Success: Wetlands and Tribal Lands Saved from Mining

Penokee Mountains in northern Wisconsin

Target: Pam Schense, Wetland Mitigation Coordinator for Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources

Goal: Applaud end of destructive mining project that would have harmed precious wetlands and tribal property.

Thousands of acres of wetlands and tribal territory are saved by the decision to not mine the area for low-quality iron ore. A previous ForceChange petition demanded that the mining company stay clear of these precious lands. The company seeking to operate this massive open-pit mine cannot afford the wetland mitigation fees enforced by the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Thank the DNR for upholding this important law that saved the state’s natural beauty and watershed.

Gogebic Taconite, the company behind the invasive mining project, hoped to mine eight million tons of finished taconite a year in northern Wisconsin’s Penokee Mountains. The mine would have been four miles long and 1,000 feet deep. Due to the state’s wetlands mitigation plan,  Gogebic Taconite would have been required to replace 1.5 acres of wetlands for every one acre destroyed. The damage to this sensitive habitat would have cost Gogebic $60,000 per acre. This price tag caused the company to redraw mining consideration in the area.

The proposed site for the mine would have negatively affected the local watershed, known as the Bad River Watershed. Many streams in the area flow through tribal lands and empty into Lake Superior. The water from this watershed also feeds the prominent wild rice beds so important to the Bad River Ojibwe reservation community. Taconite mines produce large amounts of mercury emissions. Mercury emissions negatively impact wildlife food webs and can have severe health effects if mercury-contaminated fish are consumed by humans. This specific mine would have also emitted deadly quantities of sulfuric acid that would have contaminated the fresh waterways, killing a variety of local fish species.

The mine could have damaged the area’s pristine water quality, wildlife habitat, and native forest species. Tribal lands are now saved from the mine’s invasive operation. By signing this petition, you are thanking the DNR for enforcing wetland compensatory mitigation that deterred Gogebic Taconite from mining Wisconsin’s coveted natural landscape.


Dear Ms. Schense,

The Penokee Mountains are a coveted part of Wisconsin. The Bad River Watershed feeds the Bad River Ojibwe reservation and provides freshwater to wildlife from the mountains to Lake Superior. Thanks to the DNR’s wetland compensatory mitigation program, the Penokee Mountains and Bad River Watershed are saved from the destructive and contaminating aspects of open-pit mining.

Gogebic Taconite has fought for this mine for many years now. Their withdrawal of a plan to mine low-grade iron ore out of these treasured wetlands has saved Wisconsin’s wild and freshwater sources. Their damage to wetlands would have cost too much to mitigate, causing them to pull out of the project. I applaud you for upholding such wonderful standards toward native wetlands. You have preserved this land and saved natural resources from a mercury and sulfuric acid-emitting mine. I hope you continue to protect Wiscosin’s native lands.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: jchapiewsky via Flickr

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