Citizens to Challenge Mining Laws

Press Release February 12, 2014
For More Information Contact:
Barbara With – 715- 209 5471
Paul DeMain – 715-558-2991

Wisconsin Citizens Target Illegal Mine Company Pandering

Moore Park Siding, Wisconsin – Wisconsin citizens working to protect the pristine environment of the Penokee Range in Northern Wisconsin from morally illegitimate mining exploration and socially unacceptable environment degradation will gather on Sunday, February 16 from 1-3 PM to help bring public awareness to the proposed destruction of  Wisconsin’s natural resources. 

2 PM Press conference on Moore Park Siding, approximately 5 miles east of Mellen on Highway 77, will feature citizens who will enter the area deemed “closed to the public” by Gogebic Taconite (GTac) officials. 

Citizens from Northern Wisconsin, Iron and Ashland Counties, the Chippewa Federation and those with historic ties to the ceded territory in the Bad River Watershed, and others impacted by downstream degradation from the huge open pit operation have declared their intent to violate the alleged closing of Public Managed Forest Lands (MFL) under a special law introduced by pro-mining Senator Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst). Tiffany said it was the intent of the original pro-mining, streamlined permitting process bill, known as SB-1, and written by Gogebic Taconite attorneys, to “allow degradation of the environment.” 

Dubbed the “Hunt to Save the Golden Goose” now laying pristine golden eggs of clean water, forests, lakes, trout streams, asbestos-free air and unlimited prosperity in a growing tourist-based economy, this action will include citizens who have worked tirelessly to prevent a mine, once highlighted to be one of the world’s largest open pit mines by Gogebic Taconite, from destroying the livelihood of regional farmers, tourist-based businesses and resource harvesters. The mining project is headed by GTac Manager Bill Williams, currently under investigation for committing environmental crimes in Spain.

While pro-mining legislation prevailed in the GOP-dominated atmosphere of Tea Party politics and millions of dollars in lobbying contributions during the 2010-2012 election cycle, a wide majority of citizens in Northern Wisconsin oppose the project funded by the 18th richest billionaire in the world, Chris Kline of Florida.  

Senator Tiffany introduced further legislation to prevent citizens from monitoring mining exploration and charting sedimentation of trout streams and wetlands, reported by the public and confirmed by the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources during drilling in the summer of 2013. The closure also allegedly prevents Chippewa Treaty citizens from observing and harvesting reserved resources.




Iron County, Lac Courte Oreilles Make Peace

LCO Vice Chair Rusty Barber shakes hands with Iron County Board Chair Joe Pinardi.

LCO Vice Chair Rusty Barber shakes hands with Iron County Board Chair Joe Pinardi.

Last night, the Iron County Board decided to negotiate with the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa about their Treaty Education and Harvest Camp in the woods near the proposed mine. The Iron County Board was to vote on a recommendation of the Forestry Committee to pursue criminal and civil charges against the Camp for camping without a permit. Board Chairman Joe Pinardi announced that they had received a letter from LCO requesting that the county go back to the bargaining table to discuss terms for the camp. At the end of the meeting the Board voted to postpone the vote on the issue until after those negotiations have taken place.

Of the 50 people showed up for the meeting, only about five were pro-mine.

Photos: Rebecca Kemble

UPDATES: LCO Harvest and Educational Camp (LCOHEC) 2013

Background and Mission

camp2The Penokee Hills region may become one of the world’s largest open pit mines in North America unless we act today to help preserve its pristine nature. The mining  company, Gogebic Taconite (GTAC), plans to start mining for iron ore taconite at the headwaters of the Bad River northern Wisconsin.

Bad River flows downhill through reservation of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, their wild rice beds, and into Lake Superior near Ashland, Wisconsin.  Acid mine drainage from GTAC’s mining activities would poison the environment and lead to human health and wildlife hazards in the Penokee Mountains Heritage Park. GTAC has already starting drilling, June 8th, for core samples from the Penokee hills.

Fry bread  Photo: Ros Nelson

Fry bread at Harvest Camp. Photo: Ros Nelson

The Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) Band of Lake Superior Chippewa opened a treaty harvest and educational camp on public lands in the Penokee Hills.  The LCOHEC mission is to make a presence in the Penokee Hills and do research in the region.  It’s also to become a part of it — breathe the air, partake of the water, and experience the open wilderness and natural beauty.  The main tasks of LCOHEC are to host LCO tribal members and other guests who are doing an inventory of resources, trail blazing, archaeology work and harvesting.  Visitors to the camp ought to prepare for the elements and be self-sufficient.  (See list below).  Donations to LCOHEC are accepted and greatly appreciated.

