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Legal victory

Saving Rare Wetlands

Meteor Timber, LLC obtained a permit from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to destroy pristine, forested wetlands in order to build a new industrial sand facility. Midwest Environmental Advocates challenged the permit on behalf of the Ho-Chunk Nation. Our legal action resulted in the invalidation of the permit after testimony revealed the permit had been granted by DNR managers over the objections of scientific experts within the agency.

Case Summary

In 2017, MEA filed a petition on behalf of the Ho-Chunk Nation challenging a wetland fill permit issued to Meteor Timber LLC for an industrial sand processing facility and rail project in Monroe County. Clean Wisconsin joined us in challenging the permit and requesting administrative review.

We argued that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) should have denied Meteor Timber’s application based upon inadequate guarantees against significant adverse impacts to the environment. The project would have destroyed irreplaceable white pine-red maple wetlands that serve as habitat for threatened and endangered species and provide critical ecosystem services like flood prevention.

Our challenge resulted in the invalidation of the permit after testimony revealed the permit had been granted by DNR managers over the objections of scientific experts within the agency.

MEA successfully defended that legal victory when Meteor Timber tried to persuade the DNR Secretary to reverse the independent administrative law judge’s decision. MEA and Clean Wisconsin were again successful in defending the decision when Meteor Timber subsequently sought judicial review in Monroe County Circuit Court and by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.

Meteor Timber subsequently petitioned the Wisconsin Supreme Court to hear the case, but the Court refused, a move that brought a successful conclusion to nearly five years of litigation. This was a significant victory for preserving irreplaceable natural resources and the integrity of our environmental laws.

Representative Conroy Greendeer, Jr.

Ho-Chunk Nation