Dec 6, 2014

Citizen Ystad: CAFOs Threaten Tourism, Golf Resort and Tax Revenue

Proposed Massive Golden Sands Dairy,
 in Adams and Wood Counties, Wisconsin
"In centrally located Adams County, (property) values tumbled 20.3 percent, the most of any county in the state," according to a Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance report released in August. (Carlson, Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune.)

In Wood County, property values stayed flat.

Because tourism, recreation and lake homes are abundant in the region, the Taxpayers Alliance's report was troubling to area residents, many of whom blame the proposed massive Concentrated Agricultural Feeding Operation (CAFO) by the Wysocki corporation.

Even as construction of a proposed multi-course Sand Valley Golf Resort is proceeding (Lawder, Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune) and an area hotel is planned, existing CAFOs and the Wysocki CAFO would exceed the "carrying capacities" of the central sands to absorbs the 10s of millions of liquid cow manure, said Gordon Stevenson, former runoff management chief for the DNR (2001-2011), in an August interview here.

The public posture of Michael Keiser Jr. who is running point on the resort project is effectively let's see how one course does and decide how to proceed on that basis.

The threat to surface water and aquifers by CAFOs still has many in the area shaking their heads because they see the successful operation of Sand Valley and the proposed massive CAFO as mutually exclusive.

Put another way, residents fear that the 10s of millions of pathogen-laden liquid cow manure and liquid cow manure lagoons that would dot the region do not mix well with the proposed high-end golf resort.

An open letter to Gov. Scott Walker from Don Ystad, retired business consultant, resident of Rome and opponent of the Wysocki CAFO proposal follows.
Governor Walker,

Think about the recent reports of the E Coli poisoning of a visiting family in Door County just a few weeks ago and the negative effect on Door County tourism if this persists. The E Coli strain was tied to cow manure, not surprising since 30% of drinking water wells are unusable because of high nitrate levels in neighboring Kewaunee County where there are 15 dairy CAFOs. This is a dangerous trend for our tourism economy, not to mention the health and well being of our citizens and visitors. As a citizen of Rome facing the possibility of an 8,000 acre, 5,130 cow dairy CAFO right next door in Saratoga, I'm concerned for our future. As a community with a healthy and vibrant recreational tourism industry based around our existing lakes, Arrowhead golf courses, Tri-Norse ski jumping facility, Dyracuse ATV park, new Wisconsin Trapshooters state facility and now the Sand Valley Golf Resort, will we face the same future with drinking water wells polluted and our visitors sickened by agricultural runoff?

Coming from a dairy farming family, I support the reasonable growth of family farms. But Rome and neighboring Saratoga are population-dense, existing communities with a solid history of commerce as an established residential/recreational area providing revenue to Wisconsin's tourism industry. Adams County ranks 15th in tourism revenue in Wisconsin and the Rome/Saratoga area contributes $20 million annually to area businesses. The Town of Rome contributes nearly a third of the total tax revenue to Adams County. Allowing an 8,000 acre dairy CAFO to insert itself within this existing recreational community can only lead to our decline. Your intervention is needed to preserve these communities and allow tourism revenue to grow as Sand Valley Golf Resort attracts visitors from around the country.


Don Ystad

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