White Iron Chain Of Lakes Association

News & Updates Blog
Oct
17

AIS Video

Wildlife Forever and Wired2Fish collaborated on a short film, which displays rarely seen footage of several Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) from unique perspectives.This 3-1/2 video provides a visual of infested lakes in MN and encourages us to do more to keep our waters clean.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MS2frO0QWHI

We need your help to insure that the waters of the White Iron Chain of Lakes remains clean and pure forever!

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Oct
12

USFS Prescribed Burn on White Iron – 10/11/16 Update

WICOLA has received the following update from the Forest Service on the White Iron burn:

The US Forest Service will NOT be conducting the burn on White Iron Lake as they had planned to do in 2016 as noted in earlier “Latest News Posts” from May.  However, the Forest Service will burn piles in the same area (Peninsula across from the inflow from Birch) today October 11th, so WICOLA members could smell or see smoke today.  Fire managers still plan to burn the slash they cut last year, but no date is set yet. 

Below is a map of the area for the area in question.

2016_5_1_USFC_Burn_Map.PNG

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Sep
17

WICOLA, Ely Festivals, and AIS!

Thanks to all the volunteers who staffed the WICOLA Booth in 2016 during the three major Ely Festivals; Great American Canoe Festival, Blueberry Arts Festival, and Harvest Moon Festival. The WICOLA booth was staffed by WICOLA members, Lake County SWCD, MN DNR, and members of the Ely Area Invasives Team.

We also wish to extend our appreciation to the many people who took the time to stop by the WICOLA Booth to learn more about the WICOLA Organization as well as learn more about Aquatic Invasive Species and methods to prevent their spread into the White Iron Chain of Lakes. During the 3 festivals, WICOLA distributed Aquatic Invasive Species information to more than 1,100 individuals.

Pictured are just a few of the many volunteers and attendees at the WICOLA Booths during 2016.

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Sep
16

A Successful Water Monitoring Season!

Thanks to all the volunteers who contributed to a successful 2016 water monitoring season on the White Iron Chain of Lakes as well Birch and Fall Lakes. Pictured are just a few of the many volunteers that make Water Monitoring happen.

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Sep
13

Twin Metals files federal suit to keep leases

Twin Metals Minnesota on Monday filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Minnesota challenging a federal agency opinion that the company's federal mineral exploration leases for land near Ely can be revoked.

The lawsuit seeks to overturn the April 2016 opinion by the U.S. Department of the Interior instructing the Bureau of Land Management that it has the discretion to deny renewal of Twin Metals' federal mineral leases for the company's proposed underground copper-nickel mine near the Kawishiwi River.

Environmental groups and mining critics had praised the possibility that the leases could be revoked, saying the mere presence of a massive mining operation in the same watershed as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness threatened the region's freshwater ecosystem.

In June, U.S. Forest Service officials said they were "deeply concerned" about potential impacts of the proposed Twin Metals copper mine on the edge of the BWCAW. The federal mineral leases are concentrated near Birch Lake, north and south of Minnesota Highway 1.

The Forest Service is expected to release a decision later this year on whether to oppose or support renewing the permits after already signaling that the agency has problems with the potential of copper mining runoff in the BWCAW, part of the Superior National Forest. That opinion is expected to seal the fate of the leases.

But Twin Metals, a wholly owned subsidiary of Chilean mining giant Antofagasta, decided not to wait for that opinion.

The 26-page lawsuit challenges the Interior Department opinion as being inconsistent with federal law as well as inconsistent with the terms of Twin Metals' leases and with the federal government's established precedent in supporting and renewing the leases during the past five decades.

Company officials have called the federal leases and access to that specific land "the foundation of our project" and that the mine likely could not proceed without them.

"If not overturned, the Solicitor's unlawful opinion would eviscerate Twin Metals' long-standing federal mineral rights in northeast Minnesota, deprive Minnesota of hundreds of jobs and billions of dollars in environmentally responsible economic growth and prevent access to one of the world's largest sources of copper, nickel and platinum, which are of strategic importance to the U.S. economy and national defense," the company said Monday in announcing the lawsuit.

Mining companies pay a small fee for exclusive rights to prospect on the federal lands and then would pay a fee for any ore that's actually mined.

The leases were first issued 50 years ago to predecessor companies and have been purchased by Twin Metals in the years since as the company hones in on the most lucrative spot to dig.

