The Fight for Water & Treaty Rights in the Great Lakes

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Public Comment Period Open on GTac Bulk Sampling Activity | WI?>

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has announced the opening of a public comment period on the proposed bulk sampling activity and the preapplication notice to mine at Gogebic Taconite’s potential mining project near Mellen, Wisconsin.

Public Comment Period Begins: Aug. 1, 2013

Public Comment Period Ends: Sept. 3, 2013

Any member of the public may submit written comments on the proposed bulk sampling activity or the preapplication description of the potential mining project. To read the complete WDNR statement click here.

Comments may be submitted via mail to: Larry Lynch, DNR, 101 S. Webster Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53707

or by e-mail to:

To read the DNR response to GTac’s initial bulk sampling application, click here.

To read GTac’s response to the DNR’s comments on their application, click here.

To read additional documents, or to sign up for email alerts on this project, click here.

More than Dusty Historical Documents: Treaty Rights in the Penokee Hills?>

An excerpt from an excellent article by Ron Seely on treaty rights and the proposed GTAC project. Read the full article here.

THE PENOKEE RANGE – The fight over the fate of a massive iron ore mine has moved this summer from the state Capitol in Madison to the forests of northwestern Wisconsin and the green, undulating ridges along which Gogebic Taconite wants to dig its 4½-mile-long pit.

National and state news coverage of the mine has focused on a traditional Ojibwe encampment deep in the woods, about 30 miles southeast of Ashland, at the very edge of the proposed pit. From the rustic camp, started by members of the Lac Courte Oreilles Chippewa band, tribal members have launched what seems a cultural offensive – think fry bread, wild onions and birch bark baskets – to turn public opinion against the mine.

But organizers of the camp say it has an even deeper purpose.

Tribal officials and a treaty law expert say the Iron County camp, dubbed a harvest camp by Ojibwe, or Chippewa, lays the foundation for a possible legal case in which the tribe would invoke federal treaties.

Their goal: Block construction of the mine.

…”the harvest camp is helping make real the practices the treaties protect, including collecting food and natural medicines, from wild onions to mushrooms to maple syrup and tamarack bark,” said Glenn Stoddard, a lawyer who represents the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Organizers of the camp also are inviting non-tribal members to visit so they can show them the wild Penokee landscape and the proposed mine site.

“Many people aren’t even aware of the treaties,” Stoddard said. “They haven’t been educated about them. Also, society has become much more urban so the activities covered by the treaties are foreign to people.

“The camp is intended to educate people about these things. It is one thing to be in a courtroom talking about the treaties. It is another to be out in the woods and see people exercising their rights. Then it makes sense to people.”

Read the full article here.

Positions Open on Mining Investment & Local Impact Board | WI?>

07.26.13 | Wisconsin Department of Revenue Announces Process to Apply for Investment and Local Impact Board

CONTACT: Laurel Patrick, 608 266-2300

The process is underway to gather applications for membership to Wisconsin’s Mining Investment and Local Impact Board. The Mining Investment and Local Impact Board is a statewide board established to administer the Investment and Local Impact Fund, which is created to help municipalities offset costs associated with impacts of metalliferous mineral mining. Once the process of appointing members to the Board is complete, the Board will have eleven members, three of which are public members.

Public members interested in applying for the three public member positions on the board may go to the Governor’s website,, and click the “Apply to Serve” button, then click “Boards/Commissions”. The Governor will appoint the three public member positions to the Board. Wisconsin statutes specify that the following residency requirements must be met with regard to the three public members:

  • One of the public members shall reside in a town in which a metalliferous mineral ore body is known to exist.
  • One of the public members shall reside in a county in which metalliferous mineral development is occurring, or in an adjacent county.
  • One of the public members shall be recommended by the town boards in towns in which a metalliferous mineral ore body is known to exist, with preference to the appointment of a public member who resides in a town in which the development of a metalliferous mineral ore body is occurring.

The Wisconsin Department of Revenue is the state agency responsible for administratively assisting the Mining Investment and Local Impact Board.

View the official press release here.

Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Tribe Invites Supporters to the Penokees | WI?>

As reported on Earth First! Newswire, and Indian Country News, “The Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe tribe has opened a treaty harvest and educational camp on public lands in the Penokee Hills, near the site of the proposed worlds largest open pit iron mine, upstream from the Bad River Reservation.” Read More at,

Wisconsin DNR Approves Gogebic Taconite Exploratory Drilling Application?>

The following notice was taken from the Wisconsin DNR e-mail update, dated May 30, 2013, on Gogebic Taconite’s proposed taconite mining project in Wisconsin’s Penokee Hills.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources today approved the exploratory drilling application submitted by Gogebic Taconite, LLC. The DNR issued an exploration license to Gogebic Taconite authorizing the company to drill eight exploratory drill holes. This is the first exploration license issued under the new iron mining law enacted earlier this year.

The company has proposed exploration in a four-mile area located east of Mellen in eastern Ashland and west-central Iron counties. The area of interest is part of the Penokee/Gogebic deposit, a 21-mile long portion of the larger Gogebic Iron Range that stretches east to west from Lake Gogebic, Michigan, to near Lake Namekagon, Wisconsin.

The company had initially submitted an application May 9, but withdrew the initial application and submitted a replacement application May 16 after company representatives decided to reduce the number of bore holes they proposed to drill from 13 to eight.

According to Ann Coakley, DNR Waste and Materials Management director, company officials removed five of the original 13 boreholes from the application to gather additional information needed to address stormwater and potential wetland issues in accordance with applicable regulations. The need for additional information on the five drilling sites was identified during a May 14 site visit by DNR staff to inspect the proposed drilling locations and access roads.

The department had 10 business days to review the application and make a decision. DNR’s decision was based on information contained in the application and supplemental information provided by the company in response to DNR’s request for additional details regarding the exploration proposal. Coakley said Gogebic Taconite may apply for a license to conduct additional exploration borings in the future.

The application, DNR response letter and additional materials are available on the Gogebic Taconite, LLC, potential mining project Web page. You can also sign up for e-mail updates on the project.

Fundraiser to Support the Penokee Hills & Bad River?>

Friday, May 24, 2013, 6-10pm | Bad River Lodge & Casino Convention Center, Odanah, WI

Admission is $20. Food will be served at 6pm, with musical performances to follow at 7pm. Performers include the Red Cliff Hoop Dancers, Thistle & the Thorns, Skip Jones, Barbara With, and NAMMY winner Wade Fernandez, There will also be a silent auction and door prizes until 10pm.

A camp out at Copper Falls State Park will follow all weekend. Watch for updates at,

WI Public Radio Interview w/ Mike Wiggins, Jr.?>

Thursday, Apr. 11, 2013, 5pm | Wisconsin Public Radio | 91.9, 89.1, 90.3 and 89.9 FM, 930 AM

WPR radio host Glen Moberg will interview two of Wisconsin’s top Native American leaders – Mike Wiggins, Jr. of the Bad River Chippewa and Mic Isham of GLIFWC. They will discuss culture, cooperation, economics, and concerns about mining, spear fishing and the wolf hunt. Tom Maulson of the Lac Du Flambeau Chippewa may call in. You can too: 1 800 780 9742.

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