The U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs held a “Public Scoping Meeting” on August 15, 2013, at Shullsburg High School.
The meeting, led by Scott Doig, Regional Environmental Protection Specialist for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, was part of the process for developing an “Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians fee-to-trust acquisition and casino resort complex.”
The stated purpose for the meeting was “to inform the public about the EIS process and how it will be used to evaluate the proposed tribal band fee-to-trust acquisition and casino.” An additional purpose was to provide a “forum to identify potential issues, alternatives, and content for inclusion in the EIS.”
I was there, though I did not testify. My interest in attending was to learn more about the project, the process, and meet those leading the effort. If this project moves forward there will be a projected 800 construction and 600 operational jobs. If the Tribe, Shullsburg, Lafayette County, or some other organization requests Southwest Tech’s help for additional skilled workers, workforce training, and/or technical assistance the College will be ready to deliver what it can.
The Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians propose to build a casino, restaurants, retail space, entertainment and convention areas, a 300-room hotel, a 100-pad RV park, youth non-gaming center, cultural resource center, sportsman club, and 1,500 surface parking spaces as well as space to support administration and employee service activities. The project site is just west of Shullsburg, Wisconsin. For more information, please click here.
Based on the testimony I heard, as provided by local and Lac du Flambeau citizens, there is considerable support for this project.
Tom Lethlean, Mayor of Shullsburg; Jack Sauer, Chair of the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors; State Representative Howard Marklein; State Senator Dale Schultz; and other local elected officials as well as a significant majority of local citizens voiced support. They all noted the jobs and increased economic activity this project would bring to a city and county very much in need of these things.
Tom Maulson, Chairman, and other members of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, spoke of the positive impacts similar operations have had on their people and in their personal lives as well as on the economy of Vilas County, Wisconsin.
A small minority of citizens spoke against the project. They expressed concerns about some past Lac du Flambeau Band business ventures, the cost to local government for infrastructure improvements and additional services the project will require, as well as questions about whether or not the project will produce the projected jobs and economic impacts.