Menominee River Back Forty Mining Project’s Proposed Tailings Dam

Dick Dragiewicz from the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition has provided additional information about the Menominee River Back Forty Mining Project related to its proposed tailings dam.  Al Gedicks and Eric Hansen wrote and had published an opinion article in the Lansing State Journal about the hazards of this proposed mine and especially its tailings dam.  Also, the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition’s current Summer 2019 newsletter includes a detailed analysis of the mine’s proposed tailings dam.  Dick can be reached by email at or by phone at 847-924-9299 if you would like additional information.


Buzz McFly

River Alliance of Wisconsin Update on the Menominee River Back Forty Mining Project

The following is an update from the River Alliance of Wisconsin on the Menominee River Back Forty mining project:

Contested Case Hearing, June 4th:
The Coalition to Save the Menominee River is challenging the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s decision to grant the wetland permit to Aquila Resources.  The case will be heard starting June 4th.

Public Hearing, June 25th: 
Michigan regulators will hold a public hearing on three proposed permits for Aquila Resources’ Back Forty mine on June 25th, from 5:30-9 pm, in the Stephenson High School gymnasium in Stephenson, MI.  The three permits that will be available for comment at the hearing are: a dam safety permit, an air quality permit, and an amendment to the mining permit that was granted to Aquila in December of 2016.

Yes, I am interested in attending the hearing on June, 25th.
(River Alliance will follow up with more details and suggested talking points.)

Congressman Gallagher Opposes the Back Forty 
At a recent fundraiser for the Coalition to Save the Menominee, Congressman Gallagher spoke and shared his opposition to the Back Forty project and his willingness to work to stop the mine proposal.

The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin Appeals Court Decision 
The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin appealed a December decision from the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin that dismissed the Tribe’s claims against the federal government. The Tribe went to court in January of 2018 asserting that the federal government had improperly abandoned its obligation to exercise jurisdiction over Clean Water Act permitting for the mine, by allowing the State of Michigan to oversee and control what should have been a federal permitting process.

The Tribe further asserted its rights under the National Historic Preservation Act to consult on the protection of its cultural and historical sites. In December, the court rejected the Tribe’s claims on a preliminary motion by the federal agencies and the mining company and dismissed the case, disallowing full briefing and hearing of the issues.

The Risks with Tailings Dams
Dr. Al Gedicks wrote an informative article about the tailings dam that failed in Brazil and the connection to the Back Forty project. “On January 25, 2019, a 28-story high tailings dam… in southeastern Brazil failed, releasing almost 3 billion gallons of sludgy mine waste. The spill flooded nearby homes, submerging cars and buses under a river of reddish-brown sludge. The death toll so far has risen to 228…

The same design for storing mine waste, known as the upstream dam construction method, is now being proposed for a large open pit metallic sulfide mine and tailings dam next to the Menominee River on the Wisconsin-Michigan border.”
Read more.

Follow these pages to stay in the loop on the proposed Back Forty Mine: 

Coalition to Save the Menominee
Protectors of the Menominee
Save the Menominee River


Buzz McFly

May 20th Meeting – “Decoding the Driftless” Movie Showing with Steve Born Answering Questions

Emmy Award-winning filmmakers George Howe and Tim Jacobson of Sustainable Driftless and Rob Nelson of Untamed Science have teamed up again to produce a one hour feature-length film on the amazing origins, diversity, and resources of the Driftless Region.  The creative team also includes Swedish filmmaker Jonas Stenstrom of Untamed Science, and six-time Emmy-winning wildlife cinematographer Neil Rettig.  The result is an extremely rare footage of natural phenomena in the Driftless Region in a way never seen before.

The one hour long movie will take you on a wild ride of adventure from the air, ground, water, and a secret underworld, as leading scientists, local guides, and area enthusiasts reveal their passion for, and knowledge of the Driftless Region.  Travel back 500 million years to discover how this unique region was formed and has evolved over time.  Explore the archaeology, paleontology, geology, and biology of this fascinating region which will take you to parts of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois to uncover ancient hidden mysteries, endangered Ice-Age throwbacks, and globally rare ecosystems.  This is not a fishing DVD but you are sure to get a new appreciation for the Driftless Region by attending the meeting to watch the movie.  Here is a link to the “Decoding the Driftless” trailer.

