The whole idea never made sense to Roscoe Churchill.
Why would Wisconsin, with its rich abundance of lakes and forests, even consider opening its door to the mining industry? the retired elementary school principal from Ladysmith would ask.
Why jeopardize all that, he’d say, for an industry with a truly wretched past — as evidenced by the scarred landscapes of northern Minnesota and Michigan’s U.P.?
And nobody knew more about the industry’s misdeeds than Churchill and his wife Evelyn, who spent many summers in the 1970s and ’80s checking out mine sites throughout the United States and Canada.
“If there’s an open pit mine that hasn’t caused major pollution, I’d like the (Wisconsin) Department of Natural Resources to show me where it is,” he grumbled in 1991, shortly after the DNR approved permits that allowed the Flambeau Mining Co. — a subsidiary of Utah-based Kennecott Minerals Co. and British mining giant Rio Tinto — to build a 32-acre open pit copper mine near the Flambeau River in northwestern Wisconsin.