We recently found out that an 8-barn poultry CAFO is proposed to be put up less than 1500 feet from the Wabash Trace Nature Trail, between Margaritaville and Mineola. The intended placement of the buildings, although to all appearances legal, were kept very hushed from the public. The many neighbors and community as a whole is united in opposition to this facility at this location.
We have many concerns about how this would affect businesses along the trail, our users, and by virtue the trail itself. Small businesses in rural communities are constantly struggling to find their niche just so they can keep their doors open - for those in Mineola, Silver City, Malvern, Shenandoah and Imogene, their niche is the Wabash Trace. This facility, so close to the Wabash Trace, would drive away customers. While it is a huge portion of trail users, we aren't just talking the Omaha metro area. We see trail users from across the nation and even internationally. As travelers try to visit trails in all 50 states, or are making a cross-country journey, the Wabash Trace is consistently on their list. This section, in particular, is on the nationwide American Discovery Trail and the Iowa DOT's Lewis and Clark Today Route. The most traveled portion of this 63-mile long trail is between Council Bluffs and Mineola, and would go right by this proposed facility. The Thursday Night Taco Ride has hundreds to thousands of cyclists each week, April through October. The Wabash Trace depends upon the donations and trail pass fees from these riders to fund the maintenance of the entire trail. If those attendance numbers drop off, and therefore our income, we will have a very hard time maintaining the trail.
While we expect the biggest hit to be to the local/Omaha metro traffic, those traveling from far away may not make other plans or even hear about the effects of the trailside CAFO. However, when they go by it will impact their perceptions about Iowa as a clean, responsible place to visit and live. With IEDA and the Iowa Tourism Office's major focus on making Iowa a place where people first want to visit, then convincing them that it would be a great place to live, work or start a business, I don't think that this is the type of operation that we want near any of our trails - especially since the trails are a big part of this new campaign.
The Wabash Trace is not simply a 'recreational trail' which people pass through on. It is a linear park, with many benches that are used as resting areas for those recreating, exercising and socializing on the trail. In addition to the 'official' rest areas designated by benches, bridges are a popular site for people to gather in both small and large groups, in organized events and impromptu walks or rides. Camping and picnicking are also allowed anywhere on the trail. We are trying to prove to the DNR that the Wabash Trace corridor is an area of congregation for hundreds of trail users - not only at Margaritaville but at any location along the trail. The nearest bench site is only 1452 feet from the location of these facilities.
While it narrowly passed the Master Matrix, we thank the Pottawattamie County Board of Supervisors for recommending that the DNR deny the permit because it doesn't fit in with their planned development for that area, less than 2 miles from Council Bluffs city limits. It is their intent to appeal, if necessary. Please get involved and voice your opposition to this proposed CAFO. A petition - which is simple and quick - can be found online at https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/oppose-mike-clifton-poultry, and if you have time please send your concerns to your elected officials at all levels, the Iowa DNR Director, Kayla Lyons, and Governor Kim Reynolds. We will be happy to provide a list of email addresses for you upon request. A Facebook Group has been started in opposition to this facility - click here to join it.
Thanks for your help!