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Compromise plan securing Gogebic Taconite's mine site passes Senate

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The Wisconsin Senate passed a compromise bill Tuesday which allows at least some public use at the site of the proposed Gogebic Taconite iron ore mine. 

Democrats still didn't favor the measure, as all 15 minority party members voted no. All 18 Republicans voted yes, and they sent the bill on to the Assembly. 

The original bill from Hazelhurst Republican Tom Tiffany would have closed all 3,200 acres of the mining site in Ashland and Iron counties, even though the landowner gets a state tax break to keep it open for things like hunting and hiking. 

The compromise, from Green Bay Republican Rob Cowles, would ban public access within 600 feet of mining roads, and 600 feet of most mining-related equipment. The site's owner would give up part of its tax break if the land is closed -- and all of it would have to stay open during the November nine-day gun deer hunt. 

Cowles told colleagues it's a good compromise, but Poplar Democrat Bob Jauch still regards it as a "sweetheart deal" for Gogebic Taconite. He said it would still discourage critics from independently evaluating the mining site.