New mine land access plan eyed

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – A bipartisan group of lawmakers is developing an alternative to barring the public from 3,500 acres of state-managed forest around a proposed iron mine site in northern Wisconsin.

The lawmakers are working on a compromise that would create a 300-foot perimeter around mine-related activities and a 50-foot buffer along an access road. Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, said it could be introduced as early as this week.

“We think this is going to leave people with a good taste in their mouth, rather than a bad one,” Schultz said. “It treats everybody fairly and it puts the Department of Natural Resources in control rather than a company.”

The original proposal would have halted all public access to the area while Gogebic Taconite explores the possibility of building a large open pit iron ore mine there.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, said he introduced it to protect worker safety in response to a June 11 incident when masked protesters vandalized equipment at the mine site and harassed mine employees, which led the company to bring in armed guards. One woman was charged with felony robbery.