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Paper trout cutouts bobbed above a crowd of about 30 people Tuesday morning outside of Winona City Hall, as a group that opposes the frac sand industry prepared to board a bus to the state Capitol.

The group, comprised of area residents and representatives from the Land Stewardship Project, traveled to St. Paul to voice their support for a measure that would require all frac sand mines to be located at least 1 mile away from any designated trout stream.

They’re particularly unhappy with state Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, who cast one of the key votes to keep the measure from moving out of committee.

Miller has said he would support a setback, but he prefers an approach that isn’t one-size-fits-all and instead relies on research of the southeast Minnesota region and where trout streams are located.

“I always appreciate hearing from constituents and I thank the group for taking time to visit me at the Capitol today,” Miller said in a statement Tuesday provided to the Daily News.

“I stand by my original decision because I’m hesitant to support a one-size-fits all approach, but I remain committed to working with our local governments to get this right.”

“Is it a great day to hold public officials accountable?” LSP rural organizer Doug Nopar asked the crowd in Winona before leaving on a St. Paul-bound bus. They cheered in response, and booed when Miller’s name was raised by subsequent speakers.

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Attendees signed an oversized postcard addressed to Miller, which expresses their dissatisfaction with his vote.

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“We are calling on you to start putting the well-being of the citizens of your district above frac sand special interests,” the postcard read.

Sen. Matt Schmit, DFL-Red Wing, introduced the legislation that would create such a setback, as well as ban frac sand mining within 25 feet of a water table. Schmit said he plans to re-introduce the proposal once the Senate’s game and fish bill heads to the floor this week.

Attendee Marilyn Frauenkron Bayer of Houston County said in an interview Tuesday afternoon that the group met with Schmit, Miller, Senate Majority leader Tom Bakk and other officials during their visit to the Capitol, and left letters for Gov. Mark Dayton asking for his support for a setback.

“We did have a great day at the Capitol,” she said.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Trout Unlimited have both voiced support for the setback. The organizations are worried about water pollution, but also about the potential for frac mining operations to raise the temperature of nearby streams, as a recent DNR study of a Fillmore County quarry found.

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(6) comments

Pickwick34

Troller- have you put your feet in a healthy trout stream? The substrate is coarse - made up of tiny rocks that range in size. The trout rely on this substrate to spawn and their food (small aquatic insects) rely on it to grow and persist. In areas of poor habitat quality you my find pools full of fine silt - the consequence of poor watershed management or land use. Good luck finding healthy trout in these pools.

mpjahm

This is so ridiculous. Using trout to stop frack sand mining. I wish these people would just be honest and say they are totally against the frack sand industry, and will use any means(trout streams) to stop it. I could understand and appreciate that. I mean, who can be against trout?? If they were really honest, they would ask Matt Schmidt to author a law to prohibit certain farming practices(herbicides, insecticides, fertilizers, plowing up and down hills, plowing through waterways, plowing over dikes, etc) in any trout stream watershed. That would really protect the trout, if that is really what they are after. Ever take a good look at any trout streams in the area after spring melt or a good rain? They run chocolate brown with soil. I am sure the trout love that. But you won't see Matt author a law like that,,,he would be out the door after one term, easily. Jeremy Miller is doing the right thing in helping to put the brakes to this thing.

Troller

I think everyone has missed the bigger story.

HEADLINE! "Thirty people turn out at state capitol to demonstrate they have no idea what the bed of area trout streams are made of."

SAND!

abob

Spending by trout anglers in the four state Driftless Area totals nearly $647 million, a conservative estimate according to Trout Unlimited economic impact study with the average angler spending $4,171.15 each year on trout fishing in the Driftless region. http://www.prestonmn.org/NTLC_Magazine_330.pdf

Emil

What kind of money does trout tourism bring to the area Lake?

LakeKab

I heard one of these idiots from St. Charles call trout fishing a "BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY" for SE Minnesota. Where does this FOOL get his information? I hope no one at the capital takes these fools seriously! I'm surprised they didn't use the "Do It For The Children!" cry.

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