12.13.13 Iron County Insurance Won’t Cover LCO Eviction

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Iron County Insurance Won’t Cover LCO Eviction

December 13, 2013 by Barbara With and Rebecca Kemble

Iron County Forestry, July 16, 2013. Photo: Barbara With

The Iron County Board has canceled its discussion of the recommended eviction of the Lac Courte Oreilles Harvest and Education Learning Project from Moore Park Road at the upcoming December 17, 2013 meeting. According to HELP spokesperson Paul DeMain, the item was removed from the agenda because the county insurance plan would not cover law suits against the county due to an eviction.

The Gogebic Taconite mining company (GTac) intends to use Moore Park Road as the access point for their bulk sampling activities, and yesterday Governor Scott Walker signed a law that prohibits public access from within 600 feet of GTac’s operations.

The LCO HELP village was set up last spring for the “study of the Opiniiwakiing (Penokee Range) ecosystem to collect data in a culturally appropriate way to assist the parties to the Lac Courte Oreilles v. State of Wisconsin, hereinafter LCO Case, in the implementation of their respective management, prerogatives and responsibilities to each other in the protection, conservation and responsible management of the unique forest, water, land, and other natural, historic and cultural resources of the Opiniiwakiing (Penokee Range.)”

According to DeMain, Iron County Clerk Mike Saari guaranteed that the eviction recommendation would not appear on the Iron County Board’s agenda before the end of the year. DeMain explained, “Iron County’s insurance company may have indicated they will not be willing to cover expenses incurred if the Chippewa Federation or individual tribes file a lawsuit over the eviction.”

Lac Courte Oreilles Vice-Chairman Rusty Barber speaking at a press conference from HELP, July 30, 2013. Photo: Rebecca Kemble

This is the second time the Iron County Board has refused to act on the recommendation of the Forestry Committee to evict the tribe from county forest land.

Last summer the committee recommended that criminal charges be brought against HELP participants and the LCO tribe just days after the discovery of GTac’s illegal hiring of Bulletproof Securities, an Arizona-based private security company that deployed machine gun-weilding mercenaries to guard GTac’s core drilling sites. Due to an outpouring of citizen support for HELP, the Iron County Board referred the matter back to committee and recommended that they negotiate a mutually agreeable settlement with the tribe.

The latest recommendation by the Forestry Committee comes on the heels of revelations that GTac CEO Bill Williams faces charges in Spain for “crimes against the environment” for his actions and inactions that led to a mine wall collapse and the poisoning of an aquifer while he served as manager of the Cobre Las Cruces mine near Seville.

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