Friday, August 18, 2017

Guest Article: New Coalition rallies to protect Menominee River from Back 40 sulfide mine

By Horst Schmidt

During a July 29, 2017, rally for protecting the Menominee River, water protectors on the Interstate Bridge between Menominee, Mich., and Marinette, Wis., display signs to raise awareness of the threats to the river posed by the projected Aquila Back 40 sulfide mine. (Photos © and courtesy Horst Schmidt, unless otherwise indicated.)

On a beautiful, sunny July afternoon, I headed to the twin cities of Menominee, Michigan, and Marinette, Wisconsin, where the Menominee River flows into Lake Michigan. These twin cities were originally logging and later manufacturing towns. The Menominee River drains a large part of the central UP -- fed by the Paint, Michigamme and Brule rivers and their tributaries and lakes.

This map shows the location of the Menominee River and the rivers that feed into it. (Map courtesy Horst Schmidt)

On July 19, 2017, I had met Regina Chaltry of Join the River Coalition at a meeting of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) Western Upper Peninsula Citizens Advisory Council, where she and three colleagues asked the MDNR to consider the danger of Aquila Resources’ proposed open-pit Back Forty gold, copper and zinc mine next to the Menominee River. The Council listened, but declined to take any action. The DNRs of Michigan and Wisconsin have been working to restore fish habitat, especially the sturgeon, for decades. The Coalition felt the opening of the mine would create new environmental hazards for the river. At Regina’s invitation, I attended the Coalition’s event in Marinette a week later.

The legacy from nineteenth- and twentieth-century economic growth is major pollution at the mouth of the Menominee River. This year the Menominee River Area of Concern, with assistance from the Michigan Office of Great Lakes and the federally funded Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, has finished the clean-up of the lower river to the tune of 41 million tax dollars.*

Today, when you drive on US 41 through both cities across the Interstate bridge, you see cleaned-up towns, an island park, shipbuilding and other waterfront activities. Even from a decade back, the local communities have seen major improvements in their quality of life. The presence of the river draws tourists and summer residents to the area. Fly fisherman flock here. Wisconsin and Michigan DNR fisheries biologists have been successful in restoring the sturgeon population. Residents and visitors value a clean river.

Shipbuilding company and marina on the Menominee River.

Hallelujah! A new group, Save the Menominee River-Stop the Back Forty Mine (aka the Join the River Coalition) has taken up the good fight to stop the proposed Aquila Back Forty mine. It is made up of citizens on both sides of the Wisconsin-Michigan border. Ron Hendricks has been leading the charge to stop the mine for 14 years with the organization called Front Forty, which is now part of the Coalition. Join the River Coalition formed last April because of the fear that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) would approve the mining project.

To raise awareness, the Coalition held a rally/picnic/protest/entertainment event on July 29 in Stephenson Island County Park in Marinette on the Wisconsin side next to the Interstate Bridge. This was a collaborative effort with the Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin. Even though the tribe now resides in east central Wisconsin, its origins lie at the mouth of the Menominee River. Their creation myth is centered in the area. Tribal members hold sacred sites along the length of the river, including areas of the proposed mine site. They are completely opposed to the mine and to the potential destruction of their heritage. Guy Reiter, a member of the tribe, has headed their opposition with significant support from his tribal members.

Signs at Stephenson Island County Park in Marinette, Wis., displayed during the July 29, 2017, event to save the Menominee River.

We gathered at the park during the early evening hours. Regina, who was one of the organizers, got us going for the protest march across the bridge and back with people of all ages holding signs to make drivers and passengers going across the bridge aware of the potential damage from the Back Forty project.

Regina Chaltry of Join the River Coalition, one of the organizers of the event, displays her sign during the protest march across the bridge.

While people were gathering, tribal members played exciting, innovative drum music. What protest would be complete without t-shirts, bumper stickers along with arts and crafts for fundraising? I got a really neat t-shirt. It highlights NOMINE in MeNOMINEe. Before and after the march, the group held a potluck along with tribal members selling grilled grass-fed beef sandwiches.

Musicians perform on the pavilion stage at Stephenson Island Park, Marinette, Wis., while participants gather for the evening rally.

Water protectors sell Save the MeNOMINEe River t-shirts, bumper stickers and more for fundraising.

We got lots of honks and high signs as we were marching. At the same time, a crew of photographers were gathering movie footage for a documentary. It was neat to watch one man, Doug Osman, as he went with his crew, asking people for comments about the proposed mine. I offered a comment -- my 30 seconds of fame.

Water Protectors walk from Marinette, Wis., towards Menominee, Mich., on the Interstate Bridge.

