There is created a department of natural resources under the direction and supervision of the natural resources board". The Natural Resources Board's powers and duties are regulatory, advisory and policy-making, and not administrative. In a nutshell, they are concerned with policy or rule-making and not the actual day to day administration of the rules (Secretary Stepp is responsible for the administration and she's appointed by Governor Walker). The seven members of the Natural Resources Board are nominated by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate for 6-year terms. Additional information about the NRB is available here.
An example of how the Natural Resources Board directs the DNR is the recently completed strategic analysis of frac sand mining. The Natural Resources Board has the authority to require the DNR to conduct a strategic analysis of controversial resource-oriented issues/policies and they responded to a citizen-led petition requesting that the Natural Resources Board direct the DNR to exercise its discretion under NR 150.10 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code to conduct a strategic analysis of frac sand mining.
It is critically important that the Natural Resources Board hears from you! We must create a public record that illustrates our rejection of the CAFO way of doing business, the water pollution that often accompanies CAFOs, and the wholly inadequate regulation of our water through 'self-reporting/self-regulating' done by the CAFO owners.
As always, thank you for your support,
How Do I Attend The Tour on Tuesday?
The agenda for the Natural Resources Board's tours on Tuesday August 2nd is as follows:
Optional Morning Tours: Participating Board Members will arrive at approximately 9:15 a.m. at the Danny and Nancy Bourassa Farmstead, 70615 County Highway A, just north of Iron
River; topic: Lake Superior Landscape Restoration Project. At approximately 10:45 a.m.,
participating Board Members will arrive at Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest’s Moquah
Barrens Management Area, Forest Road 423, Ashland; topic: Sharptail Grouse.
Afternoon Tours: At approximately 12:30 p.m., the full Board will receive a presentation at the Best Western - Hotel Chequamegon, 101 Lake Shore Drive West, Ashland; topics: welcome to Ashland, public/private partnerships: natural resources restoration, and an overview of their afternoon water tour. At approximately 2:00 p.m. Board Members will arrive at Ashland Marina, North Ellis Avenue, Ashland and will participate in an afternoon water tour which will end at approximately 4:00 p.m. At approximately 4:45 p.m., the full Board will receive a presentation at the Best Western - Hotel Chequamegon, 101 Lake Shore Drive West, Ashland; topic: Ashland Waterfront Redevelopment. Approximate end of tours: 5:30 p.m. ***if you wish to participate in the water tour, you must provide your own boat***
The public is welcome to join in the tour but you must pre-register. Please contact Laurie Ross, NRB Liaison, at 608-267-7420 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to register to attend the NRB tour, the deadline to register to attend a tour is 11:00 a.m. on Friday, July 29, 2016. If you do not receive a confirmation email from Laurie Ross by Friday afternoon, please follow-up to make sure she received your request.
If you do not wish to participate in the tour but want to greet the Board Members with signs, costumes, puppets, or whatever kind of display that strikes your fancy, please meet at the Ashland Marina at 1:00 PM on Tuesday. Technically the tours are part of the board meeting and we can not disturb or distract the Board members from their work but a quiet visual representation of how you feel about CAFOs in the Lake Superior Basin would be informative to the Board Members before they participate in their water tour.
We will have a sign-making gathering (with markers and poster boards) on Monday August 1st at 5:30 PM at 302 East Main Street in Ashland. Please plan on attending and lending your creativity and passion to our 'meet and greet' with the NRB members on Tuesday afternoon.
How Do I Participate in the Board Meeting on Wednesday?
The agenda for the Wednesday Natural Resources Board meeting is available here. The meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, August 3, 2016, at the AmericInn, 3009 Lakeshore Drive E, Ashland, Wisconsin.
Please read the public participation guidelines prior to registering and attending the meeting on Wednesday. Please note that the citizen participation (agenda item 3.A) begins at 10:30 a.m., regardless of which item is before the Board at that time.
