Save the Menominee River Speaking Tour and Paddling Trip!

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Grassroots opposition to Aquila’s Back Forty metallic sulfide mine next to the Menominee River will sponsor its fourth public forum on the cultural, environmental and economic impacts of the proposed mine in the Wausaukee, Wisconsin Town Hall (N 11856 Hwy 141) on Saturday, July 23rd  at 10:00 am. Save the Menominee River Speaking Tour sponsored previous forums in Marinette, Wisconsin and Menominee and Stephenson, Michigan. The event is free and open to the public.

Speakers from groups including the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, the River Alliance of Wisconsin, the Front 40 citizens group and the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council will present information about mining impacts, including the endangered sturgeon population in the Menominee River and invite public comments about the proposed open pit mine.

Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality is expected to hold a Public Hearing on the Back Forty proposal later this summer (TBA). Citizens can learn how to speak out at public hearings in “lunch & learn” activist trainings sponsored by Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP) on Monday, July 18th and Monday, July 25th from 12 noon to 3:00 pm followed by a social hour at the Ore Dock Brewing Company’s upstairs public space in Marquette, Michigan.

For those interested in a closer look at the proposed mine site, the River Alliance of Wisconsin is leading a canoe/kayak excursion on the Menominee River on Friday, July 29 to learn about the mine and appreciate the beauty of this river. Starting at the White Rapids dam, east of Amberg, Wisconsin, and northwest of Stephenson, Michigan, the excursion will visit significant native American archaeological sites and do a “paddle-by” of the proposed mine site. The River Alliance will be joined by officials from the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and the Front 40 citizens group.  The Menominee River takes its name from the Menominee Indians of Wisconsin whose creation stories start at the mouth of the Menominee River. According to Guy Reiter, a Menominee tribal member, “the creator gave us responsibility for watching out for that water thousands of years ago.” For more details and to register, go to htts://www.wisconsinrivers.org/home/events.

For more information contact: Guy Reiter (715) 853-2776 anahkwet@hotmail.com
or Ron Henriksen (906) 563-5766 menomineeriver.com

Public Comments to MDEQ: 98% Opposed to Back Forty!

ARE ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATORS BEING ‘TRANSPARENT’?

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) announced a Public Comment period regarding the Back Forty mine permit application — more than 37,500 pages long. After concerned citizens requested more time to comment on the permit, MDEQ agreed to extend the deadline by two weeks. However, following the Public Comment period, the MDEQ staff person who received those comments refused to answer basic questions like “how many public comments were received?” Not even a rough estimate could be provided.

Alarmed that MDEQ regulators were not being “open and transparent” during the mine permit review process, one concerned citizen filed a Freedom of Information Act request, and forwarded the documents to Save the Wild U.P. for our review.

It is now clear that over 2,000 members of the public – including local residents, landowners, fishing enthusiasts, business owners, county officials, educators, tourists, tribal members, scientists, environmentalists and other concerned citizens – wrote to MDEQ to convey serious concerns about the proposed sulfide mine project!

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98.2% OPPOSED!

Public Comments were expressed through emails, letters, editorials, technical analysis, handwritten messages, and signature petitions.

WHAT ARE FOLKS SAYING ABOUT THE BACK FORTY MINE PROPOSAL?

“I don’t want to show my children and grandchildren (the Menominee River) and tell them about stories when the river used to be a thing of beauty and inspiration.”
- C.J. to MDEQ

“I worked as a Project Manager on Superfund sites. I have seen how companies reap profits and then walk away from their contaminated sites. Please do not approve the permit…”
-B.N. to MDEQ

“As a graduate of Michigan Technological University, in Metallurgical Engineering with thirty years experience in the cast metals industry, I have knowledge on both the positive and negative effects of removal and refining of rock to generate metals. Huge advances have been made -in legislating environmental protection. At the same time the best prevention based approach can’t override the unknown level of natural events, mine processing accidents, or simple human neglect that could wash mine residue and contaminants off the Back Forty site and into the Menominee River.”
-J.R. to MDEQ

“With great concern for the well-being and future of the lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, creeks, wells, marshes, bogs, groundwater and, reality check here… “life in general,” I am speaking from my heart. The Menominee River has been a part of our family for four generations.”
-D.T. to MDEQ

Think about all the mothers and fathers who aren’t going to be able to take their sons and daughters fishing on the rivers and streams after this FOR PROFIT company sucks every dollar out of the ground and put back in its place, runoff and chemicals.”
-C.S. to MDEQ

“After the initial shock was overcome regarding what this mine would look like and how it may affect these streams, wetlands, swamp and the Menominee River- I thought to myself how can the DEQ on one hand offer programs as the one we’ve been involved with for now over 10-years and on the other hand ignore the data that’s been collected by a collective body of persons numbering in the hundreds? Data that shows a wide number of “rare” species. And yes this data is being ignored. (…) We are no experts but these persons (Aquila Resources and their contractors) failed to even note at least 1 stream that runs along their boundary and other locations such as wetlands and swamps that will be negatively impacted should they be allowed to dewater the area.”
-T.B. to MDEQ

