As mining ordinance reviewed by Oneida Co., a look at the Lynne ore deposit site Submitted: 04/26/2018
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter

As mining ordinance reviewed by Oneida Co., a look at the Lynne ore deposit site
TOWN OF LYNNE - Zinc, lead, copper, and silver buried underneath Oneida County could be worth millions of dollars.

Mining companies have known about the deposit in the Town of Lynne for decades. It's underneath county-owned property, but has never been mined.

Now, a review of county mining rules could change the equation.

"You have to be able to get a mental picture in your mind of we're talking about to really understand it," said Karl Fate as he led a tour of the site for mine opponents on Thursday.

A major portion of the site is covered by wetlands and streams. The Willow River flows into the Willow Flowage about a mile away.

"Sulfur, when it's exposed to air and water, turns into sulfuric acid," said Jeff Brown, referring to the substance exposed in metallic mining. "When you're adjacent to the Willow Flowage, which is an outstanding water resource, it's very high risk."

Brown owns Boyle's Resort on Willow Lake nearby.

"I'm trying to sell my resort right now," Brown said. "I had a prospective buyer tell me that until the mining question is resolved and put to bed, that that offer is off the table."

The "mining question" is before the Oneida County Board again this spring because of a new state law. The law gives counties a July 1 deadline to lock in changes to their mining ordinances. After that, a repeal of the so-called mining moratorium goes into effect.

Lynne Town Board member Lisa Zunker said the entire town board is against mining in the area.

"This is where we want to be, and we sure don't want to have the hazard of dangerous mining or bad water or polluting our lakes and streams," Zunker, who grew up in the town, said Thursday.

Right now, the Oneida County Planning and Development Committee is working with lawyer William Scott on reviewing the mining ordinance.

"The worst case scenario would be for the county to try to strip the protections from our current ordinance that protects the towns," Fate said. "There's a lot of people that think it's pretty important, so it's worth the effort [to save the area from mining]."

Newswatch 12 couldn't reach committee chair Scott Holewinski or planning and zoning director Karl Jennrich for interviews on Thursday.

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