Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Letter: A toast to Roscoe Churchill, grassroots activist

"Just grass over a grave" is what the late Roscoe Churchill -- pictured here at the "reclaimed" Flambeau Mine site near Ladysmith, Wis. -- called the reclamation by the Flambeau Mining Co., a Rio Tinto / Kennecott subsidiary. Churchill would have been 100 years old today. (Keweenaw Now file photo © Linda Runstrom, Winona, Minn. Reprinted with permission.)

From Laura Gauger*

Today marks the 100th birthday of Roscoe Churchill of Ladysmith, Wisconsin. Let’s raise a toast to this environmental legend!

As described in a February 2007 tribute written by Al Gedicks at the time of Roscoe’s death:  "Roscoe was the grandfather of Wisconsin’s grassroots anti-mining movement. For more than 30 years, this retired school principal, part-time farmer, former Republican, and Rusk County supervisor, along with his late wife Evelyn, were the heart and soul of the efforts to stop some of the largest mining companies in the world -- including Kennecott, Noranda, Exxon, Rio Algom and BHP Billiton -- from destroying the land and clean waters of communities from Ladysmith to the Mole Lake Chippewa Reservation near Crandon and from La Crosse County to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan."

If Roscoe were still living today, you can bet he’d be helping the good people who are fighting PolyMet, Resolution Copper, Back Forty, Twin Metals, Copperwood, Pebble, Tamarack -- and the list goes on. And you can bet he would have been in the middle of the recent GTac battle and would be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with those who to this day are trying to hold Rio Tinto/Kennecott accountable for their misdeeds at Flambeau and Eagle.

We can also thank Roscoe and Evelyn for how "their discussions around the kitchen table with friends and neighbors led to the drafting and successful passage of the 1998 Wisconsin Mining Moratorium Law, known as the Churchill Moratorium Law within the environmental community, in honor of Roscoe and Evelyn’s key role in drafting the original legislation."

So, yes, a toast to this dapper gentleman who, "for as long as there was breath in his lungs, used his voice to speak uncomfortable truths to power and to inspire hope and confidence in the grassroots."  (For Al’s entire tribute to Roscoe, please click HERE.)

* Editor's Note (updated): The author of this letter, Laura Gauger (former Wisconsin resident and now of Duluth, Minn.), along with the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council and the Center for Biological Diversity, sued the Flambeau Mining Co. in January 2011 over the pollution of a tributary of the Flambeau River that is now on the EPA's "impaired waters list" because of high copper levels linked to the Flambeau Mine. She won in U.S. District Court, but the decision was later overturned on a technicality. The Court of Appeals did not dispute the fact that the tributary was polluted. Rather, the mining company was pardoned because the Wisconsin DNR had erred by not requiring the company to secure a federally-mandated permit that would have put limits on the amount of copper discharged to the stream. The tributary remains polluted to this day. Gauger and Roscoe Churchill co-authored the book, The Buzzards Have Landed! -- the story of the Flambeau Mine and their efforts to protect the environment. (See ad for the book in our right-hand column.) Click here to read about the court's ruling.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Political Project of MCRC v. EPA, Revisited

By Louis V. Galdieri*
Posted June 18, 2016, on Louis V. Galdieri's blog
Reprinted in part with permission

Judge Robert Holmes Bell dismissed the Marquette County Road Commission’s case against the EPA back in May, and last week the Road Commission’s attorneys at Clark Hill PLC filed a motion to alter and amend that judgment. They complain that the Court’s dismissal for failure to state a claim is not only mistaken on points of law but, more dramatically, it allows the "EPA and the Corps to wage a war of attrition on local governments seeking to protect the health and welfare of their people."

I was struck by this inflammatory piece of political rhetoric about federal overreach for a couple of reasons. First, because it’s just the sort of hyperbolical language Michigan State Senator Tom Casperson and StandUP, the 501c4 dark-money organization funding the Road Commission lawsuit, have used to frame the case for County Road 595 and advance what, in a series of posts (1, 2, 3, 4) last summer, I called the political project of MCRC v. EPA. Second, because the motion here tacitly admits that mining activity on the Yellow Dog Plains has put "the health and welfare" of people in Marquette County at risk. Rio Tinto and then Lundin Mining proceeded with their plans to mine copper and nickel at Eagle Mine and truck it to Humboldt Mill without a clear haul route. They not only went ahead; they were permitted by the state to do so. The risk was transferred to the public....
Click here to read the rest of this article on Louis V. Galdieri's blog.

