12.04.13 Meeting Notes – Gogebic Taconite WDNR pre-application meeting

Meeting Notes – Gogebic Taconite WDNR pre-application meeting

Date: December 4, 2013 ~10am

Meeting Purpose:  The purpose of the meeting was to hold the WDNR’s statutorily required pre-application with proposed ferrous mine project sponsor, Gogebic Taconite.  Specific focus during OP-R participation was on wetland identification.

Attendees:  OP-R staff Rebecca Graser participated via phone. Approximately 30 people participated in person, not all of whom were introduced.  Identified persons included Ann Coakley (WDNR), Larry Lynch (WDNR), Jon Gumtow (Stantec), and Tim Meyers (GTAC).

Major Discussion Points:

Jon Gumtow indicated that wetland delineation of specific portions of site is expected to be completed during the 2014 growing season.  Team will include multiple persons, perhaps some sub-contracted to Stantec, with some WDNR Assured Delineators.  Assured delineators may be assigned to specific areas of the site based on difficulty to delineate or other factors.  Delineation report will include a functional analysis (perhaps for groups of similar wetlands rather than each individual basin) utilizing WisRAM.  It was not decided whether or not the delineation report would be provided to the agencies in advance of an application for concurrence and/or JD purposes.

(Sidebar from Tim Meyers indicating that OP-R will receive a “Work Plan” in the near future (winter 2013-2014) that outlines the studies/data collection proposed including methodology in support of a future application for our review.)

Discussion amongst attendees (mostly unidentified) expressed concern about the extent of resources identified (e.g. wetlands only or other aquatic resources), and the boundaries of the areas reviewed.

OP-R made several points during the discussion:

a. The delineation should not make any assumptions about the jurisdictional extent of a resource - if it meets the parameters for identification – it should be identified. JD is an agency decision.

b. Delineations should (in addition to the ’87 manual and applicable supplements) follow the MN wetland delineation protocol; unless the WI version is available (they should be similar).

c. Mapping should include the limits of the survey areas.  This will limit the potential for incorrect assumptions about the overall size of a resource identified (e.g. if extends off site).

d. Reminded participants that studies proposed should be vetted with our agency and other appropriate entities in advance of completing work (ex. EPA).

e. GTAC may wish to delineate more area than the proposed mine/ancillary features locations.  It is OP-R’s understanding that the suite of alternatives we may evaluate during an application review may not match the suite of alternatives required by the state. [Ann at WDNR provided additional supported and agreed with this statement.]

f. WisRAM has not yet been evaluated by our agency for use in providing functional assessments.  Our TSS staff has recently been provided information to complete an analysis of the tools applicability and limitations.  We cautioned the group that they may wish to re-evaluate the functional assessment methodology proposed.  OP-R indicated that a suspense date for our evaluation could be provided to Jon Gumtow (based on his request during the meeting).

g. OP-R recommended that we be notified early if a wetland delineation concurrence request will be requested in advance of an application to help facilitate the potential for agency field review within the growing season.