Wis. Senate Committee Passes Mine Forest Closure Bill

By KBJR News 1

Wis. Senate Committee Passes Mine Forest Closure Bill

September 5, 2013 Updated Sep 5, 2013 at 11:06 AM CDT

Madison, WI (NNCNOW.com) --- A Wisconsin Senate Mining Committee has passed a bill that would close access to 3,500 acres of land around a potential mining site near Mellen, WI.

The bill was approved on a 3-2 vote during an executive session of the Senate Committee on Workforce Development, Forestry, Mining, and Revenue Thursday morning.

The bill will now head to the full Senate floor for a vote.

The proposed bill would allow Gogebic Taconite, who has proposed to mine iron ore deposits on the land, to withdraw from the program therefore temporarily closing public access for recreational activities.

Tom Tiffany, one of the creators of the bill, says this bill was narrowed specifically to ferrous mining in the area. He says, G-Tac would be able to enter into an agreement with the DNR to close the land while they continue testing and while a mining operation is under way.

However, if regulators say mining operations cannot be done, the land would then be open to the public once again. G-Tac would also have to pay a withdrawl fee to close the land to the public.

Tiffany sited 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. He says this bill is about public safety.

However, Senator Bob Jauch says closing off managed forest land to the public defeats the purpose of the program. He has been working on legislation that would create a barrier around mining activities.

Posted to the web by Krista Burns