Mining in the Penokee Range is the third rail of Wisconsin environmental politics. So you might wonder why the directors of the UW’s northernmost research stations decided to touch it. But the mine and the science behind it is the topic for a session on Thursday night of Science on Tap, a monthly outreach forum in Minoqua created by Tom Steele of CALS Kemp Natural Resources Station and Tim Kratz of the limnology department’s Trout Lake station.

Tom Steele, Kemp Natural Resources Station
“It’s a really important story and it’s one where the demand for information is incredible,” Steele says.

“It’s a really important story and it’s one where the demand for information is incredible,” Steele says. “When we did our first Science on Tap and opened up the floor for questions, the very first one was “Tell us about the mine. When we get back our comment cards, the topic that appears most often is mining in the Penokee range.”

Steele says addressing the issue is the “epitome of the Wisconsin Idea—bring information so people can decide for themselves.”

“We’ve told every speaker that this is supposed to be value-neutral and science-based.  A key element of that is our choice of moderator. Larry Konopaki is a senior staff attorney of the Wisconsin Legislative Council, which by law is a nonpartisan group,” Steele says.

The six-person panel will include Dominic Parker, assistant professor in CALS Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics. W-Madison. Parker will discuss the potential socio-economic impacts of mining on local communities.

Since a large crowd is expected, the location has been shifted from the Minoqua Brewing Co., the usual Science on Tap venue (hence the name) to the larger Campanile Center for the Arts. The forum will be recorded, so If you can’t make the trip you can view it online on the Science on Tap YouTube channel. Past presentations have had an impressive virtual audience. The most popular session has had 5,000 viewing minutes with viewers from at least five continents. This one may well top that.