Gov. Walker signs bill that would close off portion of Penokee Hills to the public

By KBJR News 1

Gov. Walker signs bill that would close off portion of Penokee Hills to the public

December 12, 2013 Updated Dec 12, 2013 at 12:48 PM CDT

Madison, WI (NNCNOW.com) --- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed the bill that would restrict public access in a portion of the Penokee Hills near the proposed Gogebic Taconite mine.

In a news release sent out Thursday, Gov. Walker says he signed Senate Bill 278 which "focuses on the health and safety of visitors and workers at mining sites".

Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) who spear headed the bill cited a need to close access to the land due to an incident that happened back in June where a protester accosted one of Gogebic Taconite's employees.

The bill allows G-Tac to close 3,500 acres of managed forest land on, and around, their proposed mining site in Ashland and Iron Counties.

Managed forest is privately held land for which the Wisconsin DNR has been granted management rights. The land is generally open to the public for hunting, fishing, hiking, skiing, and sight–seeing.

In order to close the land G–Tac will have to pay a withdrawal fee.

G–Tac officials say they hope to limit the amount of time they would keep the public off the land.

Gogebic Taconite is currently considering development along a four-mile stretch east of Mellen. The area of interest straddles the boundary between Iron and Ashland counties and lies between Tyler Forks River to the east and Ballou Creek to the west.

If developed, the project would likely include an open pit mining operation, a plant site and waste disposal facilities.

Posted to the web by Krista Burns