LCO Harvest Camp Needs Permits to Stay There

By KBJR News 1

July 18, 2013 Updated Jul 18, 2013 at 9:03 PM CDT

Mellen, WI (NNCNOW.com) - According to Iron County Forestry officials, the La Courte Oreilles Harvest and Education camp, currently occupying the Penokee Hills, does not have the proper permits to be there.

Organizers of the camp on the site of the proposed GTac mining operation, addressed the Iron County Forestry and Parks Committee in May to discuss a special use permit for the camp.

Iron County Forest Administrator Joe Vairus tried to draft a special permit for the camp, but realized they would be in violation of county and state ordinances.

The Harvest Camp is located on Iron County land and is there for the public to use.

People can camp on the land for two weeks at a time, but if they plan on being there more than two weeks, those individuals need to apply for a permit.

Forestry officials suggested camp leaders apply for a Large Group Gathering permit which has certain criteria similar to if someone were to hold a concert.

Forestry officials gave camp organizers until June 12th to get that permit, but failed to do so.

"County Forest Law, statute 28:11 requires that we keep county forest accessible, and safe and useable for the general public. What we got out there is a situation where people are living on the county forest," said Vairus.

Vairus says a letter was sent to organizers of the camp about the violations.

Camp organizers told forestry officials they are working on getting the proper permitting.

On May 14th the La Courte Oreilles Tribal Board requested a land use permit for the 2013-2014 gathering season allowing people to use Iron County Lands to harvest plants, hunt, fish, and establish camping areas.

Mel Gasper one of the harvest camp organizers acquired a Native American Gathering Permit and a Firewood Permit from the Iron County Forestry Department on May 8.

Those permits are good until Dec. 31.

Posted to the web by Kati Anderson.