Loading

55°F

56°F

59°F

55°F

59°F

55°F

57°F

60°F

59°F
NEWS STORIES

Last-minute tribal letter saves Harvest Camp near mine site from legal actionSubmitted: 07/30/2013

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer
bmeyer@wjfw.com

Play Video

HURLEY - A last-minute letter from the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe to the Iron County Board Chairman likely saved the county from taking legal action against the controversial Harvest Camp in southern Iron County.

The camp is home to dozens protesting against a massive proposed iron ore mine that spans parts of Ashland and Iron Counties.

Last Tuesday, the Iron County Forestry-Harbors-Parks Committee voted unanimously to explore civil or criminal action against the Harvest Camp for illegally occupying Iron County Forest land without a proper permit.

The Iron County Board Chairman pulled a surprise move Tuesday night at a full county board meeting in Hurley. In front of the tiny Iron County boardroom packed with anti-mine, pro-camp attendees, Joe Pinardi announced the tribe and forestry committee would go back to negotiating for a legal permit.

Last Thursday, two days after the forestry committee's decision to explore legal action against the Harvest Camp, Pinardi received a letter from Lac Courte Oreilles Chairman Michael J. Isham, Jr.

"(It was) asking us to please go back to the negotiation table and talk about the large group gathering permit," Pinardi said.

In a copy of the document obtained by WJFW, the letter asks for a meeting "to discuss the Tribe's proposal of a treaty based harvest and education camp on Moore Park Road located within Iron County".

The letter likely saved civil or criminal action against the camp.

The Forest and Parks Committee had asked Iron County District Attorney Marty Lipske to attend the full board meeting Tuesday and advise them on legal options against the group.

"Had we not received the letter, I was expecting the worst," Pinardi said. "I was expecting legal action to have to be taken…we would have had no other choice but to begin the eviction process."

Isham's letter hinted at a decision from the forestry committee on May 14 to allow the camp to operate through April 30, 2014. But that permission hit rocky legal ground when reviewed by county agencies and other groups.

Earlier in the day Tuesday, Iron County Forest Administrator Joe Vairus told WJFW he considered the camp illegal. Iron County requires permits for campers staying on county forest land for more than 14 days at a time. The camp hadn't attained that specific permit.

"It's a black and white deal," Vairus said. "They moved in and refused to leave."

Isham's letter blasted Vairus and the Forestry and Parks Department, calling their interpretation "disrespectful".

The Executive Director of the Wisconsin County Forest Association sided with the Forestry and Parks Department. Jane Severt told WJFW that under Wisconsin Statutes 28.11, the camp is illegal.

The various permitting rules appear to leave the current legal status murky. But both the tribe and county appear to want to resolve the issue through negotiation.

Pinardi now calls any legal action against the camp "highly unlikely".

Tribal representatives at the meeting came away pleased.

"What I heard at this meeting tonight, it lifted me off the ground," Lac Courte Oreilles Vice Chairman Rusty Barber said. "They're going to negotiate in a good faith effort, and that's what the tribes like to see."

The position of Severt and the Wisconsin County Forest Association had put Iron County in a tough spot. Their stance made eviction of the camp a monetary issue for the county, as well.

"None of (the supervisors) wanted (to evict the camp). But, if we didn't, we could be losing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of state forestry money. Our county relies on our forestry money very heavily. That's all we have right now," Pinardi said.

The temporary compromise surprised most of the nearly 200 attendees at the board meeting.

The tiny boardroom was so crowded, crews set up speakers to audibly broadcast the proceedings to overflow attendees relegated to the hallway.

While legal action was averted, many took the opportunity to rail against the mine as a whole in the public comment section of the agenda.

That included an 11-year-old Harvest Camper.

"I just don't think they should put a mine there. There's a bunch of beautiful land, and what is mining going to come out of this?" Ayyub Harrison asked the Iron County Board. "It's going to go from beautiful land to something that isn't beautiful."

The Hurley Area Chamber of Commerce's Executive Director, Dorrene O'Donnell, was the solitary speaker in support of the mine.

"If you want a strong country, and you want to drive in an automobile, and you want to have a strong building out here, you're going to need this iron ore that is right here under our feet," she charged.

Northern Wisconsin is sure to see plenty more clashes between pro- and anti-mine interests. But for now, at least, the Harvest Camp adjacent to the mine site will stay. It's even designed, says Barber, to stay put through the winter and beyond, should the tribe choose.


Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS
Prentice teacher organizes bike drive for developing countriesSubmitted: 09/22/2014

Play Video

PRENTICE - Quan Banh hates to see bicycles go to waste.

The Prentice High School science teacher saw too many bikes used for scrap metal in Price County.

Banh thought those bikes could be fixed up a little and sent to developing countries.

He found a group in Chicago called Working Bikes, which does just that.

+ Read More
Volunteer fire departments need more volunteersSubmitted: 09/22/2014

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Rural areas rely on volunteer fire departments to respond to emergencies.

That's the case in Oneida County.

The Rhinelander Fire Department is the only paid full time department in the County.

But it can be difficult for fire departments to draw more volunteers.

The Crescent Fire Department in Oneida County relies on 25 volunteers for an area that serves about 2,800 people.

They need more people to help.

+ Read More
Northwoods school inspires students from around the world to take care of the planetSubmitted: 09/22/2014

Play Video

LAND O' LAKES - Many people know Land O' Lakes as a great vacation destination. But it's not just resorts that draw people to the area. A state-of-the-art school attracts high school students from across the country and around the world.

"There's no other opportunities like this," said Conserve School student Lange Navarro.

That's why she left her high school in Arizona to spend a semester at Conserve School in Land O' Lakes.

+ Read More
Phillips prepares for Saturday's Fall Harvest FestivalSubmitted: 09/22/2014

Play Video

PHILLIPS - Phillips hopes more than the fall colors will draw visitors to the community this weekend.

The city will host the 21st Annual Fall Harvest Festival.

A farmer's market, sidewalk sales, food booths, scarecrow contests, and pumpkin decorating are part of Saturday's celebration.

We asked the Chamber of Commerce what people like best.

+ Read More
Updated-Name released in deadly UTV crashSubmitted: 09/22/2014

TOWN OF LITTLE RICE - We now know a Rhinelander man died in a UTV accident on Gobbler Lake Road in the town of Little Rice.

The Oneida County Sheriff's Department tells us 52-year-old Richard Johnson died from injuries he suffered in the crash. Johnson apparently missed a curve and left the road.

It happened after 10:40 p.m. on Saturday.

+ Read More
Woman accused of driving drunk with kids in the carSubmitted: 09/22/2014

MARATHON COUNTY - Police accuse a woman in Marathon County of driving drunk with kids in the car.

A Wausau trooper from Wisconsin State Patrol arrested 35 year old Jessica Poetsch from Waukesha for her 4th OWI. It happened Sunday night, around 8 in the evening. There were 2 children in the car at the time of her arrest.

+ Read More
Liberal group says Wisconsin voters can't get IDsSubmitted: 09/22/2014

MADISON - A liberal group is telling federal judges that Wisconsin driver's license offices aren't open enough to produce enough IDs for would-be voters before the Nov. 4 election.

The law has been dormant since February 2012 pending legal challenges. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, however, reinstated the photo ID requirement Sept. 12 while it ponders the merits of arguments against the law.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 




Click Here