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The Big Picture
Houston County News
The Big Picture is Small… and Local
A visionary approach to the future of Houston County
The Land and the Practical Economy
The economic life of Houston County has long been both fundamentally restricted and enriched by the topography of the County. The shape of the land, its deep ravines and wooded hillsides, still determines much of what happens here—and how it happens. Economically, the county is still primarily an agricultural county, but the farms are, in comparison to many farms elsewhere in the state, small, and again unlike many farms elsewhere, much of the land is wooded and rolling, even steep. So crops are more diversified—even if that mostly means corn and beans plus hay—than elsewhere, and there is more pasture, and hence, more livestock. Cattle, both dairy and beef, thrive, as do bison, elk, sheep, goats, ducks, etc.
Although agriculture may appear dominant more land is actually used in the production of timber than agricultural products. Again, the pattern of economic use demonstrates the focus of the county on small scale production with conservative timbering practices, rather than widespread extractive clear-cutting, predominating. The production of lumber and barrel staves, firewood, hardwood lumber for small-scale cabinet makers continues the pattern of small-scale economic activity which characterizes agriculture in the county.
Both agriculture and forestry function to enhance two other significant sources of economic activity in the county: 1) hunting and fishing and 2) recreation. As the county’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan (Adopted 8 December 1998) notes, conservative land use helps to preserve clean waters and healthy habitat for trout and other fish as well as turkeys and deer. It’s not just sportsmen/women who appreciate the mixed woods and open land here; many local people as well as visitors enjoy biking on the shaded paths through the woods along the Root River or riding the local horse trails, and in winter, the snowmobile trails through the varied landscape of the area. And in every season, people come here to enjoy the scenery, the clear waters, the clean air. Here, too, the topography of the county leads, secondarily, toward the campgrounds, inns, restaurants, B&Bs, and parks that dot the area.
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Wisconsin landscape
News & Information
In Bid Against Gas, Minnesota Regulators Say Solar Can Proceed
A proposed $250 million distributed solar project appears to have held its own in a Minnesota regulatory process that put it in competition with three natural gas options…
Source: Midwest Energy News, Dan Haugen, March 27, 2014
Time for a Mass Upheaval Against the Perpetrators of Global Destruction
A week after the most powerful "super typhoon" ever recorded pummeled the Philippines, killing thousands in a single province, and three weeks after the northern Chinese city of Harbin suffered a devastating "airpocalypse," suffocating the city with coal-plant pollution, government leaders beware! Although individual events like these cannot be attributed with absolute certainty to increased fossil fuel use and climate change, they are the type of disasters that, scientists tell us, will become a pervasive part of life on a planet being transformed by the massive consumption of carbon-based fuels. If, as is now the case, governments across the planet back an extension of the carbon age and ever increasing reliance on "unconventional" fossil fuels like tar sands and shale gas, we should all expect trouble. In fact, we should expect mass upheavals leading to a green energy revolution…
Source: AlterNet via Tom Dispatch, Michael T. Klare, November 17, 2013
From Sunset to New Dawn - Capitalists, not just greens, are now questioning how significant the benefits of shale gas and oil will be for America. The new sceptics are missing the big picture
IN A new book, “The Frackers”, Gregory Zuckerman says of the late George Mitchell, a pioneer of the technique of hydraulic fracturing to tap “unconventional” reserves of oil and gas, that “his impact eventually might even approach that of Henry Ford and Alexander Graham Bell.” Yet of late doubters have been making themselves heard too. In October Peter Voser said that one of his biggest regrets as boss of Shell is the $24 billion his firm has invested in North America’s shale beds…
Source: The Economist, November 16, 2013
Debunking the Renewables "Disinformation Campaign"
According to Fox Business reporter Shibani Joshi, renewables are successful in Germany and not in the U.S. because Germany has "got a lot more sun than we do." Sure, California might get sun now and then, Joshi conceded during her now-infamous flub, "but here on the East Coast, it's just not going to work." (She recanted the next day while adding new errors.)…
Source: Rocky Mountain Institute, Amory B. Lovins, July 31, 2013
 
Solar Report Stunner: Unsubsidized Global Solar Revolution
Deutsche Bank just released new report concluding that global solar market will become sustainable on its own terms by the end of 2014. Deutsche Bank forecasts a global solar market transition from subsidized to sustainable in 2014…
Source: Daily Kos, March 4, 2013
 
MPR Climate Cast: Minnesota #1 Fastest Warming State in Winter Since 1970
These days it seems like we are witnessing climate changes unfold right before our very eyes…
Source: MPR News: Climate Cast, Paul Huttner, March 1, 2013
 
CNN World Video: The Coming Water Wars?
Imagine a large body of water – about the size of the Dead Sea – simply disappearing. It sounds like a science fiction movie. But it’s not. It’s happening in real life – and we've only just found out…
Source: CNN World, Global Public Square, February 24, 2013
 
