By MIKE SIMONSON
The Iron County Board decides tomorrow whether to press civil and criminal charges against the Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) Harvest Camp.
Board members say that would mean at the very least, evicting them.
Last May, the LCO Harvest Camp got approval from the Iron County Forestry Committee for a one-year special land use permit. But the committee not only reversed itself on Tuesday, but also voted to prosecute the harvesters. That move still needs full county board approval.
State Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, says it’s time to step back and begin talks: “Without having to go to court, without having to threaten, without implying somehow this site is harboring eco-terrorists.”
But Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, wrote a letter to Iron County saying the camp is illegal. Tiffany says county forest land regulations only allow camping for two weeks.
“When people come up to Iron County now, they’re going to say ‘Well, I don’t want to go to that area where the squatters’ village is’,” says Tiffany.
LCO says 1,500 people visited the Harvest Camp in its first two months. LCO spokesman Paul DeMain says they’re staying, even if they’re served an eviction notice.
“We are not going to leave until the tribe tells us to stand down. That could come at any time or it could be years from now.”
LCO contends that the Treaties of 1837 and 1842 give them the right to hunt, fish and gather in the ceded territory of northern Wisconsin.