106 Group Presents at National Association of Environmental Professionals’ 2020 Virtual Conference

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are functionally related and navigating the evaluations of those relationships, understanding historic activities of a no longer active mining landscape where physical evidence of that activity is sometimes missing or altered, and using desktop analysis to inventory properties that were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.

MOA Implementation for the NorthMet Mining Project Presentation
Jennifer Bring

Jennifer is a senior project manager who currently manages the cultural and historical resources documentation for the NorthMet Mining Project MOA Implementation. Her detailed understanding of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) Section 106/Section 110 processes, as well as state-level compliance issues has provided her with extensive expertise to guide a wide range of projects from interstate pipelines to wind and solar to rail and transit. Jennifer has also facilitated consultation with agencies, American Indian Tribes, and community groups to bring resolution to potential project issues.

Dan Ettinger

Dan is a partner at Warner Norcross + Judd, a full-service law firm with over 200 attorneys in Michigan. He concentrates his practice in the areas of mining and natural resource development, environmental litigation, NEPA and NHPA compliance, and administrative law, with a special focus on issues related to Native American tribes and cultural resources. Dan advises mining and natural resource development clients regarding tribal engagement and consultation, compliance with laws aimed at protecting tribal interests and resources, such as the NHPA, and other cultural resource issues that can arise in the course of permitting a development project.

Kevin Pylka

Kevin Pylka is an environmental manager at PolyMet Mining, Inc., a mine development company preparing to mine copper, nickel and precious metals from the NorthMet ore body located near Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota. He has effectively led challenging projects in the areas of NEPA and NHPA review, along with federal and state permitting and a land exchange for the mine project. He has succeeded in collaborating with consultants, legal counsel, federal and state agencies, Native American tribes and other stakeholders to navigate through the myriad set of statutes and regulations and the public engagement necessary to permit a mine with modern, responsible and sustainable practices.