* Guest author Louis V. Galdieri is a writer, filmmaker and co-director of the acclaimed 1913 Massacre, a documentary film about the Italian Hall tragedy in Calumet. (Inset photo of Louis V. Galdieri courtesy Save the Wild U.P.)

 Editor's Note: See also Keweenaw Now's June 17, 2016, article from Save the Wild U.P.: "Environmentalists applaud dismissal of Road Commission's CR595 lawsuit."

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Sen. Gary Peters: PIPES Act signed into law

From U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-Michigan):

Senator Gary Peters, who has long opposed Enbridge's pipeline under the Mackinac Straits,  announces President Obama's signing of the PIPES Act -- bipartisan pipeline safety legislation he introduced to improve safety and oil spill response plans for the Great Lakes.* (Photo courtesy Sen. Gary Peters)

WASHINGTON, DC -- As Michiganders, we know all too well the catastrophic consequences an oil spill on the Great Lakes would have for our environment, economy, and way of life. Whether it’s providing clean drinking water for 40 million people or jobs for 500,000 Michiganders, the Great Lakes are our state’s most precious resource -- aside from our people.

That is why I am so pleased my PIPES Act was signed into law by President Obama yesterday. This bipartisan pipeline safety legislation that I introduced will play an essential role in advancing safety standards, improving oil spill response plans -- especially under heavy ice cover -- and better protecting against the devastating impacts an oil spill would have on our waterways.

As a member of the Great Lakes Task Force, I am committed to ensuring the proper safety and oversight is in place to keep our people safe and our natural resources protected for generations to come.

Thanks for reading,

Gary Peters
United States Senator for Michigan


*Click here to watch a WWMT Channel 3 interview with Sen. Peters concerning the PIPES Act.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Keynote speaker Chad Pregracke to present talk on "industrial strength" river clean-ups at Rozsa June 23

HOUGHTON -- CNN's 2013 Hero of the Year, Chad Pregracke, will talk about "industrial strength" river clean-ups at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday, June 23, in the Rozsa Center. The keynote is part of the International Symposium on Society and Resource Management (ISSRM) conference running June 22 to 26 at Michigan Tech. Pregracke's talk is the only ISSRM conference event open to the public this week.*

Pregracke founded Living Lands and Waters -- an internationally recognized national river clean-up nonprofit that since 1998 has helped pull 8.4 million pounds of debris out of the Mississippi, Illinois and Ohio Rivers. He is also the author of From the Bottom Up: One Man’s Crusade to Clean America’s Rivers, which is available from major book sellers. It will also be available at a book signing reception following his address.

In his talks, Pregracke tells a compelling story about growing up on the river and how his river experiences led to his unique vision to clean up the Mississippi River, which led him to start Living Lands and Waters. He takes the audience out on one of the world’s greatest rivers -- a journey filled with endless challenges and gripping adventures. View a preview of Chad's talk here.

* Click here to read about the International Symposium on Society and Resource Management (ISSRM) conference

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Citizens express concerns about Enbridge Line 5 at Michigan Pipeline Safety Board meeting

By Diane Miller*

Mary Jane and Larry Helvie, Roscommon area citizens, have been educating themselves and others about the dangers of  Enbridge's Line 5 under the Mackinac Straits and have been trying to get it shut down. "This is a no brainer," Larry said. Like many participants at the June 13 meeting of the Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board, the Helvies attend rallies with future generations in mind. Larry added, "If we don’t do it they’ll look at us and say, 'our parents left us a mess.'" (Photos by Diane Miller for Keweenaw Now, unless otherwise indicated.)

ROSCOMMON, Mich. -- When Michigan’s Pipeline Safety Advisory Board met in Roscommon Monday, June 13, 2016, dozens of citizens showed up to express their concerns about the safety of Enbridge Line 5, which runs under the Straits of Mackinac. Everyone who spoke challenged the approach the board is taking.

Margaret Pierson and George Formicola traveled from Traverse City to attend the meeting. "Ever since the 2013 Rally at the straits," Pierson said, "I have not been able to sleep another night. Enbridge does not have a great track record."** Pierson is a volunteer with FLOW (For the Love of Water), who makes "almost daily" calls to government officials on this issue. "Although the governor [Rick Snyder] and [Attorney General Bill] Schuette said last July that the pipeline’s days are numbered, what we’re expecting is rhetoric -- more P.R. pieces and more task forces," Pierson noted.

