Flickr user Carol Mitchell’s strikingly beautiful yet ominously disturbing photographs may help raise awareness of the impact of frac sand mining in Wisconsin. Mitchell took a series of eight images on October 7th, 2012, southeast of Augusta in western Wisconsin – traditional farm country that’s looking oddly un-farmlike of late.
“While there is much in the news about the environmental impact at actual fracking sites,” explains Mitchell, “little attention has been paid to the environment(al) havoc caused by sand mining.” It’s safe to say that existing rules and regulations governing sand mining were drafted without any consideration of how widespread the practice would become.
Can one blame corporate sand miners from taking advantage of the current regulatory regime in order to make hay while the sun shines? In the meantime, those who actually DO make hay for a living may find doing so isn’t quite so easy when their former pastures have morphed from moo-scapes to moonscapes.
Although procedures are in place to restore removed topsoil to mined land, mine reclamation is always the final stage of a very long process very few farmers are able to survive financially solvent. On the whole, frac sand mining in Wisconsin could end up leaving a bad taste in our mouths… sorta like finding sand in one’s cheese. For more information on frac sand and sand mining in Wisconsin, visit the Wisconsin Geological & Natural History Survey website. (images via Carol Mitchell)