Battles Continue on the St. Croix River

Scenic St. Croix River, MN, WI

St. Croix, MN, WI | Jenni Ripley

Supporters of the Wild and Scenic St. Croix River in Minnesota are fighting another battle — this time against a gravel mine.  A corporation is proposing to operate a gravel mine on the site of a dormant, unreclaimed gravel mine (known as the Zavoral Site).  It is located along St. Croix Trail North, a State Scenic Byway.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the lower St. Croix’s inclusion in the National Wild & Scenic Rivers system.  American Rivers listed the St. Croix as one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers® of 2011 due to the threat of a superhighway bridge that has since been approved by Congress.  Now our partners, the National Parks Conservation Association, are diligently fighting the next battle to protect one of the most beautiful rivers in the Midwest.   

Recently, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was completed for this project.  However, many members of the public, including the National Park Service, found fault with the EIS.  Regardless, the City of Scandia is considering a Conditional Use Permit for this project.  On December 4, the Planning Commission will host a public meeting to review the permit application.  Following the meeting, the Commission will make a recommendation to the Scandia City Council.  The City Council will have until February 20, 2013 to make a determination on the application.

Minnesota Public Radio has a great feature on this issue that discusses the splendor of the river and potential impacts of this project.

It is critical that the public attend this meeting to let the Commission know that the EIS was not adequate, and that a more complete analysis of the environmental impacts of the project should be completed. Apparently the noise alone from this mining operation – the sounds of excavating equipment and trucks moving 1.2 million tons of gravel – may plague the area for up to ten years, based on current proposed scenarios. Additionally, once the gravel has been mined, sand used for hydraulic fracturing will be available for mining within 50 feet of the surface at the site.  While no frac sand proposals have been issued, this is a potential consideration for future impacts.  This site must have a serious environmental assessment before such a project is allowed to proceed along a Wild and Scenic River corridor.

Meeting Information: 
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Time:  7 pm
Location:  Scandia Community Center; 14727 209th Street N., Scandia, MN 55073