Obama's Possible Frack-Friendly Energy Plan a 'Nail in the Coffin' for Climate
Choice of MIT professor Ernest Moniz, known for championing gas fracking, as head of Department of Energy receives rebuke…
Source: Common Dreams, Jon Queally, February 22, 2013
 
Fracking Good for the Climate? What a Load of Hot Air
The fracking cheerleaders are misinformed. Drilling for natural gas has some disastrous environmental consequences. It will speed climate change, not help stave it off…
Source: New York Daily News, Robert Howarth, November 29, 2012
 
We Need to be a Voice for Our Children's Children
During the final Fillmore County Commissioners' public hearing on frac sand mining regulations, held on Thursday, Nov. 15, most issues raised concerned regulation details. Only a few questioned the overall wisdom of hydrofracture drilling and the sand mining that supports it. The following is one of those statements that did foresee harmful consequences our grandchildren will inherit…
Source: Republican Leader. Robert and Monica Hatch, November 21, 2012
 
Frack Fight—This Is What Democracy Looks Like
There’s a war going on that you know nothing about between a coalition of great powers and a small insurgent movement. It’s a secret war being waged in the shadows while you go about your everyday life…
Source: EcoWatch. Ellen Cantarow, November 19, 2012
 
A 'Win-Win' in the Wind: Mower County Generating 'Huge' Revenue
DEXTER — Ray Tucker has been studying wind energy for more than a decade. While prominent politicians have engaged in a spirited back-and-forth over the pros and cons, the longtime Mower County commissioner still can't come up with a single negative when put on the spot.…
Source: Rochester Post Bulletin, Brett Boese, October 18, 2012
 
In Race against Carbon Catastrophe, Solar Power is Making Strides
The world probably needs to get back to 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere if truly radical climate change is to be avoided. But we are going in the wrong direction fast…
Source: Informed Comment, Juan Cole, May 28, 2012
 
County Should Look at Other Energy Options
What kind of world do we want to live in and leave future generations? What’s our vision for the future?…
Source: Houston County News, Bryan Van Gorp, May 16, 2012
 
The XL Pipeline's Accidental Activist
Against anyone's expectations, including his own, Randy has become the face of local resistance to the Keystone XL pipeline, the massive project aimed at bringing oil from the tar-sands moonscape of Alberta, down through the heart of the American plains, to refineries on the Gulf coast of Texas…
Source: Reader Supported News, Charles P. Pierce, May 7, 2012
 
Global Corporations Undermining Democracy Worldwide
In a world where governments are increasingly subservient to global finance capital, multinationals are gaining ground in the fight against state regulations that aim to protect the environment, public health or social policies…
Source: Common Dreams, Isolda Agazzi, May 7, 2012
 
Germany Rejects Fracking
Germany has rejected the gas drilling practice known as fracking, Spiegel reports today…
Source: Common Dreams, May 7, 2012
 
Wind Turbine Creates Water From Thin Air
Wind turbines have long produced renewable energy but a French engineering firm has discovered another eco-purpose for the towering structures…
Source: CNN, Eoghan Macguire, April 30, 2012
 
Here’s What An ‘Extraction Economy’ Looks Like
J. Henry Fair is a photographer who snaps beautiful and unsettling images of industrial scars. I was recently turned onto this work, and stumbled upon a TED talk he gave last fall in Berlin on the impact of energy extraction on the environment…
Source: Think Progress, Stephen Lacey, April 3, 2012
 
Two Utilities Take Different Paths to the Top in Wind
Xcel Energy Inc., based in Minneapolis, says it has the most wind power on its system of any U.S. electric utility…
Source: Star Tribune, David Shaffer, March 31, 2012
 
Success! GM Stops Funding Climate Change Deniers
In February, Care2 reported on the discovery of leaked documents that exposed General Motors as a major donor to the Heartland Climate Institute, a notorious think-tank of climate deniers…
Source: Care2, Beth Buczynski, March 31, 2012
 
A Message From a Republican Meteorologist on Climate Change
I'm going to tell you something that my Republican friends are loath to admit out loud: climate change is real. I'm a moderate Republican, fiscally conservative; a fan of small government, accountability, self-empowerment and sound science. I am not a climate scientist. I'm a Penn State meteorologist, and the weather maps I'm staring at are making me very uncomfortable…
Source: Huffington Post, Paul Douglas, March 29, 2012
Related Videos
Bill Moyers Show: Sandra Steingraber - The Toxic Assault on Our Children -Biologist, mother and activist Sandra Steingraber discusses her fight against fracking and toxins contaminating our air, water and food.
Video: Ray Anderson on the business logic of sustainability: At his carpet company, Ray Anderson has increased sales and doubled profits while turning the traditional "take / make / waste" industrial system on its head. In a gentle, understated way, he shares a powerful vision for sustainable commerce... read more
>> view all videos
Groups With A Common Cause
Land Stewardship Project
The Land Stewardship Project wants more successful stewardship farmers raising both livestock and crops on the land.
Mountain Justice
Demanding abolition of MTR, steep slope strip mining and all other forms of surface mining for coal.
 
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