Water protectors demonstrate their concern for the water in front of a Pure Michigan sign.

Native American speakers brought up the challenges and the importance of keeping alive their traditions, which include treating the environment with respect.

It got dark. Earlier a large sheet had been hung over a beam on the park building in preparation for a talk with slides by Al Gedicks, retired University of Wisconsin-La Crosse professor and executive secretary of the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council, who has worked for years with Native Americans to oppose the dangers of sulfide mining.

Al Gedicks of the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council speaks with passion about the dangers of sulfide mining during a community meeting. He is the author of Resource Rebels: Native Challenges to Mining and Oil Corporations, which tells how Native and non-Native concerned citizens worked together to prevent harmful mining in Wisconsin. (Photo courtesy Al Gedicks)

Al gave a dynamic presentation in which he talked about pollution, sulfide mining, Michigan DEQ and Native American rights. Here is his summary, called "Defending Water, Defending Life":

"Opponents of Aquila Resources’ Back Forty metallic sulfide mine project have been repeatedly told that public opinion and citizen opposition to the project will have no influence on whether the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issues permits for the proposed mine. These statements from the DEQ are part of the psychological warfare that the mining industry employs to discourage citizen organization to oppose ecologically destructive mining projects.

"The history of Wisconsin grassroots resistance to the Crandon metallic sulfide project from 1976-2003 and the Penokee Hills open pit iron mine from 2011 to 2015 demonstrates the power of Indian and environmental alliances to defeat large mining corporations that fail to recognize Indian treaty rights and obtain a social license to operate from those communities affected by mining projects. A social license indicates a community’s acceptance or approval of a mining project. It is intangible and unwritten, and cannot be granted by the Michigan DEQ or any other state agency or legal authority.

"After Exxon’s defeat at Crandon and the grassroots campaign to enact Wisconsin’s Mining Moratorium or 'Prove it First' law, the mining industry was forced to acknowledge that controversial projects can be stopped dead by local people and communities, threatening shareholder value and destroying executives' careers. Anti-mining activism is a global social movement." **

Water protectors display signs about the dangers of the proposed Aquila Back 40 sulfide mine, intended to mine for gold and other minerals. Cyanide is used to dissolve and separate gold from ore.

About 11 p.m. I decided to call it quits. It had been a long day of travel and a night of activities. It is gratifying to know that the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC) has a new ally to continue its battles with the Michigan DEQ and the mining company. Off to Marquette the next morning for another meeting.

Sunset from Stephenson Island Co. Park, Marinette, Wis.

Mining companies assure regulatory agencies from whom they want projects approved -- and the public, who are interested in mining jobs, that there will be no mishaps or negative impacts on streams and lakes. However, these guarantees -- given as pacifiers -- don't hold up if there are major precipitation events or the company slips in its vigilance. State governments, in their desire for economic development, frequently do not require sufficient funds to pay for post-closure clean-up, leaving the cost to tax payers and permanent damage to the environment. Environmentalists share concerns about mining impacts because they are aware of almost two centuries of mining and post-mining catastrophes in this country, many of which still haunt us today.

For more information on the Back Forty Mine and environmental concerns, click on the following links to reports from UPEC's Mining Action Group (formerly Save the Wild UP):

"Michigan DEQ Permits Sulfide Mine, Imperils Menominee River"

"Aquila Back Forty Facts"

"What is Sulfide Mining?"

See also:

Keweenaw Now: "MDEQ to hold October public hearing on Aquila Back Forty mining project near Menominee River; public comment period continues"

and: 

"Mine proposed on Michigan-Wisconsin border prompts concerns" 


Aquila Resources 

Author's Notes:

* Click here to learn about Areas of Concern (AOCs).

Explanations of work done in the Menominee AOC available from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Info on Menominee AOC from the Michigan Office of Great Lakes 

See also: "Ecological health of U.P. river improving"

** Summary from Al Gedicks’ email to the author, dated July 31, 2017. 

Editor's Note: Guest author Horst Schmidt is president of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC).

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Local residents rally to show support for victims of hate, bigotry, violence in Charlottesville

By Michele Bourdieu

During a rally in support of the victims of recent racist violence in Charlottesville, Va., local concerned citizens cross the Portage Lift Bridge on Aug. 13, 2017, displaying signs against racism, bigotry and hatred. (Photo by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON -- With less than 24 hours' notice, a group of concerned citizens gathered at the Houghton waterfront park on Sunday evening, Aug. 13, for a rally and walk across the Portage Lift Bridge to show solidarity with the victims of racist violence last weekend in Charlottesville, Va.

