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Dozens attend hearing about proposed sand mine in Jackson County

Public hearing to focus on reclamation plan

Dozens attend hearing about proposed sand mine in Jackson County

BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WKBT) - Dozens of people packed a conference room in Black River Falls on Thursday, voicing concerns about a proposed sand mine in Jackson County.

At the public hearing, concerned citizens brought up a variety of questions pertaining to noise, water use and air quality, but the main focus of Thursday's meeting was to talk about what will happen to the land when they are done mining.

"It says welcome to Black River Falls and hope everybody visits," said Cal Chapman a landowner in Jackson County.

Those few words are what drew Chapman to Black River Falls about 20 years ago.

"I had that idea and envisioned buying property and when I did, it was because I wanted to have a piece of property that basically could get away from things," said Chapman.

However, Chapman's plan to build on his land is on hold because of a proposed sand mine in the Town of Curran in Jackson County. Nothing is set in stone yet, but to learn more about the sand mine. Cal went to a public hearing.

The main topics of discussion on Thursday dealt with the reclamation plan.

"The reclamation plan is a plan that describes how the sites going to be restored once mining is completed," said Gaylord Olson with Jackson County's Land Conservation Department.

Citizens are concerned that the mining company will use the land without restoring it once the mining stops. However, there is a system in place to make sure that doesn't happen.

"The company has to provide financial assurance, like a bond or letter of credit, and the concept there is to make sure that in the event the mining operator went away for any reason that those dollars are readily available to go ahead and complete the reclaim," said John Cross with Turn-Key Processing Solutions.

But Chapman isn't sold on the promise that a company will restore the land.

"The overall life of a mine could be 25-30 years, the follow through with business, you can't predict what happens in 25 years," said Chapman.

So for now, it looks like Chapman is going to put a hold on doing anything with his property until he knows more about the future of the sand mine.

"I was planning on building this year, but I don't know if I am going to do that now," said Chapman.

The reclamation plan is only one of several permits the company needs to get before moving ahead with the sand mine.        

The next permit on the agenda is air quality and officials said they should be having some public hearings in the near future to discuss that topic.

Crosse said if all the permits get approved, they hope to start building in just a couple of months. If the sand mine company wants to expand in the future, they will have to go through all the permit processes again.

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