FINLAND, MINN. -- Matt Tyler, an independent forester up in the Arrowhead country an hour north of Duluth, is asking the Department of Natural Resources to "hold the phone" on plans to auction off 64,000 acres of mineral rights in the North Woods amid heightened interest in untapped copper and nickel reserves.

Tyler tells Dateline MN that a lawyer on Tuesday will deliver a petition he collected with more than 140 signatures to DNR officials in St. Paul.

"I want to clarify that we're not trying to stop the leases, we just want them to hold the phone until the public at least has a chance to weigh in so we'll have more confidence in the process," Tyler says.

The DNR  plans to auction off the rights to minerals in the ground in St. Louis County in and around Hoyt Lakes; in Lake County a couple of miles west of Tettegouche State Park and in a rural region of eastern Aitkin County. Tyler's petition ask the DNR to prepare an environmental assessment worksheet before awarding the leases. The petition says drinking water, trout streams and property values could be jeopardized.

According to an Associated Press report published on the Mesabi Daily News' web site, the DNR plans to open bids Oct. 24.