“When reviewing the indirect and direct cost estimates for the Back Forty financial assurance, it is obvious that it has been significantly underestimated…”
-Dr. Kendra Zamzow of the Center for Science in Public Participation to MDEQ

“The ARD (Acid Rock Drainage) risk is very high. Most material contains sulfides, and there is very little natural carbonate for buffering. (…) All tailings are expected to generate acid, with the exception of tailings produced in year 3 of mining. Additionally, over 75% of the waste rock is expected to generate acid.”
-Dr. Kendra Zamzow of the Center for Science in Public Participation to MDEQ

“The tailings analyzed represent only the first 8 years of the life of mining operations. Since tailings are generally piled, the last tailings to be produced are the most representative of what would be near the surface when mining operations cease. Are there any tailings test results for the tailings expected to be produced as the mine is preparing to close operations?”
-Menominee River Front 40 to MDEQ

“I know that the constant argument for mines are to promote well paying jobs. As a young person with student loans and personal experience with small town people having to move to find work, I understand this argument. That being said, I cannot ignore the fact that this may temporarily help local communities, but long term probably will be devastating. A well maintained natural area where my family, myself and hopefully many generations to come will put money into local business promotes a healthy long term economy. Even this may be a small amount of money compared to what this mine could make, but when you combine all of the people in our states and tourists who love the outdoors over generations it will outweigh the immediate benefit.”
-M.S. to MDEQ

“I am writing you to express my concern regarding the Back Forty Mine and its proximity to the Menominee River. As a resident of the Great Lakes Region, as vacationer who brings his family to Harbor Country to enjoy Lake Michigan, and finally as consumer of Lake Michigan drinking water, I have grave concerns over the risks posed by having a mine so close to a river and its conveyance to Lake Michigan. Decisions of those in the entire basin affect all of those who live around these wonderful lakes. We only need to look at the Talmadge Creek and Kalamazoo oil spill to recognize the dangers.”
-T.C. to MDEQ

“The Assessment states that tests reveal there are no known occurrences of contaminated groundwater or surface water in the Project area and that “This is consistent with its remote location and lack of industrial activity in the surrounding area.” Will this be true when the mine closes after seven years and in the years to follow? Will we be another Flint someday or have an Animas River situation? The potential for damage to Upper Peninsula water and the environment are real. Risks are numerous, unknown and uncertain. PLEASE do not allow Aquila to proceed with the Back Forty Mine Project and deny its Permit Application.”
-K.L. to MDEQ

“Please hear us. We do not want a mine polluting our back yard. Nature is too precious and needs to be preserved for future generations.”
-S.E. to MDEQ

“What will happen when our wells become contaminated from the cyanide, arsenic and other poisons that will end up in the river and the Aquila people be held accountable? What will happen, as has happened before, is that they will go slinking back to where they came from and file bankruptcy. We have been inundated with misleading info and outright lies. We deserve better.”
-N.T. and S.T. to MDEQ

“At another winter meeting, a DEQ official explained the regulation process involved in mining permits. Hew said that mining companies must take care of cleanup, and the Menominee River would be protected from tailings pollution. What he didn’t say however, is that the low wall Aquila might build along the river would not be exempt from ‘Acts of God”. For example mild earthquakes (…) Floods can also occur, washing tailings into the river. So much for the protection of our water supply!”
-P.G. to MDEQ

“As landowners in Holmes Township we are very concerned that the impact of the proposed mine will negatively affect our groundwater, not to mention the quality of the waters of the Menominee River and Shakey Lakes.”
-C.M and J.M. to MDEQ

“Metallic sulfide mining has never been done anywhere in the world without polluting ground and surface waters. Because this is common knowledge other areas have banned the use of cyanide for the extraction of gold and silver. (…) Cyanide poisoning from metallic sulfide gold mining is a far more serious problem (than lead poisoning in Flint). The question is not “if” but “when” this will occur. All the mining company PR won’t help when they are long gone and DEQ gets blamed for allowing them to legally or illegally contaminate our post precious vital resource – water. Water is more precious to life than gold!”
-B.W. to MDEQ

“A spill would create a disaster with chemicals flowing into the bay and eventually Lake Michigan. And what about the liners? How long will they last and who will be responsible. How large will the pond(s) be and what is its capacity? Will the pond be covered and how will you prevent run-off into the river Many have these same questions but we have no answers. From what is on the DEQ website there is no dollar amount required to be held for such a disaster or even a plan should one occur. Many of us who are residents along the river are fearful of the possibility of such a disaster and the contamination of our wells, loss of property values and the loss of being able to enjoy a pristine river, its beauty and the fishing it offers.”
-D.P. to MDEQ

