Natural resources have always been important to the 110th District., and we need to sustainably use them while protecting our beautiful parks, lakes and forests which bring visitors to our area. In the past mining in our district produced jobs and other non-lasting benefits but left a legacy of environmental and societal problems we are still dealing with. There has been a recent surge in new metal mining leases to several companies in Baraga County, and this time around we need to make sure we do not make the same mistakes. In the Natural Resources Forum (2001) Viera sums it up better than I can:
"A sustainable mining community is one that lasts through the closure of the mine and beyond... The challenge for any mining company is to engage in an equitable partnership with the associated community and thus leave a lasting legacy of sustainability and well-being in the community, avoiding environmental degradation and social dislocation."
Viega MM, Scoble M, McAllister, ML. 2001. Mining with Communities. Natural Resources Forum. 25: 191-202.
One of my uncles was in the very first class in the School of Forestry at Michigan Tech. It was instilled in me from young age, that no one should hire a logging firm to log a timber stand without a professional, sustainable forestry plan conducted by licensed Foresters. Our forests can provide many jobs and good income for years to come if they are properly managed.
Our mineral resources have been extracted for over a century and a half, and we were left with little more than holes in the ground and stamp sands, while the profits went to Boston (to build Harvard) and Chicago. The 1-2 pennies per dollar in royalties paid to the state went down a black hole in Lansing. In the future, our still valuable metal resources of the 110th should be evaluated to develop a royalty structure that is fair to the citizens of the U.P. and to leave a more lasting legacy. Mining has become a highly mechanized industry, and simply does not provide the jobs it used to. The state needs to cut a much better financial deal with the mining companies who are right now snapping up valuable leases in our district, and to provide strict environmental oversight on their operations.