If you wish to testify during the meeting or submit written comments, you MUST pre-register with Laurie Ross by 11 a.m. on Friday July 29th, 2016. If you do not receive a confirmation email from Laurie Ross by Friday afternoon, please follow-up to make sure she received your request.
Laurie J. Ross, Board Liaison
Office of the Secretary, Wisconsin DNR
PO Box 7921
Madison WI 53707-7921.
Some helpful tips if you are planning on speaking at the meeting:
The Natural Resources Board will take action on the scoping statements for NR 151 and NR 243 (agenda item 2.C.1). A scoping statement is one of the first steps in a lengthy rule-making process. Basically, a scope statement provides a road-map for what should be covered or considered when a rule (like NR 243, Animal Feeding Operations) is reviewed and possible changes are made.
- Provide the Board members with a brief written statement of your comments, highlighting the important points. Bring 10 - 12 copies.
- Practice your comments, 3 minutes goes quickly!
- Try not to repeat what has previously been stated. I know this will be difficult because of the large number of speakers but if possible, try to cover new information/concerns and compliment previous presentations.
Some suggested issues/questions to pose about the scoping statement are:
Some suggested issues/questions to pose to the Board members during the citizen participation:
- Are existing/proposed regulations adequate to protect water quality?
- Are NR 151 and NR 243 supposed to prevent degradation of water resources?
- Are NR 151 and NR 243 supposed to restore degraded water resources?
- What is the status of water quality in Wisconsin?
- Is water quality improving? Or is it getting worse? If it's worse, then obviously the current regulations aren’t sufficient.
- Wisconsin has over 700 waterways on the EPA's 303(d) impaired waterways list. How has agriculture runoff contributed to these impairments? How will the changes in the proposed scoping statements prevent additional waterways from becoming impaired?
The issues and questions listed above are just suggestions. There are plenty of questions and issues missing from the list and I'm hoping you will fill in the blanks. Our testimony will be strongest if there is diversity in our comments and speakers. Please consider making an appearance and lending your voice to Lake Superior and the waters that feed it.
- Prevention of a problem (degraded water resources) is much less expensive than restoration; and problem prevention is a government responsibility. What can the NRB do to prevent water pollution from the proposed Badgerwood CAFO?
- A very large portion of our economy is tourism and recreational based; and based on clean water. Without clean water our tourism and recreational economy will substantially decrease and we will lose jobs.
- In Bayfield County, 33% of the jobs are linked to travel & tourism; while only 5% to agriculture and in Ashland County, 12% of the jobs are linked to tourism; while only 2% is linked to agriculture. What will the NRB do to ensure an industry that provides between 2 and 5 percent of jobs does NOT harm an industry that provides between 12 and 33 percent of jobs in our region?
- Economic impact of tourism in Ashland County: direct visitor spending (34.5 million); total business sales (52.2 million); employment (577 employees); total labor income (13 million); state and local taxes (4.5 million).
- Economic impact of tourism in Bayfield County: direct visitor spending (45.2 million); total business sales (60.7 million); employment (598 employees); total labor income (11.2 million); state and local taxes (5.8 million).
- The Wisconsin Department of Tourism report, The Power of Wisconsin Tourism, states that "Tourism creates a halo effect for Wisconsin by generating a positive impression of the state’s image, which is critical for economic development." How will the perception of the Chequamegon Bay region change once a CAFO is sited 8 miles from Lake Superior? What measures can the NRB take to ensure that perception doesn't hurt our tourism economy?
- Reicks' economic impact: 30-35 employees, 1.1 - 1.3 million annual payroll expenses.
- DNR rejection of the South Fish Creek Manure Management and Storage Ordinance. The ordinance was unanimously approved by the Bayfield County Board in February 2016. The DNR's denial stated the ordinance doesn’t address/solve the existing impairment problem and that's true. The ordinance wasn't designed to address existing issues, it was intended to prevent the problems from getting worse. What is the NRB's position on this rejection?
