Gogebic Taconite (GTAC) has closed 1,200 acres of land in the Penokee Hills so they can begin exploratory drilling, but activists plan to challenge the new law, probably this weekend.
GTAC is using a new state law to make land off-limits 600 feet within mining activity – in this case, drilling for core samples. Bob Mather, state Department of Natural Resources forest management director, said they’ve posted a map on the DNR’s GTAC webpage of the five-mile long area just north of the towns of Morse and Anderson, “so we can begin to inform the public of what’s out there and what to be aware of.”
“Our interest is to keep people safe and not get anyone in trouble,” said Mather.
But protesters plan to snowshoe into the land this weekend. Posted or not, Lac Courte Oreilles Harvest Project spokesman Paul DeMain said the law championed by state Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, will be challenged.
“We saw the sign that said ‘You can’t go any farther because we’ve got this special law passed just for us by Sen. ‘GTAC’ Tiffany that says you can’t be here’,” said DeMain. “We didn’t read it because we didn’t want to read it.”
GTAC officials said they will use its own security guards to patrol the area. It will be up to the Iron and Ashland county sheriff’s departments to enforce the new law.