Bulk Sampling Permit Questions sent in 09.05.13

Larry Lynch - WI DNR


As you well know the rules governing the exploration, development, and operation of an iron mine have changed. This makes Baseline studies extremely important. We have been informed by the company that the results of the bulk sampling permit will help determine the planning for their taconite manufacturing facility and mining operations. A project of this size and scope will have a profound impact on the watershed and those of us who call this place home. These suggestions must be included in the baseline studies as the Bulk Sampling permit is under review. 

Weather Data:  Wind speeds, temperatures, snow fall depths, weather patterns, how do the Penokees and Lake Effect weather interact?

Geologic: Location of sites that were considered for high-level radioactive disposal in the Penokees in the past years.

Climate: an examination of air, soil, and water statistics, identification of the microclimates at each site, what will the effect of either blasting or digging either positive or negative within the microclimate?

Blasting Sites: The impact the blasting on the permit areas and those immediately adjacent to these sites, the direction and the force of the blasts as they travel through the Penokees, the types of explosives that are under consideration, public notification of transportation considerations, times and dates of actual detonations.

Plant studies: A baseline inventory of medicinal/edible plants native to the blasting sites areas

Plant Economics: A study of the long-term economic value of: maple sap, oak trees, maple trees, poplar, and others not identified here. Special baseline data is needed to determine the types of mushrooms, their economic value and medicinal value.

A baseline study analyzing the migration patterns of birds, large sized carnivores, the American Marten. How do the Penokee Hills impact migration routes of the winged ones?

How does opening the forest canopy by blasting or digging in old blasting sites by altering the amount of sunlight shinning on the forest floor?

What are the ways Gtac can use to eliminate the release of cancer causing particles?

If a permit is granted, how will elimination of cancer causing particles be measured to ensure meeting a zero discharge threshold?

How will the air quality be monitored?

Will removing the forest canopy destroy den sites for the American Marten, fishers, owls, and other critters?

A baseline study exploring the interactions amongst the living beings sharing the Penokee Hills watershed in terms of habitat, space requirements and food supply.

A study showing the water budget for each Bulk Sample Site.

A complete hydrological review including the ground and surface water and how these interact. The depth of all private wells in the watershed. The production of the area’s many artesian or free flowing wells.

A baseline review and identification of cultural, spiritual, and sites of special significance: these may include trails, ceremonial spaces, villages, and places of worship, healing ponds, and sacred sites. 

GTac must be required to answer the question: If sulfide mineralization is found, what is the plan to protect the environment and human health?

How will the impact of the explosions that may be used in the Bulk Sample process compare to the intensity of the explosions on buildings, foundations, and windows in the surrounding areas?

Will the explosions resulting from the Bulk Sampling process be measureable on the Richter scale?

How will these explosions compare to the actual mining explosions. 

What considerations, if any, have been made for the barns, large stone buildings, foundations, and buildings such as the Mellen High School?

The permit application should also include a baseline line study of the area’s roads, highways, and rail systems that may need to be upgraded, moved, or rebuilt to accommodate this project if it should move forward. 

The Baseline Study must also include a model or artist’s rendition of what the facilities will look like if this project is finally approved.


On a personal note, I know this list is long and extensive. I am certain others have made suggestions as to what should be included. I would like to review these questions and the responses they receive from DNR.  

Sadly, most of us fear the company, selected politicians, and lobbyists will receive copies and begin “spinning answers” or considering additional legislation that will lead to more loopholes, waivers, variances, or exceptions. In addition, if is it possible please let me know how I may find out who else has requested this same information.

On a brighter note, even with short staff, and the current climate towards public employees I do want to thank you for visiting the Penokees and the Harvest and Gathering Institute established by Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal government.  Please do not hesitate to let me know if the above-mentioned suggestions for inclusion in the Bulk Sampling Plan are deemed inappropriate at this time. For now, I am not sure when and if the possibly will be presented for public input in the future.