116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
A Polk County judge has ruled environmental groups may continue with a lawsuit against the Iowa Department of Natural Resources over the approval of an 11,600-head cattle feedlot in the watershed of a popular trout stream in northeast Iowa.
District Court Judge Michael Huppert on Monday denied the state’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit the Sierra Club of Iowa filed in September against the DNR and Supreme Beef, the operator of the feedlot near Monona.
“Sierra Club has asserted sufficient facts for both legal standing and injury in fact,” Huppert wrote.
The lawsuit says the DNR’s approval of Supreme Beef’s nutrient management plan last spring was based on faulty data provided by the company and that the facility will produce far more manure than is claimed.
The feedlot is in karst terrain, which has porous soil that allows contaminants to rapidly flow to groundwater or nearby creeks and lakes. Any manure spills or overapplication of manure to nearby farm fields may endanger Bloody Run Creek, a trout stream considered an “Outstanding Iowa Water,” the suit states.
Sierra Club is asking the DNR to reverse its decision on the feedlot.
“It is clear the DNR is trying every procedural trick to avoid a hearing on the merits of this case,” Sierra Club attorney Wally Taylor said in a prepared statement. “But that is not working. DNR will have to explain why it violated its own rules in approving the nutrient management plan for Supreme Beef.”
Huppert also ruled Trout Unlimited may intervene in support of the Sierra Club in the lawsuit. The state had tried to bar the group’s involvement.
The Iowa Council of Trout Unlimited and 12 other groups and individuals partnered with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation to purchase land to provide more access to the trout stream. That land was transferred to the DNR to expand the Bloody Run Wildlife Management Area.
Trout Unlimited fears excess nitrogen and phosphorus from manure will damage naturally reproducing brown trout as well as stocked brook and rainbow trout in Bloody Run.
The DNR and Supreme Beef have 10 days to file an answer to Huppert’s rulings.
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