“I am a Native American living in Menominee Township just downstream from the “Back Forty Mine.” I live on land that my Woman’s ancestors homesteaded 143 years ago and it is still in the family and we hope that it will still be in the family for many more generations to come with still the BEST TASTING WATER EVER. I was raised to respect Mother Earth for she provides us with all that we need to sustain life and that we need to protect her for the next seven (7) generations that are coming. Promoting this Back Forty Mine so close to the Menominee River is not a good Idea. Everybody in the area has a well for their water, some are shallow (…). I would not be proud to tell my generations to come that I was part of why they have NO WATER.”
-W.B. to MDEQ

“Totally opposed! Reasons: 1. Disruption of environment 2. Destruction of wildlife caused by 3. Pollution of river and tributaries 4. Harmful to surface water and wells. What are we to do if we can’t use our wells? 5. Many will lose their livelihood. 6. Property values in the area will plummet. We will have to pay property tax on land that will be diminished. It is unbelievable to me how this project could move forward being so harmful to so many, just to line the pockets of a few!”
-ST. to MDEQ

“Even if Aquila meets all the standards required, there is no guarantee that it is safe. It may not happen in our lifetime but sometime in the future, maybe the next generation, the poison will flow into our rivers and wells.”
-M.K. to MDEQ

“We have lived in other areas where mine residue was left from mines long closed with no one responsible for remediation. The danger to the public continues long after such projects come to the end of their productive life.”
-K.M and J.M. to MDEQ

“I have been employed as an environmental affairs manager for a manufacturing firm and am well acquainted with the risks associated with the mining chemicals being proposed, particularly cyanide. With the proximity of the mine to the river there is insufficient mitigation available to acceptably eliminate the risk of contamination to the river. And once released , the results of the contamination cannot be undone. Please do not allow this project to go forward.”
-S.O. and K.O. to MDEQ

“Since the District is charged with assisting County landowners with the management of their natural resources, we feel obligated to address the potential Back Forty Mine project. We identify the proposed mine location as a sensitive natural and cultural area, and the adjacent Menominee River System as a unique, regionally significant water feature. The Menominee Conservation District implores both the Michigan DEQ and Aquila Resources that great care be exercised in the planning, pending authorization, potential development, and final remediation of the site to ensure the quality of our natural resources are not diminished. “
-Menominee Conservation District Board to MDEQ

“We are writing to express our opposition to the proposed Back Forty gold-zinc sulfide mine which Aquila Resources would like to develop next to the Menominee River in the Upper Peninsula. (…) Aquila Resources likes to say that the Flambeau mine of Ladysmith, Wisconsin is an example of a mine operating without causing pollution, but in reality the Flambeau mine has polluted surface and groundwater and that pollution continues today. There is currently no technology or method available to prevent the pollution which this proposed mine will cause. (…) Please do the right thing and think about the long-term future and deny the permit for the proposed Back Forty mine.”
-D.P. to MDEQ

“I was not fully aware of the size or scope of this proposed mine until I attended the meeting (in Stephenson). It will be huge. I do not believe most people living in Menominee County have any idea just how big or even where it will be. This huge open pit mine will literally be on the banks of the Menominee RIver. If there could be a 1-10 list of worst places to put a gold and silver mine, this would be number one.”
-M.T. to MDEQ

“I am 71 years old. I have resided in Menominee County Mich since I was five years old. I am writing this letter to voice my concerns about the mine being planned for our county. I feel that this mine, if it comes in, will ruin Shakey Lakes Park, pollute the Menominee River, pollute all the wells for miles, and ruin all the beautiful land where it will be located. I have a camp and 80 acres a few miles away. (…) I realize that there are a lot of people that are easily lead and easily swayed by big money, and will allow this to happen. But I also feel there are a lot of people in high places who are sincere and honest. I hope they feel as I do and will try to prevent this from happening.”
-T.S. to MDEQ

“Do we really need these natural resources? Look at the prices they are paying for recycled metals, historically low. Why are they low, because they have more than there is a demand for. People are letting recyclable metals go to the landfills because it’s not worth messing with. Let’s slow down on mining so the recycling markets pick up and people can make a little money doing what everyone should always be doing – RECYCLING. The mining companies have written their own history. It’s a dirty business and they can’t hide from all the water resources they have ruined. Let’s not add the Menominee River to the list of water resources that have been compromised.”
-J.M. to MDEQ

“We attended the meeting put on by the D.E.Q. on January 5, 2016 at Stephenson H.S. to learn more about the mine project. (…) I was disappointed at the responses by the D.E.Q. people to some of the questions raised at the meeting: such as what chemicals will be used to treat the tailings? Response, I don’t know! How much money will be held in an escrow account to cover damages after Aquilla pulls out? Again, I don’t know, ask Aquila was a common response. Does not the D.E.Q. have oversight on the mining project? I am afraid we will wind up with another toxic dump as has happened before in other areas. We think it is plain lunacy to even consider digging a pit mine next to the River for the purpose of extracting gold and silver or any ore. The trade-off for jobs is not worth the risk of damaging the environment with sulfuric acid or related chemicals, poisoning area aquifer from which our drinking water comes, and killing all the marine life in the River and Shakey Lakes, ecosystems that evolved over thousand of years, also the archaeological importance of the area with regards to our Native Indian population and features dating back to the Woodland Cultures. We expect our State Government to lookout for these interests and to carefully consider all the ramifications of allowing a pit mine on the banks of the Menominee River. WE ARE AGAINST THE BACK 40 MINE PROJECT.”
-J.N. and J.N. to MDEQ

