STEPHENSON — The Menominee County Board of Road Commissioners on Thursday put the brakes on a proposal presented by Aquila Resources Inc. to realign River Road for mining purposes and to create a truck route to the mine.

Cliff Nelson, vice president of operations U.S. Aquila Resources Inc., presented two road proposals at a special meeting of the road commission. He said the proposal calls for the main access road to be an all-season road with new construction from Swanson Road to the Aquila property gate, and with a portion of County Road 356 and Swanson Road upgraded to an all-season road.

Benefits to this route would be creating a direct route compared to driving from River Road to Rosebush Lake Road to CR356 and Swanson Road and G-12.

Because the company would like access to its mineral rights underneath the road, they are requesting the road commission to bypass approximately 2,500 feet of River Road. Nelson said the realignment of River Road is designed to stay away from all the cultural sites, and would take traffic off River Road to allow the company access to the mineral rights.

There were three options presented by Nelson for main access to the mine.

“Note we are not asking for an abandonment but a temporary realignment of it,” Nelson said.

Aquila anticipates getting three of four permits applied for with the state by the end of this year.

About 50 people attended the special meeting on this proposal. Those in attendance included members of the Menominee Nation Tribe, representatives from Lake, Holmes and Daggett townships, and those in opposition to the mine.

Darrell Moilanen, engineer/manager of the road commission, said the mining company could do a land swap with the state. But even if the road commission supported going through state land, there is no guarantee the state would grant access.

Nelson said seven concentrated trucks a day would travel the road and that would depend on weight limits on the roads.

Members of the public were concerned about explosives entering and leaving the mine site on trucks that travel county roads along with school buses.

Tom Boerner, a landowner near the proposed mine, said Nelson was trying to minimize the amount of trucks by saying seven.

“You can’t physically move the road, so you are actually abandoning it. You are also asking to have that road 28 meters from the river. How close is the new road to the river?” he asked.

Nelson said 70 feet.

Boerner said pictures he has taken of that area in the last 12 to 15 years at times showed water on both sides of the road.

“There’s a danger of flood there,” he said.

Following about 50 minutes of comments, Anthony Kakuk, board chairman, said, “From my understanding, Aquila doesn’t have all its permits, and I don’t think, I am not going to make a decision on the realignment until we know all your permits are intact for the mine. That’s when we get down and really discuss the realignment deal.”

Board member Joe Skrobiak said he felt the same way. “This is just free-jumping into the lake,” he said.

Board member William Anderson also agreed. The board voted unanimously to hold up the realignment.

As for the proposed truck route access to the mine, Kakuk said he is against going through state land. “The problem is we lost 10 percent of our natural resources since 1992, that’s the whole United States, Alaska, Hawaii. Think 10 percent of that land. Now we are going to give away another 2 miles, 66 feet wide, to take away from our hunting,” he said. “We’ve got to preserve our wilderness.”

The other two board members were also against going through state land.

“Right now, we can use existing roads. That would be Route No. 2 that Darrell picked out, that’s only 1.5 miles longer than if went through state land. That’s going down River Road to Rosebush Lake Road to 356 and then Swanson Road and can go the other way, too, as long as they stay in the restrictions,” said Kakuk.

Skrobiak and Kakuk said they had received a lot of phone calls about this and not one person was in support.

A few members of the public commented they would like the board to have an attorney review this issue.