Friday, April 07, 2017

State, county officials address citizens' concerns about erosion from Highland Copper mining exploration along CR 519 in Porkies

By Michele Bourdieu

Hay bales are shown in place as a short-term erosion control measure in a ditch along Gogebic County Road 519. (Photo courtesy Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality)

[Editor's Note: See below map for April 8 UPDATE on Presque Isle River Scenic Site.]

MARQUETTE -- Recent photos of muddy roads and erosion near exploratory drilling sites by Orvana Resources, a subsidiary of Highland Copper Co., in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (the Porkies) have led to investigation by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Gogebic County officials as well as the attention of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which manages the park.

According to an Apr. 6, 2017, joint-agency press release from the DEQ, DNR and Gogebic County Road Commission, the erosion is not impacting the DNR-managed state park land, since drilling ceased there in February.*

However, drilling in the Right of Way (ROW) of County Road 519, which bisects the park, began on March 17 and, with recent warming weather, has resulted in erosion concerns for the ROW area, owned by the Gogebic County Road Commission.

The work is being done to see if a mineral deposit first explored here in the 1950s might feasibly be mined, which would enlarge the company’s Copperwood Project beyond its currently permitted boundaries.

Drilling halted on Apr. 4

Work was halted Tuesday evening, Apr. 4, after Highland Copper officials were informed of several potential erosion issues on the county property. Workers were part way into drilling their last test core sample.

"All drilling has been suspended indefinitely and the site is under remedial action; measures are being installed as we speak," Dave Anderson -- director of Environment, Stakeholder Relations and Michigan Corporate Affairs for Highland Copper -- said Wednesday. "That site will be off limits to any equipment for an indefinite period."

Highland Copper is engaged in efforts and discussions with county and state regulators to address the situation.

The Michigan DEQ is leading efforts to remedy the erosion -- which was called to their attention by photos taken by Steve Garske, Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC) board member.

This photo, taken last Sunday, Apr. 2, shows how exploratory drilling in the CR 519 Right of Way (on the east side of the road), combined with recent warmer weather, has resulted in erosion adjacent to land within the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. (Photo © and courtesy Steve Garske)

Steve Casey, DEQ Water Resources Division district coordinator for the Upper Peninsula, told Keweenaw Now today, Friday, that the photos were emailed to him on Tuesday, Apr. 4. Within a few hours, DEQ staff went out to investigate the site. A press release from UPEC's Mining Action Group was posted shortly afterwards on Apr. 4 with some of the photos.

"Orvana’s exploratory drilling work has turned the site into an ugly, mile-long mudhole," UPEC's press release reported, with the photos as evidence.**

Damage borders (impacts?) Porkies' Presque Isle River Scenic Site

According to Doug Welker, former UPEC board member, the DNR has neglected to enforce stipulations in the state’s Wilderness and Natural Areas law (Part 351) which prohibit mineral exploration in designated State Natural Areas. The land east of the road where the most severe damage has been done is part of the Porcupine Mountains’ Presque Isle River Scenic Site, Welker noted.

"The legal boundary of the Scenic Site is the road itself, not the east boundary of the right-of-way, according to a rule within the Michigan Administrative Code," Welker said. "The Presque Isle River Scenic Site is a legally dedicated State Natural Area, and exploration for or extraction of minerals is prohibited in State Natural Areas according to Michigan law (NREPA)."***

This map shows the location of the exploration drilling sites along the CR 519 Right of Way and in Section 5 at the west end of the Porcupine Mountains State Park. An area of the park to the east of 519 is the Presque Isle River Scenic Site. Click on map to see Legend on the right. (Map courtesy Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources)

If the road is actually the border of the Presque Isle River Scenic Site, then the state claims of no impact to the park are problematic.