The 16-member board, appointed by Governor Snyder last fall, is comprised of industry, environment, and citizen representatives.***
 
It was created, according to the Department of Environmental Quality website, to "ensure safety, upkeep, and transparency of issues related to the state’s network of pipelines" as well as to advise state agencies on "matters related to pipeline routing, construction, operation, and maintenance."

The June 13 meeting agenda featured a report from the board’s technical review team. It outlined the results of a request for proposals for two projects: a Risk Analysis, and an Analysis of Alternatives to the pipeline. The team recommended the Risk Analysis be awarded to DNV and the Alternative Analysis to Dynamic Risk.

Some board members express legal and ethical concerns

Board member Guy Meadows, director of the Great Lakes Research Center and Michigan Tech professor, raised two issues about the proposals, including the fact that the study of the pipeline’s risk is recommended to be done by a company "using the Gulf of Mexico as a model" for Great Lakes work, since both DNV and Dynamic Risk are companies that have done their work in oceans.

Guy Meadows, Pipeline Safety Advisory Board member and director of Michigan Tech's Great Lakes Research Center, is pictured here with Michigan Tech's environmental monitoring buoy that was deployed on Aug. 18, 2015, in the Straits of Mackinac, just west of the Mackinac Bridge. The buoy is intended to provide real-time environmental monitoring of the water conditions and to improve safety for Enbridge's pipelines under the Straits. (Photo courtesy Guy Meadows of Michigan Tech University)

Meadows also noted the proposals fail to reference live time data that has been available via the buoy Michigan Tech deployed in the Straits last August to study the complex flows in the area of the pipeline.

"Modeling efforts should show this," Meadows said.

Board member Craig Hupp, noting that implementation of alternatives would take five to 10 years "at minimum" suggested that long-range data would be needed. Audience members later indicated that such a long time period is unacceptable

Pictured here at the June 13 meeting are Michigan’s Pipeline Safety Advisory Board members, from left, John Quackenbush, chair, Michigan Public Service Commission; Craig Pierson, president of Marathon Pipe Line LLC; and Craig Hupp of Bodman PLC.

Board Member Jennifer McKay, policy specialist with the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, said that none of the proposals for this work emphasized public engagement (which is one of the stated charges of this board).

As a member of the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board, Jennifer McKay,  policy specialist with the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, represents environmental groups. 

"I saw no reference to public meetings in either of the proposals," McKay said, noting that the plans would not allow for ample comment time.  

Homer A. Mandoka, board member and Council Chairman of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, proposed that the exploration of proposals to assess risk and alternatives to the pipeline include an analysis of conflict of interest (both DNV and Dynamic Risk are involved in projects for Enbridge). Mandoka, who represents tribal governments, also said that the current plan does not have a direct process for consultation with the tribes.

Homer A. Mandoka, Pipeline Safety Advisory Board member and Council Chairman of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, whose ancestral tribal lands include the Kalamazoo River basin, the area of Enbridge's 2010 oil spill, represents tribal governments on the board. His tribe was an integral part of the Kalamazoo River cleanup.***

"I have raised this issue several times," Mandoka said.

Invited guest speaker Catherine Hollowell, Council Member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and member of the National Tribal Operation Caucus-EPA Region 5, spoke further on the legal need for an "articulated consultation policy with Native tribes."

Catherine Hollowell, Council Member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and member of the National Tribal Operation Caucus-EPA Region 5, was the invited guest speaker at the June 13 meeting of Michigan’s Pipeline Safety Advisory Board.

Hollowell said, "Things that aren’t negotiated away in a treaty are retained. We have always had them, and the Federal government has affirmed that treaties are the supreme law of the land."

This means that "actual ways of life are protected," she explained. These ways include a protected right to fish and gather; and a risk assessment needs to include the consequences of a loss of traditional ecological knowledge in the event of an oil spill that ruins spawning grounds, for example.

