Mining minerals needed to sustain area

The following items have something in common. Perhaps you can connect the dots before reaching the end of the list:

1.) Living in this somewhat remote location at the top end of Michigan where many items needed for day-to-day existence must be transported in natural gas, propane, petroleum products, coal, food, beer brewing supplies, items manufactured from the iron shipped out from Marquette.

2.) Residing farther than walking or bicycling distance away from employment, shopping, drinking and eating establishments and commuting by truck, car or bus daily.

3.) Participating and spectating in sporting and non-sporting events such as football, baseball, basketball, volleyball, bicycling, running, disc golf, skiing, predator hunts, snowmobiling, roller derby, press on regardless race, sled dog racing, parades, fireworks, festivals du jour, casino gambling, etc.

4.) Generating, transmitting and storing electricity by most any means, including wind, sun, hydroelectric, nuclear.

5.) Heating by almost any means, including cord wood and geothermal.

6.) Agriculture, regardless of farm size, and delivering produce to the farmers market.

7.) Obtaining potable water, treating wastewater.

8.) Transportation by most any method other than bare feet.

9.) Using electronic equipment for anything, even for “telecommuting”.

10.) “Motorless” outdoor recreation activities such as hiking, hunting, fishing, berry picking, camping, biking, canoeing, kayaking, surfing, etc.

11.) Constructing a USDA tax-dollar funded hoop house and replacing its plastic covering every few years.

12.) Making snow where it is wanted, removing snow from where it is unwanted, and grooming snow for skiing and snowmobiling.

13.) Promoting Marquette as a stupendous place to live and recreate, bringing in many tourists, also retirees who decide to live here resulting in further house and condominium construction, higher population, wastewater treatment plant expansion.

Give up? It’s the use of non-renewable mineral resources. We use petroleum and metals in order to live the way we currently do in Marquette County, at a population level which the local land will probably not support naturally because of soil and climate limitations.

Personally, I do not want to return to the “good old days” of the 1600’s spending my winters in a tent living by feast or famine and listening to the elders retell the same old stories for entertainment. I would rather have environmentally responsible mining, timber harvesting, agriculture, and manufacturing which provide us with many of the things that can make our lives easier and more enjoyable. Even if it means making some changes to some of the land so that it might not be “natural” looking.

If it can’t be grown, then it must be mined. The “it” needs to come from somewhere. Geological factors resulted in the “it” being iron, copper, nickel, gold, etc., and the “somewhere” as being in our “back yard”. We don’t have the oil we need locally, but we have local metal resources. Isn’t this great? Much of the Yellow Dog plains is used as a jack pine “farm”, like the Sands plains, so it is not a world class wilderness. Also, not everything humans touch is ruined. I’d say that the Empire and Tilden Mine pits and rock piles are a man-made marvel. The engineering and human toil that went into, and still goes into, designing and building these features and the huge equipment needed to do this work is astounding. These features can be as astounding as many natural features in the Utah canyon lands.

Some folks demand zero tolerance for environmental degradation. Every mammal excretes wastes every day. These wastes end up going directly into the groundwater via septic systems, spread directly on the land with or without treatment, discharged into surface waters with or without treatment.

Marquette now experiences beach closings due to high bacteria counts. There is risk in everything humans engage in, and there is no such thing as having zero effect.

The Eagle Mine has been placed under intense scrutiny since day one, and will continue to be actively scrutinized to the end and beyond. Michigan has mining laws that must be complied with. So far it appears Eagle Mine has done a good job. The permit has been given.

The mine tunneling has started. It’s time to quit the anti-mining whining, step back and let them do the mining, while observing their actions and holding them accountable to the mining and environmental laws.

Editor’s note: Bryan Hill is a resident of Skandia.