UPDATE:  On April 8, after the first posting of this article, John Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer, offered this update the Presque Isle River Scenic Site: "The Gogebic County Road Commission owns County Road 519 and the right-of-way (233 feet on each side of the county road)," Pepin writes. "The Presque Isle River Scenic Site, and other scenic site designations, do not convey ownership. Therefore, the boundary for the scenic site/natural area begins at the edge of the right-of-way. In some instances, the DNR has put some limitations on private land uses, but this is only done in agreement with the property owner. The DNR has no such agreement with the Gogebic County Road Commission."

DEQ staff visit, evaluate site damage

UPEC President Horst Schmidt sent UPEC's press release to Gov. Rick Snyder requesting that the DNR stop the drilling by Highland's contractor in the Porkies. 

"We'd already been at the site when the [UPEC] press release came out," Casey said.

Highland Copper had been working on nine bore holes, with a tenth under consideration, along the 519 ROW. With rising temperatures in recent days, the frozen ground where the work was ongoing had begun to thaw quickly, producing mud and water.

Another photo of damage in the 519 Right of Way, described in UPEC's press release as "a big muddy mess." (Photo © and courtesy Steve Garske)

The company was accessing the drill sites by driving up and down the snowmobile trail and other access roads near CR 519, Casey added. That is what caused the erosion.

"We observed erosion into a wetland and ditch leading to a tributary to Gipsy Creek," Casey said. "Highland Copper will take immediate steps to stem erosion and they are developing a plan for stabilization of the site."

Water is shown in a ditch between a snowmobile trail and the east edge of Gogebic County Road 519. Erosion control measures are in place. (Photo courtesy Department of Environmental Quality)

Casey said that plan will be used to apply for a Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control Act Permit (Part 91) from Gogebic County. This permit is needed if  you disturb the earth within 500 feet of a lake or stream, he explained. The plan must be completed before Highland can apply for this permit.

Highland Copper has employed Coleman Engineering Co., an Upper Peninsula firm, to produce the application and work on getting short- and long-term erosion control measures in place.

Meanwhile, DEQ staff are still evaluating the site for possible wetland violations and assessing the progress on erosion control, Casey noted, though not all wetlands can be delineated this time of year.

"We saw violations of the wetlands statute (Part 303), and we'll be following up on that," he said. "The DEQ and the County enforcing agent will be evaluating the site."

Melanie Humphrey, geological technician for the DEQ Oil, Gas and Mineral Division in Marquette -- who visited the site this week along with Lindsey Ringuette, environmental quality analyst for DEQ Water Resources Division -- said on Apr. 6 that all equipment has been removed from the sites and the holes that were completed have been plugged (cemented).

"We expect records will be submitted once surveys are complete," Humphrey said.

Erosion control is first priority

Anderson inspected the site Wednesday, as drilling rigs were taken down and removed. Personnel were being sent off-site. Highland Copper has also ceased drilling on property it owns west of the state park.

This photo was taken on Apr. 4 at Drill Site 5-15 in the ROW. (Photo © and courtesy Steve Garske)

This photo shows Drill Site 5-15 in mid-March, just before drilling in the ROW began. The Gogebic County Road Commission permit for the drilling requires that disturbed areas be returned to their natural state. (Photo © and courtesy Steve Garske)

Anderson said at some of the drill sites -- about 100 feet off the blacktop -- the soil is highly disturbed, but there is no off-site migration of sediment or water. At other locations, off the drill pad, or off the immediate drill road, there was liquefied sediment leaving the actual footprint area into either upland forested area or, in some cases, wetland forested area.

However, there was no uncontrolled sediment leaving any of those sites into a stream that goes into the park, Anderson said.

Gogebic County Road Commission Engineer-Manager Darren Pionk said erosion control is the main priority for the short-term.

"Right now, they need to provide some temporary measures to contain erosion on their sites," Pionk said.

Water from a snowmobile trail has flowed into a ditch along the east side of Gogebic County Road 519. Erosion control measures are in place. (Photo courtesy Department of Environmental Quality)

Long-term, Highland Copper will take measures, including grading and re-seeding, to permanently restore the area to natural conditions -- a condition of the company’s permit the Gogebic County Road Commission issued Feb. 10, allowing the exploration work.

