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E-M:/ Empire Mine -- HUGE Wetland fill

Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org

 Chris Fries of Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition has previously 
 posted a notice of a hearing on the Empire Mine application for a 
 STAGGERING project in the Ishpeming area.  The hearing was held on Tuesday 
 night, and Chris and another UPEC person spoke about it. 
 I find this project so unbelievably large, and with impacts beyond 
 comprehension, that I feel compelled to raise it again on Enviro-Mich and 
 encourage more attention and concern about this project.  I was startled, 
 in fact, that this hearing and the permit application do not even show up 
 on the DEQ Calendar listings -- while there is a lot on the Calendar, it 
 is inconceivable that something with such huge impacts would simply be 
 considered so inconsequential as to not need listing on the Calendar.  I 
 am currently trying to find out when the comment period closes on this and 
 I urge others to weigh in on this.  Mining is a big business in the UP, 
 but that doesn't mean such huge impacts should not be reduced or 
 eliminated, and it is hard to believe this proposal could be considered 
 the best possible effort.
 Here are the facts taken from information forwarded to me by Chris Fries:
 The Empire Mine is seeking to expand an existing mine pit and stockpile 
 area. Three rock stockpile areas will be expanded under this permit 
 proposal a total of 254.1 acres, and two pit areas will be developed and 
 A total of approximately 11,187 feet of new perimeter road will also be 
 constructed within this proposal. 
 A total of approximately 87.3 acres of wetland area will be destroyed by 
 this project.  The ratio for mitigation is proposed at only 1:1 right now, 
 well under norms for other wetland mitigation around Michigan.  UPEC is 
 calling for a 1:2 replacment ratio, as well as an escrow fund to assure 
 the success of mitigation.
 Approximately 8,288 lineal feet of streams will be impacted by this 
 project.  Mitigation measures proposed call for the Empire Mine to pay 
 $8.00 per foot for the stream impacts.  These impacts will be permanent 
 and irreversible.  The Marquette County Board is calling for mitigation 
 payments of $32.00 per foot, and UPEC is calling for significantly more. 
 There is also some confusion about who would ultimately be responsible for 
 assuring the mitigation is done.
 Downstate we are concerned, I think rightfully so, about impacts on 
 wetlands sometimes well under an acre.  The idea that the proposed 
 destruction of 87+ acres and more than 8200 feet of stream has brought 
 little statewide attention is astonishing.  And, again, I don't understand 
 why it didn't even make it to the DEQ Calendar. 
 I hope you will all take a close look at this issue, and I will try to 
 post details about comment periods as soon as I get them.
 Anne Woiwode

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