The Penokee Hills are located in Northern Wisconsin’s Ashland and Iron County. The Penokee Hills form the headwaters of the immense Bad River Watershed. The Bad River Watershed meets Lake Superior to the North and includes all waters flowing form the south that includes the Penokee Hills. This watershed provides a filter for the water flowing into Lake Superior, spawning areas for fish, habitat for nesting birds, and drinking water throughout the region. Equally important the Bad River Watershed nourishes the “food laying on the water” the wild rice or manoomin. Manoomin has been a staple in diets for generations. Fish from the waters provide food. The many pristine rivers and waterfalls are natural attractions for visitors and residents alike.
Mining in the Penokees came to a halt in the early 1960’s after decades of iron ore extraction. What is left behind is a legacy of taconite tailings, piles of rock, tunnels, and no money. The profits left with the mining companies. Some refer to this area as depressed, poor, and poverty stricken. Terms that are often used to describe third world countries especially when mega corporations want to extract resources to provide for the insatiable appetite as Caterpillar executives, describe “for anything that comes out of the ground”. Look out third world countries and rural areas that have maintained pristine beauty. Mineral extraction is huge and provides a lot of money for very few. Wealthy investors, politicians who do their bidding, and slick advertising promise millions and millions and of dollars and jobs, more jobs that all pay big bucks. Legislators who gleefully promote these ideas are all to often blinded by the glitter or gold while ignoring the voices of the past reminding us all that Water is always more valuable than gold. This water is not ours to squander away as it belongs to those who follow in our footsteps.. Rather than demanding the highest standard for any economic development, (Zero Discharge) or supporting far reaching and forward thinking legislation such as the Common Property (The 7th Generation Amendment) this misguided representatives of the people produce legislation that became public on May 11, 2011, which for years have protected our resources.