Environment | Law | Opinion

Mary Pember: Bill would bar tribal activists from public mine site





Mary Annette Pember reports on Wisconsin Senate Bill 278, which would bar tribal members from entering public lands that are being used for a controversial mine:
Wisconsin State Republican Senators presented a bill specifically allowing Gogebic Taconite (GTAC) to bar citizen access to the company’s mining site located on public land.

GTAC is working to create a 4.5-mile long open pit iron ore mine in Northern Wisconsin in the Penokee Hills. Tribes and opponents claim that the mine, which would be located on the Great Northern Divide, would cause significant environmental pollution and damage to the Bad River watershed. The watershed drains into the Bad River tribe’s traditional wild rice sloughs and into Lake Superior.

Senators Tom Tiffany and Glenn Grothman introduced the bill into the legislature on Friday, August 30. State Bill 278 would exempt iron ore mining companies from allowing public access to the forest that is part of Wisconsin’s Managed Forest Land. By participating in the program, land owners are exempt from paying property tax but must comply with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) rules allowing public access to lands for hunting, fishing, hiking, sight-seeing and cross-country skiing. The proposed mine is located on Managed Forest Land (MFL). The bill not only allows GTAC to pay lowered fees associated with MFL but would also allow the DNR and the mining company to enter into an agreement to allow public recreational activities on any or all of the land.

Get the Story:
Mary Annette Pember: Republican Favoritism of GTAC Gets Public Comment Session (Indian Country Today 9/3)