October 29, 2010

Dairy CAFO Threatens Historic Site of Japanese Internment Camp

Posted in CAFO, Minidoka Pilgrimage tagged , , , , at 2:47 pm by minidokapilgrimage

October 24, 2010

Dairy CAFO Threatens Historic Site of Japanese Internment Camp


By Kristen Ridley

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that prompted the American involvement in World War II, more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent, most of them American citizens, were rounded up from their homes and held in internment camps between 1942 and 1945. It’s a period of history that most Americans would probably like to forget. But of course, we can never afford to ignore the fact that this sort of thing can happen, that it happened here, and that, yes, even American citizens have had their rights thoroughly violated in times of national hysteria. Given the current venom being hurled at Hispanics and Muslims, it’s a history lesson that we would do well to remember. That’s why in 2001, theMinidoka Relocation Center in Idaho, the remains of one of 10 such camps, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and is now protected by the National Park Service.

Despite this protection, in 2007, the site was placed on the Preservation Nation’s list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Places. While the few acres of land itself is protected for future generations, the site is still not safe. Why? Because Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) ruin freaking everything!

In the fall of 2007, Big Sky Dairy applied for a permit to build a 13,000-cow CAFO just 1.2 miles away from the historic site. As anyone who has ever had the misfortune of being near a CAFO can tell you, the effects of one spread much, much further than the feedlot itself. Just over a mile away from this important piece of American history there will be a stinking cesspool of manure and chemical pollution 160 times more toxic than raw sewage. You can be sure that that pleasant smell will be wafting along the breeze to Minidoka, not to mention the contaminated water and soil. The roads surrounding a CAFO tend to become caked with mud and feces and backed up with trucks and traffic, too. The fact that the area is prone to dust storms just makes the potential contamination level exponentially worse.

Initially denied, the CAFO permit was narrowly approved upon judicial review. A preservation coalition called Friends of Minidoka appealed the decision in court, but unfortunately, that appeal was lost last month. Now the organization is preparing an appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court, and they think they have a strong case, but they need funds to do so. If you think that the ruination of this important National Monument is more important than the inconvenience of Big Sky Dairy having to find somewhere else to pollute, please do as I did and give what you can to the Friends of Minidoka legal defense fund. The industrial giants behind the big feedlots have a lot of money and a lot of power. It will take a broad coalition to stand up to them, but we can do it if we all step up.

Photo: The National Archives

Kristen Ridley is an artist, foodie, and aspiring grass farmer who earned her Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Southern California