The leases are under the control of the federal Bureau of Land Management, which has formally asked the Forest Service to give its consent — in effect to recommend whether renewing the leases is good for the Superior National Forest where they are located.

"The government's actions have cast a cloud of uncertainty over Twin Metals' mineral rights. The Solicitor's opinion makes it impossible for Twin Metals to engage in any long-term planning, investment, development and operational decisions, effectively thwarting any development of the mineral estate; materially harming the future mining project; and jeopardizing Twin Metals' $400 million investment to date in acquisition, exploration, technical and other activities to develop these minerals,'' Twin Metals said in summarizing its lawsuit.

Critics of the mining project disagreed with Twin Metals' interpretation of federal law.

"It is a longstanding fact that renewals of the Twin Metals federal mining leases are discretionary," said Becky Rom, national chairperson of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters. "The Bureau of Land Management's authority to renew or deny renewal based on science and proximity to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is absolutely clear. Scientific evidence shows that a sulfide-ore copper mine next to the Boundary Waters creates an unacceptable risk of harm to our priceless wilderness. Federal mining leases that pose significant risks to the Boundary Waters should be denied."

The lawsuit is against the United States, the Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Land Management, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Solicitor of the Interior Hilary Tompkins.

The Forest Service concerns aired in June were by far the strongest statement yet by a regulatory agency on the proposed project.

"... the Forest Service is deeply concerned by the location of the leases within the same watershed as the BWCAW, and by the inherent risks associated with potential copper, nickel and other sulfide mining operations within that watershed. Those risks exist during all phases of mine development, implementation and long-term closure and remediation. Potential impacts to water resources include changes in water quantity and quality, contamination from acid mine drainage, and seepage of tailings water, tailings basin failures and waste rock treatment locations," the agency noted. "Based on these concerns, the Forest Service is considering withholding consent for lease renewal."

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, who also has been critical of Twin Metals' proximity to the BWCAW, has refused to allow Twin Metals to prospect on state land in the area.

Supporters say the Twin Metals mine would be a huge boost to the region's economy. The company has said it may be ready to submit the project for environmental review by 2018, if it is able to renew the leases.

In 2014, Twin Metals released the results of a "pre-feasibility" study on the mine saying the project has substantial mineral reserves, would have a low cost of production and could turn a solid profit. The report said the proposed mine would take about three years to build at a cost of $2.8 billion — by far the state's most expensive private construction project ever — and eventually would employ about 850 people mining about 50,000 tons per day, a far larger operation than the proposed PolyMet open-pit mine about 20 miles to the southwest.

The Twin Metals mine is predicted to produce valuable minerals for at least 30 years — including an estimated 5.8 billion pounds of copper and 1.2 billion pounds of nickel along with platinum, palladium, gold and silver.

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Sep
06

WICOLA at the Harvest Moon Festival

WICOLA Booth at the 2016 Blueberry Arts Festival

Attending the Harvest Moon Festival this week? Come by the WICOLA Booth (#90) to visit, check out the AIS (Aquatic Invasive Species) materials. WICOLA members and representatives from partner organizations will be at the booth to answer questions, to provide updates on AIS in Northern MN and to share AIS prevention information.


Harvest Moon Festival Hours at Whiteside Park in Ely.

Friday, September 9 – 10:00am – 5:00pm
Saturday, September 10 – 10:00am – 5:00 pm
Sunday, September 11 – 10:00am – 3:00 pm

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Sep
05

Fires Prescribed for Dangerous Deadfall in 1999 Boundary Waters Blowdown

Igniting a prescribed fire on the Tofte Ranger District in the spring of 2016 (Superior National Forest photo)

The Superior National Forest is planning to burn four different sites in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness this fall. The fires will all seek to prevent the possibility of large wildfires in parts of the forest where there is still significant dead wood from the Fourth of July derecho seventeen years ago.

That storm damaged about 350,000 acres of trees in the Boundary Waters, and recent fires have demonstrated the danger of all that dry wood. The Forest Service cites both the 2011 Pagami Creek Fire, the largest in Minnesota history, burning about 145 square miles, and a smaller fire near Knife Lake in 2013.

"The intensity of these fires significantly increased when burning in areas of the 1999 blowdown," the Superior National Forest stated.

