Green Guide

Concerns arise over karst feature destroyed near Appleton

Posted April 15

— Officials and residents in Wisconsin say they're concerned about the consequences of an unauthorized dredging project that destroyed a karst feature on farmland just outside of Appleton.

The excavation caused a navigable stream to disappear into the karst feature, an opening in the ground caused by the dissolution of bedrock. Greenville resident John Julius says this has the potential to affect the well water of nearby residents, USA Today Network-Wisconsin (http://post.cr/2pf70hd ) reported.

Officials from Outagamie County and the state Department of Natural Resources say the damage to the karst feature is severe and perhaps irreparable.

"It appears that they obliterated it," said Tim Roach, Outagamie County zoning administrator.

DNR water management specialist Scott Koehnke says the responsible parties were ordered to stabilize the site with erosion controls and to prepare a restoration plan for the steam, the adjacent wetlands and the karst feature.

"I don't know that we can necessarily recreate a geologic feature like that," Koehnke said. "That's what we're struggling with."

It's unclear how much the restoration will cost. The town spent nearly $33,000 just on the temporary erosion controls the county and the DNR ordered.

"It's going to be hugely expensive to try to fix that," Roach said. "Will it come in under $100,000? I'm not sure."

Roach and Koehnke said the excavation was a shock because town plan designates the karst as a unique geologic feature of high importance. The town also passed a resolution in 2015 agreeing to protect the karst and disappearing stream from any detrimental effects from development.

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