Audience members speak up

During the June 13 meeting, Michigan Sierra Club Chair David Holtz makes several requests of the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board. He asked that the state not compromise the risk and alternative analyses by having them funded by Enbridge. He said the state should be working with all available information in as close to real time as possible; and since it is not clear, in the case of limited liability corporations, who is responsible, or when a company can walk away, Enbridge should not be able to operate without a clear path to holding Enbridge responsible for environmental accidents.

Roger Gauthier, representing the Straits Area Concerned Citizens for Peace, Justice, and the Environment, said that the proposal intends to study only four and a half miles despite the fact that the pipeline runs from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario. He said that there are 60 different communities that have passed a resolution calling on Michigan’s governor to stop pipeline oil delivery through the Straits.****

Jim Olson, president of FLOW (For the Love of Water), reminded the board that government bodies have the duty to prevent and minimize harm to public health and that the decisions made regarding the pipeline could set a precedent for future environmental work. "You stand between the citizens and the government and Enbridge," he said. 

Liz Kirkwood, executive director of FLOW, cited the 1953 easement, which is "the legal basis for the existence of the pipeline." She said that Line 5 pipeline violations include the absence of supports, the curvature, wall thickness, and the degradation of the pipe, as well as the low value insurance policy on the structure. "The state must never subordinate the needs of its citizens to any private corporation," Kirkwood said. "Since a reasonably prudent person would not operate a pipeline in this condition, the need for action is urgent." She called for halting use of Line 5 as soon as possible.

Kate Madigan, Michigan Environmental Council representative, called for decommissioning the pipeline to protect the 700 miles of vulnerable coastline. Noting that Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said 335 days ago that the pipeline’s days are numbered, she said it is time to end the culture of delay and inaction.
 
Leonard Page of Concerned Citizens for Peace, Justice, and the Environment had two suggestions for the board: First, he said, a third-party study of the pipeline could be done this year instead of using the drawn-out process that is making many citizens impatient. "You’re 90 miles short of Ground Zero," Page said. He invited them to visit the Straits -- twice. First, on a beautiful weekend with 30-mile-per-hour winds and four-foot waves, and again in January or February. His point was that if a pipe failed in the winter, ice would make any pipe leak cleanup very complicated.

Tim O’Brien, co-chair of the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board and associate director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, said that the comments will be carefully considered. The board meets again in Lansing on Sept. 19, 2016.

Editor's Notes:

* Guest writer Diane Miller is a former Keweenaw resident and former Finlandia University communication professor. She now teaches at a community college downstate and attended the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board meeting as a reporter for Keweenaw Now.

**See Keweenaw Now's article on the 2013 Rally at the Straits, "Videos, photos: 'Oil and Water Don't Mix' rally draws hundreds concerned about Great Lakes."

***  Click here to see the original list of Pipeline Safety Advisory Board members appointed last September. Click here to read about the appointment of Homer A. Mandoka to the board as tribal government representative last November.

**** Click here to see the list of local governments and municipalities that have issued resolutions calling for the shutdown of the flow of oil in Line 5.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Environmentalists applaud dismissal of Road Commission's CR595 lawsuit

From Save the Wild U.P.

This photo shows Wildcat Canyon in the potential CR 595 corridor. The proposed 21-mile primary county road, running north-south between U.S. Highway 41 and County Road Triple A, was intended to connect the Eagle Mine with the Humboldt Mill. (File photo © and courtesy Jeremiah Eagle Eye. Reprinted with permission.)

MARQUETTE -- Grassroots environmental groups including Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP), Concerned Citizens of Big Bay (CCBB), the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve (YDWP), and other environmental groups are hailing the decision of Federal Judge Robert Holmes Bell, who recently dismissed the Marquette County Road Commission (MCRC) lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In his dismissal, Judge Bell stated that the MCRC "doesn't have a viable claim against the EPA."

From the beginning environmentalists have contended that what the Road Commission wanted to build was an industrial road -- a mining haul road known as CR595 -- but serious threats to wetlands and watersheds proved insurmountable. The proposed road would have cut across 22 rivers and streams, including the Dead River and Yellow Dog River Watersheds, the Mulligan Creek headwaters, Voelker Creek, and Wildcat Canyon. It would also have damaged or destroyed numerous wetlands.

This wetland in the proposed CR 595 corridor is one of many sensitive areas that would be impacted by the proposed wilderness road intended primarily for hauling ore from the Eagle Mine to the Humboldt Mill. (Keweenaw Now file photo © and courtesy Jessica Koski) 

Alexandra Maxwell, SWUP’s executive director, applauded Judge Bell for his decision, adding SWUP hopes this will settle the issue of the proposed CR595.

