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Published March 19, 2014, 11:27 AM

Site that inspired preservation program in Minn., likely to be mined

OLIVIA, Minn. — The site that inspired a program to protect rock outcrop areas along the Minnesota River is likely to be mined.

By: Tom Cherveny, Forum News Service

OLIVIA, Minn. — The site that inspired a program to protect rock outcrop areas along the Minnesota River is likely to be mined.

The Renville County Planning Commission has unanimously recommended that an interim use permit be granted to Duininck Inc., of Prinsburg, Minn., for hard rock mining on a 39.5-acre site in sections 28 and 33 of Flora Township along Renville County Road 15.

The recommendation was presented to the Renville County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday. Commissioners will act on it at their next meeting.

The property is owned by Thomas P. Breitkreutz, and includes rock outcrops that hold rare plant communities including prickly pear cactus, little barley and Carolina foxtail, according to information in the permit.

The property is not among the parcels included in the Wild and Scenic corridor along the Minnesota River, and consequently the rock outcrops are not protected from mining. The Wild and Scenic Rivers Program was established in the state in 1973 to protect rivers “which have outstanding natural, scenic, geographic, historic, cultural, and recreational values,” the state Department of Natural Resources states on its website.

The scenic nature of the rock outcrops and the presence of rare plants had led the Renville County Soil and Water Conservation District to develop a program that obtained state funds to purchase permanent easements to protect the rock outcrops.

The program obtained state funding in 2007, 2009 and 2010 to protect a total of 1,521.2 acres of rock outcrops along the Minnesota River in Renville, Redwood, Yellow Medicine, Chippewa and Lac qui Parle counties.

The Flora Township site was the first to be proposed for the easement program. Its owner declined and entered into a lease agreement with the local road construction firm. Duininck Inc. had obtained a permit to mine the site more than five years ago. Since it had not acted on the permit, it needed to apply for the interim use permit now being considered to start mining operations there.

If approved by the Board of Commissioners, it would allow mining operations to continue at the site into 2034. The recommended permit includes 27 conditions, most of them concerning hours of operations, dust suppression and road maintenance.

The company must protect two small wetlands within the property’s boundaries. It is mitigating the loss of a third by developing a 0.34-acre wetland at a site outside of its boundaries.

The site will be mined both vertically and horizontally, according to information presented at the meeting. The excavated area will be restored as a wildlife area with grazing when mining operations end, according to the permit application. It indicates there is sufficient rock for an estimated 50 years of operations.

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