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State to convert farmland to sand storage

ALMA, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin residents are unhappy about plans to convert local farmland to storage for sand dredged from the Mississippi River.

Wisconsin Public Radio reported that the Army Corps of Engineers is proposing five new locations in Wisconsin and Minnesota to dump sand it dredges from the Mississippi River. The Corps dredges 270,000 cubic yards of sand every year from the Lake Pepin area to keep the navigation channel open.

Residents in Buffalo County and Wabasha County in Minnesota are unhappy that the proposal would convert almost 500 acres of farmland to sand storage.

“There are a number of questions that (residents) have that they don’t feel have been adequately answered,” said Douglas Kane, chair of the Buffalo County Board of Supervisors.

One concern is the increased traffic caused by selecting locations away from the river, Kane said.

Craig Evans is the chief of plan formulation for the St. Paul, Minn., district of the Corps. The agency doesn’t have many other options because they can’t place material in wetlands, he said.

The agency has chosen the lowest cost sites that don’t have a negative impact on the environment, Evans said.

“We know we don’t have all the information, and we want the public to be able to tell us what we might have misunderstood or might have done wrong, if there are better places that would be less expensive for us to use or would have fewer impacts and not be any more expensive to use,” Evans said.

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