116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Bloody Run Creek near Monona in Clayton County is designated among a small number of “Outstanding Iowa Waters” with exceptional water quality. That could change unless the Department of Natural Resources rethinks and retracts its permission to build a 11,600-head cattle feedlot in its small watershed.
The DNR approved Supreme Beef’s manure management plan in April, despite unanswered questions about the plan and what environmental groups say are major flaws. Manure from the feedlot and over-applied to nearby farm ground is a threat to the creek, which runs through porous karst terrain.
So far, the DNR has ignored public outcry over its decision. This week dozens of groups representing environmental, recreational and agricultural interests, individuals and several Democratic state lawmakers asked DNR Director Kayla Lyon to veto the plan’s approval.
Lyon would be wise to do so, although given the department’s past insistence to push the project through, that seems unlikely. A lawsuit may be the next development in the battle of Bloody Run Creek.
Already, the feedlot plan smells. The Gazette’s Erin Jordan reported this month that state Sen. Dan Zumbach, R-Ryan, contacted Lyon on behalf of Supreme Beef co-owner Jared Walz, his son-in-law, while the manure plan was still under review. That plan was made by Twin Lakes Environmental Services, co-owned by Becky Sexton and her husband, state Rep. Mike Sexton, R-Rockwell City.
The DNR insists it followed the “rules of the state,” and these political links played no part. That’s difficult to believe, although the rules of the state are generally favorable to building large livestock operations just about anywhere, regardless of local opposition or environmental consequences. Not even outstanding waters are protected.
The rules should change in ways that strike a far better balance between the needs of the livestock industry and the need to protect the natural resources that belong to all of us. But the Republican-controlled Legislature has shown no interest. And Gov. Kim Reynolds is following the lead of large livestock operators who fill her campaign account with donations.
If Lyon refuses to protect Bloody Run Creek, we hope the courts step in to do so. And Iowans should consider if they want to continue to be governed by leaders who use their influence to promote environmental degradation but have no interest in promoting the common good.
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