In answer to some questions on ownership of surface and mineral rights, John Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer, told Keweenaw Now, "Keweenaw Land Association does own the mineral rights under the state land in the park and the ROW and has leased them to Copperwood Resources (formerly Orvana Resources U.S. Corp), which is a subsidiary of Highland Copper -- and the road commission owns the surface property rights."

Under state law, the owner of the minerals has a right to "reasonable" use of the surface to access their minerals.

Work began on state-managed park land Feb. 3. However, exploration there was suspended on Feb. 19, due to unseasonably warm late winter temperatures, after a fourth bore hole was completed.****

"None of Highland Copper’s exploratory work has since been conducted on state park land," said John Pepin. "We visited the work area this week and, along with Highland Copper, confirmed no impacts to park land had occurred."

Casey also confirmed that DEQ staff had seen no impacts to the park land from this erosion.

"Based on what we've seen today, there's no damage to the state park land. It's all in the Right of Way," Casey told Keweenaw Now.

If the exploration results indicate the potential for copper in suitable quality and mineable quantities, Highland Copper would conduct a feasibility study, designed to mine the deposit entirely by underground methods, allowing the company to gain access to the copper ore body from land it owns outside the park.

Any potential mining of the minerals would require a separate regulatory process through the DEQ. Highland Copper would have to amend its existing permit.

"The DNR will ensure there would be opportunity for public review and comment before any mining would occur on minerals beneath Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park," Pepin said.

Notes:

* Click here for the April 6, 2017, joint press release.

** See the UPEC/Mining Action Group press release here, with links to more photos and documents.

*** Click here for the Part 351 Wilderness and Natural Areas law. Click here and see R  322.27.1   Presque Isle river scenic site on p. 2 of the document.

**** See our Feb. 13, 2017, article, "Environmental coalition objects to DNR permit for exploratory copper drilling in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park."

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Welcome spring with First Friday in Calumet Art Walk April 7

Art by Cynthia Coté. This is one of the drawings included in "Remember Me?" -- her exhibit at Galerie Bohème for the month of April. (Photo courtesy Cynthia Coté)

CALUMET -- First Friday, April 7, promises new art exhibits, opening receptions, music and more for the monthly art walk in historic downtown Calumet. Enjoy the beginning of spring, meet the artists and taste the treats offered by the galleries this Friday evening.

Galerie Bohème: Drawings by Cynthia Coté

Galerie Bohème announces its April exhibition, "Remember Me?" by Calumet artist Cynthia Coté. Coté's pen and ink and colored pencil drawings are inspired by vintage photographs, many of which she has collected over the years. Others are from borrowed family albums. The people in the photos are her subjects in small scale renderings, complete with fantastic landscapes or Calumet landmarks.

Drawing by Cynthia Coté. (Photo courtesy Cynthia Coté)

The public reception will take place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, April 7, during First Friday gallery hop in Calumet. Galerie Bohème is located at 423 5th Street in Calumet. The gallery will be open on Saturdays 1 p.m.- 4 p.m. through April or by special appointment. For more information call Joyce Koskenmaki at 370-3183 or Cynthia Coté at 337-1214.

Paige Wiard Gallery: Gallery Artist Show

For the month of April, the Paige Wiard Gallery, 109 5th St., will be showcasing artwork by the wonderful artists that are featured in the gallery.

Walnut sculpture by Bill Wiard, part of the Gallery Artist Show at the Paige Wiard Gallery for April. (Photo courtesy Paige Wiard Gallery)

An opening reception will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on First Friday, April 7. While you are here look at all the other hidden treasures in the gallery. Please call 906-337-5970 or email paigewiardgallery@gmail.com with any questions. Please note: the gallery will be closed April 18 and will reopen April 27.

