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The DNR extends comment period for pre-application of the proposed Gogebic Taconite MineSubmitted: 09/06/2013
Story By Melissa Constanzer


Photos By KARE-11

ACROSS THE NORTHWOODS - We can feel strongly about environmental topics. That's especially true when it comes to mining in Northern Wisconsin, specifically the Gogebic Taconite mine proposed in Iron County.

On Tuesday, the comment period on bulk sampling ended. That period allowed the public to weigh in on one GTAC plan. The company wants to take four thousand tons of rock from the mine site for testing. The DNR got hundreds of comments, some for mining in general and others against it but the DNR really values the technical comments about the site itself or the sampling they would like to see.

"When we get the completed bulk sampling plan, we'll look at that bulk sampling plan and we'll also look at the technical comments we received on the bulk sampling plan when we're making our permitting decision," says Ann Coakley, DNR Waste and Materials Management Director.

While the bulk sampling got lots of comments, the pre-application notification did not. That's different from the request to sample. The pre-application is one of the first steps in the process of asking for an actual permit to mine.

"It was just very clear that they didn't know that the hearing or the comment period were for the pre-application notification so I just wanted to make it clear and to give people more time to comment on that pre-application notice," says Ann Coakley.

The comment period on the pre-application has been extended to September 17th.

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MADISON - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials have pushed back the release of updates to their chronic wasting disease plan to this spring.

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LINCOLN COUNTY - In the Northwoods, plenty of families sell organic eggs from their small farms. But a new chicken farm near Gleason takes production to a different level. 

Andrew Headings takes care of 25,000 chickens and all of their eggs. With that comes a lot of record keeping.

"Their body weight every day, how much they ate, I can figure that out," said Headings.

Headings started the Headings Family Farm in August. He says he is looking to make the birds even happier this week.

"I'm going to be free range humane certified. I have a big fence out here that fences in about 16 acres. On a nice day, my chickens are going to be allowed to go out and be able to scratch around in this grass and Pasteur," said Headings.

All of his eggs go to Heading's parent farm in Illinois before being sold around the country.

"He's a specialty egg company. We're into organic, non-GMO, omega eggs, double omega, cage free, all of his barns are cage free," said Headings.

There's a good reason you don't see many chicken farms in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

"I didn't look around the country and say 'let's put a barn here because it's ideal', the more ideal would be down south because the cold makes it to where we have to heat so we can't ventilate as much," said Headings.

Even with the cold temperatures, Headings has an eco-friendly plan for heating.

"We have a heater, an 800,000btu heater sitting by the center and we'll have a 10-ton bin sitting there and I'll buy conventional corn, put it in the bin and the stove will burn the corn," said Headings.

That's not the only thing that's eco-friendly on the farm. Headings has tried cutting down on the smell, too.
"The amount of smell we put off in this neighborhood is very minimal. If you get 300 feet away from here, you probably can't smell this thing," said Headings.

You might not smell it, but you sure can appreciate all the hard work.

"Compared to just driving by and saying, 'there's a chicken barn', there's a lot that's involved," said Headings.

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"It's unbelievable, the way I put it," said logger Jaden Streu. "There are a lot, a lot of jobs and a lot of people that are retiring."

Streu graduated from Florence High School this spring and immediately went to work for his family's business, CTL Timber Harvesting.

Streu was among the presenters at Wednesday's Log-A-Load educational day at Florence.

"I think the big thing is, this industry is changing, from some of the equipment [the students] saw that was working here today. It's highly technical equipment," Florence District Administrator Ben Niehaus said.

"My favorite station was the sawmill," said Florence fourth grader Hannah Holdaway. "I didn't know that they cut it with a machine. I thought they just cut it with a saw."

"I think they leave here with a whole different perspective of, 'Wow, this isn't just a chainsaw and something that looks like a bulldozer that picks wood up and decks it on a log truck. There's a lot more to it,'" Niehaus said.

People like Streu would like to leave a positive impression of the forestry industry on students.

"We hope that they leave [saying], 'This ain't bad. This is a good thing,'" he said.

Hopefully, as Streu sees it, some of these learners will someday become his coworkers in the forest.

"We need the younger generation to come in, like me, to take it over and keep it going," Streu said. "It's a family business and I can have kids, hopefully, and be able to show them and bring them up in it and keep it going generations after generations."

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