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With Authorities’ Knowledge, Walk Planned In Penokee Hills’ ‘Off-Limits Zone’

State Law Bars Public Access To Lands Near Mining Activity

View from Corrigan's Lookout near the Penokee Range. jchapiewsky (CC-BY-SA)

People are once again heading into the so-called mining “off-limits zone” of the Penokee Hills in northern Wisconsin on Sunday.

Around 70 people traveled by snowshoe into the Penokee Hills after state legislators passed a law preventing public access to managed forest law land within 600 feet of mining activity. The Penokee Hills is the location of a proposed mining project that has generated controversy and protests.

Paul Demain, Harvest Education Learning Project Camp spokesman and walk organizer, said that he isn’t worried about enforcement.

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“People are more worried about whether they’re going to miss the (Green Bay Packers) game than (getting) a ticket from Iron County. Believe me on that one,” Demain said.

He said they’re educating people about the Penokees and showing off its natural beauty.

Iron County Sheriff Tony Furyk said he’s aware of the walk and has no plans to patrol the area.

“I am not — unless there’s a problem,” he said.

Furyk said mining company Gogebic Taconite (GTAC) isn’t doing any work there right now. Iron County District Attorney Marty Lipske said it’s unknown whether people might be breaking the law depending on what happens this weekend.

Furyk turned over a video of people trespassing into the off-limits zone last year to Lipske, and the district attorney said the video is still under investigation.

A GTAC spokesman didn’t return calls for comment.