Wisconsin’s environmental protection agency has authorized a Georgia timber company to fill more than 16 acres of Monroe County wetlands in order to build a $65 million frac sand facility.Meteor Timber, one of the largest private landowners in Wisconsin, has proposed building a processing and loading facility along Interstate 94 near the town of Millston to dry and ship frac sand the company will mine from a nearby site it acquired in a 2014 purchase of nearly 50,000 acres.The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on Friday granted the company a permit allowing it to fill the wetlands, including about 13 acres of “pristine” and increasingly rare hardwood swamp. Meteor must still receive permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before filling any wetlands. The company must also apply for permits allowing incidental loss of threatened and endangered species during construction. Meteor must still receive permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before filling any wetlands. The company must also apply for permits allowing incidental loss of threatened and endangered species during construction.After the proposal first received media attention, Meteor proposed to restore and preserve more than 640 acres of other land — including more than 296 acres of existing wetlands.“Our company knows that sustainability is an important part of operating responsibly,” Mathis said. “We have worked hard to go above and beyond other projects by developing a historic plan to permanently preserve and restore high-quality wetlands on more than 600 acres. This effort merits support from those who want to see growth, economic development and preserve the environment – because our project accomplishes all three.” However, the DNR determined those mitigation efforts “are not likely to fully compensate” for what it calls “permanent and irreversible” secondary impacts from activity on the site and may not compensate for the direct loss of 13.4 acres of “exceptional quality” white pine and red maple swamp, which is considered an imperiled habitat.The agency also said the permit approval “may lead to increased applications to fill rare, sensitive and valuable wetland plant communities.”Geers said those and other findings bring into question whether the project can be legally approved under state and federal law.