The planned fires are intended to slow down the spread of future wildfires, containing the flames to give firefighters time to manage it, as well as making evacuations safer.

The four fire projects are planned for October and November, times chosen in part to reduce impacts during the busy paddling season. During the burns, visitor traffic may be restricted in areas in the BWCAW. Two of the sites are in the Gunflint Trail area, one is north of Ely near Prairie Portage, and one is west of Ely near Crab Lake. Each one will depend on weather conditions.

Maps of the prescribed fire plans and other details will be posted on the Superior National Forest website.

Additional public notifications from the USFS will precede any prescribed fires. 

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Aug
31

Chainsaw Safety Classes – Windstorm Cleanup Assistance

Are you a Northern Lake County Landowner and still cleaning up from the July windstorm?

Two chainsaw safety classes will be presented at the Fall Lake town hall on Labor Day weekend. Choose Fri, Sept. 2 (6-8pm) or Sat, Sept. 3 (8-10 am).

Outdoor practice is offered Sat. (10am- noon) at the gravel pit behind the hall.

Classes are free and presented by Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR), who provide volunteer labor to low income, elderly, disabled or veterans in crisis. Classes are presented by Larry Reedy, SBDR Coordinator for northern MN, and the MN SBDR lead chainsaw trainer, Tom Bickford.

Please RSVP to BJ Kohlstedt, Lake County Emergency Manager, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call or text 218-220-7811, for either the class or to request SBDR cleanup assistance.

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Aug
18

Water Monitoring!

Every summer, May through September, approximately 10 volunteers log 34 hours a month to collect samples and take readings from specific, locations in our lakes. These lakes are White Iron, Farm, and Garden Lakes, as well as Fall and Birch Lakes.

Thanks to all the volunteers for their work throughout the summer.

On August 9th, a volunteer checking for spiny water flea.
On August 9th, a volunteer using the Sonde to measure Dissolved Oxygen, Temperature, pH, and Conductivity.
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Aug
17

Cabin Trust Webinar

Learn How to Put Your Cabin or Lake Home in a TRUST or LLC for Your Family!

Wednesday, Sept. 7th 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm CST

If your lake cabin / home is the center of your family, the gathering place, the spot where friends and extended family gather to create life-long memories, then you may want to attend this seminar. Often our places are considered heirlooms, not assets. But moving a place from one generation to the next can be difficult. Recent changes to the Minnesota gift tax will require further planning. Now you and your heirs can establish a future for the family place that has been so important.

Find Out What Can Happen Without a Cabin Trust or Cabin LLC…

Disputes arise over who should pay the taxes, insurance and maintenance 
Interests pass to unintended heirs Interests in the cabin may go through multiple probates 
Unexpected loss of step-up in basis 
Disputes over who gets to use the property and when they get to use it 
Too many common owners with too many different interests and financial situations to be workable

Find Out What Can Happen With a Cabin Trust or Cabin LLC…

Avoid disputes and bring family together for generations to come 
Reduce estate and gift taxes and avoid multiple probates 
Can be stand-alone or added to your existing will or living trust 
Provide a cash endowment to fund taxes, insurance, maintenance, even a new boat 
Create an orderly schedule of use, rules regarding guests and expense sharing agreements 
Plan for cross purchases between siblings and other heirs


This is a Free Webinar!

Wednesday, Sept. 7th 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm CST

Watch this Live Webinar from your computer!

At this live, interactive webinar you can ask questions and interact with presenter Frank Heers if you desire. Frank is a long time MLR member, and has 25 years' experience in creating Trusts and LLC to preserve family legacies. His webinars are fun, engaging and informative.

Use this link to register for the Cabin Trust Webinar: https://www.anymeeting.com/AccountManager/RegEv.aspx?PIID=EC56D682874C3C

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Jul
28

Quetico Superior Foundation – Twin Metals

The Quetico Superior Foundation was established in 1946 to assure protection in perpetuity of the natural, wilderness character of Minnesota's Border Lakes Canoe Country and Ontario's Quetico Provincial Park. The Rainy Lake and Pigeon River watersheds, which served as the Voyageurs Highway, are central to this region. Lands include Voyageurs National Park, The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Superior National Forest, The Lake Superior Highlands and Quetico Provincial Park. Quetico Superior Foundation supports the protection of the ecological, cultural, and historical resources of this wild and remarkably beautiful region.

