Sheriffs ready to ticket or arrest trespassers in mining zone
Mike Simonson, Wisconsin Public Radio
As at least one drill rig is being set up in the proposed iron ore mine area of the Penokee Hills, sheriffs say they’ll respond to any trespassing complaints in the off-limits zone.
Iron and Ashland county sheriffs expect to see a lot of deliberate trespassing in the newly created off-limits zones 600 feet from mining activity.
Iron County Sheriff Tony Furyk said protesters are making no secret of their intentions to test the law passed last year.
“They posted on their website that they’re going to be up in there breaking the law — like the last video that we saw, for half an hour – and they want to pick a date when they want to break the law to let us know so we’ll be there,” said Furyk. “We’ll be happy to accommodate them. We’ll be there.”
In all, Gogebic Taconite will drill 15 exploratory holes at a dozen sites between now and the end of June in Iron and Ashland counties. Ashland County Sheriff Mick Brennan says he and his 11 deputies are ready to respond.
“Our intention is to make it a safe environment for both GTAC and the protesters,” said Brennan. “If they’re in violation of the 600 foot buffer zone, we’re just going to advise them of that and please step back … If they comply, we’ll have no issues. We’ll encourage them to be out there if they want to voice their opinions.”
Brennan said arrest will be the last resort.
“Our intent is not to arrest anybody,” said Brennan. “We want to make this a nice, peaceful event and make it safe for everybody.”
Brennan said GTAC has told him that they have their own unarmed security force.
Protesters say it’s important that they’re close enough to be able to monitor GTAC’s drilling activity in the roughly 1,200-acre off-limits zone, in case there are any environmental violations.