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Environmental groups, Maine tribes oppose northern Maine mining proposal

Pickett Mountain and Pickett Mountain Pond.
Maine Land Use Planning Commission via BDN
Pickett Mountain and Pickett Mountain Pond.

Environmental groups have joined several tribes seeking to intervene in proposed zoning changes aimed at opening the door for a mining project in northern Penobscot county.

The groups submitted a petition Wednesday to intervene in an application before the Land Use Planning Commission. Ontario-based Wolfden Resources has asked the commission to rezone nearly 400 acres of land to allow for metallic mining.

Opposing groups, including the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, the Penobscot Nation, the Conservation Law Foundation and the Natural Resources Council of Maine say the mining project will harm the environment, wildlife and nearby communities. Nick Bennett is the staff scientist at NRCM.

"So the long and the short of it is this is a terrible place to put a mine," Bennett said.

And the proposal is the latest in a series of mines proposed in locations that could affect tribal communities.

In a release from the NRCM, Chief Kirk Francis of the Penobscot Nation says that the mine would impact the tribe's traditional territories and "forever alter our ability to maintain our relationship to this place.”

Kaitlyn Budion is Maine Public’s Bangor correspondent, joining the reporting team after several years working in print journalism.