Sparky’s Story

Polyphemus moth Antheraea polyphemus Skogstjarna Carlton Co MN IMG_7850

My name is Mark “Sparky” Stensaas, a Carlton County resident and landowner along the proposed Enbridge Sandpiper Pipeline corridor. I would like to go on record as opposing the current routing of the pipeline. I support a southern Soo Line alternative.

I invite everyone who reads this to close your eyes and imagine the place in your life that is the most special to you…a place of peace, good memories, solace …maybe a cabin, a park, your home. Now imagine it all being bulldozed away by a big corporation without any input from you or consideration of your property rights. How would that make you feel?

Sparky (5)

Why I am opposed to the Pipeline (on a Personal Level)

Enbridge has placed stakes along the north end of my 5 acres marked “proposed.” They have also marked the underground power feed that goes to our house. Assuming the line is placed here (south of the Northern Natural Gas line) and a 50’ corridor is cleared, I WOULD LOSE MY GARAGE, GARDEN, WOODS and BUFFER STRIP TO THE NORTH. COULD I LOSE MY HOME TOO?? (My neighbors lost their “retirement dream home” during the last pipeline put in along County Road 4 a few years ago when Enbridge gave them no choice but to sell out.)

Cosmos Skogstjarna Carlton Co MN

Enbridge continues to be very secretive about the pipeline route, promising to send me a map but never following through. I’ve only received vague assurances that Enbridge “must be looking at putting the pipeline north of the Northern Natural Gas line since you haven’t been contacted.” Not very reassuring.

Northern Natural Gas corridor
Northern Natural Gas corridor

To Enbridge we are just a tiny mark on a map…To me, my land is who I am.

—This tiny 5 acre parcel is my heart and soul…a refuge for my family that I’ve built from nothing over the last 20 years.

Skogstjarna bench

—I bought this land when I was in my 20s from money I earned as a stunt man in the Walt Disney movie, Iron Will. The first big thing I ever purchased and it became the center of who I am today.

—I moved out here and built a tiny cabin back in the woods after my best friend and roommate in Duluth committed suicide. It was a place of healing for me. I lived in the cabin without running water for 14 years.

—I planted and transplanted many of the trees in the path of the pipeline. Some are 35 to 40 feet tall now. A couple Tamaracks I planted when my youngest son Bjorn was born may also be in the firing line.

Sparky Birk Bjorn winter Skogstjarna IMG_4545

—As a nature photographer/publisher, I have taken thousands of bird, mammal and insect photos in the area of our lawn/woods to be affected. Many of them have been published in my books. All this habitat would be destroyed. THIS LAND IS IMPORTANT TO MY BUSINESSES. In fact, my latest blog post was about our garden.

07-Best2012 Ruby-throated Hummingbird female and Liatris Skogstjarna Carlton Co MN IMG_0064370

—In 2006 I got married and we had all our friends and family out to celebrate at our land, playing games on the lawn, grilling out, and even holding the dinner in the decorated garage. The garage and lawn would be leveled if the pipeline goes through as marked.

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—I built a garden for my girlfriend here…that girlfriend became my fiancé, then my wife, and now mother to our two small boys. The garden is still there. It is a refuge for Bridget. It would be bulldozed into oblivion if the pipeline goes through as marked. And we have no other flat areas where a garden could be made.

garden Skogstjarna Carlton Co

—We built the house in 2008…I designed it with help from my father-in-law (who has since passed away). We moved in and got the hot water running the day before my oldest son Birk was born.

garden vegetables Skogstjarna

—Ironically the garage that is in jeopardy, is where we plan to put our solar panels in the future…Lessening our dependency on oil and gas. It is the only good southern exposure on our land. We built the house to be super energy efficient too. We heat mainly with wood.

Why I am opposed to the Pipeline (on a Macro Level)

—This pipeline will carry “dirty oil” —crude oil from fracking of the Bakken Shale Field in North Dakota. North Dakota is fighting federal oversight and regulations to the fracking process. We have no idea what fracking shale will do to groundwater…nor what the stored waste water will do to the underground environment.

—Will this oil be for domestic use as touted? Enbridge is likely looking at exporting oil to emerging markets in Asia in the future.

—The Murphy Oil Refinery in Superior will have to increase capacity to 8x its existing capacity (including the increased flow in the Alberta Clipper). This will take huge amounts of energy and Lake Superior water.

—Spills? Can Carlton County afford the possibility of oil spills to private citizens, streams, rivers, etc. Enbridge has had multiple spills in the last decade, including some devastating ones such as the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.

—On a more personal note…Teddy Roosevelt National Park is on the south edge of the Bakken Shale Field. It is one of my favorite places in the country for solitude and photography…But now I won’t even go to the North Unit of the park…Non-stop trucks, traffic jams and oil fields mar the experience.

Submitted respectfully,

Mark “Sparky” Stensaas

Sparky (4)

sparkystensaas@hotmail.com

www.ThePhotoNaturalist.com

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