Segerstrom mine — application to add wash plant and high capacity well

The Segerstrom mine is applying for an amendment to their Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to add a high-capacity well and a sand washing plant to their mine located on Highway 37.  They say this is just a minor routine amendment – “nothing to see here, just move along please.”

I disagree.  This is a major change to their operation — because it puts them in a position to be a regional processor of frac sand long after the local mine is done.

This is especially important because the Segerstrom permit is one of the very first ones approved by the County back in the days when nobody was paying attention.  So unlike today where we have the benefit of a much more rigorous zoning ordinance and a much more detailed set of requirements to file an application for a sand mine or a processing plant, there are virtually no limits on what Segerstrom can do.

  • There are no limits on the number of trucks per day
  • The only limit on haul routes is that they must stay on State highways
  • There is no fixed haul route specified, and these could change at any time

Here are a few maps to give you a sense of the trouble we will be in if this application is approved.

Segerstrom could become a regional processing site for frac sand

Segerstrom sources map

The bulls-eye shows approximately where the Segerstrom mine is, on Highway 37.  The incoming arrows show all the places where sand could be coming from in order to be washed at Segerstrom’s.  The current permit places no limit on the number of trucks, the locations they could be coming from. the routes that they are required to follow or the hours of the day that they are prohibited from running.  If you live along any of these routes, you are at risk of an unpleasant surprise that could come along any time over the next 20 years or so.  Imagine what that uncertainty is going to do to your property value.

Segerstrom can ship his sand anywhere, and change his route at any time

Segerstrom destinations map

The Segerstrom permit also makes no mention of where sand will be shipped, the number of trucks, the route that it will take or the hours of operation.  So here’s a map of all the options.  Again, if you live on any of these roads, your life could change over night if the Segerstrom operation finds a better deal on selling or loading their sand over the life of that plant.

Just a reminder of promises not kept

Segerstrom stated on the record, at least twice, that no trees would be taken down.  He also said that no more than 10 acres would be open at a time.  Here’s a picture of the site I shot a little over a year ago.  Draw your own conclusions.  You can see a few more versions of this picture in the original blog post — click HERE to see that post.

Next meeting — you can help

The Board of Adjustments is meeting on April 23rd (3pm, at the Buffalo County Courthouse) to consider this modification to the Segerstrom permit.  Click HERE to go look at the details of the meeting on our “Meetings” page.

I’ll be there — I’ll be asking them to consider this a major change to their permit, one that should go through the whole permitting process rather than just the abbreviated one that is allowed for minor changes (which is currently what is on the table).  Please join me — this is a change that has county-wide impacts.

Background information

Here’s a set of links to various documents you may find useful:

  • April 2014 — Reclamation plan additions to accommodate the new wash-plant plans.  Click HERE for the revised plan, HERE for Figure 1 Site Location Map, HERE for Figure 2 Site Plan View and HERE for Figure 3 Site Detail.
  • January 2014 — Application for CUP to add high-capacity well and wash plant to the operation.  Click HERE for the file.
  • May 2013 — Frac Sand Frisbee blog post — “Is Buffalo County Sand Any Good?” — features the failure of Segerstrom’s dry processing plant failure to clean the sand to be marketable.  Click HERE for the post.
  • February 2013 — a diagram from Land Resources office showing approved mines and haul routes listing Segerstrom as approved for 100 loads a day.  Click HERE to view the file
  • January 2013 — Frac Sand Frisbee blog post — pictures of the Segerstrom Mine — showing how they’ve torn the whole front of the bluff off — so much for “no trees will be taken down.”  Click HERE to see the post.
  • January 2012 — Minutes of BOA meeting where Condition #7 (prohibiting blasting) was removed.  Click HERE to view the file.
  • September 2011 — Reclamation Costs and Bond (in which Segerstrom again claims that no trees will be taken down on the site).  Click HERE for the file.
  • September 2011 — Reclamation Plan.  A good source of site-maps (plow through the boilerplate, the maps are at the end). Click HERE for the file.
  • July 2011 — Original decision of the Zoning Board of Adjustment granting conditional use permit.  Click HERE for this 500k PDF file.
  • July 2011 — Minutes of the BOA meeting where the original permit was issued (source of the 100 trucks/day estimate and Segerstrom claiming not to take trees down).  Click HERE for the file.
  • The Zoning Department responses to the seven factors that must be considered in a Conditional Use Permit — for the Segerstrom and the Barth permits. Click HERE for the PDF version.
  • The conditions placed on the permits for Barth and Segerstrom — Click HERE for the PDF version.
  • Aerial photo of the mine site — click HERE
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Badger Bluff Sands permit denied on 3-0 vote by BOA

The Badger Bluff Sands application for a sand mine spanning Schoepps Valley Road and Oak Valley Road was soundly defeated this week after comprehensive and well-researched testimony against it, for all sorts of reasons.

