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Protesters test 'off-limits zone' at proposed NW Wisconsin mine site

Organizers estimated about 100 people gathered along a Northwestern Wisconsin highway Sunday afternoon to protest a planned proposed open-pit iron ore mine and a newly enacted law creating an "off-limits zone" on public lands around test drilling sites.

Paul DeMain from the Lac Courte Oreilles Harvest and Education Project said people along Wisconsin Highway 77 in Iron County, at the entrance to a drilling area, moved off the highway for safety reasons and may have crossed into the zone within 600 feet of mining activity being conducted by Gogebic Taconite.

"Everyone was technically in violation, but I haven't heard there were any citations" for trespassing, DeMain said Sunday evening, while noting that there are several other, independent groups opposed to the mine in the area.

DeMain said the assembly did not have any interaction with mine officials or local law enforcement, who were notified by organizers ahead of time.

Sunday's event included several speakers expressing concerns about the proposed mine and how it could affect the area, including the nearby Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

DeMain said those opposed to the mine are now looking to the spring town and county elections in Wisconsin, and supporting candidates who share their views.