- The Oneida County Board Chair used the term "off the table" to describe metallic mining in the town of Lynne going forward.
Nearly two-thirds of the county said "no" to mining exploration in an advisory referendum question on Tuesday.
The county board doesn't have to follow the wishes of voters in the referendum. But Chair Dave Hintz now calls the chances of the board moving forward on mining "remote."
"The answer was not yes. The answer was no," Hintz said Wednesday. "So, we will not go through that due diligence process, which means mining of the Lynne property is off the table, not on our agenda at this point."
The Lynne ore deposit contains valuable minerals below county-owned land in western Oneida County. Mining companies have showed interest for years. But it's also near the Willow Flowage, a major water resource in the county.
This year, the county board put the referendum question asking about mining on the November ballot.
"We would like to put this thing to bed for quite a while," said Jeff Brown, a Lynne resident and member of the Protect the Willow anti-mining group.
Brown calls the group a team of political "rookies." But nearly 12,000 Oneida County voters agreed with the group's message on Tuesday. Sixty-two percent of the county voted "no."
"The people across the board, Republicans and Democrats, have said, 'It doesn't matter what party we're at, we don't want a mine in Oneida County on the county forest land,'" Brown said.
Hintz admitted the board could act against the wishes of the voters, but said it wasn't likely.
"I think it's a remote possibility. I do not give that a strong chance of success," he said.
"We don't have a social license to lease our public lands in the town of Lynne for mining. I hope that our county board will listen to what their constituency has made clear," said Pete Zambon, who handled communications and coordinated canvasses for Protect the Willow.
The Lac du Flambeau Tribe also fought hard for a "no" vote, on the ground and through television commercials.
"I think the people have spoken loud and clear," said tribal president Joseph Wildcat Sr. "A lot of the tribal community is happy, and also, I think, the residents of an area like the Willow. We're all trying to protect the resources."
Hintz said he was most impressed by the Oneida County turnout. More than 19,000 people voted on the mining question.
Written By: Ben Meyer