Among participants in the rally are, from left, Miguel and Anita Levy of Chassell and Gustavo Bourdieu of Hancock, displaying signs in preparation for the march. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

After a brief candlelight vigil, about 50 participants walked across the Portage Lift Bridge to Hancock and back, displaying signs expressing their opposition to racism, bigotry and hatred and their hopes for healing love.

Chris Alquist and her son Toby Dawson light candles during the vigil at Houghton's waterfront park on Sunday, Aug. 13. (Photo by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

Emily Shaw, Michigan Tech graduate student in Civil and Environmental Engineering, who organized the march via Facebook and email -- posting the announcement just after midnight on Sunday morning, Aug. 13 -- said about 50 people showed up for the event Sunday evening.

"I think it's important for us in the Houghton area to create a community that is supportive of and welcoming to people of color, and that demands that we denounce white supremacy," Shaw said.

According to Shaw, the Houghton rally was one of 400 similar events held across the country to show solidarity with the victims of the violent white supremacy demonstration in Charlottesville, Va.*

Carrying signs of protest, local residents rally to resist the recent racist violence in Charlottesville, Va. They march from the waterfront in Houghton, Mich., to the Portage Lift Bridge, cross the bridge and return. Passing vehicles show support by honking horns. Click on YouTube icon for larger screen. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Petra Huentemeyer, Michigan Tech professor of physics, said she participated in the Houghton rally because she was so shocked to see the video of the violence in Charlottesville.

"I thought I'd come out here to support peace and diversity and also minorities that don't have a voice," Huentemeyer said. "It's good to see that quite a few people are conscious of the problem."

Sarah Hoy, who is doing her second year of post-doctoral studies in forestry at Michigan Tech and on Isle Royale, with the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose study, had a similar reaction to the events in Virginia.

"I was very upset and saddened by what happened in Virginia, and I came here to show support," she said.

Liz Mahoney and her husband, Carlos Amador, Michigan Tech professor of Spanish, also participated in the rally after learning about it through Facebook. No stranger to rallies and protests, Mahoney said she has been an activist since living in Austin, Texas.

Several members of the Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship participated in the Houghton rally and displayed this banner in reaction to the hate groups' actions in Charlottesville. (Photo by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

The rally concluded with a brief message from Chris Rothbauer, pastor at the Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (KUUF), and thanks from organizer Emily Shaw:

The Rev. Chris Rothbauer, pastor of the Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Houghton, speaks to rally participants on the importance of meeting together to resist racism and antisemitism. Emily Shaw, rally organizer, announces she will post communications of future events on Facebook and via email. Click on YouTube icon for larger screen. (Video by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)**

The rally and walk were quiet and peaceful with the exception of a very loud truck that drove very fast past the walkers, spewing black, malodorous exhaust on them.

* Emily Shaw said she learned of these community resistance events through the non-profit, grassroots group Indivisible. Click here for information on their work.

** To learn about future events like this you can email Emily Shaw at shaw.emily2@gmail.com and ask her to add you to her email list. You can also go to the Facebook page Keweenaw Showing Up for Racial Justice.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Author, journalist, sailor Cyndi Perkins announces her newly published novel; four authors to sell books at Eagle Harbor, Copper Harbor art fairs

Cyndi Perkins, journalist and sailor, is now a novelist, with the publication of her newly released debut novel, More Than You Think You Know. Perkins will join three other Copper Country authors at the Eagle Harbor Art Show this weekend, Aug. 12-13, and in Copper Harbor's Art in the Park Aug. 19-20.

HANCOCK -- Award-winning journalist Cyndi Perkins has announced the publication of her debut novel, More Than You Think You Know, released in July 2017 by Beating Windward Press.

More Than You Think You Know, by Cyndi Perkins, is described by the publisher, Beating Windward Press, as "a women's road (river) trip novel about ships and friendships, crashes and hot flashes." (Book cover courtesy Cyndi Perkins and Beating Windward Press)

The 215-page, contemporary novel follows Hailey, Robin and Trish, three women piloting the stolen 44-foot luxury trawler Blackout through the Heartland Rivers from Chicago to the Gulf of Mexico. The women navigate the 1,300-mile-long series of rivers and locks keeping weary eyes out for barges and Hailey’s abusive husband, whom she is fleeing with the help of her two new companions. With no sense of destination beyond Mobile Bay, they are on not one journey, but two: America’s Great Loop and the search for their own place to be safe, to be happy, to be themselves.

