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Celebrating clean water, blessing the Menominee River

The Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River gathered recognizing efforts to stop Back Forty.
Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 7:50 PM EDT
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MARINETTE, Wis. (WLUC) - The Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River celebrated clean and accessible water in the Menominee River on Friday. The Menominee River was blessed during a water ceremony performed by the Menominee Indian Tribe.

“It celebrates the connection between the people in Menominee River and the sacredness of the water, especially to the native people of the area,” said Dr. Al Gedicks, executive secretary of the Wisconsin Resource and Protection Council.

The Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River has been pushing against Aquila Resources and the Back Forty mine project, which aims to create a zinc, copper and gold mine, for about five years.

“All the funds we are going to receive [Friday] are going towards attorney fees to save the Menominee River against the Back Forty mines,” said Jerry Boudish, contingency director for The Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River.

Last year, Back Forty had several necessary permits to move forward with the mine, but two permits were repealed earlier this year. Aquila appealed the denial of the wetlands permit and in May, rescinded that appeal saying it wanted to create an underground mine instead.

“We’ve stop them so far. With all the different permitting, we have stopped. They are going back to square one right now,” said Boudish.

The coalition is concerned that if the mine is approved, the Menominee River wouldn’t have suitable drinking water.

“This mine will be discharging 16 million gallons per day of polluted treated water in the upper Menominee River,” said Boudish.

Aquila Resources did not respond to TV6′s request for comment, but in the past has said it has worked with EGLE for years to limit impacts and the project would directly impact 11.2 acres of wetlands. The coalition also says there are thousands of people across Michigan and Wisconsin against the Back Forty mine project.

“This is why this project is never going to go ahead,” said Gedicks.

In June, Aquila announced it began a non-binding letter of intent to sell properties in Wisconsin. Right now, the timeline for Aquila moving forward is unclear. Read more about Back Forty here and the Coalition here.

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