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Oneida County Towns Go on Record Opposing Sulfide Mining

Dan Dumas/Kim Swisher Communications

An anti-mining group is trying to get Oneida County towns to oppose sulfide mining in the county and oppose looser laws on the practice statewide.

So far, five Oneida County towns have signed on.

The towns of Lynne, Cassian, Nokomis, Newbold, and Lake Tomahawk have all approved resolutions on the subject.

The measure is being considered by several other towns, too, said mining opponent Karl Fate.

“What we’re looking for ultimately here is to have the county take a position against sulfide mining and then to ask for the repeal of Act 134,” Fate said.

Act 134 is a 2017 Wisconsin law that eased the process for potential mining companies in the state.

Potential metallic mining in Oneida County gained attention again in 2020 when Badger Minerals drilled on land near the Wolf River as part of an exploration project.

But the anti-mining group points to a 2018 countywide referendum which showed voters were overwhelmingly opposed to mining on county-owned land in the Town of Lynne.

“The support that we’ve seen for the resolution, I think, more than anything else, simply reflects the same thing that we saw with the referendum question,” Fate said.

The City of Rhinelander is the latest to consider the nonbinding resolution.

It discussed the matter at this week’s common council meeting, but tabled it to allow alderpersons to get more feedback from their constituents.

“I would think the best-case scenario would be if we had something like 60 percent or better of the towns pass the resolution,” Fate said. “It’s really the towns that are going to have to take a leadership role on this issue until there are some changes made on the county board. We made it very clear that the towns need to step up and try to protect themselves.”

Ben worked as the Special Topics Correspondent at WXPR from September 2019 until November 2021. He then contributed with periodic stories until 2024. During his full-time employment, his main focus was reporting on environment and natural resources issues in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula as part of The Stream, a weekly series.
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