Author Perkins has sailed Lake Superior, the Heartland Rivers, and the Eastern Seaboard since 1995. She and her husband survived two 6,000-mile circumnavigations of America’s Great Loop aboard their 32-foot DownEast sailing vessel Chip Ahoy.

Cyndi Perkins writes and edits for Michigan Technological University digital and print publications. For 10 years, she worked at the The Daily Mining Gazette in Houghton as a reporter and editor and wrote the popular "Line of Sight" column. Her nautical writing credits include Cruising World, Latitudes and Attitudes, Good Old Boat, PassageMaker, Southwinds, and Northern Breezes magazines. Reach her at cyndiperkins.com and connect on social media @cyndiperkins

More Than You Think You Know is available for sale at at Copper World, Book World, Grandpa's Barn (in Copper Harbor), and will be at the Carriage House gift shop in Eagle Harbor following the Eagle Harbor Art Fair this weekend, Aug. 12-13.

Four local authors to sell their books at Eagle Harbor, Copper Harbor art fairs

Perkins will join three other Copper Country authors -- Debbie Frontiera, Kristin Neva and Corey LaBissoniere -- at the Eagle Harbor Art Fair this weekend, Aug. 12-13, and at Copper Harbor's Art in the Park, Aug. 19-20.*

Frontiera said she will be sharing her tent/booth with the other three authors at both events.

"My booth is usually near the church (in front of the septic mound) at Eagle Harbor," Frontiera said. "This will be the first time for me at Copper Harbor, so I have no idea where my booth will be there. We -- the four of us -- also have slots on Saturday or Sunday (Aug. 19, 20) at Grandpa's Barn (Copper Harbor) on the porch."

Copper Country Associated Artists will sponsor the Eagle Harbor Art Fair at St. Peter's by the Sea Church from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12, and from noon - 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13. In addition to the authors selling their books, more than 60 artist vendors will be selling their wares: photography, pottery, jewelry, painting, woodworking and much more. The featured artist this year is photographer John Dodge.

Dodge is a seasonal resident of Eagle River and enjoys capturing the Keweenaw in all its beauty. His photographic interests include landscape, wild life, portrait, lighthouses, street photography and an occasional wedding. Dodge will have his art work on display and for sale in the basement gallery of St. Peter's By The Sea Church during the Eagle Harbor Art Fair.

Art in the Park in Copper Harbor will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 19, and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 20.

Art in the Park is an annual Copper Harbor Improvement Association event. The two-day event has been going strong since 1987. With over 60 artisans and crafters the show offers a large variety of amazing items. The event is held each year on the third weekend in August.

Inset photo: Photographer John Dodge. (Photo courtesy Copper Country Associated Artists)

* See ads for books by Cyndi Perkins, Debbie Frontiera and Kristin Neva in our right-hand column. Learn about Corey LaBissoniere's writing on his web site.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

"Life and Landscape of the Copper Country" paintings by Nancy Kromer opens at Kerredge Gallery

Painting by Houghton artist Nancy Kromer -- part of the new exhibit in the Copper Country Community Arts Center’s Kerredge Gallery this month. (Photos courtesy Copper Country Community Arts Center)

HANCOCK -- The new exhibition now on display in the Copper Country Community Arts Center’s Kerredge Gallery is "Life and Landscape of the Copper Country," paintings by Houghton artist Nancy Kromer.

Nancy Johnson Kromer was born and raised in Hancock and returned to the Copper Country in 2001. She and her husband built a home on the Houghton Portage Canal where her family spent their summers for three generations. The beautiful Keweenaw is inspiration for her art as well as the Hot Springs area in Arkansas where she and her husband spend their winters

Nancy Kromer with one of her prize-winning paintings.

Nancy graduated from Michigan State University, majoring in Fine Arts with a BA in Elementary Education. While raising her family and teaching elementary school, she pursued her love of art by experimenting in various media. For the last 16 years Nancy has worked in watercolor, acrylic and collage. Her work has been accepted in juried shows and exhibited in many galleries.

The paintings in this exhibition include familiar scenes of fishing boats on Lake Superior, landmark buildings amid fields of wildflowers, and blazing colors in fall. The exhibition will be on display through Sept. 2 and is supported by a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. The public is invited to an opening reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, August 11.

The gallery is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock and is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information call (906) 482-2333 or visit www.coppercountryarts.com

Monday, August 07, 2017

North Woods Conservancy accepting submissions to annual photo contest

Poster for North Woods Conservancy's annual photo contest courtesy North Woods Conservancy.

