My name is Lee Stedman, I recently graduated from UW-Waukesha where I was president of the campus’ Ecology Club. I’m also the executive director of the Gaia Coalition Network and one of Waukesha’s leads in the Wisconsin Youth Network (WiYN): a statewide coalition of students focused on environmental issues and solidarity.
"In response to Sen. Tom Tiffany’s proposed “Mining Give-Away” bill which seeks to repeal Wisconsin’s “Prove it First” moratorium on mining and in coordination with the Menominee Nation’s resistance of the Back Forty Gold/Zinc Sulfide mine, the Wisconsin Youth Network has launched a state-wide speaking tour. The events will look at the history of sulfide mining in Wisconsin, the detrimental consequences of Sen. Tiffany’s bill if it passes, and the dangers of the Back Forty Mine that’s being constructed only 150ft from the Menominee River, the cultural center-point for more than 10,000 years of history for the Menominee Tribe.
The proposed Back Forty Mine uses cyanide to process ore in the mine in order extract minerals. However, the majority of the resulting material would be in the form of toxic waste products that have incredibly high risk-rate of seeping into groundwater and the Menominee River. The river is one of the primary breeding grounds for Sturgeon in Lake Michigan and is the home to a number of effigy mounds, raised rice beds, and other culturally significant spots to the Menominee Tribe. The river runs into Lake Michigan through the mouth of the Green Bay and and presents possible additional pollution of Lake Michigan, as well as drinking water for communities all along the river.
Over a dozen speakers will be presenting throughout the tour, highlighted by UW-La Crosse emeritus environmental-sociology professor Al Gedicks, Allison Werner of the River Alliance of Wisconsin, Dave Blouin of the Sierra Club--John Muir Chapter’s mining committee and representatives from the Menominee Tribe, including Guy Reiter, one of the leading native community organizers opposing the Back Forty.
18 universities throughout Wisconsin have signed on to host events during this tour, and nearly two dozen student and community organizations are sponsoring the series including the Wisconsin Youth Network, Water Protectors of MKE, 350.org, Sierra Club-John Muir Chapter, Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, River Alliance of Wisconsin, and the Menominee Tribe."