The Bad River is a large and vital watershed located in North Western Wisconsin. This is a watershed that is so vital in the conservation of clean water that it helps to keep fresh clean water in Lake Superior. However, the purity of this impactful watershed has been challenged. If nothing is done about it, the watershed will become a handicap for Lake Superior, the wild life in the area, the Native American Tribes and cities that depend on its fresh water for survival.
In 2011 one of the largest “open-pit iron-ore mines in the world was proposed to be built by the Gogebic Taconite Company (GTAC),” on this natural watershed (Proposed Taconite Mine in the Penokee Range, “Taconite Mine”).
The reasoning for his environmental disaster is to extract a “low-grade iron ore called taconite,” (Proposed Taconite Mine in the Penokee Range, “Taconite Mine”). The proposed mining site is located at Penokee Range, which is in the heart of Wisconsin’s north woods and in the Bad River Water Shed (Proposed Taconite Mine in the Penokee Range, “Taconite Mine”). The process of this project is estimated to “generate approximately 560 million tons of tailings and 350 tons of waste rock (which is basically waste suspended in water),” essentially making this water too murky to drink or use immediately, only during the “first phase of this operation,” (Bad River Reservation “Articles and Answers About Life). For this reason it is no surprise that the GTAC has already been “citied 25 times for degrading the water quality at four different mines,” (Bad River Reservation “Articles and Answers About Life”). Why would we knowingly allow this to happen in one of Wisconsin’s most influential natural lands?
Although the Chippewa Tribe and the United States Government protect much of this land under a treaty and the operation places “excessive risk on 14 Federally-Recognized Tribes that depend on the health of this water shed for ecosystems, cultural and spiritual environment and nutritional health,” the mining project is still in motion (Bad River Indian Reservation, “Articles and Answers About Life”).
The effects of this mine would create more risks than the benefits of mining the iron ore beneath the land. Contaminants from this project would be that of: mercury, arsenic, other heavy metals, sulfates, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides (Proposed Taconite Mine in the Penokee Range, “Taconite Mine”). This presents a large problem for the surrounding areas considering the watershed “hosts approximately 40% of all coastal wetlands within the Lake Superior Basin,” (Bad River Indian Reservation, “Articles and Answers about Life”). The mining would affect the surface and groundwater that provides for cities like Ashland, Mellen, Highbridge, Marengo, Odanah, and Upson (Proposed Taconite Mine in the Penokee Range, “Taconite Mine”). Not only would the purity of the water for these cities be challenged but the mining would also threaten the “local communities air” quality, (Proposed Taconite Mine in Penokee Range, “Taconite Mine”).
Along with jeopardizing the health of people in surrounding communities it also turns out that this mining site is “located near one of the most environmentally sensitive parts of Wisconsin, the Copper Falls State Park located on the shores of Lake Superior,” (Proposed Taconite Mine in Penokee Range, “Taconite Mine”). This area provides crucial habitat for the survival of many diverse types of wildlife such as the “piping plover, trumpeter swan, yellow rail, bald eagle, wood turtle, and ram’s-head lady- slipper orchid and the Kakagon- Bad River Slough,” (Bad River Indian Reservation, “Articles and Answers About Life”). This mining project would be detrimental for people who rely on the water and for the environment.
By signing this petition it would help to conserve a large portion of natural Wisconsin land that still exists as well as the cities, tribes, and animals that depend on it.