CALUMET -- The North Woods Conservancy (NWC) is accepting submissions to its annual contest for non-professional photographers between Aug. 14 and Sep. 30, 2017. Explore the land and waters of Keweenaw-based NWC’s natural areas -- Seven Mile Point, Conglomerate Falls, Gratiot River North, Dore Woods and Merganser Pond. Then share your experiences by submitting your photos and their stories to NWC’s photo contest.

Photos taken from October 2016 through September 2017 are eligible. Winners will be announced in early October. First prize is $50, second is $25 and third is $15 plus a 2018 basic NWC membership for each winner. Winning photos will be displayed in print and online media. Details and information on locations of the natural areas are available at northwoodsconservancy.org.

NWC hopes to schedule several photo walks in late August and September. Locations and times will depend on the weather. If you are interested, please contact John Dodge at nwc@pasty.net after Aug. 14. To view entries from previous contests, go to https://north-woods.smugmug.com/.

Friday, August 04, 2017

First Friday Art Walk in Calumet Aug. 4 to offer new exhibits, art demos, more ...

"Bullwinkle Trail" is one of several posters featured at Cross Country Sports' poster art show during the month of August. (Photo courtesy Cross Country Sports)

CALUMET -- Enjoy the First Friday Art Walk TONIGHT, Aug. 4, for opening art receptions, music, art demonstrations and sales and more ...

Cross Country Sports: "Art Bike"

For the month of August, Cross Country Sports will host "ArtBike," a poster art show portraying the trails of Copper Harbor by a group of artists collaborating to raise money for trail building. Each artist chose a trail and created a unique artistic depiction. The participants were given a 2-month time line to complete their poster. Each artist donated time, talent, and an original submission for the cause. Forty copies of each poster were then hand printed with archival paper and inks and then numbered and signed by the artist. Posters are $25 and every poster purchased directly funds building trails in Copper Harbor.

"Mango" by Chris Schmidt. (Photo courtesy Cross Country Sports)

The public is invited to a reception from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on First Friday, Aug. 4. While you are here check out the Summer Bike Sale!  For more information call 337-4520, or follow Cross Country Sports on Facebook.

Paige Wiard Gallery: Artists Ladislav and Jana Hanka

"Bee and Bee Eater," by Ladislav Hanka. (Photo courtesy Paige Wiard Gallery)

The Paige Wiard Gallery is happy to welcome Ladislav and Jana Hanka as featured artists for the month of August. Both Ladislav and Jana bring a unique vision of the beauty of the natural world.

"Empty-Eyed Horsehead," sculpture by Jana Hanka. (Photo courtesy Paige Wiard Gallery) 

Jana creates sculptures that show her fondness for creating rough and unpredictably earthy effects of ash deposits and microclimates by using a traditional Anagama Japanese wood firing technique and raku. Her finished sculptures show off her rough, yet elegant love for both her sculptures and subject. Ladislav uses his etchings of trees, landscapes, fish and birds, to reflect his own connection to nature. In recent years, he has incorporated his love and fascination with bees to create amazing works of art that are a combination of his etchings and the bee’s hive building.

An opening reception for the artists will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 4. At about 7 p.m. Jana will also be performing an interpretive dance, "7 Days," that she wrote and choreographed. Also help celebrate the Paige Wiard Gallery's 5-year anniversary! For more information contact paigewiardgallery@gmail.com or call 906-337-5970.

Café Rosetta: Jill Isaacson's paintings

Café Rosetta will be doing an extension of Jill Isaacson's paintings for August. Open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on First Friday.

Supernova Yoga, Gallery and Gifts: "Freshwater and Nature's Bounty"

Artist and Yoga instructor Regina Alleman, left, and photographer Natalie Pruett are pictured here during the July First Friday event at Supernova Yoga, Gallery and Gifts. Both art by Regina and photos by Natalie will be exhibited this month as well. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Supernova Yoga, Gallery and Gifts invites you to the opening reception for their August exhibit, "Fresh Water and Nature’s Bounty," on Friday, Aug. 4. Enjoy music and refreshments. The August exhibit features new two-dimensional work. The exhibit’s centerpiece is a magisterial work in oil on canvas titled, "The Lake," by Jim Dee, a Chicago native who resides in the Keweenaw. The exhibit also includes new photographs of the Keweenaw in bloom by Natalie Pruett, a photographer from Flint, Michigan. Regina Alleman contributes new photomontage, a unique multi-media technique, which captures summer blossoms and nature’s enduring bounty.

Calumet Art Center: Art by Gray Dawg

Visit the Calumet Art Center from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on First Friday, Aug. 4, as they feature the art works in encaustics by Gray Dawg - Graydon Dagen.

