More than 50 organizations from across the U.S. have co-signed a letter supporting the Ho-Chunk Nation’s interest in lands at the closing Badger Army Ammunition Plant in Wisconsin. All have endorsed a letter which was sent this week to the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Senators Herb Kohl and Ron Johnson, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, U.S. Army Pentagon and others.
“This expression of broad support for the Nation is timely given the recent announcement by the Army that the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) was preparing to offer the requested lands to the State of Wisconsin by the end of last month,” said Laura Olah, Executive Director of Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger, the organization that circulated the letter.
The Nation has re-affirmed its interest in lands at Badger by contacting the state and federal agencies involved. In 1998, the Ho-Chunk Nation filed a timely land claim for federal land at Badger through a no-cost transfer process, called a Public Benefit Conveyance. Through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Ho-Chunk Nation made a formal request to GSA that approximately 1500 acres of property at Badger be transferred in trust for the benefit of the Nation.
The Nation is limited to the uses it has proposed to the Department of Interior which focus on the restoration of indigenous grassland species to be used as forage for their bison project. The Nation’s stated interests are: (1) the protection of the cultural, historic, archeological and natural resources located on the property, (2) the restoration of prairie, native plants and animals, and (3) the restoration, remediation and continued protection of the both the human environment and the natural ecological environment.
“The Ho-Chunk Nation’s proposal protects and enhances the conservation vision for the property articulated in the Badger Reuse Plan,” Olah emphasized. “These goals are best achieved with the involvement, cooperation, and resources of all interested parties, including the Nation.”
Wisconsin-based organizations co-signing the letter of support include Family Farm Defenders, Crawford Stewardship Project, Midwest Environmental Advocates, Concerned Citizens for Newport, Kickapoo Peace Circle, Casa Maria Catholic Worker, Wisconsin Resource Protection Council, Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, Groundwork Madison, Columbia Support Network, Religious Coalition for the Great Lakes, Wisconsin Audubon Council, Madison Audubon Society, Door County Environmental Council, Peace Action Wisconsin, Coulee Progressive, UNIDOS Against Domestic Violence, OutReach, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, Midwest Environmental Justice Organization, Mining Impact Coalition, Penokee Hills Education Project, Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools, Midwest Coalition Against Lethal Mining, and Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB).
National support came from organizations across the U.S. including from Alaska, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawai’i, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington.