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Great Lakes Article:

Crandon mine site may be more valuable untouched

Appleton Post-Crescent†††
06/27/2002ís human nature to place a value on everything. It helps us set our priorities, from what we buy to how we spend our time.

Thereís a value we place on the environment, as well, which, in the case of 5,000 acres in the heart of northern Wisconsin, is a little higher today, thanks to some interested parties. The state of Wisconsin, backed by environmental groups and tribal governments have decided that the land, located at the headwaters of the Wolf River, is more valuable as undeveloped nature, than a mine for Nicolet Minerals.

It is the right approach that, with a legitimate level of public support, will not only prevent future threats of mining, but also formally validate the preservation of the land for the people of Wisconsin. In real estate, for every degree of value, there is a price.

For years now, Nicolet Minerals has pursued state and federal permits to mine 55 million tons of zinc and copper ore from the Crandon site. The course has been littered with stumbling blocks, delays and $150 million spent by past and present mining companies just to keep the project alive against regulatory procedures and environmental opposition

Now, Nicolet has indicated a willingness to listen to the stateís offer, although it will continue pursuing the necessary permits to mine.

The money to purchase the land is expected to be a combination of private and public funds, including the stateís Stewardship Fund.

The Stewardship Fund, with no connection to the stateís beleaguered budget, is an altogether appropriate source for this acquisition. The fund has more than $300 million available specifically assigned to purchase land for conservation in the coming years. If there was ever a site targeted by conservation efforts, state and national, it is Crandon.

Whatever the price, environmental groups, the tribes, state authorities and the citizens of Wisconsin will have to decide if the 5,000 acres is worth it. Itís an important decision to make, but itís finally in the right hands.(END)


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