Art by Gray Dawg - Graydon Dagen. (Photo courtesy Calumet Art Center)

"My work is inspired by such things as walking outdoors and observing nature in all its splendid diversity," Dagen says. "Live flowers, because of their ephemeral nature and exotic beauty are especially fun and gardening conjures up ideas that are the basis for still lifes and background material. The following unattributed quotation sums up the role of nature and gardening in my work: 'When the world wearies and society ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden.'"

Click here for more details.

Galerie Bohème: "New Work From Margo McCafferty"

New art by Margo McCafferty. (Photo courtesy Galerie Bohème)

Galerie Bohème, 423 5th Street, will be showing "New Work From Margo McCafferty" with a series of  Egg tempera paintings, and Casein and Prismacolor paintings. The public is invited to an opening reception from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on First Friday, Aug. 4.

With this series of paintings Margo is solidifying her fascination with colors and juxtaposition of shapes and shadows in urban architecture. They are delicious. The show will run from Aug. 4 through Aug. 29. Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. For more info call 906-369-4087.

Hahn Hammered Copper: "Objet Trouvé All Over Again"

Shelly Hahn welcomes visitors to Hahn Hammered Copper on First Friday. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Check out "Objet Trouvé All Over Again" at Hahn Hammered Copper this First Friday, Aug. 4! Objet Trouvé means "Found Object," and the Hahns have lots of them! Artifacts, brass bells, vintage copper tableware, Victorian hardware, fine old photographs, Strange Mystery Objects, Omars just in from Huron Bay, copper specimens, galvanized letters, slate tiles, blackboards, copper flashing from an old mansion in Laurium, and groovy art made from all of the above. Stop in at Hahn Hammered Copper this First Friday in August and enjoy beautiful, Historic Downtown Calumet!

Copper Country Associated Artists Gallery: Demonstration on Acrylic Pour Painting

From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on First Friday, Aug. 4, CCAA Gallery member Pamela Hecht will be demonstrating and sharing with those attending the complete process to acrylic pour painting from the equipment, paint mixing, techniques, recipes and how to create cells in this acrylic pour process and how to finish and protect your paintings.

This event is ONLY a DEMONSTRATION on acrylic pouring. A list of class dates will be available that evening for those interested in learning more and actually doing the process. The CCAA Gallery is at 205 Fifth Street.

Calumet Floral: Fiber artist Judy Parlato

Calumet Floral will feature a demonstration by fiber artist Judy Parlato on First Friday, Aug. 4. Judy will demonstrate alcohol ink painting on tiles and Yupo paper. Judy transfers the paintings on to fabric and quilts the fabric. She will have quilted wall hangings, table runners and bags as examples using this technique. Judy is a member of the Lake Superior Art Association, the Marquette County Quilters, and the Gwinn Quilters.

Zen Garden (new gallery): Art by Kevin Breyfogle and Tom McKeever

The Zen Garden, a new gallery at 307A 6th Street, is exhibiting art by Kevin Breyfogle and Tom McKeever. Stop in on First Friday for a reception with hors d'oeuvre and other refreshments.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

DNR to host public meeting Aug. 3 on proposed stamp sands dredging work in Houghton County

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers map shows the stamp sands area in Houghton County. Click on map for larger version. (Photo © Charles Kerfoot and courtesy Michigan Department of Natural Resources)

LAKE LINDEN -- The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will host a meeting to tell the public about a proposed dredging project designed to restore the Grand Traverse Harbor channel and help protect Buffalo Reef.

The meeting will be at 6 p.m. TONIGHT, Thursday, Aug. 3, at the Lake Linden-Hubbell High School Auditorium, 601 Calumet Street in Lake Linden.

Public input from this meeting will be considered before the project application is finalized.

Representatives of several agencies cooperating with the DNR on the proposed project will attend the session, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Tailings, or waste rock from mining, known locally as "stamp sands," were dumped into Lake Superior near the community of Gay, more than 100 years ago. These sands have moved, with the action of the lake, about 5 miles south along the coast and in nearshore areas.

In this image, the dashed line shows the area of stamp sand near the stack in Gay (upper right) has diminished since 1938 as that toward Big Traverse has grown. Number 1 marks primary stamp sands on the shore near the location of the former mill at Gay, and number 2 marks secondary stamp sand that is carried by the current and redeposited on the shore southwest of Gay and in the lake. Click on image for larger version. (File photo courtesy Keweenaw Geoheritage Web site and Bill Rose. Reprinted with permission.)*

The stamps sands are now filling in Grand Traverse Harbor and threaten Buffalo Reef, an important spawning area for lake trout and whitefish.

