Gold Discovered In the Penokees

April 22, 2015 by Barbara With

Upson, Wisconsin – Paul DeMain, spokesperson for the Harvest Education Learning Project (HELP) in the Penokee Hills of Iron County, Wisconsin said the recent discovery of gold in the hills “will help create another revenue stream for local family incomes and make a huge difference in family nutrition.”

Penokee Gold® Maple Syrup is being test marketed in northern Wisconsin as an alternative economic development strategy to replace iron ore mining. Photo: Paul DeMain

Penokee Gold® maple syrup is being test marketed in northern Wisconsin as an alternative economic development strategy to mining. Photo: Paul DeMain

DeMain was referring to the Penokee Gold® maple syrup being test marketed this year for the La Courte Oreilles and Bad River Tribes and Inter-Tribal Maple Syrup Producers Cooperative, nonprofits geared to create sapping products in the woods of Northern Wisconsin.

“Wisconsin currently taps less than .05% of it potential maple trees; other sapping tree rates are even less,” said DeMain. “In 1880, Chippewa Indians made some 248,000 pounds of maple sugar at Ontonagon, Michigan, worth $5.4 million in today’s dollars. We have plenty of trees and plan to try to replicate that with all our modern-day efficiencies, which can provide environmentally friendly jobs and bring benefits to local families.”

Russ Buccanero and Nick Vander Puy making

Russ Buccanero and Nick Vander Puy making “Moore, Please” maple syrup, pints of which were handed out at the March Iron County Board meeting.

On Saturday, April 25, HELP will celebrate its 2nd year and this year’s syrup season with a Pancakes in the Penokees event at Moore Park Road County Park, near the site of the current HELP sugar bush and campsite. With the help of volunteers, syrup was produced at HELP and next door at the Russ Buccanero’s Finnish Camp “Ground Zero,” where 200 gallons of sap were boiled down into five gallons of “Moore, Please” syrup. Syrup from both sites will be featured, along with favorite pancake batter recipes and other local food from the northland.

Both HELP and Ground Zero were indeed ground zero in the plan to build an iron ore mine in the Penokees. However Gogebic Taconite (GTac) withdrew their pre-application permit last month and announced it would not pursue the project.

Bad River Tribal Member David Joe Bates with friends Ros Nelson (l) and Michelle Heglund (r).

Bad River Tribal Member David Joe Bates with friends Ros Nelson (l) and Michelle Heglund (r).

DeMain says the event will also serve as a fundraiser for David Joe Bates of the Bad River Ojibwe reservation, who recently lost his son and home to a house fire. “Bates has a number of needs now, including replacing just about everything personal, household items and video recording equipment,” says DeMain. “But our number one intent is to help him get back on his feet.”

Pancakes in the Penokees starts at 2 PM and runs thru 6 PM. For more information, contact Paul DeMain 715-558-2991

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