On Earth Day we can celebrate one local success story and work together to ensure a second. First, Lora Friest, director of the Northeast Iowa Resource, Conservation and Development, in a recent presentation showed how careful data collection, analysis and remediation work in the Upper Iowa watershed tributaries over the past 13 years has begun to decrease pollution.

Friest noted the previous 20-year water-testing efforts documented a steady increase in nutrient levels prior to the RC&D stepping in to help. Formerly, only one tributary had natural reproduction of brown trout. Today, after 13 years of working with landowners along the watershed, helping them institute evidence-based changes, and raising public awareness of how the karst topography/hydrology functions, five Upper Iowa tributaries are healthier with brown trout reproducing naturally. Scientific process, consistent follow through and cooperation work for the good of all.

Secondly, the Winneshiek County Protectors are applying these same principles to the frac sand mining issue: gathering data, learning from the experience of other states and communities and informing the public of its potential consequences. Such work on the part of committed citizens is of inestimable value. It represents democratic process at its best. And it takes time. We must have a two-year moratorium on frac sand mining to establish ordinances that will safeguard our ecosystems, our economy, our health and our quality of life. Haste is the enemy.

Julie Fischer,

Decorah