The DNR is applying for a permit from the DEQ, under the Great Lakes Submerged Lands Act, to allow the Army Corps to remove some of the stamp sands from the lake. Doing this will reestablish the Grand Traverse Harbor channel and provide 5-7 years of protection for Buffalo Reef.

The EPA has provided funding for the Army Corps to design and carry out the dredging work to remove 205,000 cubic yards of stamp sand—about 35,000 cubic yards from in or near the harbor and 170,000 cubic yards to protect Buffalo Reef.

Over the next couple of years, a task force will be convened by the EPA to develop a long-term plan for protecting the harbor and reef.

The project is proposed to take place in Schoolcraft Township in Houghton County. Some of the placement of the stamp sands removed from the lake is tentatively planned for Sherman Township in Keweenaw County.

* Learn more about the Gay stamp sands on Bill Rose's Geoheritage Web site, which also has links to scholarly articles on the stamp sand, photos and more. See also our Nov. 17, 2014, article, "Geology expert notes concerns about arsenic in Gay stamp sands as DEQ accepts comments on stamp sand removal proposal."

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Michigan Tech Professor John Vucetich testifies before Senate Committee: S. 1514 would weaken Endangered Species Act, strip wolves of protection

By Michele Bourdieu

 Michigan wolf. (File photo courtesy National Wolfwatcher Coalition)

HOUGHTON -- John Vucetich -- Michigan Tech professor in the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science and co-director, with Michigan Tech Professor Rolf Peterson, of the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose study -- recently returned from Washington, DC, after testifying before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works at the July 19 Legislative Hearing on S. 1514, the Hunting Heritage and Environmental Legacy Preservation (HELP) for Wildlife Act.

This bill would strip wolves in Michigan, Minnesota, Wyoming, and Wisconsin of all of their Endangered Species Act protections and prevent judges from ever reviewing that action. It has now passed out of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and could be voted on at any time.

The bill is co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of senators taking aim at these wolves and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Senators Barrasso (R-WY), Boozman (R-AR), Capito (R-WV), Cardin (D-MD), Baldwin (D-WI), and Klobuchar (D-MN) have signed onto this legislation that would put these wolves in the crosshairs of hunters and weaken the ESA.

In his testimony before the committee, Vucetich, a population biologist who is interested in the philosophy and ethics of ecological and conservation science, stated several reasons why this bill, S. 1514, should be opposed or amended.

"It includes some positive provisions, but its most important effect would be to undermine the Endangered Species Act and subvert the conservation of wolves," Vucetich told the Senate committee. "Wolves are valuable to ecosystems and most people recognize that wildlife -- including wolves -- possess value in their own right. Public support for wolves and wolf conservation, in particular, is very high. Public support for the Endangered Species Act is also high -- among both liberal and conservative constituents."

In his 15-page, well documented written statement to the committee, Vucetich states that wolf conservation in the United States is vital -- not only for the health of ecosystems but also for what they represent.

"If the bald eagle is sacred as a symbol of our national spirit, then wolves are sacred as a symbol of our relationship with nature on the whole," he writes.

Public support for wolves, ESA

Vucetich refers to sociological research showing that fewer than 10 percent of Americans are very opposed to wolves and that attitudes toward wolves have become increasingly positive over the past several decades. He also cites data that confirm strong support for the Endangered Species Act.

Vucetich gives examples that show why people have false impressions about wolves, including the misconception that they threaten human safety, while the truth is that wolves avoid people.*

"Incidents of wolves harming people are incredibly rare," he notes. "In the 21st century only two known deaths have been attributed to wild wolves in all of North America."

No deaths from wolves have been reported in the conterminous United States and more Americans are killed by bees or dogs or deer-car collisions than by wolves, he adds.

Vucetich also mentions some hunters are opposed to wolves because they feel wolves reduce the number of deer for them to hunt. He points out that, in fact, deer are too plentiful and more of a danger to human safety because of the number of deer-vehicle accidents.

Deer threaten human safety, property, agriculture

"For example, in Michigan, deer kill eight humans and injure another 1300 in deer-vehicle collisions each year," Vucetich says. "Deer ruin private property through more than 100 deer-vehicle collisions each day. Deer also cause significant damage to two important sectors of agriculture -- crop production and forestry. There are also rising concerns about chronic wasting disease in deer. Whatever effect wolves would have on deer would be an overall benefit."

