Oneida Co. residents to vote on mining referendum

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A controversial topic will be on the November ballot for Oneida County residents.

Officials are asking the residents if they want the county to lease out land in the town of Lynne for mining. The county owns the land where the deposit is located.

For decades, companies have looked into mining a deposit in the town of Lynne, however the area is surrounded by wetlands and not far from a waterway so efforts have fallen short. In July, a new law passed in the state that essentially made metallic mining possible.

The county, along with the UW-Extension are holding several forums to answer questions and talk to residents about the possibility of mining.

Residents in the town of Lynne said they’re worried what could happen if that area is mined.

“It’s the pollution of the groundwater that’s the biggest concern that we have,” said resident Jeff Brown. “Our whole economy is based on recreational uses of the flowage of the water and the land around it.”

Brown has lived in the town of Lynne for two decades. He also owns a business in the area. He said it’s been frustrating to watch mining continue to be a debate for that area.

“It seems cruel to ask the same people the same questions over and over,” said Brown.

Experts at a forum Thursday night said if a mining company did have interest in the land there would be numerous studies done to determine how to keep the mine from impacting the waterways. They also noted success at other mines in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula in Michigan.

Experts said there’s still a lot of unknowns about whether any companies will even show interest in mining the area. The referendum question on the ballot is non-binding, which means the county doesn’t have to make a decision on mining based on the results.

If you’d like to learn more information about the mining, the UW-Extension and county have created a website you can find here.

There will also be two more forums held:

-Sugar Camp Town Hall on Oct. 18 at 3 p.m.

-Minocqua Municipal Building on Oct. 27 at 10:30 a.m.

Courtney Terlecki

Courtney Terlecki

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