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Conservation group suing Iowa DNR over proposed cattle confinement

Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 11:13 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A national conservation organization is suing the Iowa Department of Natural Resources over a proposed northeast Iowa cattle confinement.

The Iowa DNR approved Supreme Beef for a cattle confinement of more than 11,600 cattle animals near Bloody Run Creek. The Sierra Club is suing the DNR, saying the state agency violated its own rules when approving the nutrient management plans.

Sierra Club and Committee to Save Bloody Run member Larry Stone said field trips like MFL Mar-Mac’s bug hunting event at Bloody Run Creek could become a thing of the past if the cattle confinement happens.

“Heaven forbid if there was a catastrophe, there would be a lot of manure,” Stone said. “There’s a 39 million gallon lagoon, the manure would be stored in.”

It’s a worst-case scenario, but even if there weren’t a major spill, Sierra Club’s lawsuit said the Iowa DNR did not follow its own protocols allowing the confinement.

The DNR requires all feedlots with 1,000 or more animals to detail how it will manage manure. The form requires specifics on nitrogen and phosphorus. Those are chemicals that can hurt waterways.

“The Supreme Beef and DNR did not correctly figure how much nitrogen and phosphorus would be in that manure,” Stone said. “Also, that lagoon that the manure would be stored in is illegal from our perspective.”

“If we win the lawsuit, what will happen we expect is the court will tell the DNR they got it wrong,” Wally Taylor, Sierra Club’s attorney, said. “And they’ll have to go back and make sure the nutrient management plan is done correctly.”

Stone wants to protect water quality for these children and future generations.

“Watershed or Bloody Run Creek is a bad place for that many cattle,” Stone said.

A spokesperson with the DNR says they have no comment at this time.

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