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Bad River Watershed Association hosts “Wisconsin’s Mining Standoff”

Standing room only at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center for the screening of 371 Production's "Wisconsin Mining Standoff." Photo: Bobbi Rongstad

Standing room only at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center for the screening of 371 Production’s “Wisconsin Mining Standoff.” Photo: Bobbi Rongstad

On July 24, 2014, the Bad River Watershed Association hosted a screening of 371 Production’s Wisconsin’s Mining Standoff at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center. The film is running on Al Jazeera America, and tells the story of Gogebic Taconite’s invasion of the Penokee Hills with the intention of installing a 22-mile open-pit mountaintop removal iron ore mine at the center of the Bad River Watershed. The event had standing room only.

After the film, a panel discussion was held and included people who have been instrumental in standing up to protect the water. Topics included the hydrology of the Bad River Watershed, recent EPA ruling in Bristol Bay, GTAC, recent legislation, and how we can continue to stand united in defense of the water by writing letters of support for the Chippewa Federation at their August 21, 2104 meeting with the EPA. Audience members asked informed questions and got straight answers.

Photo: Bobbi Rongstad

Photo: Bobbi Rongstad

Panel members included Sen. Bob Jauch (D-25), Chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Mike Wiggins Jr., Ashland County Board Chair Pete Russo, Ashland County Board member Charles Ortman, 371 Productions producer Devon Cupery, and Tracy Hames, executive director of Wisconsin Wetlands Association. The discussion was facilitated by Allie Raven, Bad River Tribal Member and BRWA Mining Impact Committee member.

Watch the entire informative discussion below.

 

 

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ACTION ALERT: Send Letters of Support to Stop Mining in the Penokees

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Photo: Rebecca Kemble

On August 21, 2014, the six tribes of Wisconsin’s Chippewa Federation will meet with the Environmental Protection Agency officials to urge them to stop mining activity in the Penokee Hills. Tribal leaders sent a letter last May requesting the meeting and asking the EPA to invoke a section of the Clean Water Act in order to prevent the devastation of a proposed 22-mile open pit mountaintop removal iron ore mine from destroying the Bad River watershed:

“CWA§404(c) authorizes the EPA to restrict, prohibit, deny, or withdraw the use of an area for the disposal of dredged or fill material, including mining wastes, when it is determined that discharge will have unacceptable adverse effects on fisheries, wildlife, shellfish beds, municipal water supplies, or recreational areas.”

We need your help in standing united in defense of the life-supporting waters of the Bad River Watershed. Let’s send a clear message to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in support of initiating the 404c Process.

Use this form to tell the EPA how mining discharge would affect you:

EPA Letter Campaign

Using a copy of the pre-addressed letter, please sign and add a brief statement based on your own experience that tells how you/your family/your business would be affected.

The entire stack of completed letters will be presented to the EPA on August 21, so please add your personal message, sign it, and either email your online version to:

CommDir@badriver-nsn.gov
(715) 682-7107 ext. 1531

Or mail hard copy to:
Mark Rolo
Bad River Legal 
Department
PO Box 39
Odanah, WI 54861.

We are asking that you include additional contact information so we can contact you for follow-up activities.

Here are a few points to help get you started:

• I am a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa…

• My family has lived/conducted spiritual practices/farmed/harvested wild rice/hunted/fished/hiked/in the Bad River Watershed area for — generations…

• I live (fish, hunt, gather, hike, bird watch, kayak, canoe…) in/my business is located in/ the area drained by the Bad River Watershed…

Mining waste discharge from GTAC’s proposed taconite mine in the Penokee Hills will disperse known harmful contaminants throughout the water-rich environment of the Bad River Watershed from the Bad River’s headwaters in the Penokee Range to its endpoints throughout the western Lake Superior Basin, thereby adversely affecting /the health and well-being of our human, plant and animal communities for years to come/ my community’s drinking water/the plants and animals I depend on for subsistence/the vitality of our fish and other aquatic species/our wild and unspoiled natural recreational areas/…

You can also find more info on the website protectpenokeehills.org.

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Top: The Penokee Hills now. Bottom: What the Penokee Hills would look like if a mine was allowed to be built.

 

Edith Leoso

Citizens Successfully Challenge Mining Laws

February 21, 2014 by Rebecca Kemble

On February 16, 2014 two groups set out from opposite directions on Highway 77 to demonstrate their opposition to a law written by and passed for GTac that prohibits public access to managed forest land around mining activity sites. Nearly 100 people marched to the Moore Park Siding for a press conference, and several dozen breached the “Forbidden Zone” to enjoy the gorgeous, sparkling winter day in the Penokee Hills.

There were no arrests and no visible presence of law enforcement officials.

Due to bridge restrictions in Mellen, GTac is being forced to use a longer route through the Bad River Reservation.

GTac Bulk Sample Trucks Routed Through Bad River Reservation

GTac truck hauling bulk sample rock out of Moore Park Road. Photo: Pete Rasmussen

GTac truck hauling bulk sample rock out of Moore Park Road. Photo: Pete Rasmussen

Due to bridge restrictions in the town of Mellen, Gogebic Taconite (GTac) is routing their trucks carrying bulk sample rock through the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Reservation.

The route of the trucks hauling the samples is from Moore Park Road, east into Hurley on Highway 77, north on 51 and then to Highway 2, back west across the Bad River Reservation, and through Ashland on their way to Minnesota. The loads can’t travel through the shorter, more cost-effective route through Mellen because of a bridge restriction in the center of town.

Controversy continues to follow GTac, as asbestiform minerals have been found and confirmed at several bulk sample sites by Dr. Tom Fitz, geologist from Northland College. Asbestiform particles are responsible for mesothelioma, an incurable lung disease common around iron ore mines. GTac loads stand to spread the airborne particles along the route.

Due to bridge restrictions in Mellen, GTac is being forced to use a longer route through the Bad River Reservation.

Due to bridge restrictions in Mellen, GTac is being forced to use a longer route through the Bad River Reservation.

In an interview last October with WPR, Bad River Chair Mike Wiggins Jr. accused GTac of covering up the presence of the dangerous mineral. “A cover-up of asbestos [that] geologists and children could walk in there and see with the naked eye,” he said. “[It] is such a compelling, premeditation for disaster, a disaster that would befall the Bad River Reservation and non-tribal people of the Bad River Watershed. It’s a deal breaker. Explode an asbestos rock that Tom Fitz has found with the highest level of asbestos he’s ever seen in some of those rocks and tell me how that’s creating the circle of life. I’ll say this: It’s recreating the circle of life by causing death.”

Wiggins noted that Bad River wardens briefly detained one of the nine trucks that passed through the reservation yesterday.

Meanwhile, about 100 concerned citizens gathered Sunday at the entrance to one of the bulk sample sites to demonstrate support of clean air, clean water and the new mining laws. At least 20 people crossed over into the “forbidden zone” that the latest in GTac-bought legislation created around the bulk sample sites to prevent the public from observing their activities.