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West End News - March 22, 2018

West End News 3/22/18

You may have noticed a lapse in the West End News last week. Well, rest assured, I have a good excuse! I was out of town on my first trip to our nation’s capital, Washington DC. I had the good fortune to be invited to join a group of intelligent, well-spoken, and extremely well-informed people to lobby Congress. We were there to visit with Senators and a few Representatives regarding the proposed land-swap that would give almost 7,000 acres of Superior National Forest land to the Glencore company, the parent company for the PolyMet mine outside of Duluth.

The Forest Service already approved the land-swap, but the agency valued the land at 550 dollars per acre. In case you haven’t looked at the price of land in Northern Minnesota recently, that’s pretty darn cheap. The valuation is being challenged in court in four separate lawsuits. This is the normal process for a land-swap of this nature. An important part of the process is the opportunity for public input and judicial review. If Congress decides to force the land-swap through, it will nullify these lawsuits and remove any opportunity for public input. Effectively taking our public lands and putting them in the hands of a foreign corporation for a song. This is a bad economic deal for Minnesotans, never mind the environmental consequences.

Our Minnesota senators are silent on this issue at best. At worst, they are actively supporting the passage of this legislation. Congress is working on a budget bill, as this West End News airs, and rumor has it that the land-swap bill will be added on to the budget bill as a rider. If you, like me, don’t think this the right avenue for this project, please call senators Amy Klobuchar, Tina Smith, and Chuck Schumer, today and let them know.

Speaking of the water quality of Lake Superior…
This Saturday, March 24th at 10 am Sugarloaf Cove will be presenting the program “Taking Lake Superior’s Temperature.” You don’t have to be a scientist to know that Lake Superior is big and deep. These factors make it difficult to collect data such as temperature and water quality. Fortunately, the University of Minnesota’s Large Lakes Observatory and the EPA have come up with a solution – gliders.

On Saturday, you can join EPA researcher Tom Hollenhorst at Sugarloaf Cove where he will take you on a journey through the waters of Lake Superior. Tom will explain gliders, also known as autonomous underwater vehicles, which collect data by diving down into the water column and back to the surface as they travel according to programmed GPS coordinates. All the while they continuously measure things like water temperature, particles in the water, chlorophyll and colored dissolved organic matter.
There is a suggested donation of $5 per person or $10 per family for this event. Sugarloaf Cove nature center is located on the lakeside of highway 61 just past mile marker 73.

For WTIP, I’m Clare Shirley, with the West End News.