Hours of testimony in Madison whether to allow an exemption to the state's Managed Forest Law that would allow Goegebic Taconite to close up to 4,000 acres by a proposed mine site.
Senator Tom Tiffany's bill that would enable "GT" to deny access on land that otherwise would allow public access. One mining protester was arrested earlier this year at the mine site after a group stopped by to protest. Some damage occured.
During the hearing, Tiffany said he was concerned about safety...
"...this has been foisted on us in a way that we had to deal with this issue in a very specific to this iron mining permit...."
A person testifying felt it might be difficult to review what is happening at the site if it is closed off. Tiffany says the DNR will present information about the site on it's website..
"...there will be full transparancy of information that comes out of that mine site. It will be verified by the DNR and presented to the public so that information is going to be out there..."
The current law allows property owners to open or close their managed forest land but their decision affects how the property is taxed. Opening your land to public access greatly reduces tax impact. Democratic Assemblywoman Janet Bewley from Ashland..whose district includes the proposed mine site...says this bill would let "GT" alone close the land, but not pay the higher property taxes...
"...they can close a very large parcel of land and switch it from open to closed. It's in an open-ended time period so they can close that much land and they don't have to pay the back taxes...."
Bewley says it could have been handled by passing a bill requiring the public to stay away a distance from the mine, as in logging operations and not going into the complicated Managed Forest Land law.
Some comments courtesy Wisconsin Eye.