The West Central Tribune reports in Conditional use permit approved for quarry in Big Stone County, Minn.:
The Big Stone County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a conditional use permit Tuesday for a controversial quarry project on the edge of the Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge.
The vote on Tuesday morning provides a conditional use permit to Strata Corporation of Grand Forks, N.D., to develop a 104-acre quarry on a 478-acre property in Ortonville Township.
The property consists of granite outcrops and pasture and is host to nine different species of rare and endangered plants.
The township and neighboring citizens have opposed the project. The township adopted a one-year moratorium on development in February to block the project.
Read the rest at the Tribune. The real breaking news is Tom Cherveny’s story about the ultimatum presented to Angus cattleman Clark Mastel and how Clark refused to betray his neighbors in Ortonville Township.
Clark’s courage in standing with his neighbors–ordinary citizens working with their township board to protect their property, their health and their future–had a price. The Tribune’s Cherveny tells the tale in Rancher loses lease after he refused to give up opposition to quarry plan:
A rancher who voiced opposition to plans by the Strata Corporation to develop a quarry in Big Stone County will not have the lease renewed for the land where he grazes his cattle.
Clark Mastel said he was informed Friday that his lease on a 478-acre property will not be renewed on June 1 after he refused to sign a letter presented to him by the company.
Strata Corporation of Grand Forks, N.D., intends to develop a quarry on a portion of the site.
The letter he was asked to sign states that he made a “serious mistake’’ by opposing the project and that he withdraws his opposition. It also states that the company offered to work with him so that he could continue to graze the land he rents and that he apologizes for any problems he may have caused.
Mastel said he told Strata project manager Bill LaFond that he could not change what he said or how he feels about the proposed quarry. He also said the company never contacted him or offered to work with him.
“So they had the landowner basically evict me,’’ said Mastel when reached while feeding his cattle on Tuesday. . . .
Mastel said he has no regrets. The letter had nothing in it assuring him that he would be able to keep his lease anyway, he said.
“Having them give me the ultimatum and the way they did it, they wanted me to grovel to them and beg so we could stay.’
“I never thought that being proud and standing up for what you believe is wrong, and I never will,’’ said Mastel.
We applaud Clark’s integrity in refusing to sign. To ask–demand!–that a man sell out his family, his son’s future on the ranch, his entire community and his own good word for a one-year extension on a lease is wrong.