Gold mining is stirring up debate in Marathon County. The county drafted an ordinance to put more regulations on sulfide mining before a state law goes into effect July 1.
Wednesday evening, roughly 50 people attended a meeting held by the zoning committee for Marathon County where they discussed the ordinance draft.
"Plan for economic impacts, plan for impacts on well water, plan for impacts on roads and other infrastructures, so that's what we're trying to do," said Marathon County Corporation Counsel Scott Corbett.
With a gold deposit in the county, called the Easton Reef Deposit, residents and environmentalists are concerned that it may get mined. The deposit is not far from the Eau Claire River.
"I don't need to tell anyone here how close this deposit is to the Marathon County park systems," said town of Hewitt resident Shannon Thielman. "With such an extremely small set back of 300 ft., especially from residential buildings, there will be significant blast impact on local homes, not to mention wildlife."
Nearly all of the 20 people who spoke at the meeting cited environmental concerns with the possible mining. They called on the county to make the ordinance even more stringent.
However, others said mining would do a lot for jobs and the local economy.
"The typical mine will create at least 300 family sustaining jobs," said Bob Quick, the executive director for the Natural Resources Development Association. "The average compensation was over $80 thousand a year, wages and benefits."
After nearly two hours of public comments, corporation counsel will now make changes to the ordinance.
The zoning committee meets again Mar. 6, they'll get a report from the corporation counsel on updates to the ordinance.
The committee is holding a special meeting Mar. 29 to take any possible action on it. The ordinance will still need to be sent to the full board for any approval.