Ok – there really wasn’t any Blair Amish Project; it just sounded funny as we where driving around the back roads looking for Amish and anything else of interest to shoot. Cyndie and I set aside some time to get out of the house and away from the grind for a few hours this last weekend. We set out course for Blair, WI to check out the Amish and the Big Sand Rush.
It is Beautiful country in and around Blair, WI. It is well within the driftless region and the hills just rolled on and on. Up and down and all around – from valley to valley we traveled on steep hills and sandy roads.
On this wonderfully balmy afternoon, a number of Amish children were ice skating on frozen ponds or even a puddle a the pasture. Their tidy farms were easy to spot. Mostly with a white, blue, green or grey roof. Nothing too flashy, as they were simple and very well maintained.
As our luck would have it and most often does, we stumbled on a few abandoned places along the way. We didn’t spend much time exploring as we wanted to explore the Blair area.
Big Sand is very much in the area, Badger Sand to be exact. The sand rush has been in full-swing in this area for some time now. This Amish community is not unlike the one in Augusta. Blair has a mammoth open-pit sand mining operation right in their back yards as well.
I spent some time on Badger’s website reading about their environmental health & Safety. They talk a great game about reclamation & environmental commitment; they even have some examples and they look great too. I can’t help but to feel extremely skeptical about it all. You can fill in the hole, make some grass grow and plant some trees, but what about the water shed? This huge open-pit mine has a lot of wet lands around it as well as a few streams. I hope for the sake of all in the area that live there and for those that enjoy its natural resources, that Badger Sand is for real where the environment is concerned. Hopefully those streams and wetlands don’t end up like those in Barron County at the hands of Great Northern Sand (GNS) plant in Dovre, WI. Their website speaks of their commitment to the environment as well. I like their community involvement link. GNS went out in the community and donated time rather than just cutting a check to the local school like High Crush did in Augusta. One is perhaps more tactful and the other more blatantly obvious, but all of it is an effort to win over the community. Sand is a very curious thing.
The nice day grew short of daylight in a hurry. The 40+ degree weather was a wonderful bonus considering the sub-zero forecast only hours out in front of us. The warm sunlight set the valleys aglow and cast some beautiful light. As soon as the sun set the temp plummeted 20 degrees in about half as many minutes. It was warm no more.