"This decision wholly validates what U.P. environmental groups have expressed all along," Maxwell said. "The EPA’s objections to the construction of this road were valid and protective of one of the world’s largest sources of freshwater."

On Aug. 28, 2012, a crowd of about 400 filled the Ontario, Michigan and Huron rooms in Northern Michigan University's Don H. Bottum University Center for the Environmental Protection Agency's Public Hearing on the proposed County Road 595. Many residents, tribal representatives and other concerned citizens voiced their objections to the road. In December 2012 EPA objected to the wetland and stream crossing impacts in the permit application and prevented permitting of the road. In January 2015 Marquette County Road Commission voted to sue the EPA. (Keweenaw Now file photo)*

Chauncey Moran, Chairman of the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve Board of Directors, said, "The 595 issue demonstrates the reason we need clear siting requirements, because there are places where Thou Shalt Not."

During the Aug. 28, 2012, EPA Public Hearing on the proposed County Road 595, Chauncey Moran of Big Bay holds up a photo showing some of the wetlands that could be impacted by the proposed haul road. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

Jon Saari, SWUP vice president, said, "Let's hope Judge Bell's dismissal stands. Big highways are destructive swathes to natural habitats and wildlife. Woods roads are good enough in the UP backcountry."

Gene Champagne, spokesperson for Concerned Citizens of Big Bay, said the MCRC has wasted energy on a fraudulent application for this road.

"Moving forward, the MCRC needs to 'Quit Whining, Drop the Lawsuit, and Fix Our Roads.'"

During their Jan. 19, 2015, meeting, members of the Marquette County Road Commission return from a closed session discussion of their proposed lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency. (File photo by Gene Champagne for Keweenaw Now)

Champagne noted the judge's decision received little coverage in the mainstream media.

"If the decision had gone the other way it would BIG news!!! The mainstream media must be getting or giving some of that 'dark money,'" Champagne said.

Jeffery Loman, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community tribal member and former federal oil regulator, said, "It should be clear to everyone now -- the Rio Tinto 'Woodland Road' proposal and MCRC’s subsequent CR-595 proposal didn't meet even the minimum requirements under the Clean Water Act. Their efforts to subvert our laws didn't work."

According to concerned citizen Catherine Parker, who has attended most Marquette County Road Commission meetings and followed federal objections to the proposed road, "MCRC doesn't have a case. Period. The evidence is right there in the files I received through Freedom of Information Act requests."

Horst Schmidt, Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC) president, said the UPEC Board has authorized the following statement:

"The court’s decision promotes sound land stewardship by preserving the unique natural resources, including the wetlands and wildlife habitat along the proposed CR 595 corridor. The Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition acknowledges the persistent efforts of SWUP in supporting the EPA's original decision along with the diverse group of local citizens, businesses and other organizations that rallied behind SWUP and the EPA in support of the rule of law designed to protect our people and our fragile environment here in the U.P." 

Kathleen Heideman, SWUP president, said Judge Bell made the right decision.

"The facts never supported the Road Commission’s claims," Heideman noted.

Keweenaw Now attempted to contact the Marquette County Road Commission Thursday and learned their office is closed until Monday, June 20, for "staff training." We also tried to reach individual MCRC Board members today, but were not able to contact them.

A short article on TV-6 News Thursday evening (June 16) states that MCRC is asking Judge Bell to reconsider his decision.**

Editor's Notes:

* See our two-part article on the Aug. 28, 2012, EPA Public Hearing on CR595: "EPA Hearing on CR 595 permit: Part 1, Questions" and "EPA Hearing on CR 595: Part 2: Comments."

** Click here for the TV-6 article and video clip.

Portage Lake District Library to launch 2016 Summer Reading Program; Friends of the Library to hold Book Sale June 18

During the 2015 Summer Reading Program opening day, Chris Alquist, Portage Lake District Library community program director, right, explains the benefits of the program for all family members, even this family's one-year-old "reader." (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON -- Portage Lake District Library will be the scene of two events on Saturday, June 18: registration and opening day family activities for the library's Summer Reading Program and the Friends of the Library Summer Book Sale.

