My name is Paul Schillo and I live near Wrenshall in rural Carlton County with my wife Brenda and son Caleb. Like many of our friends and neighbors, we were surprised to receive a letter from Enbridge this summer indicating that our property was under consideration as an alternative oil pipeline route. We soon learned that our property was on their preferred route which quickly turned our world completely upside down. Brenda and I moved out to our property 17 years ago. The property had been a working dairy farm for many years prior to us purchasing it. We still maintain 80 acres of working farmland that is used by our neighbors to grow forage for their cattle operation. During the 17 years we have lived on our property, we have poured our heart and soul into improving the soil and woods as well as our house and buildings. We have planted trees, green cropped the land to improve the soil quality, and have invested and performed countless projects to improve our modest home.
Just like most Americans, we have worked to improve our own little piece of this world. I have always felt that while there are not many things you can control in this world, your house and land are one little item that you can control and improve in a meaningful way. Now, without warning, a huge corporation can potentially come in and use that very place that you have worked and saved for however they see fit. Since this proposal has happened, I have had many beautiful fall evenings to look around my property and reflect. I see a number of trees that are in the path of the pipeline that I received as seedlings from my father-in-law years ago. These are now beautiful pines. My father-in-law Harold is no longer with us having lost a battle with cancer way too early in his life. I see high bush cranberry plants that I purchased thru the Carlton County Soil and Water Conservation program that may be eliminated as well. These are items that I thought would be left as a legacy and not bulldozed down.
I have a deep emotional attachment to our land. Ever since I was a young boy spending time on my uncle’s wheat farm in western North Dakota, I have felt a strong pull to the land. Brenda and I have worked hard to pass this love of the land to our son Caleb. He enjoys fishing for brookies on Clear Creek as well as hunting in our woods for grouse and deer. Besides the effect on our land, the other issue that really bothers me is the ability of a large corporation to come in literally without warning and try and dictate how your land should be managed. So what are the options? We could simply take the NIMBY (not in my back yard) approach. We have taken another approach. I think that that the need for the Sandpiper Line could be debated along with America’s energy policy or a lack of one for many years to come. The position my family has taken along with many others is that the Soo Line Trail offers an alternative route for the Sandpiper Line. In my opinion, the reasons Enbridge has given for not utilizing the Soo Line are outweighed by the damage they will do to private land if they are given a new route. I hope for the sake of America, that the process that is in place to review the need and route of the pipeline is followed and that the small individual’s concerns are still valid and are listened to. It goes to the essential values of that this country was founded on. Thank you for the opportunity to tell our story.