Bayfield County To Vote On Symbolic Mining Support To Mining


It’s Bayfield County’s turn to weigh in about iron ore mining legislation. Their county board votes on a resolution of support tonight (Tuesday), but the resolution has several strings attached.

The proposed Penokee iron ore mine would be in neighboring Ashland and Iron Counties. The Bayfield resolution isn’t for or against the Democratic or Republican bills, but Bayfield County Board Supervisor Ken Rondeau of Cable says it expresses lots of concern about any shortcuts.

“It says we support it, but you’ve got to follow your strict guidelines that mining encompasses, not just ‘Go in there and do it.’ Be very, very good, understanding about how sensitive the environment is and the watershed in this area is too.”

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The resolution supports Ojibwe treaty rights, a clear timeline, local input, protection of water wells and all of the mining gross tonnage tax money be returned to northern Wisconsin.

Board Supervisor Harold Maki of Washburn says he’s all for mining. As a logger since 1966, he says it’s important to use the natural resources in the area. He says underground mining in Iron County didn’t destroy that region. “Nobody’s been affected by it yet, other than it’s a mess, but it’s a mess. That’s the way it is. That’s our chance to put a lot of people to work.”

But Supervisor Bill Bussey of Bayfield doesn’t think an open pit mine in the Penokees can happen without badly damaging the environment. “That’s a huge attribute about what we love about this area. So, I’m opposed to the resolution, even as revised, to try to give some weight to environmental concerns. (How do you think it’ll turn out?) That remains to be seen.”

The resolution would not be binding on any state legislation.

The meeting is to begin at 6 p.m. (agenda, PDF)