Family fun at Summer Reading Program opening day

Parents and kids enjoy making crafts during the June 2015 Summer Reading Program opening day.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, the public is invited to enjoy opening day activities and registration for the Summer Reading Program. Kids are invited to make crafts and participate in activities both inside and outside the library, and everyone can create their own ice cream sundae in the community room.

Everyone enjoys creating and eating an ice cream sundae!

This "On Your Mark, Get Set…Read!" Summer Reading Program encourages everyone to exercise, be active, and read. Throughout the day, kids can use rowing machines provided by Nu Day Fitness Center, jump rope, play hopscotch and Nerf basketball, exercise with hula hoops, make sidewalk chalk art, get their face painted, and make a book, a necklace and an award medal.

Face painting at the library is popular with kids of all ages.

The program will continue through Saturday, August 27, and people may register throughout the summer. Participants will receive a reading log, book bag, and bookmark when they register and prizes as they progress through their reading lists. People who register on June 18 will also receive a water bottle. The Summer Reading Program is open to all ages, children through adults; and reading logs may include books, magazines, audio books, reading to young children, and being read to.

The Summer Reading Program includes Storytimes and programs and events for all ages. Look for programming information in the library, the media, and at www.pldl.org.

Library programs are free and everyone is welcome. For more information, please call the library at 482-4570.

Friends of the Library Summer Book Sale

The Friends of the Portage Lake District Library invite all book lovers to their annual Summer Book Sale from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 18.

The sale will take place in the Michigan and Local History room at the library. An excellent selection of new and gently used books, audio books, and DVDs for adults and children plus some miscellaneous items will be sold to raise money for library projects and items that the Friends provide. A half price sale will be held from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Projects that the Friends of the Library have done include buying books, furniture, computers, a work bench for staff, the Children’s Listening Center, and other materials. Proceeds from book sales also pay for annual events sponsored by the Friends of the Library -- including the Salsa Contest, the Summer’s Bounty Social, Scrabble Tournaments, Blind Date with a Book, the Friendship Tea and more. Information on how to become involved with the Friends will be available at the book sale.

For more information, please call the library at 482-4570 or visit www.pldl.org.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Michigan Tech conference trips to Isle Royale, Manitou Island, Cliff Mine and Eagle River available to community -- register now!

Ranger III will be taking passengers to Isle Royale for a trip departing from Houghton June 28, 2016, and returning July 2, 2016. Places are still available but the deadline to register is midnight on Tuesday, June 14! (See below.) (Photo courtesy Isle Royale National Park)

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Tech is hosting the International Symposium on Society and Resource Management from June 22-26, 2016, for social scientists who study society, environment, and natural resources issues. Three field trips associated with this event have room to extend opportunities to interested members of the local community. Because they are part of the conference, prices are reduced compared to what you may have seen posted for other similar trips. This is a great deal! Deadlines are looming and space is limited, so sign up right away if you are interested!

Isle Royale National Park Lodge Based Trip: June 28-July 2, 2016. $675 (per adult age 12 and over); $300 (per child age 7-11); ($255 under age 7). This is a reduced cost way to get out to the island! Rate includes round trip boat fare to/from the island on Ranger III, room and board for 4 nights (must share a room, double occupancy), boat tours to the historic Rock Harbor Lighthouse, Edisen Fishery, and Bangsund Research Station (home of the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project) and Hidden Lake and Lookout Louise (spectacular views of Isle Royale's northshore and Canada). Participants could also engage in hikes to Scoville Point and Suzy's Cave; book a fishing charter; and enjoy park interpretive programs within the Snug Harbor area that serves as the main entry point for visitors to Isle Royale National Park. You must reserve before midnight Tuesday, June 14! Click here for more trip details, including a less expensive backpacking option.

Ancient Lava Flows on Manitou Island: Sunday, June 26, 2016, full day. $110/person. This trip is led by geologists Erika Vye and Bill Rose. It focuses on the Keweenaw’s deep volcanic past and the relationship between copper, lavas and the subsequent passage of people that came here with the purpose of mining. Participants will travel by van from Houghton to Eagle Harbor to board the Michigan Tech RV Agassiz and travel past lava reefs and shipwrecks on the way to Manitou Island, one of the most isolated and pristine places in the Keweenaw.