While wolves have been a threat to livestock, Vucetich cites statistics that show these threats are often exaggerated; for example, a 2011 US Dept. of Agriculture report showing wolf depredation of cattle represents less than half of one percent of all losses. He also mentions the case in Michigan where a F.O.I.A. request and investigative journalism showed that most wolf depredations of livestock were attributable to one livestock owner who was eventually charged with violating animal welfare laws.**

Nonlethal vs. lethal control

Vucetich notes that nonlethal methods for controlling wolves have been effective, while lethal methods may be less effective than supposed and are controversial.

"There is a suite of nonlethal methods and strategies that have been effectively used," he says. "These include: nonlethal predator deterrents such as livestock guarding dogs, fencing and fladry; increasing human presence on the landscape through range riders; use of scare tactics and alarms; best management practices for livestock and land such as changing grazing strategies and removing carcasses."***

Wolf hunting not scientific

According to Vucetich, wolf hunting, motivated in part by state game and fish agencies’ interest to satisfy deer hunters, does not make sense. He challenges several reasons people give for wanting to hunt wolves: hatred of wolves, trophy hunting, protecting livestock and competition for deer.

Vucetich says both hatred and trophy hunting are bad reasons for hunting wolves, since wolves have ecological value. Hunting wolves to protect livestock is not scientific, he adds.

"Michigan’s government promoted wolf hunting through egregious misuse of science and disdain for basic principles of democracy," Vucetich writes. "Voting records indicate, in part, that citizens are aware of and do not support such abuses in the service of wolf hunting."

As for competition for deer, Vucetich notes, "Put simply, wolves do not represent significant competition with hunters for deer. Hunter success is influenced by factors aside from wolves, such as winter severity."

Endangered Species Act (ESA)

In December 2011, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) delisted gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes region from the ESA. In December 2014 a federal court rejected that delisting and ordered FWS to restore Endangered Species Act protections to those wolves.

"The broader pattern of court decisions indicate that the ESA requires a species to be well distributed throughout its historic range," Vucetich says. "Today wolves occupy about 15 percent of their former range (in the lower 48 states)."

In a recent interview with Keweenaw Now, Vucetich explained that the legal definition of an endangered species is "a species that is at risk of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range."

A second interpretation of the ESA, favored by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and state governments, is that ESA requirements have nothing to do with geographic range but just the risk of extinction, Vucetich added.

"What we're talking about is that we -- as Americans -- cannot agree on whether wolves should be considered endangered or not," he said. "The reason there is uncertainty is that we -- the American people -- are uncertain about the law."

For Vucetich, the reason wolves should not be delisted is the 15 percent -- indicating wolves are not well distributed throughout their historic range.

In his statement to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Vucetich states the following: "Addressing this concern would require the FWS to:

(i)    Develop policy on 'significant portion of range' that is consistent with the ESA. I believe the courts will eventually decide that the current Fish and Wildlife Service policy on this topic is inconsistent with the ESA. ('Significant portion of its range' is a key phrase in the legal definition of endangered species.)
(ii)    Develop a robust national plan for wolf conservation and recovery."

In his conclusion, Vucetich calls for support of the ESA and wolf conservation.

"Our relationship with wolves is a bellweather for our relationship with nature and the nation’s natural resources," Vucetich writes. "For similar reasons, our treatment of wolves through the U.S. Endangered Species Act, 1973 (ESA) is also a bellweather for how we will treat the ESA in general and for the hundreds of species whose well-being depends on ESA protection."

In a July 26, 2017, press release, the Center for Biological Diversity also states reasons for opposing Senate Bill S. 1514.

"The bill weakens the Endangered Species Act by blocking any further judicial review of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2011 decision to end federal protections for wolves," the Center says. "Since they were driven to near-extinction by hunters and trappers in the early 20th century, gray wolves still occupy only 15 percent of their historical range in the contiguous United States. And between 2011, when their protection was removed, and 2014, when a federal court restored that protection, more than 1,500 animals were killed."

Inset photo: Professor John Vucetich. (Photo courtesy Michigan Technological University)

Editor's Notes:

* In his July 19 testimony before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (article 3.2), John Vucetich gives examples from Michigan of a state senator and a state official who gave false accounts of wolves threatening humans in order to gain support for their anti-wolf agenda. Click here to read Vucetich's entire testimony.

** For background on this issue, see research on wolf depredation in Michigan by Nancy Warren, National Wolfwatcher Coalition Great Lakes Regional director, in our Aug. 25, 2013, article, "Wolf advocates kick off second petition drive, seek referendum on Michigan wolf hunt law."

*** According to Wikipedia, "Fladry is a line of rope mounted along the top of a fence, from which are suspended strips of fabric or colored flags that will flap in a breeze, intended to deter wolves from crossing the fence-line."