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U.S. mining industry officials testified in House and Senate committees in Washington Tuesday, telling lawmakers that withdrawing federal land from mining is bad domestic policy. Katie Sweeney, National Mining Association general counsel, and Luke Russell, Hecla Mining Company vice president of external affairs, said the U.S. needs to get more of its minerals from home and less from foreign nations.
St. Louis County commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved a plan to spend $150,000 annually to create scholarships for local high school graduates to attend local two-year colleges. The proposal, by Commissioner Tom Rukavina, dedicates some of the money the county earns from mineral royalties paid by mining companies. The county earns mineral royalties when mining companies dig ore on county land. The county has earned between $900,000 and $1.4 million annually in recent years, although that could increase with current mine pit expansion plans.
Gander Outdoors, the reborn version of defunct Gander Mountain, is set to open its first store in Lakeville, Minn., on Wednesday — and it appears the Hermantown store won't be far behind. Gander Mountain died in bankruptcy earlier this year but its new owner, Camping World, is reopening about half of the shuttered stores as Gander Outdoors, with many of the same outdoor recreation products. Video the company posted on Facebook of the Lakeville store displays of fishing, hunting and camping gear as well as bicycles and other outdoor gear.
Cleveland-Cliffs announced Monday that it has acquired land in Itasca County adjacent to the proposed Mesabi Metallics project in a move that further confuses how the former Essar Steel Minnesota taconite mine and iron plant might advance. Cliffs’ CEO Lourenco Goncalves said his company has purchased 553 acres and has an agreement to lease another 3,215 acres at the Nashwauk site.
The last few Lake Superior woodland caribou may be on the brink of extirpation thanks to the freakishly cold winter of 2014 and hungry wolves decimating caribou herds in their last two holdouts. While wildlife enthusiasts mourn the loss of the last remaining wolves on Isle Royale, the opposite problem is happening on Ontario's Lake Superior islands just 100 miles or so away: Too many wolves for caribou to survive.
A proposal to allow motorized wheelchairs as well as bikes, carts and wheelbarrows in federal wilderness areas — potentially including the Boundary Waters and Isle Royale — is advancing in Washington. The U.S. House Subcommittee on Federal Lands is scheduled to hold hearing Thursday on H.R 1349 that could open 110 million acres of U.S. wilderness to mountain bikes and other wheeled devices.
The level of Lake Superior dropped in November after brushing with near-record highs in previous months. The International Lake Superior Board of Control on Monday said Lake Superior dropped 3.5 inches in November, more than the usual 2-inch drop for the month. The decline is thanks to a drier-than-normal November that saw less rain and snow, and less inflow from rivers. The lake level had increased in September and October, two months it usually goes down some.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it won't require mining companies to prove they have the cash available to clean up future pollution problems, often called financial assurance, despite government reports that show huge legacy cleanup costs to taxpayers. The move, announced late Friday, would undo a requirement set in place under the Obama administration to require companies set aside money for future Superfund cleanup costs from unexpected toxic releases long after mines close.
The National Park Service is getting closer to announcing its final decision on reintroducing wolves to Isle Royale National Park, and it couldn't come a minute too soon. Wolf researchers for Michigan Technological University say the island may be down to its very last wolf based on analysis of trail camera data gathered over the summer and through September. "We were able to document only one on a trail camera," said Michigan Tech researcher Rolf Peterson. "It's still possible that there are two."
DULUTH, Minn.—Scientists have been saying for years that Minnesota winters are getting warmer, but a new report from the nonprofit group Climate Central shows the region in the bull's-eye for climate change in the U.S. The report, released this week, found winters warming faster in the Great Lakes and Great Plains than anywhere else in the U.S., with winters in parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Dakotas and northern New England warming at an average rate of more than 1 degree per decade since 1970 — more than 4 degrees Fahrenheit total.