“It is absolutely not true (as claimed by Aquila) that the Flambeau Mine in Wisconsin has not polluted nearby waters.In fact, it is still polluting ground and surface water today. The WDNR has recommended to the USEPA that a tributary of the Flambeau River be listed as “impaired” due to copper and zinc toxicity. Please take the long view of damages to the environment including major public investment in supporting lake sturgeon populations, and Native American cultural sites. Don’t trade them off for short term (and dubious) economic benefits.”
-K.W. to MDEQ

“Any contamination from the Aquila project will not only affect Michigan waters, but also the Menominee River and water aquifers that feed many families, livestock and agricultural enterprises. My wife and I will go on record with fellow Wisconsin residents to reject and oppose any mining project by Aquila in the Menominee County of Michigan. Our waters and the environment should be our most valuable asset.”
-D.B. and L.B. to MDEQ

“A feeder creek from the mine site flows into the Menominee River and we are objecting to the continued planning for the Back Forty Mine. While mining has been an important part of Northern Wisconsin’s and the Upper Michigan’s heritage and growth in the past century, our current generations have been struggling with much of the waste produced from those efforts. While unintended, they did occur. The risks that the mine carries to the pristine waters of the Menominee, and quite possibly Lake Michigan are too hard to ignore. Successful fishing, recreational use, and clean water don’t happen overnight. But, those uses can all come to an end in ONE night. Is it worth the risk? We say no!”
-Wisconsin Smallmouth Alliance to MDEQ

“The Menominee River is considered to be one of the best smallmouth rivers in North America. It also supports, musky, pike, sturgeon, amphibians and many species of birds and mammals. It provides recreational opportunities to thousands of people each year and this, in turn, provides a strong economic boost to the citizens living in this area. To jeopardize all of this for the small return the Back Forty Mine project might produce seems shortsighted at best. I hope you will prohibit this project from moving forward.”
-Badger Fly Fishers Club to MDEQ

“As a long-time Lake Township landowner and taxpayer, I am concerned that a foreign company can come in and dictate through, what appears to be a flawed permit process, what will happen to the area. There is not enough protection for the Menominee River, the environment around it, the people’s rights, historical areas, air, land, clean-up, waste.”
-M.T. to MDEQ

“The mining permit shows the use of a large amount of Cyanide. Holmes Township, Lake Township and Menominee County have passed resolutions against the use of cyanide in relation to mining. Will the MDEQ take those resolutions into consideration for this permit application? Part 632 does not detail the use of Cyanide- therefore what regulations covers use of Cyanide if any? Will the State of Michigan defer to the Township…?”
-T.B. to MDEQ

“I am sure the company views itself as professional and qualified to take on the project, but it is their first mine! (…) 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.”
-T.D. to MDEQ

“If there is an accident or natural disaster how many people on both sides of the river will be affected by contaminated water. Please don’t allow this project, the jobs and profits created are drop in the bucket compared to the devastation that will happen to the Menominee should something unforeseen occur. All mines pollute.”
-D.D. to MDEQ

“I started out looking at this Mine with an open mind but the more I learn the more I believe the long range possible negative impact on our environment is not worth the short term financial gain. An open pit mine 25 meters from the Menominee River seems to be a problem begging to happen. I believe this is a floodplain area with old dams, ice shoves and a reported earthquake in an area not far from the proposed site. (…)I’m not a tree hugger but believe we have to be stewards for future generations and all the animals and fish that use this watershed. Please err on the side of caution.”
-M.B. to MDEQ

“Our sturgeon fisheries need to be protected. The cultural and spiritual needs of the First Nations in the UP need to be protected. And most importantly, the water quality in the UP’s largest river system needs to be protected. As a UP property owner, and as a fifth-generation Yooper descendant, I beg you to keep our wild wilderness pure.”
-K.T. to MDEQ

SOURCES

Given serious concerns about MDEQ transparency and the fate of public input, we’re making these public comment files available for others to review: http://bit.ly/BackForty-FOIA-Public-Comments

Lundin’s “Eagle East” Undermines Public Process

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MARQUETTE — Grassroots environmental group Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP) is expressing outrage following news that Lundin Mining will begin immediate construction of extensive new tunnels connecting Eagle’s existing orebody with a new target, Eagle East — all without public input, or the permit revisions that should be required under Michigan’s Nonferrous Metallic Mining Regulations, known as Part 632.

