Thursday, May 09, 2019

L'Anse Township rejects zoning changes; industrial wind farms disallowed on commercial forest

L' ANSE -- The Friends of the Huron Mountains, a group formed in opposition to the proposed industrial Summit Lake wind project (since canceled), announced recently that township voters decisively rejected zoning changes that would have expanded dramatically the area open to industrial wind development.

The May 7 referendum vote tally was 315 to 257, a 55-45 percent margin. Approved by the Township Board of Commissioners on October 11, 2018, the changes would have made all Forest Resource land in the township (in addition to Conservation/Recreation land) eligible for industrial wind development and increased permissible turbine blade length by lowering ground clearance height.

Friends spokesperson Wayne Abba expressed satisfaction with the outcome and noted that the result will restore the pre-existing zoning.

"With this behind us, local officials must accept that their rush to approve poorly written developer-friendly zoning was ill-advised. The people have spoken," Abba said.

The group now will shift its focus to helping the community improve its master plan and zoning.

Friends Chairman Burt Mason said, "We have conducted extensive research worldwide. Our well-informed, active volunteers are ready, willing and able to assist local officials in improving area planning and zoning to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents, enhance use of our natural and historic treasures, and attract desirable new businesses."

The Friends of the Huron Mountains is a nonprofit corporation formed to serve the common interests of residents, visitors and friends of Baraga and Marquette counties in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Groups explain opposition to Summit Lake Wind project, call for "No" vote on L'Anse Township Referendum May 7

By Michele Bourdieu
 
Using a scale model to illustrate the amount of tree removal and concrete that would be necessary for just one of the projected wind turbines proposed for the Summit Lake Wind project, Burt Mason, right, chair of the Friends of the Huron Mountains, and Jeffery Loman of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) compare notes as they prepare to speak about the project at Michigan Tech on Apr. 18, 2019. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON -- Burt Mason, chair of Friends of the Huron Mountains (FOHM), and Jeffery Loman, a member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC), have a cause in common: While neither one is opposed to wind energy, both have been passionate about stopping the Summit Lake Wind project proposed for a forested area of L'Anse Township. While the project developer, Renewable Energy Systems (RES), announced on April 19 that they will not proceed with the project, a referendum to be held on May 7 may determine whether zoning changes that would have allowed the wind farm should remain -- opening the area to similar industrial development, or to sulfide mining.

According to Mason, the Friends of the Huron Mountains, a group formed to protect the interests of its members in the Huron Mountains and Michigamme Highlands area, gathered more than enough signatures last fall to petition a referendum that would allow the residents of L'Anse Township to vote for or against permissive zoning changes that the township board adopted last year to allow Renewable Energy Systems (RES) to develop the Summit Lake Wind Farm project on Weyerhaeuser Co. land in L’Anse Township.*

FOHM had opposed the project for many reasons -- questionable economic benefits, environmental damage, tribal rights and more. KBIC passed a resolution against the project last year as soon as Loman informed them it would impact the tribe's treaty rights to hunt, fish and gather in the area, which is part of their ceded territory.

Two environmental groups, the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC) and Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK) joined FOHM and KBIC in opposing the Summit Lake project because of potential negative impacts to the environment.**

Even though RES now claims they will not pursue the project -- citing "continued delays in the planning process" which "ceased to make the project financially and logistically viable" -- FOHM, KBIC, UPEC and FOLK are urging L'Anse Township residents to vote "No" on the May 7 referendum.

The "No" vote is now being challenged by a group that calls itself "Services And Vibrant Economy" ("SAVE"), who mailed a letter to local residents titled "SEEK TRUTH -- DEMAND PROOF" and quoted environmental groups UPEC and Audubon out of context. UPEC has responded to the letter and questioned the group's efforts to manipulate public opinion in advance of the referendum.***

In an April 19, 2019, press release, FOHM welcomed the news that RES is no longer pursuing the Summit Lake Wind project, but added, "The vote, by township residents residing outside the village limits, will be held on May 7 as scheduled. FOHM wishes to remind voters that the referendum is not about Summit Lake -- it’s about rejecting zoning that could open the door to other developers by making all commercial forest land eligible for industrial wind development."****

At Michigan Tech, Mason, Loman present opposition to Summit Lake Wind project

On April 18, just one day before the RES announcement of their withdrawal, Mason and Loman each offered several arguments -- not against wind energy, but against the Summit Lake project because of its proposed siting in forest land -- at a meeting of the College Democrats of Michigan Tech. A small group of students and community members attended the meeting and participated in discussion.

Burt Mason explained why Friends of the Huron Mountains (FOHM) oppose the Summit Lake Wind project.

During the April 18, 2019, meeting of the College Democrats at Michigan Tech, Burt Mason, chair of Friends of the Huron Mountains, describes the area of L'Anse Township that was chosen for the Summit Lake project as a special place that would be destroyed by such industrial development. (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

Mason continued, pointing out why the project would not benefit local residents.

Burt Mason explains why the Summit Lake Wind project would not benefit residents, the environment or visitors.

Jeffery Loman, who formerly regulated the oil and gas industry in Alaska, spoke about industrial destruction of ceded territory lands where his tribe, KBIC, should have the right to hunt, fish and gather natural resources, according to the treaties of 1842 and 1854.

Jeffery Loman of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community speaks about the history of pollution from overfishing, manufacturing and mining in his tribe's ceded territories for seven generations since treaties were signed and the lack of respect for treaty rights. He explains why the tribe is opposed to the Summit Lake wind project on land owned by Weyerhaeuser.

Loman said tribal members who are eligible to vote in the May 7 referendum will vote "No." He noted the massive road network and increased number of turbines planned for the Summit Lake Wind farm would mean cutting down a great number of trees and would facilitate more sulfide mining in the area.

