Sunday, May 30, 2021

'Development' aims more harm at WI land, waters & indigenous cultures

It is unacceptable in the year 2021 for public agencies to continually trample on public lands, clean water and Native American cultures.

But that is precisely what is happening in two threatened high-profile land and water desecrations - one for a toxifying mining project enabled by corporate tools Scott Walker and Tom Tiffany along the Menominee River on the Wisconsin-Michigan border - 

Menominee River | Tom Young

- and the other, separately, on a Lake Michigan shoreline nature preserve and state park in Sheboygan County which has already gathered a host of public agency endorsements.

More below:

*Activist and educator Al Gedicks has recently explained - again - the threat to Native American lands, culture and waters posed by the Back 40 mine and its proposed waste tailings dam:

[The] design for storing mine waste, known as the upstream dam construction method, is being proposed for the Back Forty Project, a large metallic sulfide mine and tailings dam on the Wisconsin-Michigan border. This earthen tailings dam and mine would be just 150 feet from the Menominee River. Despite the fact that the Menominee River is an interstate waterway, the state of Michigan has assumed permitting authority because the proposed mine is located in Stephenson, Michigan. The Wisconsin DNR, under former Gov. Scott Walker, allowed Michigan to assume exclusive jurisdiction over the permitting process.

If this dam were breached it could send toxic wastes into Lake Michigan and threaten drinking water for millions in the upper Midwest. 
The Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River and the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin are determined to prevent this from happening. 
To send a letter urging Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) to deny the dam safety permit for the Back Forty Project, go to the coalition’s webpage: To view a 5 minute video where I call for greater dam safety and inspections, go to:

Recent court actions in Michigan could block the project, for now. 

* The investigative website WisconsinWatch last week produced a blockbuster piece - now receiving national circulation - that examined damage already preliminary done to Native American remains on a 247-wooded-and-wildlife-habitat-and-rare-dune-rich tract which will be heavily clearcut and otherwise altered if a privately-owned golf course project there receives final approvals: 

Archeologists have unearthed human remains of Native Americans who lived up to 2,500 years ago during excavations of the Sheboygan County site along Lake Michigan where Kohler Co. wants to build an 18-hole golf course. 

A University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee team in 2018 and 2019 inadvertently encountered  fragments of human bone and teeth from at least seven locations beneath the privately-owned wetlands and forest where Kohler Co. envisions its third championship facility in Wisconsin, according to documents obtained by Wisconsin Watch. 

The disturbance came while recovering tens of thousands of ceramics, tools and other artifacts at the 247-acre site during a study required under federal historic preservation law, according to a 2019 report

These two proposed 'developments' which would require the bulldozing of land, water and Native American culture is not incidental or accidental; Google "Spearfishing Controversy," or this explanation among many about the failed plan to demolish the pristine Penokee Hills in NW Wisconsin that would have had been ruinous impacts on the environment and specifically on the Bad River Ojibwe land, waters and way of life.

All of these episodes can be summed up in a remark at a pro-forma public hearing on the failed Penokee Hills mine bill made by then-State Rep. Jeff Stone, (R-Greenfield), as he justified the exclusion of Bad River representatives from the bill's insider-managed authorship.

Though video of Stone's remark is no longer available as it was when I posted about it in 2012, two telling public records provide the details and context.

1. The quote is in print:

Assembly committee OKs GOP bill to streamline iron mining permit process 

"I don't think our job is to provide a seat at the table for the tribes, who want to be treated as a sovereign nation," Stone said. 

2. And there is a three-minute video linked in this blog post which shows Stone and other GOP reps hustling to then-GOP Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald's office after they'd pushed the mining bill through a committee. 

The video ends with Capitol police telling the group with the videographer they could not come into Fitzgerald's office and had to leave the hallway outside where they were peaceably waiting because they had "no official business" with the legislators. 

Which, if you think about it, was a variation on Stone's dismissive, no-seat-at-the-table message.

And which continues to be delivered by the intertwined corporate interests and public agencies to the opponents the proposed lakeshore golf course which would also eat up state parkland, too:

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals Tuesday reinstated a lawsuit challenging a deal that would trade part of Kohler-Andrae State Park for other lands so Kohler Company can build another golf course along Lake Michigan....

Sheboygan County judge Edward Stengel dismissed the action for lack of standing.... 
In Tuesday’s ruling, the court found that the [Friends of the Black River Forest] plaintiffs had in fact alleged sufficient injuries to be heard, not just dismissed. 
It is “not hypothetical or conjectural that the land exchange may cause the Friends to suffer the alleged recreational, aesthetic, and conservational injuries as a result of the golf course construction,” the court wrote. 
The injuries included the plaintiffs’ loss of use of the portion of the park given to Kohler, loss of wildlife likely to result from development of the course, and the impact the course would have on the remaining part, including more traffic and noise. 
The plaintiffs also contend the DNR didn’t follow proper procedures in conveying the park property to Kohler.

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