Cumberland, LLC refiles CAFO application

The latest site mapping of the proposed Cumberland, LLC swine CAFO shows the DNR areas of concern regarding wetlands impacts, and general site information.

The ball is back in the court of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) regarding a highly controversial concentrated agricultural feeding operation (CAFO) proposed for rural Tarde Lake by the Cumberland, LLC group. The proposed 26,350-head hog operation was initially denied by the DNR, citing wetlands concerns in earl August. 

Not surprisingly, the Cumberland LLC group has refiled their permit application with the DNR, apparently addressing previous wetland concerns. 

The initial rejection put a temporary pause on their CAFO plans for just off State Highway 48 in the Town of Trade Lake on the Melin property.

The proposed CAFO has fueled large-scale protests and led to the creation of municipal partnerships on creating language and legal structures to limit or control the operations, in spite of a lack of general zoning laws to limit such ventures outright. 

The August DNR rejection letter went to applicant Jeff Sauer of Thorp, citing state administrative codes and limits for manure storage in the rejection.

“As a result of the artificial wetland decision, alternative wetland permitting options need to be explored based on anticipated wetland disturbances with the submitted proposed site layout,” the letter stated. “Due to the potential for significant site design changes, it is the Department’s policy to not approve plans and specifications until wetland permitting decisions are finalized.”

The state made it clear to Sauer and the Cumberland group that they could adjust the application, which they have done, after the DNR noted the need for “alternative wetland permitting options.” 

The renewed application includes mapping for wetlands, soil types, topographical information and more, with 12 different documents, in total.  

The renewed application includes results from an apparent Aug. 12 visit with the DNR on the property, and the Tetra Tech Engineering report cited delineation points on the site map, some of which appear to undercut the DNR objections.

“For site development purposes, Wetland’s 1 and 2 can be avoided with an appropriate buffer along the agricultural field is maintained in areas where the wetland encroaches on the agricultural field. Appropriate wetland permits and authorizations will need to be obtained if impacts to the wetlands will occur,” the Tetra Tech narrative stated.

The application narrative also pointed out that several sits of concern as wetlands maybe were not wetlands, although it is unclear if that is an opinion or a clarification to the initial DNR objection. To that point, it ap los appears that the consulting group concludes that several areas defined as being wetlands are no longer as much, cited in their findings: “The healthy growth of Sorghum biocolor indicates this area is no longer a wetland.”

Further on, the implication that some of the affected land is “no longer” a true wetland is noted in a summary: “Wetland soil criteria have been met, but the indicators are likely a relic previous to farming.” 

People who have been fighting the CAFO issue have urged residents to contact the DNR and point out the recent drought conditions may have affected the current application and its true relevance, as well as the validity of the Tetra Tech report, although true review or comments were not available at press time. 

The adjusted CAFO application is sure to garner several comments from affected residents and the groups involved in trying to regulate or eliminate the Cumberland LLC proposal. 

The proposal review process has no official timeline for review, but we will seek comments on the latest application in the coming weeks, as elected officials and residents review the report.