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Gogebic mining site protection compromise appears to be reached

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - A compromise has been reached on a bill to keep protestors and others away from Gogebic Taconite's preliminary work for its new iron ore mine. 

It has the blessing of the original author, Hazelhurst Republican Tom Tiffany -- and a full Senate vote on it could come as early as Tuesday.  

Tiffany's original measure would have closed the entire 3,200 acre mining site in Ashland and Iron counties, where public access is granted under the state's Managed Forest Law. 

Tiffany said the closure was needed to avoid a repeat of a theft and vandalism incident at the mining site in June. 

After a committee endorsed the bill, sportsmen balked, saying it would cut off precious deer hunting territory. And the bill reached a snag in the Senate. 

Green Bay Republican Rob Cowles drafted the compromise. It would close public access within 600 feet of most mining equipment, and within 600 feet of roads used for mining. 

The landowners would have to pay more to make up for the closures, since they get tax breaks to keep it open. Also, the land would be open during the upcoming gun deer hunting season this month. 

Cowles said his compromise would balance the mining company's need to work in peace, while allowing folks to use the property for recreation. 

Tiffany says it doesn't go far enough to protect workers who roam on the property, but he'll go along with it.