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From today's Sun-Times:

 

A smelly situation hits Jo Daviess

Megadairy plans threaten to turn scenic land into Mecca for manure

 

February 24, 2008

BY DALE BOWMAN

 

Abig steaming pile of ...''I can't imagine 68 acres of manure 15 feet deep,'' George McPhillips said as we drove back into Warren.

 

It's a byproduct of a proposed megadairy operation in Jo Daviess County.

 

The Orwellian-named Tradition North Dairy Facility and Tradition South Dairy Facility are planned along East Mahoney Road, a mile west of Nora, the small burg on historic Stage Coach Trail.

 

There's nothing traditional about the proposed megadairy other than the cows. These are not feel-good, Farm Aid farms with 100 head. Each of these facilities would have more than 5,000 head.

 

That's why there's plans for massive waste handling ponds for big steaming piles ... of manure.

 

I'm not sure there's any place in Illinois for a megadairy.

 

But I'm certain Jo Daviess is most definitely not the place.

 

The proposed site is smack dab on top of the headwaters of a feeder stream for Wolf Creek. To see it is a familiar scenic drive: turn right off Route 20 west of Freeport on Galena Road/Stage Coach, then left on Mahoney in Nora for a mile.

 

The feeder creek joins, west of Route 78, Mud Run and the South Fork of the Apple River. Which joins, in the park, with the main branch of the Apple River. Which flows out of the park and eventually into the Mississippi River.

 

The stream canyons make the park some of the most scenic state land. For smallmouth fishermen, the Apple is one of the three great small rivers, along with the Mackinaw and Kishwaukee, in Illinois.

 

The ecologically unique northwest corner of Illinois, the Driftless Area, was untouched by the glaciers of the Pleistocene Epoch.

 

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources' The Driftless Area: An Inventory of the Region's Resources outlines one of the greatest fears about the megadairy: ''Nowhere else in Illinois is the bedrock elevation so high, nor is the bedrock so close to the surface.''

 

This is a karst area. Karst, as defined by the Karst Waters Institute, is ''a special type of landscape that is formed by the dissolution of soluble rocks, including limestone and dolomite. Karst regions contain aquifers that are capable of providing large supplies of water.''

 

Any contamination rapidly spreads through the aquifers. Local activists have well-documented the two-fold impact megadairies have on aquifers: massive use of water and spills that spread rapidly.

 

That's why I toured earlier this month with McPhillips, a local who slowly grew into an activist, Bern Colleran, a retired Chicagoan with Jo Daviess love, and his nephew Brian Clerkin, a smallmouth aficionado from Des Plaines.

 

We started at the proposed site. I don't know whether to find this astonishing or stupid. It's literally on top of the headwaters of the feeder.

 

McPhillips took us downstream to the state park, where Clerkin tried to catch a smallmouth with his fly rod. While doing it, he found scat from a river otter.

 

We continued downstream through the extended IDNR holdings along the Apple and a Boy Scout camp, where we saw dozens of wild turkeys. Deer fed along a ravine. On a crest, multiple bald eagles scavenged on a carcass in a snow-covered field.

 

This is an old fight in a new arena: wild and wonderful against the promise of cash -- jobs and corollary economic impact -- brought by the megadairy.

 

So it was surprising on Feb. 11 when the county board voted 11-5 against the megadairy. That might not mean much. The Illinois Department of Agriculture makes the call on issuing permits, a decision due within days.

 

The Illinois Smallmouth Alliance and people like Colleran with Jo Daviess love already have joined the fray with those behind www.stopthemegadairy.org.

 

As thousands of Chicagoans who vacation, hunt and fish in Jo Daviess already know: This is special. It deserves better than a steaming pile of ...

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ACTION ALERT

 

Take this action until February 28, 2008

 

 

 

Citizen action needed to stop construction of a huge dairy that will generate over 90 million gallons of manure annually in environmentally-sensitive Jo Daviess County, Illinois

 

 

 

The Illinois Department of Agriculture is considering whether to approve an application to build a new confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) for dairy cows in Jo Daviess County, east of the Apple River. CAFOs are facilities that house hundreds of animals in close quarters lacking vegetation. The animals are often kept in buildings, and their waste is stored in underground pits or manure ponds next to the buildings. Unfortunately, many CAFOs around the country have polluted streams, groundwater, and domestic wells, caused health problems in CAFO workers and nearby residents, fouled the air with nuisance odors, and lowered property values.

 

 

 

The CAFO under consideration will have at least 10,000 cows and 70 acres of manure-holding ponds, and will be the largest CAFO in the state. It will be situated in the beautiful, rolling hills of the Apple River watershed, which is a popular tourist destination and home to the biologically significant Apple River. This CAFO should be opposed for several reasons:

 

 

 

the scientific literature and government reports document that many manure-holding ponds leak or seep, which is a threat to groundwater and nearby drinking water wells

 

the area has been characterized by the Illinois State Geological Survey as prone to groundwater contamination

 

the manure will be spread on at least 4,000 acres of neighboring farmland, which is likely to cause odor problems and stream contamination

 

contamination of waterways may kill fish and pose a health risk to people recreating in the Apple River area

 

 

 

There are several ways that Illinois citizens can voice their opposition and act to make a difference:

 

 

 

Call the Office of the Governor (217-782-0244 or 312-814-2121), say you are calling to register a public comment, and state that you want Governor Blagojevich to know you are in opposition to the Jo Daviess County CAFO. (You actually don't need to state anything more, because the Office is already aware of the issue).

 

Send a Letter to the Editor, Op-Ed, or other type of opinion/commentary piece to the Chicago and Springfield papers.

 

 

 

More information on this CAFO, and CAFOs in general, is available at www.stopthemegadairy.org, which was created by residents of Jo Daviess County. You may also call Stacy James at Prairie Rivers Network (217-344-2371).

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Anyone able to get an email address for Gov Blago? Couldn’t locate one for him. Also couldn’t find one for the IDNR Director, Sam Flood.

 

Alan...go to www.stopthemegadairy.org. They have listed all the key people to contact and their e-mail, fax #s, etc. including Blowdryovich's email. Thanks!

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Alan...go to www.stopthemegadairy.org. They have listed all the key people to contact and their e-mail, fax #s, etc. including Blowdryovich's email. Thanks!

 

Thanks Jude...I thought I hit everyone on that list. Don't know how I missed 'Public Official A''s.

 

I'll be placing the call as requested in Mike C's post above as well.

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