“Lundin’s press release states that ‘The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has determined that no modifications are required to Eagle’s Part 632 mining permit at this time,’ which means, if it’s true, that somehow it is acceptable to build a (double) tunnel spanning approximately 1.5 miles, thousands of feet deep, with no knowledge of its stability or the potential impacts to water,” said Michelle Halley, Marquette attorney and Save the Wild U.P. advisory board member.

“Just a few of the obvious questions that should be answered before such a project begins include: Will the rock removed be acid-generating? If so, how will it be handled and stored? What will happen to it post-mining? Will the tunnel need de-watering? If so, will the water require treating? If so, can the existing water treatment facility handle the volume and constituents of the water? Where will it be discharged? Can the discharge aquifer handle that quantify of discharge? Will this tunnel be back-filled, post-mining? Will the tunnel need reinforcing to be stable and safe for workers? How will the need to ensure the safety of this tunnel affect the financial assurance required by the state? If Lundin’s press release is accurate, the Michigan DEQ is asleep at the wheel. It wouldn’t be the first time,” said Halley.

According to Wednesday’s press release (“Eagle Mine provides exploration update on Eagle East”) from Lundin Mining, “A Preliminary Economic Assessment on Eagle East was also released and the company intends to complete a full feasibility study and permit review. If mined, the life of mine of Eagle would be extended by one year.”

“This is bad news for the Yellow Dog Plains. Extending the life of the mine definitely increases the environmental degradations,” said Save the Wild U.P. director, Alexandra Maxwell. “Constructing another underground mine 1.5 miles from Eagle’s current operation will increase the draw-down of groundwater. Marquette County’s trout streams rely on clean, cold groundwater. Is Lundin or the DEQ concerned that these degradations affect not only the Salmon Trout, but its neighboring river, the Yellow Dog? The extension of mining activities will now degrade two beloved Upper Peninsula rivers.”

“Eagle is grasping to survive in a flailing commodities market and is displaying the classic definition of “high grading.” This is right out of the mining industry playbook: “adjust” or “expand” your mining operations, target only the highest grade ores for extraction, make more money in the short-term to stay afloat in uncertain economic conditions. This is a shortsighted risk and a huge gamble with the health of our environment,” said Maxwell.

Lundin’s press release further states: “Access to Eagle East is planned with a spiral ramp from the bottom of Eagle Mine, making use of the existing ventilation infrastructure. Lundin Mining has authorized ramp development to begin in July.”

Targeting a single deep high-grade lobe of the Eagle East orebody is part of a corporate ‘cut-and-run’ strategy. Retired mining engineer Jack Parker’s analysis showed, early on, that Eagle Mine was guilty of high-grading their orebody. Parker stated as early as 2012 that they “plan to leave behind an additional billion dollars’ worth of lower grade ore, which could extend the life of the mine around 16 years” — an irresponsible mining practice.

“All of this will extend Eagle Mine’s operating life by a single year? Seriously? Three years of tunneling to expand Eagle’s mine life by one year? The proposed ramp and twin access tunnels will be far deeper than the existing Eagle Mine operations, and Lundin knows next to nothing about the rock or the hydrology at this depth, so constructing this extensive tunnel exponentially increases Eagle Mine’s risks. The DEQ should recalculate Lundin’s financial assurances immediately — before allowing any new construction to begin,” said Kathleen Heideman, SWUP president.

Diagram illustrating the miles of new tunnels that will be required to connect Eagle Mine (top left) with Eagle East (lower right), found on page 6 of Lundin Mining’s press release, “LUNDIN MINING ANNOUNCES EAGLE EAST MINERAL RESOURCE, PEA RESULTS AND PROJECT COMMENCEMENT” (June 29, 2016). A complete Technical Report on Eagle East is not yet available.

According to Lundin’s press release: “The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has determined that no modifications are required to Eagle’s Part 632 mining permit at this time.”

Heideman is outraged. “We’re very disappointed that the DEQ has once again circumvented due process for industry’s sake. Each time Eagle Mine’s Part 632 Permit is modified, the public is informed that these changes are “insignificant” and no public hearing is held. Clearly, the DEQ doesn’t have a working definition for “significant change.” The DEQ’s process is not working. The community has significant concerns but is not allowed to participate.”

“Eagle is building a tunnel that would stretch from the US-41 highway roundabout to NMU’s University Center – and back! It will take three years of drilling, through unknown geology, with no hydrological data, and Lundin states they’re unsure if they will mine Eagle East once they’ve finished building the tunnel? Ridiculous. Worst of all – none of this results in a modification to Eagle’s mining permit? This is stunningly egregious. No other industry would be permitted to construct something like this without conducting environmental studies, and securing significant permit revisions,” said Heideman.