Supernova Yoga, Gallery and Gifts: Art of Regina Alleman

Supernova Yoga, Gallery and Gifts, 213 Sixth St., invites the public to the opening reception for their April show, "Emergence," from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, April 7. The gallery features the work of Regina Alleman. The theme honors the arrival of Spring, Earth Day celebrations, and the spirit of this new gallery. Enjoy music with Steve Hamil on guitar and refreshments.

Spirit of Standing Rock, by Regina Alleman. (Photo courtesy Supernova Yoga, Gallery and Gifts)

Regina Alleman's mixed media photomontages combine original acrylic paintings and photography. Compositions are digitally remixed to produce final images. Each piece often combines several photographs and paintings. A process of layering contributes depth, dimension, and texture to her pieces, adding to the complexity of the final image. Regina describes this unique "layering" technique as symbolic of life itself. With it, she explores the complex layers of the human psyche and the layers of complexity in addressing social and environmental issues. Truth emerges from a process of peeling back the complex layers which constitute image. Her probing work explores the fragility and beauty of the earth's vanishing wilderness, cultures, and sacred places.

Regina has a love all things wild and has lived in the mountains of Arizona, California, Idaho and Alaska. Her experience includes summers living in a remote bush cabin in the Brooks Range of Alaska. She currently resides in Houghton, Michigan, and finds inspiration from the power and beauty of Lake Superior and the wilderness areas of the Upper Peninsula.

Calumet Art Center: Empty Bowls

Empty bowls created by Calumet Art Center friends and staff are for sale at the Center to support the 2017 Empty Bowls international project to fight hunger. (Photo courtesy Calumet Art Center)

Calumet Art Center friends and staff are busy creating empty bowls for the 2017 Empty Bowls Project, an international effort to fight hunger. Visit the Center at 57055 Fifth Street on First Friday, Apr. 7, and purchase an empty bowl to show your support. These bowls are high fired, dishwasher and microwave safe. Profits will support local children through the 31 Backpacks program. Click here for more info.

Café Rosetta: Watercolors by Kristina Anderson

Watercolor by Kristina Anderson, displayed at Café Rosetta. (Photo courtesy Café Rosetta)

For April Café Rosetta, 104 Fifth St., is displaying watercolors by local artist Kristina Anderson. Stop in on First Friday for coffee and goodies and enjoy the exhibit.

Cross Country Sports: Photography by Bryan Byrnes

"Elements of the U.P." by landscape photographer Bryan Byrnes is on display at Cross Country Sports, 507 Oak Street, through the end of April, with the addition of new photographs. This exhibit celebrates the timeless beauty of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the Lake Superior region. Bryan’s work captures the landscapes, seascapes and skyscapes that make this area special. A New York art dealer said Bryan’s modernist style is beyond picturesque -- it’s about elementalism, breaking scenes down into their elements -- and is not considered mainstream. By taking a different and sometimes unconventional approach with angles, perspectives, and lighting, Bryan offers a unique view of nature’s main attractions in the U.P.

Stop in for refreshments from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, April 7, for an open house and a chance to chat with Bryan about his work. For more information call 337-4520 or check Cross Country Sports on Facebook.

The Vertin Gallery: Superior Spring Fever

Join The Vertin Gallery, Oak and 6th streets in Historic Downtown Calumet, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. this  First Friday, April 7, for Superior Spring Fever. Decorate your world with the many shades of Spring in the Keweenaw. Embrace the sophistication of black and white and revel in the joy of full-out color we are patiently rewarded with. The Vertin has authentic and reflective antiques, modern mid-century furniture, fine art, jewelry, lamps, bar cabinets and accessories, plus sophisticated and kitchy décor for your home. The Vertin is a co-op family of artists and lovers all things old and unique. Currently open for consignment of Artwork, Vintage, Antiques and quality furniture. Pre-estate planning and consultation available. For more info email vertingallery@gmail.com or call 906-934-2655.

