RHINELANDER - Rules for metallic mining in Oneida County could change in the next five months.
The county is under a tight deadline to amend its rules under a new state law.
On Wednesday, the Oneida County Planning and Development Committee voted unanimously to spend $7,000 on a lawyer to review the county's mining ordinance. If it wants to change its rules, it faces a July 1 deadline set by a bill Gov. Scott Walker signed last month.
"Let's get on with this process," said Oneida County Supervisor Jack Sorensen at a committee meeting Wednesday.
"We can go through all of those processes. Look how long it took to write the [shoreland zoning] ordinance. If we want to drag this out, we can drag this out and get other counties involved. This is an Oneida County ordinance. I think we just move forward on it," agreed Supervisor Scott Holewinski.
Interest in mining in Oneida County goes back decades.
Noranda Minerals explored a lead, zinc, and copper deposit in the town of Lynne in western Oneida County until 1993. But at least three companies showed interest in mining again within the last decade, starting an intense debate in 2009 over the potential of mining.
"Right now, we're struggling with jobs, with income, with paying taxes, tax revenue. Where's it coming from? These sorts of things can be solved by responsible mining in the state of Wisconsin," Bill Cronk, a geologist with Homeland Uranium, said at the time.
Leaders in the town of Lynne itself remained consistently anti-mine.
"We're quite a poor town, but we really have a respect for our environment and our natural resources," said Dave Schatzley, the then-chair of Lynne.
In 2012, the Oneida County Board voted to end any consideration of a mine in Lynne.
But the state new law signed by Walker in December in Rhinelander has forced Oneida County to reexamine its rules quickly.
The law repeals the so-called state mining moratorium and could make it easier for companies to mine metals in the Northwoods. The law gave counties a six-month window to amend or strengthen their mining ordinances before taking effect. That window closes on July 1. It's unclear exactly how the Oneida County mining ordinance might change after a review.
The Administration Committee and full county board still need to approve spending thousands on a lawyer. The $7,000 estimated cost would go to the Mallery and Zimmerman law firm to analyze the county's current ordinance. It would cost an additional $5,000 to $12,000 for the firm to draft suggested ordinance amendments.
A summary of estimated costs is available by clicking the link below.
BOULDER JUNCTION - Boulder Junction Chamber of Commerce members are looking to bring more visitors to the area.
One way they plan to do this is by adding more outdoor events like the Forest Frenzy Winter Triathlon.
Saturday, they held their second annual triathlon headquartered at Camp Manito-wish YMCA.
People from all over the country cross country skied, snowshoed, and fatbiked.
"With the triathlons we have found that we're reaching a new market that hasn't been to Boulder Junction before and we got a lot of new faces," said Boulder Junction Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Theresa Smith.
EAGLE RIVER, WISCONSIN - People from around the United States visited Eagle River to drive as fast as they could through icy courses during the second annual Subaru Winter Experience. Most of them were here for fun, but one driver meant business.
Keanna Erickson-Chang doesn't have the bravado you'd expect in a race car driver.
"Typically I'm pretty calm, in the car and out," said Erickson-Chang.
She had no interest in racing cars growing up, she just took winter driving classes to be safer on the roads.
"But once I learned all the techniques in sliding the car," said Erickson-Chang. "I started having more fun and it snowballed from there."
Erickson-Chang has raced for four years. Saturday she took a pause to hone her skills on Dollar Lake at the second annual Subaru Winter Experience in Eagle River. She normally competes on gravel, but she used the ice instead for a chance to practice at slower speeds.
"We have to be early, because with the low grip it takes so long for everything to happen so patience is a key value out here," said Erickson-Chang.
All sorts of animals are affected by icy conditions. Some Northern Wisconsin owls dive INTO the snow to hunt small rodents. But recent freezing rain has formed an ice crust that owls can't break through. That means owls are beginning to starve.
Amanda Schirmer has been working at the Northwoods Wilderness Center for the past four years. She says that owls may hang around birdfeeders to prey on smaller birds. They may also be seen near roads.
WOODRUFF - Shoveling snow can hurt your back. But some may not know that staring at all that snow can hurt your eyes.
The term albedo tells us the amount of light that's either absorbed into the ground or reflected back up. On days like Friday, the snow pack will really make it look brighter out and boost the albedo amount. That's hard on the eyes.
Dr. Kirby Redman is an Optometrist in Woodruff. He says there are simple ways to protect your eyes from the sun's damaging rays.
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