Iowa DNR director says she lacks authority to review 11,600-head cattle feedlot near trout stream


Donnelle Eller, Des Moines Register (IA)

Jun 3, 2021


The state's top environmental leader rejected a request to review a controversial animal feeding project in northeast Iowa that critics say threatens one of Iowa's outstanding waterways.


Kayla Lyon, Iowa's Department of Natural Resources director, said she lacks the authority to review the Supreme Beef project, an 11,600-head cattle operation near Monona in Clayton County.


The open-lot feeding operation sits near the headwaters of Bloody Run Creek, a cold- water trout stream that's among 34 waterways and lakes designated as Outstanding Iowa Waters.


Water flows from Beulah Falls in to Bloody Run Creek on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, at the Spook Cave campground in rural Clayton County. The creek is an important part of Spook Cave's business, essential to their cave tours, and owner Paul Rasmussen has concerns about what might happen to the creek after the construction of a 10,000-head cattle feedlot upstream.


The Sierra Club Iowa Chapter, representing nearly 50 individuals, state lawmakers and organizations, wrote to Lyon last week, asking her to order a departmental review of the Supreme Beef project under an administrative code rule that gives the director discretion to evaluate animal feeding operations in environmentally exceptional areas.


Lyon wrote to the Sierra Club that department attorneys and the Iowa attorney general's office advised her that the department would be "exceeding its authority" under state law..