Steve Born will be attending the meeting and has graciously offered to answer questions IMG_6284after the movie about the Driftless Region and its geology.  Steve is Professor Emeritus and former Chair of the Urban and Regional Planning Department at the University of Wisconsin.  He is a geologist by training with multiple degrees from various universities, is passionate about fly fishing and is co-author of “Exploring Wisconsin Trout Streams” (UW Press).  Steve’s comments on the Driftless Region after the movie are guaranteed to be both informative and entertaining.

The meeting is on Monday, May 20th which is one week earlier than normal due to the Memorial Day holiday and will be at the Maple Tree restaurant on Highway 51 in McFarland.  The presentation begins at 7:00 p.m. with dinner and conversation at 6:00 p.m.  Visitors and guests are always welcome.


Buzz McFly

April 22nd Meeting – Phil Anderson on “Classic Trout Flies and Their History”

Anderson Photo4 (1024)Phil Anderson is a recently retired professor of Genetics at the UW-Madison and an amateur historian of fly tying and fishing.  He has lived in Madison for 37 years and among his weaknesses are trout of the Driftless and classic books on the history of fly tying.  Phil has taught fly tying classes for the Southern Wisconsin chapter of Trout Unlimited for 14 years and writes a monthly column for SWTU about classic trout flies that have withstood the test of time.  He has educated quite a few Driftless trout over the years about the history of fly tying by reintroducing them to classic flies that they probably have never seen.  Such flies have lost their place of prominence in fly shops, glossy magazines, and glitzy websites but they’ve lost none of their fish-catching magic.


Fly anglers have been fooling trout with fur and feather for hundreds of years.  Read an old fly tying book or examine your granddad’s fly box and you’ll discover flies that are the foundations of our sport.  Many of those old flies are great fish catchers often better than the latest hot new fly.  All trout flies, even modern ones, descend from ancestral flies of similar design and some of those designs date to the earliest days of fly fishing.

The English-language literature on fly fishing began in 1496 with publication of the first book that included artificial flies and recipes for their construction.  Fly angling evolved tremendously in the ensuing 500+ years due largely to conceptual and technical advances by some of history’s most insightful and influential anglers.  Phil will examine the evolution of fly fishing using classic trout flies as a window on the history of the sport.

As with biological evolution, the pace of change in fly fishing over time has not been uniform.  Relatively lengthy periods of stasis in which few significant changes occurred have been punctuated by short periods of major change.  New ideas and methods were established often by individual angler-authors that swept rather quickly through fly fishing.  Phil will highlight some of the landmark anglers, influential books and famous fly patterns and comment on their impacts both at the time and today.

The meeting on Monday, April 22nd will be at the Maple Tree restaurant on Highway 51 in McFarland.  The presentation begins at 7:00 p.m. with dinner and conversation at 6:00 p.m.  Visitors and guests are always welcome.


Buzz McFly






March 25th Meeting – Abe Downs on “Fly Fishing Costa Rica for Marlin”

Abe Downs is the owner of Great Northern Fly Fishing and an Orvis endorsed fly fishing guide on the Upper Wisconsin River fishing for smallmouth bass and musky.  Abe started fly fishing for trout as most fly fishermen do but quickly realized trout are not the only game in town.  Turning his attention to warm water species, Abe soon found himself fishing for bass and musky.  Since rivers and fish are always changing, Abe believes fishermen need to change too so he likes to experiment with new fly fishing techniques.  Abe also has a passion for travel and finding new places in the world to catch fish with a fly rod.

Do you want to become famously known as the next Santiago as in Ernest Hemingway’s novel “The Old Man and the Sea”?  If you recall, Santiago is an aged Cuban fisherman who, after 84 days without success on the water, heads out to sea to break his run of bad luck.  On the 85th day Santiago hooks a giant and resolute marlin; what follows is a great struggle between man, sea creature, and the elements.  You can gain some extremely valuable knowledge to help become the next Santiago by attending Abe’s (a.k.a. The Newest Santiago of Costa Rica) presentation on “Fly Fishing Costa Rica for Marlin”.abe downs mapabe downs cropped #2 6419.jpg (2)In September 2018 Abe flew to San Jose, Costa Rica and then traveled on to Quepos on the Pacific Ocean side of Costa Rica.  Quepos has a population of about 22,000 people and is the gateway to Manuel Antonio National Park.  The city is very tourism-oriented having many bars and restaurants and a vivacious nightlife.  The town is named for the native Quepo Indians who inhabited the area in the colonial era.  Abe’s presentation will be about fly fishing for marlin in the Pacific Ocean off Quepos.  He will include a general overview of his travel to Costa Rica and some of his cultural experiences while in Costa Rica.  Specific to the marlin fly fishing, Abe will talk about the tackle requirements and what it takes to hook into one of the biggest fishes you can fly fish for.  With the knowledge obtained from Abe’s presentation you are guaranteed to catch an enormous marlin well within the 85 days it took Santiago to catch one!!!  Hope you can make it to this month’s meeting to learn how you too can become famous as the next Santiago of Costa Rica!!!  The meeting on Monday, March 25th will be at the Maple Tree restaurant on Highway 51 in McFarland.  The presentation begins at 7:00 p.m. with dinner and conversation at 6:00 p.m.  Visitors and guests are always welcome.


