Twice the Oneida County Mining Committee has tried to push through bids for a mining lease on our county forest. Twice they have been turned back due to public opposition and thoughtful direction from the full county board.
We are blessed here in Oneida County because of our priceless water resources. The Lynne deposit lies buried under a vast column of water. Approximately half of the deposit footprint is covered by wetlands that extend in every direction but the south. Even the dry ground to the south is peppered with small ponds. The Lynne site is so saturated that the surface waters and groundwater are essentially indistinguishable. Waters of significant regional importance, the Willow Rapids and Willow Flowage, are a short distance downstream. A sulfide mine at Lynne poses a clear conflict with our goals of protecting our water resources.
The committee has been advised by the board to slow things down and to develop a comprehensive plan for public participation. I believe there are some key factors necessary for this to be successful. The process is broken and corrupt, and must be entirely scrapped. The committee needs to stop pushing a mine. Instead, they need to focus on public process and establishing an information base.
Although this sounds simple enough, it is clearly impossible given the current make-up of the committee. Four of the members (five if you include “advisor” Hintz”) are pushing for a lease and have shown no objectivity. It is incumbent upon Board Chairman Ted Cushing to revisit the composition of this committee. It seems to me that the committee should be balanced but dominated by members that are thoughtful, clear-headed thinkers that have no agenda. It is also critical that the Town of Lynne and Lac du Flambeau have representation because of their unique enhanced interests.
The current committee lacks credibility. Over and over we keep hearing the same bogus arguments–the language of people pushing a mine. The committee didn’t just dream these arguments up. This was fed to them from the two geologists, Mr. Evans and Mr. Scott, who have been directing the committee for the better part of the last two years. This raises the serious issue of whose interests were being served during this time frame. It’s time the committee start getting its direction from the taxpayers and the county board. This means no more closed three-way teleconferences, no more closed meetings and no more closed decisions.
I urge anyone concerned who is familiar with this situation to call on Mr. Cushing to change this committee.
Karl A. Fate, Rhinelander