Our Rome Saratoga Friendly group will highlight businesses who want to protect region from CAFOs: column

Proposed factory farm would have negative economic consequences

10:15 PM, Feb. 21, 2014  |  Comments
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We first came to Rome in 1984, when we bought an old trailer just off Lake Camelot. The clear lakes, beautiful trout streams, hunting, fishing and water sports drew us here, and the simple life in a natural rural environment has kept us here. We enjoyed our weekend get-away for many years, eventually finding our lakeside lot and building our retirement home where we live today. We are so fortunate to have this beautiful place to share with our friends, neighbors and family.

Over the past year, our communities have become aware of threats to our water quality and quantity from a proposed factory farm in Saratoga. The large number of high-capacity wells and the history of resulting water pollution throughout our state from these factory farms give us reason to be concerned. A growing body of scientific evidence shows the detrimental effects factory farms pose to our air, water and health.

Those who favor the creation of the new mega-farm say that it will create jobs in the region. And according to a limited, short-term view, they are right. But I would like to argue that in the long run, the farm will be disastrous to the local economy. In fact, even if we suspend the very important environmental concerns about such a large-scale farm, there are still persuasive economic reasons to oppose the farm.

There are 5,400 properties surrounding Lakes Arrowhead, Camelot and Sherwood in the town of Rome, not to mention the many properties along the east shore of Lake Petenwell in Rome and Saratoga. In addition, there are hundreds of properties along the 7 Mile and 10 Mile Creeks in the town of Saratoga. What we have in common is an area dedicated to recreation with class-A trout streams, beautiful lakes, the Wisconsin Trapshooters State Facility, Dyracuse ATV Park, the existing golf courses at Arrowhead, and the planned Sand Valley Golf Club in Rome. Area homes and businesses rely on clean water for their existence.

The full time residents and the visitors attracted to the area represent a great deal of business for the merchants in Rome, Saratoga, Nekoosa, Port Edwards, Grand Rapids and Wisconsin Rapids. It's business that is predicated on the recreational industry - a growing sector, and one that can add to the long-term health of the region's economy, but only if it is managed properly. If these lakes and streams are decimated, the millions in financial impact will be felt by property owners and business owners alike.

I know I am not the only one who feels this way. That's why I am involved in an effort to band together and have a common voice with other area residents to protect our homes and recreational environment. We're calling this new coalition Rome Saratoga Friendly.

We want to promote those business owners who see the value in an ongoing relationship with our Rome and Saratoga people and their visitors, and who agree that the proposed CAFO in Saratoga would be damaging to the recreational, real estate and residential environment in Rome and Saratoga.

We're just getting started, and we want to hear from more people who agree with us. Our goal is to increase awareness of our beautiful area and promote its preservation among all property owners and the businesses we support. We've ordered window decals for businesses and residents to show support, and have planned a formal launch in early spring when our seasonal residents return. We'll contact businesses, local organizations and residents to share the facts and invite them in. Many area businesses and residents have already joined.

Watch for decals on cars and on store windows of supportive businesses. They show unity in protecting our wells, lakes and streams and our vibrant recreational environment from the proposed CAFO. Leave a post on our new Facebook page: Rome Saratoga Friendly. If your favorite merchant is not listed as a Rome Saratoga Friendly business, ask why. Then contact us at romesaratoga@gmail.com to let us know if you think they should be added.

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