"Gestures and Facture" by Tomas Co is at Copper Country Community Arts Center through Apr. 29

Sculpture by Tomas Co, part of the exhibit, "Gestures and Facture," now in the Kerredge Gallery, Copper Country Community Arts Center, through Apr. 29. A reception and gallery talk will be held on Thursday, Apr. 13. (Photo courtesy Copper Country Community Arts Center)

HANCOCK -- The Copper Country Community Arts Center presents "Gestures and Facture," recent work by Hancock artist and Michigan Tech faculty member Tomas Co in the Kerredge Gallery from April 6-29.

A public reception will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., with a gallery talk at 6:20 p.m. Thursday, April 13. Refreshments will be served.

Co's recent work includes sculpture in stone and bronze as well as sumi-e (black ink) paintings.

In his statement about this body of work Co says, "I found that gestures in the sculptures and gestural strokes in paintings provide an interesting, raw tension between the hidden and the exposed, both within the subject and within the artist. Moreover, based on the facture (or manufacture) of the pieces, all the ingredients -- the materials, texture, weight and time -- allow different approaches for the artist to communicate and negotiate with the physical world in the attempt to extract the invisible. My personal struggle is to find a place in which the banal, pretentious and clichéd constructs in my works (and there are plenty) are balanced with enough honesty, raw (even primal) aesthetics and personal attachments to make the art still worthwhile to make."

This exhibition is supported in part by a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Copper Country Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. For more information call 482-2333 or visit the Center's website.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz announces intention to return to faculty in 2018

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Technological University President Glenn D. Mroz announced his intention to return to faculty starting no sooner than June 30, 2018.

In an open letter to the University community today, Mroz stated, "For some time now, the University leadership and I have worked to develop a comprehensive plan in anticipation of leadership succession. This announcement marks the beginning of a period of transition, allowing the Board of Trustees to conduct a thorough and effective search."

Board of Trustees Chair Terry Woychowski stated, "It’s with considerable regret we acknowledge this news from Glenn. Being the type of leader he is, he’s given Michigan Tech and the Board of Trustees a long lead time. This is not the time to thank Glenn for his amazing tenure -- that will come in due course. For now, we need his foot on the gas and both hands on the wheel."

Mroz is the third-longest serving current president among the public universities in the state of Michigan and will be the fourth-longest serving president at Michigan Tech by the time he steps down next year.

The full contents of President Mroz’s letter are below:

Dear Michigan Tech Community,

After much thought and deliberation, I am writing to let you know that yesterday I informed the Board of Trustees of my intent to return to the Michigan Tech faculty ranks as of June 30, 2018.

For some time now, the University leadership and I have worked to develop a comprehensive plan in anticipation of leadership succession. This announcement marks the beginning of a period of transition, allowing the Board of Trustees to conduct a thorough and effective search.

Communications like these often bring feelings of uncertainty, and with uncertainty sometimes comes a predilection to delay decision-making. I have no intention of allowing Michigan Tech to lose its forward momentum. The University owes you nothing less. 

The Board of Trustees is organizing the search and will provide brief details at their open meeting on April 28.

When President Ray Smith informed the then Board of Control of his intention to step down as president in 1978, he wrote, "My reason is simple. It’s time." I can’t say it better than that. 

Warm regards,

Glenn

Inset Photo: Michigan Technological University President Glenn Mroz. (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech)

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

State Rep. Scott Dianda announces run for 38th District State Senate Seat

Supporters gather to hear State Rep. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet), far left, announce his candidacy for Michigan’s 38th State Senate District early this morning, Apr. 4, at the Houghton County Courthouse. (Photo by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON -- State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) announced his candidacy for Michigan’s 38th State Senate District today among supporters across the Upper Peninsula. Dianda toured the U.P. making stops in Houghton, Marquette, Escanaba, Iron Mountain, Crystal Falls and Bessemer.

