Implementation of the MOA for the NorthMet Mining Project has required coordination among multiple agencies and consulting parties. Mitigation for effects to the Erie Mining Company Landscape Historic District include architectural surveys, development of a historical context, and preparation of Minnesota Historic Property Records (state-level documentation similar to HABS/HAER/HALS documentation). The task of documenting such a large historic district with varied property types has involved many complexities: understanding how properties are functionally related and navigating the evaluations of those relationships, understanding historic activities of a no longer active mining landscape where physical evidence of that activity is sometimes missing or altered, and using desktop analysis to inventory properties that were inaccessible due to private ownership. Early and close collaboration with consulting American Indian Tribes has been critical in understanding and documenting the resources, as well as in meeting the timelines stipulated in the MOA for the SML Sugarbush, BBLV Trail, and Mesabe Widjiu areas. Mitigation for these properties include Phase III recordation of the BBLV Trail, Phase II intensive survey of the SML Sugarbush, and an ethnographic study for the Mesabe Widjiu.
Our presenters shared multiple perspectives for implementing the MOA, including:
- legal background;
- coordinating meeting the many requirements of the MOA with the Project schedule;
- complexity of engaging with Co-lead federal agencies, consulting agencies, and American Indian Tribes; and
- logistics of documenting a mining landscape historic district that spans over 23,000 acres across northeastern Minnesota.
Best practices presented in this session included how to develop sound research designs, thoughtful engagement approaches, and encourage dialogue and interaction among the project proposer, agencies, tribes, and the cultural resources consultant.