Some LCO harvesters are overseeing the camp.  Melvin Gasper and Felina LaPointe are the contact persons in the camp and can answer all questions.  Other tribes and environmental organizations support the LCOHEC including Save the Waters Edge, the Mining Impact Coalition of Wisconsin, and dozens of others.  The Penokee Hills Education Project (PHEP) was formed to educate the public about risks to the Bad River watershed and the Penokee Hills from GTAC’s open pit drilling and mining.  The PHEP goals are to share information about the impact of mining on our economy, health, and the environment; and to connect with similar citizen-led groups locally and nationally.

photo: Ros Nelson

photo: Ros Nelson

The LCOHEC camp is on county land and within the Chippewa ceded territory.  The Chippewa have treaty rights in this region to hunt, fish, and harvest.  It so happens that the GTAC mining site is in the “State Forest Management Tax Credit” program making it a public space. Therefore, LCOHEC is guided by state agreements with the Chippewa tribes for harvesting of  foods, berries, herbs, medicinal plants, and other materials for baskets, shelter, etc.

Many tribal members are descendants of former land allottees in the area. The LCOHEC camp is close to the place where about 200 Indian land allotments made in the late 1800’s.  Most of these land allotments were stolen outright, or deceptively removed from Indian people. Wealthy investors of the original shaft mining got their hands on the Indian land allotments.  Researchers have so far located over 150 Indian Allotments on the ore deposit issued from 1858 through 1887. For example, John B. Corbin had an 80-acre allotment near Copper Falls State Park. We want to know how this land was disenfranchised from our relatives.

photo: Ros Nelson

photo: Ros Nelson

The LCOHEC camp is open for hunting, fishing, harvesting and public recreational use.  Several people have already requested harvesting permits for birch bark, ironwood, ginseng and other products they’re identifying.  LCO has declared its intent to harvest walleye from the nearby Lake Galilee.  Deer and other hunting permits are available.

Non-tribal people can also harvest on public lands.  Anyone who wants to pick berries, collect maple syrup, wild onions, or other harvestable products can do so.  Some people may be interested in volunteering to remove exotic species from the land like garlic mustard, and etc.

LCOHEC organizers are looking to include elders and youth, schools, colleges, AODA programs, language immersion, rehab and business development programs — all asking the questions:

1.) What can we learn from the ancient Cahokia history of the range, Ojibwe village and burial locations, and the mining that has occurred over the course of 1,200 years including the geography and topography?

2.) What can be harvested, from berries to iron wood and items that can be used or bartered to assist in making a moderate living as defined by courts under treaties with the Chippewa?

They also ask camp visitors to be self-sufficient and bring their own supplies, trail food, and water with them. The camp organizers provides one evening meal in the evening for everyone in the camp.  Items for campers to pack include:

Backpacks Tent and sleeping bags
personal camp dishes, cups, and utensils first-aid kit, personal toiletries, prescription meds
bug repellant dry trail food, snacks
drinking water hiking boots or mud boots
flashlight and batteries dress appropriately for rough camping and weather
tools for gardening, trail blazing, or improving rough campsites The LCOHEC provides one meal for everyone in the evening. Contributions to the meal are accepted.

Donations of supplies to the camp needed include: non-perishable goods, snacks, cookies, tents, shovels, hatchets, axes, lighting, screening, carving knives, camping bowls, beans, rice, drinking water, and etc.  Supplies can be dropped off at the Trading Post, 8558N Cty Rd K, Hayward, WI, 54843; or the PHEP 212 W. Main St, Ashland, WI, 54806.

LCOHEC camp organizers are requesting monetary donations to support the camp.  Monetary donations can be made online at:

LCOHEC Donations PHEP Donations Bad River Defense Fund

Online Resources for more info:

Recent LCOHEC Updates:

Maps of the Penokee Hills

Directions to LCOHEC (scroll to the bottom of this article to find directions)

Contact: Frank Koehn

PH: (218) 341-8822, Email:

Facebook:   Twitter: #lcohec #RFKvisitPenokeeHills #nomine #wimine #ojibwe

Top: The Penokee Hills, target of the 22-mile mountaintop removal open pit iron ore mine at the headwaters of the Bad River; Bottom: a mine in northern Minnesota showing the same area of devastation mining has caused there.

Top: The Penokee Hills, target of the 22-mile mountaintop removal open pit iron ore mine at the headwaters of the Bad River; Bottom: a mine in northern Minnesota showing the same area of devastation mining has caused there.

Lac Courte Oreilles Harvest Camp Opened in Penokees

genocideAccording to Indian County TV, the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Tribe has opened a treaty harvest and educational camp on public lands in the Penokee Hills.

The camp is located near the site of the proposed 21-mile mountaintop removal open pit iron mine (the largest in the world) that GTAC claims it will build, and upstream from the Bad River Reservation.

The Harvest Camp includes an area that hosted almost 200 Indian allotments in the late 1800 which were stolen or deceptively removed from Indian ownership in favor of wealthy investors of the original shaft mining in the area. Ancient mining artifacts in the region have been carbon dated to 260AD.

The camp will be open for hunting, fishing, harvesting and public recreational use as defined by treaty and public laws. Directions to the camp are here.