Michigan Tech's Research Vessel Agassiz will take passengers to Manitou Island for a geology adventure on Sunday, June 26, 2016. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

 A number of features tell the story of the Keweenaw such as grand ridges of conglomerate rock, the boxlike harbor created by lava flows at the lighthouse, a massive calcite vein that disappears into the depths of Lake Superior, and high energy beaches. The group will enjoy a boxed lunch together on the island before departing for Copper Harbor where they will explore curious rock formations at the Hunter’s Point nature preserve and visit the Greenstone lava flow -- the largest lava flow on Earth!  To cap the day the group will stop at Brickside brewery, before returning to Houghton. This trip covers a lot of ground and affords the opportunity to visit one of the most remote places in the peninsula. Be prepared to be outside all the time and carry clothing for all weather conditions. 

Wilderness, Industry and Tourism: Public Archaeology at the Cliff Mine and Eagle River: Wednesday, June 22, 2016, full day. $45/person (includes lunch). Michigan’s Copper Country has seen ten millennia of human mining communities, technologies, and ecological relationships. Trip participants will explore the landscape of the Cliff mine, a National Register Historic Site, and nearby Eagle River where Michigan Tech researchers have conducted a public archaeology project for the last six years engaging communities with history and the research process.

This 2010 photo shows part of the Cliff Mine site at the time Michigan Tech researchers were beginning their archaeological project. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

Come to explore this picturesque historic ruin and spend the morning hiking over the three square miles of the mine and town. The site includes ruins interspersed through wooded terrain and wetlands both atop and below the 200-foot greenstone bluff that runs along the spine of the Keweenaw Peninsula. Hiking will be self-guided over unimproved walking trails where the terrain ranges from moderate to advanced. MTU archaeologists and graduate students will wait at discovery stations where they can share pictures, research stories, and explain the site’s history and heritage stories. After the hiking, the group will take a short ride to Eagle River for a beachside catered lunch at the iconic Fitzgerald’s Restaurant at the Eagle River Inn (with a cash bar), followed by another walking tour of the quaint antebellum community of Eagle River. Must reserve before midnight Monday, June 20.

To Register for any of these trips:
Go to http://www.iasnr.org/
From there, look for "Login and Register" on the right side of page. You will need to create a free account. Then, you can go to the "Marketplace" and scroll down through the various conference options to the field trips at the bottom. Select the field trip you'd like to join, add to your shopping cart, and purchase it online. Spots are limited, so sign up fast! 

If you have difficulty navigating the system or you just have questions and want to know more, please contact Jill Fisher at jhfisher@mtu.edu or call 906-487-1095.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Students learn environmental stewardship through planting, monitoring, birding at Torch Lake Superfund site

By Michele Bourdieu

Lake Linden-Hubbell High School science teacher Nick Squires shows his biology students how to  plant dark-green bulrush and red-osier dogwood near the shore of Torch Lake during their field trip in May 2016. (Photos by Keweenaw Now unless otherwise indicated)

LAKE LINDEN -- Despite some chilly, windy weather and predictions for snow in mid-May, Lake Linden-Hubbell High School 10th grade students spent an afternoon on the shores of Torch Lake planting red-osier dogwoods and dark-green bulrushes, bird watching and installing nesting boxes for birds, and playing disc golf just for fun.

This is just one of several hands-on, outdoor activities their science teacher, Nick Squires, offers his students each year so they can learn about the local ecology and stewardship practices in an area that has been disturbed by mining waste and remediated as a Superfund site. Earlier in the year these students monitored the Lake Linden Village Sands (where the Torch Lake Superfund covered stamp sand from mining with vegetation) and collected data for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In addition, Squires had his eighth graders monitor the Trap Rock River at four different sites.

For the spring field trip, sponsored by the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, students were divided into three groups and spent a half hour or more on each of the three activities.  

Linden-Hubbell High School students plant red-osier dogwoods near the shore of Torch Lake on May 13, 2016.

As he demonstrated to his biology students how deep to plant the red-osier dogwoods, Squires noted one area near the shore presented challenges.

"We're standing on rock, for the most part," he said. "You cannot over-water these once they've been planted. If we get some snow tomorrow that will help."

Micah Hornat, right, meets the challenge of digging in rocky soil as Hunter Blau prepares to plant a red-osier dogwood.

Kali La Vigne, left, digs a hoe for a red-osier dogwood plant near the shore. She is assisted with the planting by Emily Beveridge, center, and Alli Goldsworthy.

