Skunk Hollow Mine Appeal
In front of a packed room on Thursday, December 22, the Green Lake County Board of Adjustment (BOA) unanimously voted to uphold our appeal of a conditional use permit (CUP) for the Skunk Hollow Mine. We made this appeal in conjunction with the Green Lake Conservancy, the Green Lake Sanitary District, and a local landowner after the Green Lake County Land Use Planning and Zoning Committee approved a CUP for the mine in July 2022.
Green Lake and its surrounding watershed—including Powell Spring and Mitchell Glen—are exceptional resources to the community that the Green Lake Association, Green Lake Conservancy, and Green Lake Sanitary District work tirelessly to protect. On behalf of these water resources, ecological treasures, and the community, the three organizations united to appeal the Skunk Hollow Mine decision.
LEADING UP TO THE BOA HEARING
1) Recusals & Removals of Key Decision Makers. BOA Member Ron Triemstra formally recused himself from the Board of Adjustment and will not be participating in the December 22 hearing. Learn more in this Ripon Commonwealth Press article.
Additionally, BOA Member BJ Zierger recused herself, and Ed Roepsch was removed from the BOA.
Our appeal in Circuit Court was also delayed after Judge Slate of Green Lake County recused himself. He has been replaced by Judge Guy Dutcher from Waushara County, who will preside over a Circuit Court telephone conference on January 11, 2023.
2) Patagonia Supports Our Appeal Efforts. To amplify the vocal support of so many in the community, we are pleased to share that Patagonia has published several Twitter posts about signing our petition and donating funds to underwrite the cost of legal fees. They also submitted written comments to the BOA hearing, which can be viewed here.
The hydrogeology study concludes: “Skunk Hollow Mine cannot be operated as proposed without adverse impacts on the health and welfare of nearby residents or without degradation of aquatic resources including Powell Spring and Creek, White Creek, Mitchell Glen, Glen Creek, and Dakin Creek."
The hydrogeology study states: “The CUP application materials lack important information needed to provide confidence that the public health and the environment can be protected with the mine in operation.”
An appraisal study commissioned for the Neuenfeldts—a neighbor who is part of the appeal and whose property abuts a stormwater pond from the proposed mine—found market value damages to their property of $324,500, if the mine is permitted. The cumulative negative impact to residents' properties within 1/2-mile of the proposed mine and to the County's tax base would total $909,500.
MOST RECENT PRESS
GLA CURRENT PRESS RELEASES
On July 1, 2022, adjacent landowners were notified for the first time that a nonmetallic mine would be developed in their neighborhood. Six days later, the Green Lake County Land Use Planning & Zoning Committee approved the conditional use permit for Skunk Hollow Mine.
The GLA, GLC, and GLSD are not opposed to mining. They are concerned about mining here—one farm field away from Mitchell Glen and Powell Springs—two geologic gems in Green Lake County, Wisconsin, with unique flora and fauna, iconic groundwater-fed springs, and a 40-foot waterfall. These are ecologically sensitive areas that are highly affected by surface water and groundwater modifications.
These two springs flow into Green Lake’s only trout streams, Dakin Creek and White Creek. In recent years, the Green Lake Association has worked with the WDNR, Patagonia, and other partners to re-establish a brook trout population in Dakin Creek that has been missing for 70 years. Brook trout need clean, cool water to survive, and this could be jeopardized should the mine proceed. Ultimately, Dakin and White creeks flow into Green Lake, whose overall water quality is affected by what happens in its upstream tributaries.
Because mining operations at this location have the potential to degrade water quality—not only for neighboring water resources, but for Green Lake as a whole—the three entities are asking for a fair, thorough review in order to not sacrifice short-term gains for permanent damage to these tremendous ecological assets. Useful studies to assess the environmental impact of the mine could include impacts to local groundwater and surface water quality, potential reductions to groundwater quantity that would affect springs and drinking water wells, potential changes to water temperature in the streams, and the stability of the limestone bluffs of Mitchell Glen to withstand blasting impacts.
By making this appeal, the GLA, GLC, and GLSD are hoping to allow time for the proper studies to be undertaken before a final decision about the Skunk Hollow Mine is made.