A pair of Republican state Senators want to allow Gogebic Taconite to restrict public access around the site of a proposed iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin.
The bill from state Senators Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) and Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) would allow a company to close down land enrolled in the state’s Managed Forest Program, if it has notified the DNR that it intends to file an application for an iron mining permit in that area. Land in the program is privately owned, but the public typically has access for hiking, hunting, and other outdoor activities. In exchange, the property owner makes reduce payments to the state.
Under the bill introduced Friday, the land could be designated as closed to the public. Closed land would require the property owner to make higher payments for each acre.
The measure would allow Gogebic Taconite to block access to a site the Penokee Hills, where the company is exploring opening a large open-pit mine. Crews and groups protesting the project have clashed frequently in recent months, and some opponents have been camping in the woods around the site.
A Senate committee has scheduled a hearing on the bill for next Wednesday.