Founded in 2004, Save the Wild U.P. is a grassroots environmental organization dedicated to defending wild places and clean water of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula from the dangers of sulfide mining. For more information contact info@savethewildup.org or call (906) 662-9987. Get involved with SWUP’s work at savethewildup.org or follow SWUP on Facebook at facebook.com/savethewildup or Twitter @savethewildup.

Files:
* Eagle East Q & A (PDF)
* Press Release: Eagle Mine Provides Exploration Update on Eagle East (PDF)
* Corporate Press Release: Lundin Mining Announces Eagle East Mineral Resource PEA Results and Project Commencement (PDF)

Aquila Resources: Putting Their Mine Where Our River Mouth Is?

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Article by Tyler Dettloff, originally printed in the Anishnaabe News, Spring 2016 issue.

In November 2015, Canadian-based mining company Aquila Resources submitted a mine permit application to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The proposed Back Forty Project would be on the banks of the Menominee River, the origin place of the Menominee people. While Aquila Resources claims to be mainly interested in zinc, copper, gold, and silver, Aquila investors are also interested in extracting other metals via an open-pit sulfide mine.

But precious metals are not the only valuable resources to come from beneath the Menominee River. According to Menominee tribal member and lore expert James Frechette (1930-2006), the river holds the Menominee clan origins. A “Great Light Colored Bear” came up from the earth and traveled up the river. Then, Grandfather granted the bear the ability to change form, into a human, Frechette said, “The bear… became the first Menominee.” This first Menominee goes on to meet Eagle, Wolf, Crane, and Moose who change into humans and form the five clans of the Menominee Nation.

Origin stories create a space that Dr. Henrietta Mann (Cheyenne) would describe as sacred: “These origin stories—that we emerged or fell from the sky or were brought forth—connect us to this land and establish our identities, our belief systems. We have spiritual responsibilities to renew the Earth.” Mann affirms a connection between identity, belief, and origin place in the form of ceremony, and explains the traditional, healthy reciprocity between people and land as “give and take.” Respecting the Menominee River is respecting the sacred origins of the Menominee People.

The Menominee Indian Tribe Reservation, in Wisconsin, is sixty miles from the river. Regarding the Back Forty Mine Project, the tribe has firmly and publicly opposed the mine for both cultural and environmental reasons, and is urging area residents and community members to recognize the cultural significance of protecting the integrity and health of the Menominee River. Two grassroots organizations, Save the Wild U.P. and The Front Forty, have also helped raise community consciousness of the Back Forty Project’s potential negative environmental impacts.

Aquila Resources has released documents that boast their commitment to environmental concerns, community engagement and local economic growth. It’s interesting that in these reports, the word “river” is only mentioned once, and in a non-tribal context. Interested parties—job-creation enthusiasts and environmentalists—may both dispute and regulate the environmental impact of Aquila Resources’ proposed Back Forty Project. Aquila Resources may even be able to comply with environmental and safety regulations in exchange for the promise of public support. But neither Aquila Resources nor any other entities can dispute the sacredness of the site to the Menominee people: origin stories establish and maintain identities and belief systems, as Dr. Mann states. If the Back Forty project can potentially harm the Menominee River, it can harm Menominee cultural identity, a priceless tool against assimilation, for survival.

 

Aquila Back Forty: Lunch-and-Learn Activist Trainings

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CALLING ALL CONCERNED CITIZENS!  

Save the Wild U.P. will offer “lunch & learn” activist trainings to help you prepare for an important public hearing on Aquila Resources’ Back Forty Project (*public hearing TBA, currently anticipated in August - September!).

It is time to defend clean water! Learn about the Menominee River (the U.P.’s largest watershed), specific threats posed by an open-pit sulfide mine on the river, and how to speak out at public hearings. We’ll provide visual overviews of the permits (4) and key concerns – the primary sulfide mining application, and permits regulating Back Forty’s wetland degradation, air pollution caused by mine and mill emissions, and wastewater discharges to the Menominee River. Multiple speakers! Check the facebook page for more info: https://www.facebook.com/events/269182010105958/

Join us on Monday, July 18th, Monday, July 25th and Monday, August 1st from 12:30-3pm, followed by a social hour. Location: the Ore Dock Brewing Company’s public space (upstairs), 114 Spring St., Marquette, MI 49855. Please bring a bag lunch –and your passion for environmental justice!

As the Dalai Lama said, “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”

 

Guided Hike to Pinnacle Falls with Save the Wild U.P.

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MARQUETTE — Grassroots environmental group Save the Wild U.P.  will host a Guided Hike to Pinnacle Falls this Thursday, June 23rd. Attendees will enjoy a beautiful hike on the Yellow Dog River, truly one of the wild gems of Marquette County. SWUP guides will share stories of ecology, geology and local history.

Save the Wild U.P.’s guided outdoor summer programs are perfect for nature-lovers, hikers, artists and budding environmental activists.

