Public Access Controversy
5:31 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Activists Test Limits of 600' Restricted Zone

Groups of snowshoers continue to traverse areas where Gogebic Taconite is drilling and sampling.  

Credit Andy Arthur

A new law forbids the public from coming within 600 feet of equipment and roads used for iron mining.   But those opposed to the measure say it’s designed to hide environmental damage from the public. 

Paul DeMain organized a recent trip to the Tyler Forks.  He says some activists are hoping for a citation, in hopes of challenging the law in court.

“The challenge would come from the idea that first of all, treaty harvesters have a right to look at certain resources, and the main intent of GTac Tiffany’s bill was to prevent people from observing, rather than safety issues.”

DeMain estimates over a hundred people have been in the restricted area within the past two weeks.  He also says they did not see any postings or indication that the area was closed to the public. 

Senator Tom Tiffany defends the law he authored as being important for safety.  He says protest groups are hindering Gogebic Taconite from gathering information.

 “This company is having to go through a rigorous process in order to get a permit.  And we should let that go forward.”

Tiffany says the results of the GTac’s testing will be public knowledge.