Frac Sand’s Wild Refugees

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By Johanna Rupprecht, Land Stewardship Project

There’s a farm near the Jackson County, Wis., community of Hixton that is in the process of being destroyed by being turned into a frac sand mine. I would say it’s a least a couple of hundred acres. It’s at the intersection of Highway 95 and Green (but not for long!) Acres Road.

Turkeys at a frac sand mine site.

Turkeys search for food and cover on a farm being converted into a frac sand mine in Wisconsin’s Jackson County. Photo by Johanna Repprecht

Some excavation has begun, there are berms and fences up all over in what used to be cropland or pasture and I assume the mining will go all the way back into the wooded hills behind the farm. This is a few miles down the road from another mine that’s been in operation for a few years, the one I wrote about last year, which looks
worse every time I see it.

When my mom and I were driving home on a recent Sunday the night after my grandpa died, there was a flock of at least 25 wild turkeys wandering around on one of the berms at the new mine. They looked so lost and confused. It was unbelievably sad. I said to my mother, “What are they supposed to eat — sand?” It really brought home to me the total lack of a land ethic on the part of the people who are responsible for frac sand mining.

I thought of the harsh words my grandpa—a lifelong conservationist who instilled a deep love of the natural world in all his family—would have had for them if he had seen this, and I thought of southeastern Minnesota farmer Bob Christie’s words of disbelief at what the mining company that tried to buy his land was willing to write off as “overburden.”

The fact that there are people who just don’t care about anything or anyone that lives on the land, and don’t care what they destroy in the name of profits, is so hard for me to really wrap my mind around, but that’s what we’re up against.

Johanna Rupprecht is a Land Stewardship Project organizer based in southeastern Minnesota. She can be reached at 507-523-3366 or

2 Responses to “Frac Sand’s Wild Refugees”

  1. Steve Mills

    Thank you Johanna for your excellent article on the larger costs of frac sand mining. I shared the article with numerous friends, one friend who has wild turkeys in the metro area visiting her yard. We are all saddened by these habitat loss issues and want to encourage you to keep up the fight, there are many out there who need the information you provide. Habitat loss is the most relevant issue we conservationists face in my opinion, so your role is crucial in finding solutions. We appreciate it, don’t despair. We don’t have any options to pretend we can do nothing, our connection to the land is too strong. Small steps for now, hopefully wisdom will prevail.

  2. John

    Johanna, do you think that, given what we’re up against, we should make this sort of destruction illegal?


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