Menominee Resident Tells DEQ: Aquila Threatens Our River

Letter to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality:

I am a sixty seven year old retiree who has enjoyed and utilized the Menominee River for most of my life. From biking down to the Hattie Street Bridge as a child to fish or “puddle jump” when the gates of the dam were closed, to swimming, swinging off rope swings, camping, canoeing, kayaking, pontooning and recently eagle watching!

I am also the secretary of the Pflueger Brothers Fishing Club of the Chalk Hill Flowage, and our club has been involved in many conservation and community projects along the Menominee River. These including public access, a free life jacket station, fishing piers, invasive species eradication and walleye stocking. I love this River and can speak for many others who do not want to see it threatened in any way. Especially from something as obvious as an open pit gold mine on its banks.

I attended your public comment forum in Stephenson and agreed with most reports that the” for” and “against” was evenly matched. But one thing was obvious to me – and I hope it was to you as well. And that is that those against the mine spoke with a passion for and a knowledge of the environment. Those for the mine did not even talk about the environment, except to say “Trust Aquila”. They only spoke of money! We all have economic concerns, but Menominee County ranks in the top 10 or 11 Michigan counties with the lowest unemployment. So economic concerns should be a very low priority in this decision.

There are a few points I would like to make that were not brought up at the meeting:

1. “Trust Aquila”…I am sure the company views itself as professional and qualified to take on the project, but it is their first mine! Problems, accidents and failure are inherent in a first time venture of any kind.

2. The Menominee River is a major tributary of Green Bay and the Great Lakes. How does an open pit chemical mine on its banks fit in with the goals of the Great Lakes Compact or the $250 million dollars just budgeted federally for clean up? How does it fit in with the lower Menominee clean up projects of the Wisconsin DNR and Wisconsin Public Service? How does it fit in with the Sturgeon restoration or other stocking programs on the river? And, in general, Pure Michigan! Or how does it fit in with the Menekaunee Harbor Restoration Project at the mouth of the river? I hope you are working with or seeking feedback from these entities as well.

Open pit gold mines in the middle of unpopulated, wilderness areas like those in Nevada have caused many problems and destruction to the local environments. To even think of dropping a mine in an environmentally sensitive area, populated by people who chose to live or own property there because of their love of the environment, nature, peace and tranquility just blows my mind! I believe it takes about 20 tons of ore to produce one gold ring…a ring that will not even stay in this county, but will be marketed to one of the rising middle classes in the far east portions of this globe.

Please make the wisest and most informed decisions when reviewing this application.

Menominee County Resident, Tom DeDamos


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