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Hendricks Mayor Protests Brookings County Dairy Near Oak Lake

At its October 7, 2014, meeting, the Brookings County Planning and Zoning Commission approved a conditional-use permit for local dairy man Michael Crinion to build a 3,999-head dairy. According to the permit request, the dairy would take up the northeast quarter at the intersection of 197th Street and 482nd Avenue, one mile west of the Oak Lake Field Station and a few miles west of Lake Hendricks, which straddles the South Dakota–Minnesota border. The land is owned by Jeff Mersbergen, Chris Mersbergen, and LC Olson LLP. The dairy would have three manure storage ponds, each holding over 2.2 million cubic feet of manure. Crinion's application includes agreements with landowners to spread that manure in farm fields mostly to the west.

Mayor Jay Nelson of Hendricks, Minnesota, would rather not have all that manure so close:

"A farm with 2500 dairy cattle is similar in waste load to a city of 411,000 people." [EPA 2004] The proposed dairy upstream of Lake Hendricks would have 3999 cows. Applying this EPA statistic, this dairy could have the pollution equivalent to a city of 657,435 people. The environmental costs of this dairy will be paid by other property owners. Yet the Brookings County government did not send our city official notice of this proposed dairy prior to the Planning and Zoning board hearing. It did not send the Lake Hendricks Improvement Association official notice. It did not send the Oaklake township board official notice. It appears some adjoining land owners to this property were not notified of the hearing while others were given less than 24 hours notice [Jay Nelson, post to "Help Save Lake Hendricks" Facebook page, 2014.10.17].

Mayor Nelson invites interested citizens to meet at 8 a.m. this morning at Hendricks Park to convoy to the Brookings County Commission meeting, where Mayor Nelson's concerns about the dairy are the 9:45 agenda item.

Mayor Nelson might want to seek counsel from South Dakota Rep. Stace Nelson, who effectively organized opposition to a larger Crinion dairy proposed for his backyard near Fulton three years ago. That Hanson County project went down in part because county commissioners broke rules on the issuance and extension of conditional-use permits.


  1. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.10.21

    Oh, say it ain't so Cory. An arm of government in South Dakota, doing something on the sly to the detriment of the citizens that it represents.

  2. qlz 2014.10.21

    Yes, it is a beautiful little lake, with Great blue herons, kingfishers, lots of ducks, wild turkeys, beavers, tons of turtles, etc. (As i recall from local lore, its odd shape, reminiscent of a dolphin, gave the local schools their mascot (Deubrook Dolphins).) SDSU has a field station on the south shore, and they do a lot of research there. There are, of course, potentially very adverse consequences for Oak Lake and other bodies of water in the surrounding area, including Lake Hendricks and Deer Creek (which joins Medary Creek farther south, then jointly flowing into the Big Sioux just south of Brookings). I do not know whether the County Commissioners gave the Oak Lake staff, or the DENR or the East Dakota Water District, the opportunity to review this permit request; but it would seem appropriate for them to have done so. The protected Topeka shiner is supposedly present in nearby Six Mile Creek; maybe it occurs in Deer Creek also.

  3. Paul Seamans 2014.10.21

    When DENR Sec. Steve Pirner spoke before the House Ag. Committee at last years legislature he bragged about how many CAFO's that the DENR had permitted. I don't recall him saying anything about what the DENR had done to protect our water.

  4. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.10.21

    Well Paul, that is because the corrupt bunch that has run our State for the past twelve years sees only one natural resource, money.

  5. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.10.22

    When I taught in the Deubrook Schools, White and Toronto, SD, in the late 70s, Lake Hendricks was next door. It was a nice lake for a summer swim and picnic. Planting a 4000 head dairy next to it would entirely ruin any recreational use of the lake. I hope they kill it.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.22

    The dairy is a factory; why not set it next to the other factories around Daktronics and Bel Brands right along I-29 by Brookings?

  7. qlz 2014.10.22

    Mr. Seamans, are any Dakota Rural Action folks in eastern SD, in the Oak Lake area, involved in trying to protect Oak Lake? would they be interested? Any other organizations or individuals who might have useful information on this issue?

  8. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.10.22

    The most atrocious factory farm is still Longview Farms 3500 sow baby pig factory at Marty SD. It would be horrible to have the lake where your lake cabin is located polluted by a dairy farm. But just imagine having a hog farm with 3500 sows just two miles out of your town. The day care for the town sits on the north edge of town the closest thing to the hog farm. The effluent is spread on the fields adjacent to the farm and the smell produced by that effluent and the mere presence of 3500 sows and their baby pigs is omnipresent. The effluent is then allowed to seep downhill into your town and on into the Missouri River.

    That farm by another out of state company of course was allowed in by the then governor Mike Rounds sending 31 highway patrol with their raised rifles to be used as a threat to the Native Americans who were protesting on the BIA highway leading into Marty.

    Imagine how you would feel with that ever present smell and pollution as well as the governor of your state, sticking up for an out of state company against your interests. Oh wait a minute, we already have that in our US Senate candidate sticking up for a foreign company against the interests of Western South Dakota.

  9. qlz 2014.10.22

    In going over the documentation submitted to the Planning and zoning board, the Brookings County Development Dept Authorization-of-Agent forms all have same handwriting (apparently Crinion), except for signatures (which appear to be individual and valid), although the form states that it certifies that the signatory is the property owner and “personally filled out the above information and certify its accuracy.” Minor point, of course, but maybe enough to get the board to reconsider for a while at least, while we go over the environmental issues more thoroughly?

  10. Paul Seamans 2014.10.22

    Hey qiz, Dakota Rural Action was recently involved in organizing people in Moody County in their fight against CAFO's. I believe that they had some good results. I haven't heard of anything on the Lake Hendricks situation. DRA's home office is in Brookings so they are probably aware of the issue.

  11. qlz 2014.10.22

    Thanks, just talked to them. VERY helpful.

  12. Eowyn 2014.10.23


    There is a meeting tomorrow, Friday, October 24th at 7pm at the Cedrics Restaurant on Main Street in Hendricks, MN.

    Please come!


  13. Eowyn 2014.10.23

    Opps, the meeting is Thursday, October 23th!!


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