Wilderness News Blog on the Quetico Superior Foundation website commented on Joel Peterson, a recently-retired watershed manager from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, who has published a commentary explaining the threats of copper-nickel mining in the Kawishiwi River region. In 2014 and 2015, Joel worked with WICOLA on a major MPCA-funded study of the lakes (KWPP) which are downstream of Twin Metals proposed mine site.

The Link to the Wilderness News Blog on the Quetico Superior Foundation website; http://queticosuperior.org/blog/retired-regulator-says-water-studies-show-fragile-lakes-downstream-of-twin-metals-proposal

From the Wilderness News Blog there is a link to the Duluth News Tribune website and Joel Peterson's commentary.

A direct link to the DNT website is also here;

http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/opinion/local-view/4079855-local-view-dont-sacrifice-boundary-waters-so-few-can-profit

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Jul
26

Japanese Barberry

Japanese Barberry is a terrestrial invasive plant (Minnesota Department of Agriculture Specially Regulated Plant) that was, until recently, considered a threat only in oak woodlands and oak savannas. Recently, infestations have been found in Duluth and along the Lake Superior Shoreline near Two Harbors.

Lake County SWCD recently received a grant from the State of Minnesota to treat Japanese Barberry Infestations. These matching funds are not restricted to Lake County, so they are looking for assistance in identifying Japanese Barberry Infestations throughout the Arrowhead.

Please contact Derrick Passe, Lake County SWCD, 763-286-0570 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are aware of any Japanese Barberry Infestations.

For additional information, visit the Minnesota DNR website at; http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/terrestrialplants/woody/japanesebarberry.html

The following YouTube videos describe the environmental and health risks posed by Japanese Barberry.

Barberry, Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehN-QTPqSDQ

Barberry, Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9XWaCtJDiU

Barberry, Part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TT7Q3VXfQQ

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Jul
24

WICOLA at the Blueberry Festival

Attending the Blueberry Festival this week? Come by the WICOLA Booth (#174) to visit, check out the AIS (Aquatic Invasive Species) materials, and enter the "guess the number of Rusty Crayfish" contest to win a special prize. WICOLA members and representatives from partner organizations will be at the booth to answer questions, to provide updates on AIS in Northern MN and to share AIS prevention information.

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Jul
19

AIS – Did You Know?

At a recent "Tuesday Group" meeting, Derrick Passe, Lake County Soil & Water Conservation District, spoke on Aquatic Invasive Species. As you may know, Derrick attends the monthly WICOLA Board Meetings and with his team updates the Board AIS efforts as well as on other Lake County SWCD projects.

At Tuesday Group Ken Wichmann, WICOLA member, asked Derrick some great questions on AIS that one may not think to ask. The following are Ken's questions with answers from Derrick.

Question; First, I recall reading about a year ago that the DNR had found spiny water fleas in the stomach of a White Fish. I had been told earlier that local small fishes could not/would not swallow the little creatures. I have heard nothing since. Has the DNR done any additional work on predation of spiny water fleas? Do White Fish really eat them? I assume (perhaps wrongly) that nature will provide an answer. Either the local fish population will learn to eat them or new species will prosper who find them palatable. What eats them in their native areas? In other contaminated USA waters?

Answer; The Spiny Water Flea (SWF) is edible, but has been shown to cause perforations of the GI tract of young perch. Concordia College identified SWF in Basswood by examining stomach contents of Tulibee. I liken the value of SWF as a food source to that of popcorn to humans, while it may look big and tasty, it is very low in nutritional value. (The spine that makes it look big is made of silica.)

An interesting occurrence relative to SWF. In some lakes, established populations have disappeared. No one knows why.

Question; An out of state marine mechanic tells me he has noted both zebra and quagga mussels routinely in the water cooling cavity of out board motors. It appears to be a problem with motors left with the lower units submerged in the water either at a dock or boat lift. This would surely distribute the critters if the boat fished multiple water bodies. Have you or your working partners noted this problem? Do you have a solution that is compatible with current decontamination machines?

Answer; As for the Decontamination stations, like the Ely Unit at the Chamber Parking Lot, I have a few comments: Attachments- can be used to flush inboard and outboard motors. Effectiveness is as good as the Decon operator. The bigger concern is ballast tanks on ski boats.