"I’m running to be your next State Senator because the status quo in Lansing is not working for the people," said Dianda. "Republicans in Lansing have mismanaged our state by taxing seniors’ pensions, underfunding our children’s public education and disinvesting in our communities. I’m ready to continue the fight against this recklessness and set Lansing’s priorities straight."

Dianda explained his priorities are focused around improving the quality of life for everyday U.P. residents and families by creating good-paying jobs in traditional and emerging industries in the U.P., making utility and energy services affordable and fully funding public education and local revenue sharing so U.P. communities can thrive.

"Through my travels listening to constituents, I hear from families, seniors and small businesses who are struggling to pay their bills while the wealthy and well-connected walk away with big tax breaks," said Dianda. "It is time to adjust the billions of dollars in massive tax breaks for big corporations and put that money back into the pockets of hardworking people who drive our economy."

Dianda also garnered the support of former state Senator Mike Prusi (D-Ishpeming) who introduced him on the steps of the Marquette County courthouse.

"Scott is the strongest candidate to represent the needs and values of the Upper Peninsula in Lansing," said Prusi. "I’m confident he will fight for us every single day just like he has been doing for the western U.P. as my state representative."

Representative Dianda is currently serving his third term representing Michigan's 110th House District. As a lifelong resident of the Upper Peninsula, Dianda previously worked as a transportation maintenance worker for the Michigan Department of Transportation after owning a small retail store in Calumet. He and his wife, Debbie, currently own and operate a small business in Houghton.

"I come from a proud family that has been involved in public service for five generations in the U.P.," said Dianda. "With my experience, I know what it takes to find solutions, navigate complicated government bureaucracies and get things done for the people. That is the representation the U.P. deserves in Lansing."

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Forest Service seeks public input on proposed copper mine at Oak Flat, sacred Native site in Arizona

This photo depicts the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition's 3D model of Rio Tinto’s proposed tailings location for their proposed copper mine at Oak Flat, Arizona. (Photo courtesy Arizona Mining Reform Coalition)

OAK FLAT, Ariz. -- The Arizona Mining Reform Coalition has asked concerned citizens to fill out an alternatives development questionnaire to help protect Oak Flat, a Native American sacred cultural site in the Tonto National Forest near Superior, Arizona.*

Rio Tinto, and BHP - Billiton have created a subsidiary called Resolution Copper that proposes to mine a rich copper vein more than 7,000 feet deep just east of Superior, Ariz., and an hour east of Phoenix, Ariz. A land exchange bill would privatize Oak Flat campground and surrounding public land despite the fact that President Eisenhower placed the campground off limits to mining in 1955. The land exchange would include Apache Leap, a cliff where more than 80 Apache warriors chose to leap to their deaths rather than surrender to the US cavalry. Oak Flat is a Native American sacred site that is critical for the religious freedom of Arizona Tribes.**

Oak Flat is a prime recreation area, especially for rock climbing and bouldering with more than 2,500 established climbing routes. Oak Flat is also a rare desert riparian area -- in Arizona, less than 10 percent of this type of habitat remains.

Scenic view from Oak Flat, a Native American sacred site, where Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto and BHP - Billiton, plans to construct a large underground copper mine. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

The Tonto National Forest is beginning a process of developing alternatives for a toxic tailings dump and other components of Rio Tinto’s plans to destroy Oak Flat and other public lands. This process is required by the National Environmental Policy Act. Rio Tinto’s plans are destructive in many ways, particularly its proposed toxic waste dump.
 
The U.S. Forest Service has put a slideshow and questionnaire online to ask the public to help them develop alternatives to Rio Tinto’s mine plans. The questionnaire will be online until Wednesday, April 5, 2017.