Buzz McFly

Coalition to Save the Menominee River is Seeking Contributions

The Coalition to Save the Menominee River is seeking contributions to help pay fees and expenses that will be incurred in 2019 to support two lawsuits on the Back Forty Project filed by the Coalition to stop this mining project.  Donations need to be received before April 25, 2019 to help achieve the June 30, 2019 goal of $50,000.  As of now the Coalition has received $19,000+ from various sources.  Donations have ranged from $1.00 to $8,000.  If you can make a contribution, please make the check payable to:  Coalition to Save the Menominee River, Inc. and mail it to Coalition to Save the Menominee River, Inc.,  P.O. Box 475,  Marinette, WI  54143.  The Badger Fly Fishers have contributed to this cause in the past and need to review this year’s contribution level with its membership.  For additional information on the proposed Back Forty Project (aka “the mine”) and the opposition to it you can go to this linked website.

The background and reasons for this request are that in 2018 the Coalition filed two lawsuits on the Back Forty Project and are confident in achieving favorable rulings that will prevent this mine from being developed.  One case was filed in Federal Court and the other case was filed in Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.  The estimated costs for these lawsuits including expert witness costs, travel expenses for the hearings, attorney fees, etc., will reach approximately $200,000.  The Federal lawsuit addresses two issues:  (1) Did the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) properly determine that the issued Wetlands Permit was within the authority delegated to the State of Michigan?  (2) Was the EPA’s decision to withdraw its lengthy list of objections to the Wetlands Permit arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretions, or otherwise not in accordance with applicable laws?  No date has been set for hearing this case.  The delay in setting the court date is due to the backlog of cases created by the recent 35-day Federal Government Shutdown.

The second lawsuit is a “Contested Case” filed in Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.  This case states that it is unlawful for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to rely on a very lengthy list of conditions that are part of the Wetlands Permit as a way to address all the shortcomings in this permit.  This case is scheduled to be heard in early June 2019 in Lansing, Michigan.

The Coalition’s other expenses are for the production and distribution of educational and advocacy materials designed to increase and support opposition to this mine.  It also sponsors and arranges educational events with the same goal.  It has limited basic office supply costs.  No salaries are paid to the many volunteer members of the Coalition.

The Coalition is a 100% volunteer group that advocates for the protection of the Menominee River and Lake Michigan from the hazards of a proposed polymetallic sulfide open pit/underground mine that would be located on Michigan’s shoreline of this river.  No salaries are paid to anyone that works with the Coalition.  It is a 501(c)(3) corporation.


Buzz McFly

Badger Fly Fishers’ Membership Approves Donation to Harry and Laura Nohr TU Chapter

At the February 25th monthly meeting the Badger Fly Fishers’ membership overwhelmingly approved the Board of Directors recommended donation to the Harry and Laura Nohr TU Chapter to help support additional work in the Blue River area.  The picture above shows Tim Fraley, President of the Harry and Laura Nohr TU Chapter accepting the donation check from Bob Harrison, President of the Badger Fly Fishers.  Before the evening’s regular presentation, Tim reviewed the Chapter’s recent work and future plans within the Blue River area which included a map of the projects… there are no secrets!  Many thanks go out to Tim Fraley, Brian Larson and everyone at the Harry and Laura Nohr TU Chapter for all their hard work on these projects.


Buzz McFly

Caddisflies, Mayflies and Stoneflies Worldwide Insect Decline

According to a new study published in the journal Biological Conservation, 40 percent of global insect species are threatened with extinction.  The four most affected aquatic insect populations, which the study describes as “imperiled,” are caddisflies, mayflies, stoneflies and dragon and damselflies.  Additional information about this study can be found at this link.


