Bill would end public access to land around proposed mineThe public will have a chance to testify today on a bill to close off about 4,000 acres of forest land around a proposed mining site.
By: Shawn Johnson, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
The public will have a chance to today on a bill to close off about 4,000 acres of forest land around a proposed mining site.
Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) says he's introducing this bill in response to a confrontation in early June at a Gogebic Taconite test drill site in the Penokee Hills. About 15 people shouted obscenities and threats at drill workers, and one woman, who was later charged, took an employee's camera. Tiffany says employees working around the proposed mining site should not have to worry about an altercation like that happening again.
“They made it very clear that they're going to be back,” says Tiffany. “I take that threat seriously, and we want to make sure that we protect the workers in the state of Wisconsin – both public employees and private employees.”
Tiffany's bill would close off about 4,000 acres of private land that's currently accessible to the public through Wisconsin's managed forest land program, which gives landowners a break on their property taxes in exchange for public access. Tiffany says that under his bill the company could elect to keep the land closed for what might be a period of three years.
Sen. Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) blasted Tiffany, saying he was writing private legislation that will benefit a single corporation: “He wants to write it to protect one company and exclusively one company that's never wanted to keep this land open for public use.”
The move won't affect a nearby Lac Court Oreilles Harvest Camp, which is situated on public land. Sen. Tiffany has already scheduled a vote on his bill for Thursday.