After the pulp mill issue went away, the FOLK steering committee continued to meet and stay involved with local environmental issues. Currently, FOLK is involved in the following: Mining Education and Empowerment Campaign FOLK has organized an education and empowerment campaign. Its purpose is to prepare our citizens to make an informed, empowered and effective response to the risks that the possibility of new mining, especially metallic sulfide mining, poses to the human and natural ecology and the economy of the western Upper Peninsula.
Kennecott Eagle Mine's nickel sulfide mine located on the Yellow Dog Plains west of Marquette is the first mine to be permitted under Michigan’s non-ferrous mining law. It was permitted in spite of the fact that the state will probably be unable to adequately inspect the mine at least quarterly as Michigan’s new mining law requires. Former Michigan DEQ Director Steve Chester said, “We simply don’t have the kind of funding we need to adequately implement the laws we’re required to implement.” There are still lawsuits pending on this case but it is ultimately up to concerned citizens to educate themselves and voice their concerns for the welfare and health of the Great Lakes and all life within its watershed.
Valley View Quarry, owned by Moyle Construction, is located just west of Green Acres/Superior Road in Portage Township. Having depleted the supply of crushed mine rock on the east side of the road Moyle began operations on a hillside overlooking the Pilgrim River Valley in 2004. After removing the overburden the operation now includes blasting the bedrock underneath and crushing it. The area where the quarry is located in is zoned rural residential and the Portage Township Board soon began to hear complaints from residents about noise, heavy truck traffic, blasting and dust. After years of inaction on the part of the Township Board, several residents hired an attorney to spur the board to action. Last summer a landmark decision by the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that township ordinances can restrict sand and gravel operations.
Because of this court decision and the threat of a lawsuit and upon the advice of the township’s attorney, Nicholas Daavettila , the Board voted on August 24 to send a letter to Moyle telling them to cease operations at the Quarry in ten days. When Moyle did not comply they were served with lawsuit papers on September 24. On February 24 of this year a lawsuit between several Portage Township residents and the Portage Township Board VS Thomas Moyle Jr., Inc came before Circuit Court Judge Roy Gotham (Gogebic County) at the Houghton County court house. Although the judge ruled in favor of the residents on several issues, the judge did not rule on the specific issue of weather or not the quarry should be shut down. According to Moyle’s attorney the kind of rock being extracted from this quarry cannot be found anywhere else in Portage Township in such large quantities. The judge asked the attorneys to file briefs on the matter of the type and availability of the rock in 30 days. The attorneys will have ten days from that date to file responses to each others’ briefs. Residents who live near the quarry await the outcome and hope for a resolution of this matter before spring.