Monday, April 2, 2012

Granite raiders of the Minnesota River

Granite outcropping on the Minnesota River near Redwood Falls


   There is beauty all along the 335-miles of the Minnesota River, but nothing compares to the stretch from Ortonville -- at the start of the river on the South Dakota border -- down through Granite Falls and Redwood Falls.
   Exposed ancient Granite outcroppings along the river bluffs are stunning and unique, with specialized plant and animal life rarely found elsewhere in Minnesota.
   That's why groups like BWSR, USDA, DNR and some counties have spent years on programs to help pay landowners to protect the outcroppings.
   So local residents in western Minnesota are none to happy a mining company
wants to spend the next century blowing up the granite, breaking it into
crushed rock and shipping out one of the areas most valuable assets. The
Ortonville Township Board passed a moratorium aimed at protecting the
outcroppings.
   North Dakota-based Strata Corp. has been fighting to get permits to mine the
granite, and in the face of stiff local opposition hired legal powerhouse
Malkerson Gunn Martin to represent them. Big Stone County commissioners are
weighing the company's request.
   Patrick Moore, head or CURE -- Clean Up the River Environment --
(cureriver.org), said the company is taking a no-prisoners approach to
getting their way. Corporate officials flew in on the private jet recently
and ferried county commissioners to the proposed site.
   But to keep any annoying media or citizens from tagging along, the company
took out just two commissioners at a time. That's because the state's Open
Meeting law only kicks in when three or more elected officials are together
on business.
   The company wrapped up the day lunching with the chair of the county board.
If you go on Strata's web site (strata-corp.com) you see the normal tabs:
"about," "history" and "services" which give the basics about the mining
company.
   If you click on the tab labeled "Environment" it takes you to a blank page.
   Not a good sign.

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