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Jul
12

Forest Service Announces Second Public Listening Session In Ely Regarding Twin Metals Lease Renews

The Forest Service will hold a second public listening session prior to determining whether or not to consent to renewal of two mineral leases held by Twin Metals Minnesota within the Superior National Forest. The second listening session will be held from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on July 19, 2016 at the Ely Memorial High School, 600 East Harvey Street, Ely, Minnesota.

The first public listening session takes place in Duluth from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on July 13, 2016, at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.

Both listening sessions will begin with a short (5 – 10 minute) presentation by the Forest Service describing the status of the leases and determination to be made.Both sessions will include a lottery system to identify which attendees will have the opportunity to provide a 3-minute oral presentation.

The listening sessions are occurring during a 30-day public input period from June 20, 2016 to July 20, 2016.

In addition to providing input during the listening sessions, public input may be mailed to the Superior National Forest, Attention Twin Metals Lease Renewal, 8901 Grand Ave Place, Duluth, MN 55808; or emailed to; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The public input period and listening sessions will help Forest Service decision makers improve their understanding of public views related to two leases which are currently held by Twin Metals Minnesota. The two leases are located within the same watershed as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on the Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota. On June 6, 2016 the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) requested that the Forest Service provide a decision on whether it consents or does not consent to the renewal of the leases. A response letter to the BLM with the Forest Service's final consent determination will be sent in the weeks following the close of the public input period and the agency's examination of the issue.

A summary of the public input received will be posted on the Superior National Forest website. Updates regarding the lease renewals, including the Forest Service determination regarding consent, will be publicly announced and posted online at: www.fs.usda.gov/superior

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Jul
11

7/11/16 Update: Forest Service 'deeply concerned' about Twin Metals project; Mining lease renewal to get public input

7/11/16 UPDATE

The Forest Service's public hearing in will be held in Duluth on July 13th. The public hearing, called a listening session, will be held at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.

4 P.M.Doors Open

4-5 P.M.Register to speak if desired, speakers will be chosen at random

5-7:30 P.M.Public Listening Session.

The session will begin with a short presentation to describe the status of the leases, and the determination to be made regarding consent.

The Public hearing will also be live-streamed on the internet; http://livestream.com/accounts/14881862/events/5765575

As a reminder, The U.S. Forest Service has a 30-day period (June 20, 2016 – July 20, 2016) for public input to better understand public views related to these proposed mining lease renewals on the Superior National Forest. People have the opportunity to provide written input via mail or email on the request by Twin Metals to renew old leases on federal land under which the company hopes to mine copper, nickel and other metals.

Comments can be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or mailed to Superior National Forest, Attention Twin Metals Lease Renewal, 8901 Grand Ave. Place, Duluth, MN 5808.

For further information: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/superior/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD505378

6/13/16

U.S. Forest Service officials just announced that they are "deeply concerned" about potential impacts of the proposed Twin Metals copper mine on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and announced a public comment period before the agency's decision on extending mining leases for the project.

The Forest Service will start a 30 day public input period beginning on June 20th, on the request by Twin Metals to renew old leases on federal land under which the company hopes to mine copper, nickel and other metals.

Public comments on the mining lease extension can be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or mailed to the Superior National Forest, Attention Twin Metals Lease Renewal, 8901 Grand Ave. Place, Duluth, MN 55808.

The Forest Service will also hold a public hearing in Duluth on July 13th. The public hearing, called a listening session, will be held July 13 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center and will be live-streamed on the internet.

In announcing the public input process, Forest Service officials said they have not made a decision on the leases but said they are considering withholding their support.

It's the strongest statement yet by a regulatory agency on the proposed project.

"... the Forest Service is deeply concerned by the location of the leases within the same watershed as the BWCAW, and by the inherent risks associated with potential copper, nickel and other sulfide mining operations within that watershed. Those risks exist during all phases of mine development, implementation and long-term closure and remediation. Potential impacts to water resources include changes in water quantity and quality, contamination from acid mine drainage, and seepage of tailings water, tailings basin failures and waste rock treatment locations," the agency noted. "Based on these concerns, the Forest Service is considering withholding consent for lease renewal."