What became clear during the testimony is that Kevin Rich, the mine promoter, hasn’t made much of an effort to win his neighbors over.  Although Kevin spent the day addressing us all by our first names as we asked questions during a site visit, dozens of his neighbors painted a dramatically different picture during testimony that evening.

Chuck Baker, owner of Chuck’s Repair Shop was represented among the group of neighbors testifying against the mine.  A couple of days earlier, this sign appeared next to Chuck’s sign out on the highway.  It gives a great impression of what a good neighbor Badger Bluff Sands has been, no?

Thanks Chuck (and all you others).  If I have any auto repairs coming up, Chuck’s going to get my business.  I hope he gets yours as well.

class act

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Testimony OPPOSED to the Starkey request for rezone to “Industrial”

Date:   March 2, 2014

From: Mikey O’Connor (Praag, WI)

To:       Buffalo County Board

Re:       Testimony OPPOSED to the Starkey request for rezone to “Industrial”


Focus on the future: More NEW jobs, not more OLD jobs

I hope you think about the careers of Buffalo County children and deny a rezone application that will put a 19th-century style rail-loading facility in the heart of Buffalo County, focus our economy on mining, and wreck one of the best chances for Buffalo County to compete and win in the 21st century.

Much has been said about all the disadvantages Buffalo County has, and how we need the new jobs that sand mining will bring. But don’t overlook what we have going for us as we prepare our kids (and ourselves) to compete in the worldwide “Information Economy.”

  • Internet Infrastructure: All of Buffalo County has reasonably fast DSL.  That portion of the County served by the Nelson and Cochrane telephone cooperatives has “fiber-to-the-home” – which is the best “future proof” Internet infrastructure in the world.
  • Unspoiled environment: Buffalo County is in the Driftless Area – some of the most beautiful and unique natural habitat in the world.
  • Air travel: Buffalo County is within 2 hours of an international hub airport offering convenient, reliable and diverse travel options, worldwide.

There are more of these attractions (hunting, fishing, boating, etc.), but you get the point. We could focus on developing 21st Century jobs (which, like mine, can be done anywhere there’s good Internet access). We could teach our kids how to compete at a world-class level without leaving their houses, never mind leaving the county.

What do 21st century Information Economy workers want when they’re choosing a place to live and work?  They want a vibrant community, beautiful places and great access to the world. We have all these and more, right now. Many county economic development officers would kill to have the “future proofing” amenities that we can offer here in Buffalo County.

Let’s focus on delivering a positive future, and opportunities for the next generation.

Please vote for 21st century jobs, not 19th century ones.  Oppose the Starkey rezone.

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Testimony OPPOSING SB 632 and AB 816


Mikey O’Connor
Buffalo County Business Owner and Resident
S1287 Wisconsin State Highway 88, Box 38, Gilmanton, Wisconsin 54743
Email: [email protected]

DATE:  March 2, 2014


Senator Thomas Tiffany, 12th  Senate District Chair, Senate Committee on Mining
Representative Mary Williams, 87th  Assembly District Chair, Assembly Committee on Mining
Senator Kathleen Vinehout, 31st  Senate District
Representative Warren Petryk, 93rd  Assembly District Member, Assembly Committee on Mining



SB 632 and AB 816

Dear Senators Tiffany and Vinehout, and Representatives Petryk and Williams:

I am a business owner and resident of Buffalo County, currently under siege by an out-of-state sand-mining company attempting to launch a multi-location frac sand strip mining and rail loading facility here.

I’m also a member of an informal group of people striving to bring order and fair play to the process of siting mines and rail facilities here in the County.  Many of us are farmers and small business owners.  We see the businesses we have worked hard to build threatened by a pell-mell rush to introduce 19th century mining jobs into this region.

Buffalo County is well positioned to expand its economic base by competing on the world stage for 21st century Information Economy jobs – but that opportunity will vanish if the region is hurled back into a 19th century extractive economy.  We are united in the idea that decisions that have such profound impacts on local businesses and residents should be made locally.

  • These bills will harm our ability to bring the awareness and knowledge of local stakeholders to bear on decisions that will impact our health, safety and welfare for decades.  ‘
  • The consequences of your actions will put some of us out of business.
  • And, by destroying the amenities which make this area attractive first-tier information workers, our residents and children will be at a permanent disadvantage in the worldwide Information Economy.

Please vote against these bills.

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Stoddard testimony opposing SB 632 and AB 816

Stoddard1 Stoddard2

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