HURLEY, Wis (WSAU-Wheeler News) Legal action has been recommended against mining protestors who’ve been camping on Iron County forest land longer than their two-week permit allows. In Hurley yesterday, the County Board’s Forestry Committee voted 5-to-nothing to pursue both civil-and-criminal charges against a camp organized by the Lac du Flambeau Indians. The full County Board will meet next Tuesday night. District Attorney Marty Lipske will be asked to spell out the supervisors’ legal options. The camp has been running since mid-May, close to where Gogebic Taconite is doing exploratory work for its proposed iron ore mine – much of which would be on public land. Officials said the group could have opted for an occupancy permit longer than two weeks, but it didn’t.
The Wisconsin County Forests Association says the occupancy of county forest land violates state laws – but Lipske tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the case is not as cut-and-dried as it seems because of the Indians’ long-standing treaty rights. A group of state legislators have promised to introduce a bill limiting public access to areas near mining work. A last-second effort to put such a limit in the new state budget failed.
The camp had nothing to do with a theft-and-vandalism case last month in which a protestor wearing a mask was criminally charged. One media report said the campers helped identify the defendant.