SHARECOMMENTMORE

ST. PAUL, Minn. - A group of northeastern Minnesota residents is asking state leaders to decline to award a package of mineral rights leases recommended by the Department of Natural Resources.

Matt Tyler of Finland says the Executive Council should defer action when it meets Thursday until the Court of Appeals decides whether the DNR should conduct an environmental review of the leases.

Tyler led a drive that gathered more than 170 signatures in support of a review. But the DNR decided the petition was premature because none of the three companies that bid on the 31 tracts have submitted plans yet for actual prospecting on the lands for copper, nickel and other metals. Tyler's group filed its appeal this week.

The leases cover about 9,500 acres in St. Louis, Lake and Aitkin counties.