The St. Croix River Association has been following the possible expansion of the old Rybak Mine, now owned by North 40 Resources in Farmington Township near Osceola, Wisconsin. We feel it is important to share this letter here, which expresses our concerns to President Buberl and the Village Board of Osceola.
July 20, 2020
Jeromy Buberl, Village President
RE: North 40 Aggregate Mine
Dear President Buberl and Village Board,
On behalf of the St. Croix River Association and its membership, I am writing to express concerns regarding the current operation and possible expansion of the old Rybak mine, now owned by North 40 Resources in Farmington Township. The location of the mine is adjacent to the nationally designated “Wild and Scenic” St. Croix River. Mining activities are a direct threat to the high water quality and wild experiences that St. Croix National Scenic Riverway provides. We are in support of the Village of Osceola exercising extraterritorial zoning, to protect the local economy, environment and sustainability of the village social values.
North 40 Resources is not the shallow gravel pit the site once was. This change has raised grave concerns regarding noise levels, air and water pollution, increased traffic, and more. The new mine operation now uses the aggregates and they crush, wash and screen the materials of high-quality rock products on site. The crushing of the rock raises the potential for exposed sulfides that create sulfuric acid that dissolves and mobilizes heavy metals into the water. It is important that zoning conditions address this new potential threat to water quality.
The St. Croix River immensely adds to the quality of life in our communities and supports important tourism-based economic activities. Millions from the Twin Cities metro area and throughout the country flock to the Riverway to enjoy peaceful, safe, and high quality recreation. While people come to recreate on the St. Croix, they support local businesses to the tune of over $30 million annually, spending money at our restaurants, gas stations, outfitters, hotels/motels/resorts, and host of other businesses. We must protect the Riverway from any activities that threatens our local tourism industry.
Additionally, the St. Croix River is a globally unique and ecologically sensitive system. Despite the promises made by mine operators and efforts to contain wastewater, spills happen. Spills from mining operations have a detrimental impact on overall water quality, fish spawning, and rare mussel habitat in the St. Croix River. In 2012, a frac sand mine along the Riverway near Grantsburg spilled a significant amount of pollution into the St. Croix River as a result of a failing dike surrounding a settling pond. Late last year, due to excess rains, flooded ponds at an old gravel pit near the Riverway in Scandia led to another breach that spilled more than 100 tons of sediment, filling a nearby stream and discharging into the St. Croix.
With a mission to protect, restore, and celebrate the St. Croix River and its watershed, the St Croix River Association works to ensure our exceptional natural resources are protected well into the future. The economic benefits of a clean and healthy St. Croix River far outweigh any economic benefit that the expanded mine operation in the Town of Farmington brings to Osceola.
Thank you for considering these comments. It is critical to ensure the protection of the St. Croix River for the long-term health of this congressionally designated “Wild and Scenic” River and the quality of our local communities.