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Tribes' help needed for power line project

LAC DU FLAMBEAU, Wis. - The Minnesota Power Company (MP), Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPSC), and the American Transmission Company (ATC) have received approval from the Public Service Commission to construct a 345 Kilovolt (kV) power line that would run from the MP Arrowhead Substation near Duluth, Minn. to the WPSC Weston Substation near Wausau, Wis.

However, tribes within the State of Wisconsin that are affected by the route have not approved the project until it is determined that the route will not affect any historic sites or properties in its path.

Tribal Historic Preservation officials in St. Croix, Lac Courte Oreilles, and Lac du Flambeau are requesting information relevant to traditional cultural areas or artifacts in the path of, or within a half mile on either side of the proposed Arrowhead-Weston Power Line route. The path dissects the Ceded Territory.

The project will require clearing of vegetation within a right-of-way 120 feet wide and 210 miles in length. Steel pole structures will be installed every 750 feet along this route. More than 75 percent of the route is sited on existing railroad, oil pipeline, and electric transmission line corridors. Construction of the new line is slated to begin in Minnesota this spring, and Wisconsin by fall.

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The route crosses a small portion of the Lac Courte Oreilles reservation, on the west side near Summit Lake Road.

The route also traverses upland areas near wetlands where there is the possibility of past habitation and therefore the potential presence of artifacts, cemeteries, and mounds, and areas of traditional cultural significance such as ricing beds, medicinal plant gathering areas, birch bark gathering areas, sugaring areas and villages.

Information supplied will be held in confidence. Should any discoveries be made, tribes will meet to discuss further guidelines to ensure protection of these artifacts or areas before the project begins.

Persons with any information pertaining to this project are asked to contact Tribal Historic Preservation offices as soon as possible: St. Croix - Wanda McFaggen, (715) 349-2195 or, Lac du Flambeau - Kelly Jackson, (715) 588-2139 or, Lac Courte Oreilles - Jerry Smith, (715) 634-0092.