On Jan. 4, a Michigan judge denied a wetland permit for a proposed open-pit mine, commonly known as the Back Forty Mine, near the banks of the Menominee River. 

In 2017, the Door County Board of Supervisors had joined Brown and Marinette counties in adopting a resolution opposing the mine, citing concerns that water pollution moving from the Menominee River into Green Bay could negatively affect Door County’s shoreline. 

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality approved the wetland permit for the Canadian-based mining firm, Aquila Resources, in 2018, which was the final permit needed for the mine to begin operating. 

A lawsuit from the Menominee Indian Tribe claimed the wetland permit had been unlawfully granted. Administrative Law Judge Daniel Pulter agreed, stating that the project is not in the public interest as required by most projects affecting waterways. In his ruling, he said the firm failed to demonstrate that there are no feasible alternatives to the project or site, and that it did not provide enough information on the impacts to the wetlands on the parcel. 

Aquila Resources CEO Barry Hildred said in a statement that the company is “evaluating its alternatives, which include the submission of an updated permit application or appealing the decision to the [Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy] environmental review panel.”