I live in the township of Byron outside of Oakdale, unfortunately right down the road from the sand cleaning operation. There is also another operation close by on County N, right across from a field that has been a stopping place for Whooping Cranes for past years. In November of 2010 I was able to study a flock of nine Whooping Cranes, as they fed, danced, and called to one another – a stunning thing to see and hear!
As I observed them, I noticed that the dump trucks, constantly coming and going, were making the cranes very nervous. They wandered further and further into the middle of the field, away from the road, until they were so distressed by the rumbling that they finally flew off and took refuge in the middle of a cranberry bog operation opposite the field.
The sand mines were starting to take their toll.
Last year I waited for the Whooping Cranes to arrive, as I had heard from locals that they returned every year during the fall migration and as an amateur Ornithologist, I was eager to observe and photograph them. I waited and watched until I knew that they would all be gone on their way to a warmer climate. The only Whooping Cranes I saw in the area was one that flew over my house with a small flock of Sandhill Cranes, and one lone Whooping Crane flying directly over the sand mine itself.
They never returned this year, either.
Not only has the mine succeeded in running off the endangered cranes, but also the migrating swans, for they never showed up again. Not to mention the condition of the roads wherever the dump trucks happen to hit the brakes. Hazardous to both humans and animals, I think there need to be some rules set in place for these operations.
There have been many meetings, discussing the mines in the area and many people wanting to shut them down for various reasons. To me, as a conservationist and creationist, I believe that we should take care of the animals; and especially those in danger of becoming extinct one day.