In a surprising about-face, the Bayfield County Board Tuesday night (1/29) overwhelmingly rejected what many people considered a pro-mining resolution. The problem is, it wasn't.
Even the resolution's author, Ken Jardine of Port Wing, voted against it. He says it was a misunderstanding. His resolution was designed to keep environmental safeguards in place. He says he's against rules supported by the mining industry, "The DNR already has rules in place, and (they're) completely bypassing them, ignoring them. And especially the environmental impact, that is damned important, especially in an area like that. That's where I was trying to promote and make aware of. It was misinterpreted."
About 200 people packed the county boardroom, almost all opposed the resolution. Included was a strong tribal presence with ceremonial drumming and dancing.
The vote was 11 against and just one in favor. Board Vice-Chairwoman Dee Kittleson of Washburn says she was impressed by the turn-out, "It was pretty moving, all the people who were testifying. It was very good."
But she says her mind was already made up, "I do not believe I would ever vote for mining in northern Wisconsin, period. Because of the great environmental impacts it would have on our area."
Jardine says he sponsored this resolution as a way to oppose the Republican iron ore mining bill. Now he says he may introduce another resolution. That would be to oppose the Republican legislation. He says he hasn't read the Democratic proposal.
Meanwhile, Iron County Board Chairman Dennis DeRusso had no comment on the Bayfield County vote. The Iron County Board unanimously favored an iron ore mining bill in 2011 vote.
An open pit iron ore mine has been proposed along the Iron and Ashland County line.