Nicole Liimatainen holds the red-osier plant in place as Ryan Heikkinen adds topsoil.

Student Laura Lyons was proud of planting the dogwood and bulrushes, which help prevent erosion along the shore and contribute to species variety.

"It's nice to give back to our community," Lyons said.

While Squires led one group in planting, Dana Richter, Copper Country Audubon Club president, led a second group of students in a birding activity -- first observing birds with binoculars and then installing nesting boxes for them in an area near both the Lake Linden water treatment ponds, where many birds gather, and the shore of Torch Lake. Richter said the nesting boxes will be used by many tree swallows in the area.

Students use binoculars to observe birds near the Lake Linden water treatment ponds (at left).

Dana Richter of Copper Country Audubon demonstrates how to dig a hole for a nesting box.

Students take turns digging the hole and installing the nesting box at the right depth -- about 18-24 inches.

Pausing for a photo after completing their nesting box installation are, from left, Sophie Codere, Jake Marcotte, Shay Holzberger and Laura Lyons.

The third group activity, disc golf, was just for fun this year, while last year it was combined with writing poetry.

Logan Muljo tosses a frisbee into one of the disc golf basket destinations.

"We're out here just having fun right now," said Logan Muljo, who seemed to be enjoying the exercise while waiting for his group to be called for one of the other two activities.

Instead of playing disc golf, these students preferred hanging out with their English teacher, Heather French, and enjoying the cake she brought for them. Pictured here, from left, are Alli Goldsworthy, Emily Beveridge, Aidan Stahl, Ms. French, Julia McFarland, Lauren Barkell and Kali LaVigne.

Additional projects: monitoring and collecting data

Nick Squires noted his 10th-grade biology class also monitored the Lake Linden Sands last fall. The project follows EPA collection procedures for Superfund monitoring. After establishing up to 25 sample plots, students center a one-meter square (PVC) quadrat on each sampling point and divide the quadrat into quarters. The sampling is done in each quarter as follows:
  • NW corner: Collect plant biomass and measure root penetration
  • NE corner: Collect soil samples for fertility testing in lab
  • SW corner: ID every plant and collect plant vouchers
  • SE corner: Estimate overall soil coverage by vegetation   
The students follow detailed instructions for the sampling collection procedures.

"We have, in the past when they wanted it, submitted this data to the EPA," Squires said.

Each year Squires' 8th graders monitor the Trap Rock River.

Lake Linden-Hubbell 8th grade Earth Science students look for macroinvertebrates in the Trap Rock River. (Photo courtesy Nick Squires)

"We get data on dissolved oxygen, copper, pH, temperature, width, depth, flow rate, velocity, and macroinvertebrate count," he explained. "Historically, out of the 4 monitoring sites, the only spot that has some minor issues is the Scales Creek (tributary of the Trap Rock) site."

Collected macroinvertebrate samples from the Trap Rock River. (Photo courtesy Nick Squires)

Squires said he believes the students' experience in EPA monitoring and planting has many positives.

"It gets them out of the classroom and into the field doing real science," he noted. "It piques their interest in research-based science. The monitoring combined with the planting gives them a real sense that they have an understanding of their local environment as well as a genuine feeling of stewardship (the goal!)."

In early 2003, EPA sought the cooperation of educators and enlisted the assistance of local high school students to continue the monitoring begun by EPA in the first year following the re-vegetation of the Torch Lake site. Students from five area schools now perform long-term monitoring of bird and plant diversity and soil fertility on post-cleanup portions of the Torch Lake Superfund site.

Coordinated by Michigan Tech's Center for Science and Environmental Outreach, along with EPA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the students’ monitoring assists EPA’s efforts in charting the progress of the vegetation cap and habitat reconstruction done under the Superfund program. This project is the first of its kind to utilize students for the collection of data for use by EPA.

"Engaging students in learning about, and contributing to, the improvement of their local environment and community, is an excellent way to create lifelong natural resource stewards," observed Joan Chadde, director, Michigan Tech Center for Science and Environmental Outreach, and a partner on the Lake Superior Stewardship Leadership Team.

Funding for the initial year of the students’ work was provided by local groups, but EPA is now paying for the remaining years of the agreement. Cooperating UP-area high schools are Hancock, Lake Linden-Hubbell, Chassell, Dollar Bay, and Calumet.