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Citizen Voices Matter: In the Penokee Hills

About Bill Heart

Bill is the treasurer/secretary of the Penokee Hills Education Project and is an avid fisherman. Now retired from owning a print shop in Ashland, Wisconsin, Bill’s leadership and community involvement includes serving on the Great Lakes Committee of the National Leadership Council of Trout Unlimited.

Why Bill is involved with protecting the Penokee Hills

Bill is involved with the Penokee Hills Education Project because he wants more people to understand how water would be threatened by an open-pit iron mine in the Penokee Hills of Wisconsin.

“There is so much water up here,” said Heart. “All of these rivers flow into the Bad River which flows into Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world. If you look at this area, it’s probably one of the worst places in the world to have an open-pit iron mine. It just absolutely makes no sense.”

In Wisconsin, the people who live in the northern part of the state have a reputation for rugged individualism and an enthusiasm for the state’s stunning and beautiful wilderness areas. Bill said he would rather be fishing than attending long meetings or speaking at hearings about mining laws. But after state legislators ignored overwhelming opposition from citizens and passed legislation that exempts iron mining from many of the environmental protections Wisconsin has enjoyed, people like Heart are continuing to educate the public about how the gutted law no longer protects water.

“The waters of Wisconsin are more valuable than an open-pit mine,” Heart said. It is because Wisconsin’s northwoods are wild and undeveloped that the region grows in value to forestry, hunting, fishing and tourism. “These streams are all part of a system that is vitally, globally important. The mining company doesn't understand that.”