The questionnaire is part of an ongoing process to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate and disclose the environmental effects from Rio Tinto’s plan to destroy Oak Flat and an additional more than 4,400 acres of public land by creating an underground mine at Oak Flat, process copper and other minerals outside the Superior town limits, dump 1.6 billion tons of toxic waste in an unlined facility on public land between Superior and Queen Creek, pump copper concentrate 22 miles to a loading facility in San Tan, and drill more than 30 wells between Magma, Ariz., and Florence Junction to pump groundwater to supply the proposed mine.

The Forest Service wants the public to provide input as to the relative importance of a variety of environmental and social criteria that the Forest Service will use to evaluate alternative tailings facility locations.

The Arizona Mining Reform Coalition states that the questionnaire is weighed toward supporting Rio Tinto’s plans.

"The questionnaire is what it is," says Roger Featherstone, Arizona Mining Reform Coalition director. "We do not endorse it and while we applaud the Forest Service for further seeking public participation, we wish that they had done a better job of being objective. You may find some of the questions to be leading and objectionable. We are disappointed that there are not choices for 'all of the above' or 'none of the above.' You do not have to answer every question. Our hope is that the Forest Service will give as much weight to the unanswered questions as the ones that contain answers."

While you look at the questionnaire, keep in mind that Rio Tinto’s proposal would:
  •     Destroy Oak Flat by causing a 1,000-foot-deep crater 2.5 miles in diameter.
  •     Destroy 7,000 acres of public land, including Oak Flat, to build a toxic mine.
  •     Dump 1.6 billion tons of toxic tailings directly on the ground on top of public lands used for hiking, ATV’s, and other forms of recreation.
  •     Bury several springs. Preliminary drilling results in this proposed toxic dumpsite show far more shallow groundwater is present than Rio Tinto "estimated."
  •     Drill more than 30 water wells between Florence Junction, Ariz., and Magma, Ariz., to pump ground water to supply the proposed mine.
  •     Pump copper concentrate 22 miles to San Tan, Ariz., where it would be loaded onto railroad cars to be transported out of the United States for final processing.
Click here to view a video of a public workshop held by the Forest Service on March 22, 2017, in Gilbert, Arizona. The video is intended to help you understand the status of the EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) and the alternatives development process. Click here for the slideshow from the workshop and fill out the questionnaire by going to this Forest Service questionnaire page. For more information and documents click here.

*  The Arizona Mining Reform Coalition is an organization working to ensure mining is done responsibly to protect communities and the environment in Arizona. See previous Keweenaw Now articles on the Oak Flat mining project near Superior, Arizona: "Native, non-Native concerned citizens camp at Oak Flat, Ariz., opposing potential Rio Tinto/BHP/Resolution copper mine" and
"Deadline for comments on Rio Tinto mining project for Oak Flat, sacred Apache site, is TODAY, JULY 18."

** Rio Tinto is the same mining company that constructed the entrance to the Eagle Mine near Big Bay, Mich., under Eagle Rock, another sacred Native American site.

Forest Service to hold public meeting April 4, 2017, on management plan

PHOENIX, Ariz. --  Forest Service officials will meet with interested members of the public Tuesday, April 4, in Superior, Arizona, to update attendees on the Forest Service’s management plan for the Apache Leap Special Management Area.

The meeting will take place from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Superior High School located at 100 Mary Drive.

During the session, Forest Service representatives will:
  •   Restate the Apache Leap Special Management Area, including legislative intent, purposes, and allowable uses
  •   Summarize topics and areas of concerns expressed by the public during pre-scoping workshops and meetings held between October 2016 and January 2017. Those meetings gave the public a chance to provide input to help forest officials craft content for the management plan
  •   Provide an overview of the draft management plan’s content; answer questions about the plan’s content
  •   Collect comments on the management plan as part of the 45-day comment period
  •   Discuss the Forest Service’s remaining, projected schedule to comply with development of the management plan by December 2017.
While the meeting will focus on the management plan, it will include time for public input as part of a 45-day public comment period continuing through May 1, 2017.

Click here for more info and links to the management plan and related documents.