The leases were first issued 50 years ago to predecessor companies and have been purchased by Twin Metals as the company hones in on the most lucrative spot to dig. The leases are under the control of the federal Bureau of Land Management which has formally asked the Forest Service to give its consent — in effect to recommend whether renewing the leases is good for the Superior National Forest where they are located. The leases held by Twin Metals were issued before most environmental regulations existed, including the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the law that requires environmental impacts to be considered before decisions are made on where mines can be sited.

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Jul
05

AIS Decontamination Station

Please Help Protect Our Waters from Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS).

The methods for preventing the spread of AIS are simple and do not take much time. These invasive plants and animals "hitch a ride" on our boats, trailers, jet skis, fishing gear, and other recreational gear. Cleaning this equipment properly every time before transporting it is the best preventive measure for stopping the spread of AIS.

Specialized decontamination stations in the Ely area (3 in total) are now available for residents and non-residents free of charge.

The decontamination station closest to the White Iron Chain is located at the Ely Chamber of Commerce parking lot (intersection of Hwy 169 and Hwy 1, Ely, MN 55731). Since beginning operation this summer, 40 boats have been through the decontamination process at the Ely Chamber of Commerce parking lot. Three of the boats had weeds, but no invasive species were found. The process takes 7 to 10 minutes.

WICOLA strongly encourages members to decontaminate their boats when moving lake-to-lake and to also encourage their guests bringing boats to our Chain of Lakes to also take advantage of this decontamination service.

The hours of operation for the Ely Chamber of Commerce decontamination station are;

Friday thru Sunday - 10am-6pm


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Jun
27

Nature Nights – June 29th

WICOLA members, Consie and Roger Powell, are speaking at Nature Nights this Wednesday, June 29, 7pm, at VCC, room CL 104. They will be sharing some perspectives and experiences of their years working and living with a broad variety of mammals including dogs, cats, toads, snakes, lizards, mice, Guinea pigs, fishers, porcupines, minks, weasels, and they say their very on human mammal, daughter Victoria. They are working on the completion of a book of the mammals of the north woods titled, "Five Weasels at Once-Our Life with Mammals."

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Jun
20

Lake Co. Board of Commissioners Meeting at Fall Lake Township

The Lake County Board of Commissioners will meet as a Committee of the Whole on Tuesday, June 21, 2016, at 6:00 p.m. at the Town of Fall Lake Town Hall, 393 Kawishiwi Trail, Fall Lake, Minnesota. The public is invited to attend. This meeting usually includes time for Q&A.

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Jun
14

Forest Service 'deeply concerned' about Twin Metals project; Mining lease renewal to get public input

U.S. Forest Service officials just announced that they are "deeply concerned" about potential impacts of the proposed Twin Metals copper mine on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and announced a public comment period before the agency's decision on extending mining leases for the project.

The Forest Service will start a 30 day public input period beginning on June 20th, on the request by Twin Metals to renew old leases on federal land under which the company hopes to mine copper, nickel and other metals.

Public comments on the mining lease extension can be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or mailed to the Superior National Forest, 8901 Grand Ave. Place, Duluth, MN 55808.

The Forest Service will also hold a public hearing in Duluth on July 13th. The public hearing, called a listening session, will be held July 13 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center and will be live-streamed on the internet.

In announcing the public input process, Forest Service officials said they have not made a decision on the leases but said they are considering withholding their support.

It's the strongest statement yet by a regulatory agency on the proposed project.

"... the Forest Service is deeply concerned by the location of the leases within the same watershed as the BWCAW, and by the inherent risks associated with potential copper, nickel and other sulfide mining operations within that watershed. Those risks exist during all phases of mine development, implementation and long-term closure and remediation. Potential impacts to water resources include changes in water quantity and quality, contamination from acid mine drainage, and seepage of tailings water, tailings basin failures and waste rock treatment locations," the agency noted. "Based on these concerns, the Forest Service is considering withholding consent for lease renewal."

The leases were first issued 50 years ago to predecessor companies and have been purchased by Twin Metals as the company hones in on the most lucrative spot to dig. The leases are under the control of the federal Bureau of Land Management which has formally asked the Forest Service to give its consent — in effect to recommend whether renewing the leases is good for the Superior National Forest where they are located. The leases held by Twin Metals were issued before most environmental regulations existed, including the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the law that requires environmental impacts to be considered before decisions are made on where mines can be sited.

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White Iron Chain of Lakes Association
PO Box 493
Ely, MN 55731

WICOLAEly@gmail.com

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