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U.P. Legislators Rip State Preservation Office

Upper Peninsula legislators are unhappy with the State Historic Preservation Office and the State Historic Preservation Review Board. 

Yesterday, the board determined that land along the Menominee River near the site of a proposed mine in Menominee County should be added to the federal registry of historic places. 

The move will undermine efforts to open the Back Forty Mine, which has been in planning for more than a decade. Developers hope to extract zinc, gold and other metals from the site.

A joint release from Republican State Representatives Greg Markkanen and Beau LaFave, Democratic State Representative Sara Cambensy, and Republican State Senator Ed McBroom ripped the decision, which they say was rendered after a request from an anti-mining group in Wisconsin.

Cambensy said the “constant fight against such mining projects, when we have the most stringent environmental safeguards in the world, only forces the investment and jobs to be done somewhere else with lower wages and concern for the environment.”

LaFave added that research had already been completed to assure that the land did not have heritage value to Native American tribes.

The legislators also noted that this is not the first time the Historic Preservation Review Board has stepped in to block an economic development project in the U.P.

McBroom cited a recent effort to remove aging buildings at the former KI Sawyer Air Force Base, which would have allowed several manufacturers in the area to expand and provide more jobs. The Board determined that the buildings could not be demolished until more research had been completed regarding their potential historical value.

Markkanen added that the Board has also interfered with trail reconstruction in Houghton County. 

The U.P. team says they are planning legislation to defund and reform the SHPO, along with a formal resolution condemning their recent actions and calling for the removal of the present director and staff.

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