“This is the third year in a row we are holding this hike, because people love it so much. Finding the falls on your own can be kind of tricky!” said Alexandra Maxwell, SWUP’s director. “We’re highlighting the intrinsic value of wild and scenic places, especially clean rivers and undisturbed wetlands – and providing a grassroots update on the environmental threats posed by active sulfide mining and mineral exploration, just upstream.”

There is a $10 fee per person for this waterfall hike, with proceeds supporting Save the Wild U.P.’s grassroots work to oppose sulfide mining. Participants should meet-up at the Big Bay Outfitters (308 Bensinger St., Big Bay MI 49808) and expect to hit the road by 12:30. Please arrive early. Participants should pack a bag lunch for a picnic at the falls, water, bring bug dope or netting, sturdy hiking shoes, a walking stick if needed, and a camera. SAVE YOUR SPOT: rsvp@savethwildup.org, or call (906) 662-9987 for more information.

Founded in 2004, Save the Wild U.P. is a grassroots environmental organization dedicated to defending wild places and clean water of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula from the dangers of sulfide mining. For more information contact info@savethewildup.org or call (906) 662-9987. Get involved with SWUP’s work at savethewildup.org or follow SWUP on Facebook at facebook.com/savethewildup or Twitter @savethewildup.

LEARN MORE

Pinnacle Falls Hike

 Pinnacle Falls: https://flic.kr/p/6VAkb1

Suggested caption:  “Save the Wild U.P. is offering a guided hike to Pinnacle Falls, one of the U.P.’s must-see waterfalls. Pinnacle Falls is located in a gorge of the wild Yellow Dog River, on land preserved by the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.”

For more info on the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, see: http://www.yellowdogwatershed.org/blog/

 

Environmentalists Applaud Dismissal of 595 Lawsuit

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MARQUETTE – Grassroots environmental groups including Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP), Concerned Citizens of Big Bay (CCBB), the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve (YDWP), and other environmental groups are hailing the decision of Federal Judge Robert Holmes Bell, who recently dismissed the Marquette County Road Commission (MCRC) lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In his dismissal, Judge Bell stated that the MCRC “doesn’t have a viable claim against the EPA.”

From the beginning environmentalists have contended that what the Road Commission wanted to build was an industrial road — a mining haul road — but serious threats to wetlands and watersheds proved insurmountable. The proposed road would have cut across 22 rivers and streams, including the Dead River and Yellow Dog River Watersheds, the Mulligan Creek headwaters, Voelker Creek, and Wildcat Canyon. It would also have damaged or destroyed numerous wetlands.

“This decision wholly validates what U.P. environmental groups have expressed all along” said Alexandra Maxwell, SWUP’s executive director. “We applaud Judge Bell for this decision, and we hope this settles the matter.”

“The EPA’s objections to the construction of this road were valid and protective of one of the world’s largest sources of freshwater,” said Maxwell.

“The 595 issue demonstrates the reason we need clear siting requirements, because there are places where Thou Shalt Not,” said Chauncey Moran, Chairman of the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve Board of Directors.

“Let’s hope Judge Bell’s dismissal stands. Big highways are destructive swathes to natural habitats and wildlife. Woods roads are good enough in the UP backcountry,” said Jon Saari

“It was a no-brainer. How much energy has the MCRC wasted on this fraudulent permit application?” asks Gene Champagne, spokesperson for Concerned Citizens of Big Bay. “Moving forward, the MCRC needs to ‘Quit Whining, Drop the Lawsuit, and Fix Our Roads.’”

“It should be clear to everyone now – the Rio Tinto “Woodland Road” proposal and MCRC’s subsequent CR-595 proposal didn’t meet even the minimum requirements under the Clean Water Act. Their efforts to subvert our laws didn’t work,” said Jeffery Loman, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community tribal member and former federal oil regulator.

According to concerned citizen Catherine Parker, “MCRC doesn’t have a case. Period. The evidence is right there in the files I received through Freedom of Information Act requests.”

“The facts never supported the Road Commission’s claims. Judge Bell made the right decision,” said Kathleen Heideman, SWUP president.

Founded in 2004, Save the Wild U.P. is a grassroots environmental organization dedicated to defending wild places and clean water of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula from the dangers of sulfide mining. For more information contact info@savethewildup.org or call (906) 662-9987. Get involved with SWUP’s work at savethewildup.org or follow SWUP on Facebook at facebook.com/savethewildup or Twitter @savethewildup.

SWUP Submits Public Comment on Mineral Leases in Ottawa National Forest

IMG_9298_geo IMG_9297_geoEnvironmentalists Object to Mineral Leases in Ottawa National Forest

MARQUETTE — Grassroots environmental organization Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP) has submitted public comment objecting to mineral lease “nominations” of over 2,640 acres of public lands in the Ottawa National Forest lands to Trans Superior Resources (TSR). TSR is a mineral exploration company, which has sought uranium and metallic minerals (ie: sulfide-type orebodies containing copper, nickel, platinum, palladium and other nonferrous metals) in the Upper Peninsula since 2008. The targeted parcels span three U.P. counties: Iron, Houghton and Ontonagon.

