A Georgia timber investment company seeking to build an industrial sand operation in Monroe County, Wis., is proposing what it calls “the largest wetland preservation and restoration effort” in Wisconsin history in exchange for a permit to fill 16 acres of wetland forest, according to the Lacrosse Tribune.
Meteor Timber announced a proposal to put an additional 178 acres – most of which it says are high quality wetlands – into conservation. Coupled with a previously proposed conservation project on the company’s land, that would result in more than 640 acres of preservation, about 40 times the amount of wetland that would be claimed by the project.
Jeffrey Olson, section chief for the Army Corps of Engineers, said that would likely be the largest mitigation effort for a single project, though he noted there are much larger wetland restorations.
One of the largest private landowners in Wisconsin, Meteor wants to build a processing and loading facility along Interstate 94 near the town of Millston, Wis., to dry and ship frac sand the company will mine from a nearby site it acquired in 2014. The company expects to ship about 1.5 million tons of processed sand each year using the adjacent Union Pacific rail line.
That would require destruction of some 16 acres of wetlands, including about 13 acres of “pristine” hardwood swamp, which would be the state’s largest single loss of wetland for a sand project. Meteor would still be required to offset the wetland loss through the purchase of credits, which fund wetland restoration efforts elsewhere in the state.
The site, which Meteor says is the only feasible location close enough to its mine, includes about 558 acres owned by the A&K Alexander Cranberry Co., which was cited in 2013 by the Environmental Protection Agency for illegally filling 5.6 acres of wetlands. Meteor said the project will result in about 100 new jobs.