On Saturday, Jan. 18, I was in Winona at a frac-sand summit. There were concerned citizens and university scientists talking about the health and environmental hazards surrounding frac-sand mining.

Then there was one gentleman from St. Paul, Mr. Don Arnosti, the Minnesota Audubon policy director, who had a concern which was new to me. I would say it had to do with economics. There is always much talk from industry telling about the economic advantages of frac-sand mining. The other side talks about air and water pollution and road damage among other aspects.

We do not think about the positive economic impact of birding. We see pictures in the paper of the hunter with his 12-point buck and someone holding up an eight-pound walleye. This is to indicate the importance of hunting and fishing in our area.

No one holds up a picture of a red-breasted nuthatch.

The Mississippi Flyway is the most used flyway on the North American continent, and birders come from all over the country to view the many species of birds in our area. The birders that enjoy our bird life are estimated to spend twice the amount that hunters and fishermen together spend.

The industry of frac-sand mining destroys habitat, resulting in decreased number and species of birds. That decreases the economic contributions that birders bring to our area.

Please contact your local officials and make them aware of this added damage frac-sand mining would do to our current economy.


Harvey Benson