MAC: Mines and Communities

Open Letter to Wisconsin State Government Leaders

Published by MAC on 2002-06-04

Open Letter to Wisconsin State Government Leaders

Governor Scott McCallum

cc: Senate President Fred Risser and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala
Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen and Assembly Majority Leader Steve Foti
Senate Minority Leader Mary Panzer
Assembly Minority Leader Spencer Black
Joint Finance Committee Co-Chairs Senator Brian Burke and Representative John Gard

Leaders from environmental, conservation and public interest groups, local and tribal governments, and local and state mining organizations, who long have been concerned about the impacts of development of the proposed Crandon Wisconsin's Northwoods.

Now is the calm before the storm -- the last opportunity for thoughtful consideration of alternatives to the upcoming contentious battle over the Crandon Mine Environmental Impact Statement and mine permit Master Hearing. We believe the proposed Crandon Mine project faces many regulatory and environmental hurdles that may never be overcome.

We have dared to ask: What if the total energy and money likely to be spent by proponents and opponents of the Crandon Mine were instead diverted to a campaign for a sustainable economic and environmental future for Wisconsin's Northwoods?

At this unique moment in Wisconsin's history we make a uniquely Wisconsin proposal -- public acquisition of all of the property (5,000 acres of land and mineral rights) owned by Nicolet Minerals Company (NMC) in the vicinity of the proposed mine site as a conservation area devoted to sustainable land and forest management practices, tribal cultural values, and tourism suitable to this environmentally sensitive area. This will be the Wolf River Headwaters Protection Purchase. This initiative should include a mix of public and private sources, including the State Stewardship Fund

We call on Governor McCallum to support this initiative with the full commitment of his office by directing Department of Administration Secretary Lightbourn to prepare a Letter of Intent with Nicolet Minerals Company to purchase the site. We call on NMC to support initiation of the purchase agreement process. We ask that our elected officials and candidates for governor join in thoughtful discussion of this proposal and not raise barriers to consideration of this unique opportunity for public acquisition of the Wolf River Headwaters.

We would support use of public resources to acquire NMC's proposed mine site based on the following conditions:

1. The cost of the acquisition to the public must be reasonable based on appraisals reflecting the fair market value of the property for conservation use and the mineral rights in their undeveloped state.

2. Mineral rights shall be held by the public and deed estricted to prevent development of the mine.

3. The State should pursue a mix of public and private funding sources (such as federal, local and tribal governments, and private organizations) as is common practice with Stewardship Fund projects. The State Stewardship Fund should not be the sole source for funding on this project.

4. Any cost to the State Stewardship Fund shall be spread over time after final payment of current obligations, preserve the priority of planned and scheduled purchases, and not bankrupt the program for this unique purchase.

5. The State shall consult with us and provide meaningful participation for our designated representatives during the negotiations concerning the acquisition of the property and mineral rights.

6. Subsequent management and control of the property will be developed through negotiations and legislative action patterned on a state-tribal-local partnership, such as the Kickapoo Valley Reserve Board. Management of the site must preserve the natural and cultural resources of the site into the future and provide tribal access for use of these cultural and natural resources. Resource management shall be carried out at the watershed scale to protect the high-quality water resources and habitat for game, non-game and endangered species while encouraging appropriate tourism development in an area that would otherwise have put these resources at serious risk.

7. The State shall ensure adequate financial and technical assistance to establish and maintain sustainable land and forest management practices and tourism suitable to this environmentally sensitive area. This will build on current local sustainable development efforts, such as Northwoods NiiJii Enterprise Community Inc.

8. Consistent with state and federal environmental laws and regulations, NMC and its parent company will remain legally responsible for any environmental contamination of the project real estate caused by NMC or its agents or employees.

Signed by authorized representatives of:

Mole Lake Sokaogon Chippewa Community
Clean Water Action Council of Northeast Wisconsin Inc.
ECCOLA (Environmentally Concerned Citizens of Lakeland Area)
John Muir Chapter of the Sierra Club
Menominee Indian Tribe
Midwest Treaty Network/Wolf Watershed Educational Project
Mining Impact Coalition of Wisconsin
Northern Thunder
Pickerel/Crane Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District
River Alliance of Wisconsin
Rolling Stone Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District
Town of Nashville
Wisconsin Resources Protection Council
Wisconsin Stewardship Network - Mining Committee
Wisconsin's Environmental Decade
Wolf River Chapter of Trout Unlimited
Bob Hudek, Wisconsin Citizen Action*

(*For identification purposes only)

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