- Over 70 businesses that employ nearly 1,000 people have joined the Chequamegaon Bay Downstream Business Coalition. The Chequamegon Bay Downstream Business Coalition calls on our local and state elected officials and regulatory agencies to develop and enforce stringent standards that will prevent environmental damage by any proposed CAFO.
- The Center for Rural Communities conducted a poll in December 2015 that showed overwhelming opposition to CAFOs in our region. 63.3 percent of respondents opposed the CAFO and 72.5 percent of respondents supported tighter local control of CAFOs.
- The Center for Rural Communities conducted a public opinion poll in June 2016 that showed 92.3% of respondents feel the public sector (government) should ensure water is safe to drink; 97 percent of respondents feel that access to safe and clean drinking water is a human right; and 80.3 percent of respondents feel the public sector (government) should be responsible for managing land use to minimize impact on water sources.
- The City of Ashland gets its drinking water from the Chequamegon Bay and the DNR's Source Water Assessment in 2003 states, ".....As with most surface water systems, Ashland’s source water is impacted by the source water area and highly susceptible to contamination. This is due to the confined nature of Chequamegon Bay and erodible soils and land uses found in the source water area." Given that the proposed CAFO and its spreading fields are in source water area for Ashland, what is the NRB going to do to protect the drinking water for 8,000 Wisconsin citizens from Badgerwood's manure?
- What will the NRB do to ensure the DNR does a thorough and robust Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Badgerwood CAFO? The DNR received 349 scoping comments from individuals and organizations and we expect the EIS to reflect the thoughtful and serious comments from the public.
- How will the NRB ensure that the recommendations in the Legislative Audit Bureau's report on the DNR's wastewater permitting and enforcement are implemented and enforced if the proposed Badgerwood CAFO is permitted?
- What is the NRB's position on the DNR's enforcement of WPDES permits for CAFOs? The Audit Bureau found that the DNR issued notices of violation for only 33 of the 558 instances (5.9 percent) for which a notice of violation should have been issued from 2005 through 2014. Moreover, of the 33 notices of violation that DNR issued, 17 (51.5 percent) did not address all of the effluent and reporting violations for which a notice of violation
should have been issued.
- What is the NRB's position on Midwest Environmental Advocates Petition for Corrective Action? In light of the Legislative Audit Bureau's report on the DNR's adminstration of the Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems (WPDES) program, how will the NRB ensure that the DNR is in compliance with the Clean Water Act?
- The self-regulating and self-reporting nature of the CAFO industry has led to a significant amount of water pollution. Will the NRB recommend additional CAFO specialists be hired to adequately manage and enforce the WPDES program?
- How does the Wisconsin Public Trust Doctrine, which was broadened to include "protected public rights to water quality and quantity..." inform the WPDES program? Given the DNR's failure to manage CAFOs (per the Audit Bureau report), how can the NRB ensure the DNR is able to implement and enforce the WPDES permits in compliance with the Public Trust Doctrine?
Video of Chequamegon Bay on July 13, 2016
The MODIS image above was taken by a satellite on July 26th. As you can see, the sediment plume is visible from space, 15 days after the 10 inches of rain and subsequent flood on July 11th.
Professor Randy Lehr, co-director of the Mary Griggs Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation at Northland College in Ashland, stated in an opinion piece in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "...the area surrounding Ashland stands out as being a rainfall hotspot. The new analysis suggests that rainfall intensity in Ashland, and the surrounding area, is about 37% greater than previously thought — within the Great Lakes basin, this difference is second only to the areas outside Ludington, Mich."
Please take a look at the two videos below taken by a drone on July 13th, 2 days after the flood that left Ashland and Bayfield Counties with catastrophic damage:
Video #1 of Chequamegon Bay
Video #2 of Chequamegon Bay
The threat to Chequamegon Bay and Lake Superior from Dale Reicks and his 26,000 hogs can not be overstated and must not be ignored by our regulatory agencies and our elected officials. The satellite photos and drone videos illustrate quite well what happens when we get a heavy rain -- the Bay turns red with sediment. But thankfully, it's currently free of hog manure...let's keep it that way!