Save the Wild U.P. has maintained their opposition to indiscriminate mineral leasing of public lands throughout the Upper Peninsula, focusing on the need for preservation and conservation of delicate watershed habitats.

“Michigan regulators obviously believe that mining exploration is always the most desirable land use — in every situation, no matter how it undermines or jeopardizes our public land, water, forestry, wildlife and fisheries!” said Gail Griffith, emeritus professor of Chemistry at Northern Michigan University and SWUP board member.

In the parcels where TSR has requested mineral leases, SWUP has documented that “…nearly the entire area is laced with headwater wetlands, seeps, embedded sedge meadows, swamp forest, and ephemeral and permanent streams. The general flow of water is into the North Branch of the Paint River, a designated National Wild and Scenic River. The river flows east and south to the Menominee River, which eventually reaches Lake Michigan. These parcels obviously contain highly sensitive hydrological features, and mineral exploration within them could negatively impact multiple rivers including Trout Creek, the Jumbo River, Dead Man Creek and the Paint River.”

SWUP board and advisory board members, Steve Garske and Rich Sloat walked many of the parcels on foot, in order to fully appreciate the hydrological and ecological features of the region. Sloat and Garske observed raptors and the goshawk, a state-recognized, “species of concern”. The presence of unique hydrological features and species of concern will only result in development restrictions in certain parcels, not a full-out ban on development or exploration, as SWUP director, Alexandra Maxwell demands there should be, “Save the Wild U.P. asks the Department of Natural Resources to unequivocally deny these lease requests and to instead, thoughtfully and carefully manage these National Forest lands with conservation as the agency’s primary goal.”

Leasing National Forest lands for mineral exploration presents other obstacles for TSR, especially lands within the Ottawa National Forest, which was created by the Weeks Act. The Weeks Act contains specific, protective language for headwaters of navigable streams and restrictive language regarding development.

“It’s outrageous but true: Part 632 doesn’t restrict one square inch of Upper Michigan from sulfide mining and mineral exploration — including your backyard garden, the headwaters of rivers, or the park where your children play,” says Jeffery Loman, former federal oil regulator and Keweenaw Bay Tribal member.

“Michigan’s rampant, indiscriminate mineral leasing of Public Lands poses a direct threat to the public trust, public access to land, clean water, and treaty-protected natural resources. Specifically, the lands targeted by these mineral lease requests include sensitive wetlands and fragile streams. Wetlands are not compatible with sulfide mining, and mineral exploration activities such as drilling in wetlands should be severely prohibited under the 2016 Clean Water Rule.” said Kathleen Heideman, SWUP president.

Founded in 2004, Save the Wild U.P. is a grassroots environmental organization dedicated to preserving the Upper Peninsula of Michigan’s unique cultural and environmental resources. For more information contact info@savethewildup.org or call (906) 662-9987. Get involved with SWUP’s work on Facebook at facebook.com/savethewildup or on Twitter @savethewildup.

Read SWUP’s full public comment here: http://bit.ly/PubComOttawa

United Tribes of Michigan Pass Anti-Back Forty Resolution

On May 5th, 2016, The United Tribes of Michigan (UTM), which consists of 12 federally recognized tribes in the state, passed a resolution pledging unified tribal opposition to the Aquila Resources Back-Forty mining proposal. If approved by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) the mining permit would allow an open-pit sulfide mine on the banks the Upper Michigan’s largest watershed, The Menominee River. The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, whose ancestral home is the mouth of the river also contends the mine would destroy significant cultural resources in the Sixty Islands region of the river. Archaeologists have documented and published works on the presence of ancient garden mounds and burial mounds.

The UTM are in steadfast opposition to this mining project and will continue to support the efforts of the Menominee.

Download Full UTM and Menominee Tribe Resolutions:http://bit.ly/UTMMenoResolution

Action Alert – citizens oppose Aquila Back Forty sulfide mine!

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Citizen opposition to the Aquila Back Forty project is growing – ADD YOUR VOICE!

Please take a moment to let Michigan’s elected officials know that you oppose the Back Forty open pit sulfide mine, proposed for the bank of the Menominee River. First, click to READ THE LETTER OF OPPOSITION. Feel free to add your own specific concerns to the letter. When you’re ready, click SIGN AND SEND NOW – it’s that simple!

Your letter will be sent to Representative Ed McBroom, Representative John Kivela, Representative Scott Dianda, Senator Tom Casperson, Governor Rick Snyder, Senator Debbie Stabenow, and Congressman Dan Benishek. It will also be sent to Director Bill Moritz (Michigan DNR), Director Keith Creagh (Michigan DEQ), and Joe Maki (DEQ). Additional info is available on the DEQ’s website: http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,4561,7-135-3311_18442—,00.html

Letter to elected officials, opposing Aquila Back Forty mine application

Dear elected officials and environmental regulators of Michigan,

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162 signatures

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