Buzz McFly

February 25th Meeting – John Lyons on “Wisconsin’s Greenfire: New Voices for Conservation”

John Lyons is a fish biologist with over 33 years of post-graduate experience studying the fishes of Wisconsin, the Upper Great Lakes Region, Mexico and Central America.  Since 1985 John has been the John Lyons Wisconsin fishCurator of Fishes for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Zoological Museum and prior to his retirement in 2017, he was a fisheries research scientist and supervisor for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) for more than 32 years.  John earned his Ph.D. and M.S. in Zoology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.S. in Biology from Union College, Schenectady, NY.

John’s presentation will inform us about a new environmental organization, Wisconsin’s Greenfire, Voices for Conservation, which was established in 2017 to promote the better use of science and increased transparency and collaboration in the management of Wisconsin’s natural resources.  John Lyons SandCountyAlmanacThis organization is open for anyone to join.  John will describe the origins, structure, and function of the group and how Greenfire hopes to work with groups such as the Badger Fly Fishers to help conserve the state’s aquatic ecosystems.  He will also focus on three pending fisheries issues which are the WDNR’s Trout Plan, Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation (R3) of anglers and hunters, and the adaptation strategies for addressing climate change impacts on fisheries in which the Badger Fly Fishers can play a particularly important role.  Additional information on Wisconsin’s Greenfire can be found on its website.  The meeting on Monday, February 25th will be at the Maple Tree restaurant on Highway 51 in McFarland.  The presentation begins at 7:00 p.m. with dinner and conversation at 6:00 p.m.  Visitors and guests are always welcome.  Hope you can make it to the meeting to be educated about this new environmental group and more specifically its work related to Wisconsin’s aquatic ecosystems.


Buzz McFly


February 9th Spring Opener Fundraiser – Pat Dorsey on “Western US Rivers’ Tailwaters and Colorado’s Best Trout Streams” and Much More!

Pat Dorsey is a Denver, Colorado based fly fishing guide and co-owner of the Blue Quill Angler, a full-service fly shop that has served customers since 1988.  Pat has pursued selective Rocky Mountain trout for over thirty-five years and as a result has a vast knowledge and expertise fly fishing in Colorado’s legendary rivers’ tailwaters and streams.  As a master fly fishing guide Pat has helped anglers of all ages and skill levels discover the joy of fly fishing, knows the waters of Colorado better than almost anyone and is an expert on the equipment and flies needed to catch selective Rocky Mountain trout.  You can find additional information about Pat at his website.pat dorsey - rainbow trout

The Badger Fly Fishers are extremely thankful to the American Family Insurance Co. that its Spring Opener will once again be held at the American Family Insurance Training Center, Building A, 6000 American Parkway, Madison, WI.  The facility is outstanding and a perfect location for our event.  The Spring Opener fundraiser helps support local conservation projects.  As a result of attendees’ participation and support of this event the Badger Fly Fishers pat dorsey - brook trouthave been able to donate over $86,000 to improve Wisconsin’s fisheries through education and stream restoration projects.  A comprehensive list of these projects is included on the What We Do page.  The Spring Opener runs from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 9th.  The event includes 20+ fly tyers that provide hands-on expert instructions, a trade show with 20 or more vendors, a chance to win fabulous fly fishing related equipment in bucket raffles and a live auction that provides the opportunity to bid on spectacular fly fishing equipment and guided fishing trips.  Here are links to lists of the magnificent bucket raffle and lively auction items.  Admission for the day is only $10 for adults.  Children under 15 are admitted free.  An on-site lunch is available for a nominal charge.  The following is the schedule of activities for the day:

  •   8:00 – Registration opens, fly tying begins and commercial exhibits open.
  • 10:00 – Pat Dorsey’s presentation on “Fly Fishing Western US Rivers’ Tailwaters”.
  • 11:00 – Kid’s bucket raffle organized by the Wisconsin Smallmouth Alliance.
  • 11:15 – Lunch service downstairs begins and continues until 12:30.
  •   1:00 – Lively Auction.
  •   2:30 – Pat Dorsey’s presentation on “Fly Fishing Colorado’s Best Trout Streams”.
  •   4:30 – Bucket Raffle Drawings.

The Spring Opener event poster includes some additional information, a map with driving and parking directions can be found at this link and more information is available elsewhere on our website.  Please plan to attend this very important fundraising event for the Badger Fly Fishers that helps support the local conservation projects that all of us fly fishers enjoy and appreciate.


Buzz McFly