Should Marquette County Take On Building A Woodlands Road For Kennecott To Haul Heavy Metals

Filed under: Featured Posts,The Major |

MIDEQ seeks public comment on proposed CR 595

Maybe we’d hear some comments like:

  • Loggers have used the current roads to the mine with heavy trucks for years. Why do we need a new road  for Kennecott?
  • Who really is really going to pay? Can the county bear this huge expense basically on behalf of Kennecott’?
  • Are we willing to disrupt the wildlife of moose, deer, bear and fish species and numerous acres of wet lands?
  • A Woodland Road Makeover? Really? Is this needed? Couldn’t we improve some of the roads we have if needed?

The MIDEQ seeks public comment on the proposed construction of a new primary public road (CR 595) in northern Marquette County.

A public hearing will be held for this application on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 6:00 at the Country Village Conference Center located at 1101 North Road, Ishpeming, MI 49849.

Written public comments, accepted through March 2, should be sent to
DEQ
420 5th Street
Gwinn, MI 49841

To view the complete application go to http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,4561,7-135-3307_29692_24403-269958–,00.html

The Marquette County Road Commission (MCRC) project purpose for the proposed CR 595 is stated in their permit application to the MIDEQ:

To construct a primary county north-south road that 1.) connects and improves emergency, commercial, industrial and recreational access to a somewhat isolated but key industrial and recreational area in northwest Marquette County to US-41; and 2.) reduces truck travel from this area through Marquette County population centers.

Save The Wild U.P.’s Translation: To construct a haul road through the pristine highlands of northern Marquette County for the primary purpose of connecting Kennecott’s Eagle Mine location on the Triple A Road in northern Michigamme Township to their proposed processing facility near US 41 at Humboldt.

The MCRC’s proposal and permit application is a reworked version of Kennecott’s Woodland Road application previously rejected by EPA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Army Corps of Engineers. Kennecott withdrew their original application in May of 2010 due to “environmental obstacles imposed by federal regulators coupled with the uncertain timelines and cost,” explains Andrew Ware of Kennecott.

In October of 2010 Marquette County officials directed the Road Commission to pursue a similar route as a way of avoiding Marquette City. The Road Commission adopted a resolution that identifies the public need for the road, benefits to the logging industry, expanded recreational opportunities and enhanced emergency response. The commission is operating under the assumption that it is in the public’s best interest to create a new all-season road. See above: Translation

Project Concerns

A Township Resident said Rio Tinto Is Trying To "Buy The Community" By All Of The Suddenly Sponsoring Heritage Events Such As The UP200

A public road built for the primary purpose of hauling Kennecott’s ore is unreasonable for this county to assume. If built, the county could be left with a ‘road to nowhere’ and burdened with the financial responsibility of maintaining three north-south routes: 595, CR 510 and CR 550 as well as the connecting Triple-A.
Rio Tinto/Kennecott continues to explore for minerals in northern Marquette and Baraga County. These expensive ventures statistically produce very few fully developed mine projects. Although Kennecott/Rio Tinto optimistic about future development identified as the Eagle Nickel District, there remains industry uncertainty whether or not this will even occur.

The logging industry testified at a public hearing in February, 2010, that the Michigamme Highlands has been successfully logged for many years utilizing existing roads. The industry hopes to expand their logging activity in the area with or without CR 595.
Presently, EMT and fire protection is adequately provided by nearby Powell Township (12 mile trip). Kennecott has donated several thousands of dollars to their fire and EMS programs, enhancing their ability to respond quickly and effectively. The new plan proposes service from Bell Memorial in Ishpeming at a distance of 30+ miles to the mine site.

Impact to wetlands is a critical component of this proposal. The original Woodland Road application cited 27.1 acres of wetland impacts compared to the 25.81 impacted by the construction of 595, scarcely an improvement over the rejected Woodland application. The mitigation(rebuilding in another location) of wetlands have commonly experienced a high rate of environmental failure.
The Michigan Wildlife Action Plan identifies two major natural resource issues known to degrade fish and wildlife populations as 1.) habitat fragmentation and 2.) invasive species introductions. The proposed 595 will bisect what remains of Marquette County’s undeveloped and unspoiled wilderness negatively affecting the health of our moose, whitetail deer, bear, other mammals, birds, amphibians and fish.
Mine haul roads are commonly found to be sources of contamination of watersheds and groundwater as storm water runoff carries heavy metals, herbicides, salts, sulfates, and petroleum products. Chemical loading of the surrounding environment is expected to occur.

There are residents in this county that have been paying taxes for years as is with roads as is. Maybe spend some dollar on the U.P. faithful versus helping the new guys. Let them use existing roads as loggers have for years with their heavy trucks.

There are many discussion points to be added to this list. Post your comments on our website, savethewildup.org For more info, please contact us!

Participate in the hearing, and if you cannot, send in your written comments by March 2 to

DEQ
420 5th Street
Gwinn, MI 49841

———————————————————-

Here is what the mining company says at their web  site Kennecott Eagle Minerals

Transportation

Overview

The Eagle Project requires a functional transportation route by the time the mine starts production in 2013. Presently, Eagle plans to utilize existing roads. Nonetheless, this is not Eagle’s preferred method and we believe there are better, more prudent options.

Eagle assisted the Marquette County Road Commission (MCRC) in preparing the permit application to approve the construction of County Road 595, a new north-south route in western Marquette County. The proposed CR 595 will benefit the timber and mining industry, recreational users and emergency first response personnel.

MCRC submitted the permit application to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) in October 2011. The application was deemed administratively complete in January of 2012.

MDEQ will hold a public hearing in mid-February of 2012. At the hearing, citizens can make comments and ask questions regarding the CR 595 application.

For more information on the public hearing, please review MCRC’s website.

So What do you think?

Do you want a new road?

Are you going to the public hearing?

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