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Wolf River Drilling: Local residents and politicians speak out

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MONICO, Wis. (WAOW) -- Ronald Zabler and his family have had a cabin on Brown road for over half a century.

Ron's grandfather bought the lot when he returned from World War II.

"Typically, this is the most quiet place in Northern Wisconsin," said Zabler.

As a truck rolled down the gravel on Brown road, he said, "it has now become one of the loudest places."

The Zabler's Cabin is located just north of Shoepke, where Badger Minerals began exploratory drilling in early June.

Ronald says machines for drilling and surrounding forest projects have make noise throughout the day.

He also worries of the long-term impact. In the past 25 years, exploratory drilling has not lead to mining in Wisconsin. Still, Ronald fears the Shoepke location could change that.

"This land, as I understand it, is now going to be worthless," he said.

Democratic political candidates joined the Zoblars at their cabin on Tuesday to talk about how they've been impacted.

Democratic State Senate candidate for District 12, Ed Vocke, said the drilling should not be taking place on Managed forest land. "It's a bit egregious that the managed forest land law is allowing for exploratory drilling," he said.

Kirk Bangstad, a democratic candidate for state assembly district 34 and owner of Minocqua Brewing Company, pointed to the impact drilling could have on tourism.

"We are a tourist restaurant which depends on people coming up here and fishing, boating and if our lakes are destroyed because of sulfite mining then we are out of business," said Bangstad.

Republican State Assembly candidate for District 12, Rep. Mary Felzkowski responded to NEWS 9 with the following statement: “I understand that exploratory surveying has begun in some areas of Oneida County. My office is here to assist any constituents who have concerns or questions, and my staff and I are available to help facilitate any conversations with the Department of Natural Resources regarding the permit.”

The exploratory drilling is set to be completed by the beginning of July.

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Tom Lally

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