Jeffery Loman of KBIC speaks about the how industry blocks fish and violates treaty rights and notes how more Native Americans are now college graduates prepared to challenge treaty violations under federal law.

Following their presentations, Mason and Loman fielded questions from the audience.

In answer to a question from William Keith, Michigan Tech faculty advisor to Tech's College Democrats, Mason described the background leading to the referendum, which is intended to challenge actions of the L'Anse Township Board. Loman noted some of the destructive methods landowner Weyerhaeuser Co. uses in clearcutting their land, without regard to environmental stewardship.

Burt Mason and Jeffery Loman field questions from the audience on the referendum and clearcutting.

Sarah Green, Michigan Tech professor of chemistry and climate change researcher, asked a question on the siting of the Summit Lake project and its relationship to potential mining in the area.

Jeffery Loman points out how mining interests could benefit from the Summit Lake project being sited in this area of large sulfide deposits.

The presentation concluded with a film about the role of trees in protecting from climate change destruction. The film bore the message, "Without forests there is no climate solution."

Joe Bollech of Skanee and originally from Tomahawk, Wisconsin -- a member of FOHM who retired from a career of hydro dam repair -- commented positively on the presentation.

"I can't see destroying a forest for that [project]," he said. "The way technology is growing, maybe in 15 to 20 years we're going to have the answer to our energy and it will be a far better technology then."

Lindsey Wells, president of the College Democrats at Michigan Tech -- who invited the speakers and attempted to do some research on RES and to give the opposite viewpoint, in favor of the project, in order to be fair -- admitted she was unable to find much information on benefits of the Summit Lake Wind project.

Lindsey Wells, Michigan Tech student in scientific and technical communication and president of the College Democrats at Michigan Tech, welcomes guest speakers, students and community members to the presentation on the Summit Lake Wind project on April 18, 2019 -- one day before RES announced they are not proceeding with the project. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

"I was playing devil's advocate," Wells said after the meeting, "because we couldn't get in contact with any Summit Lake people."

Abi Milne, Michigan Tech student in environmental science (Forestry Dept.) and vice president of the College Democrats at Michigan Tech, said she learned new information from the presentation and discussion.

"I was really interested to get the perspective of locals, which I hadn't seen before," said Milne, who is from Cheboygan, Mich. "I'm interested in getting everyone into politics, but especially young people because they need to be more aware of how directly politics can affect us."

Joani Meyers of Houghton said she found the presentation very informative.

"I'm all for protecting the environment -- the wildlife, the water, the birds and the forests," Meyers noted.

This 2D map, designed by Michigan Tech for Friends of the Huron Mountains, highlights in dark orange every location where at least one turbine of the proposed Summit Lake project would be visible from a spot six feet above the ground, given current forest cover, in a direct line-of-sight to the turbine nacelle hub (278 feet). Blades are not included although they extend 221 feet higher because their orientation depends on wind direction. Winter or timber clear cut views also could be possible from the lighter orange areas. Click here for a 3D virtual reality viewer.

Group leaders still urge "No" vote on May 7 Referendum

Despite the RES withdrawal announcement on April 19, the groups opposing the Summit Lake Wind project continue to encourage the residents of L'Anse Township to vote "No" in the May 7 referendum on zoning changes.

FOHM chairman Burt Mason said, "A 'No' vote will allow us all to take a deep breath and get together to update the Master Plan to reflect what the people want. What the community may lose in short-term financial gain will be more than offset by the combination of community spirit and ability in our group, who now can turn their talents to making this a better place to live and visit."

Jeffery Loman of the L'Anse Indian Reservation (KBIC) said, "The announcement by RES Americas to send the Summit Lake Wind Project to the dustbin of history is the first step in progress to promote responsible decisions that protect property values, tourism and our way of life. The next, and more important step will take place on May 7th when the power is handed to the people of L’Anse Township so they can send the zoning ordinance allowing large wind energy conversion systems to the same trash heap were it belongs."

On behalf of FOLK, Linda Rulison, FOLK president, stated, "Friends of the of Keweenaw welcome the announcement by RES to withdraw their proposal for the Huron Mountains in L'Anse Township. Through citizens' activism and self- education, it became apparent that this proposal was not about providing clean green energy and cheaper electricity to the local citizens but about a large corporation pushing their project on an unsuspecting community for their own gain. We thank L'Anse Township citizens who have put so much energy into educating all of  us. The May 7th vote gives the township the final say -- go vote!

Catherine Andrews, FOLK member and former L'Anse Township Planning Commission secretary, added, "Although we are pleased with the announcement, we are continuing to focus on the referendum vote on May 7th. We need to make sure RES, or a similar corporation, gets a clear message that we are not willing to sacrifice Mt. Arvon, Mt. Curwood, or the surrounding wildlands to destructive development."

In their July 21 Position Paper on the Summit Lake Wind project proposed by RES, addressed to the L'Anse Township Board, UPEC stressed their opposition to the project based on its proposed siting. They listed several potential negative impacts of the project -- from "large-scale short- and long-term" environmental disturbance to negative impacts on wildlife, tourism, property values, viewshed and more. They also noted "potential for wildfire caused by failure and combustion of wind turbines, which would be difficult, if not impossible, to control."**

Following the RES announcement of their withdrawal from the project, Horst Schmidt, UPEC president, said, "Corporations as well as government officials at any level need to involve and heed citizen concerns. In L’Anse Township the environment has greater value than 'imagined' tax revenues for its residents. Congratulations to our fellow activists in Friends of the Huron Mountains for their diligence and enthusiasm in fighting for our UP. We urge the citizens of L’Anse Township to vote on May 7th to secure their hard fought gains with a newly written ordinance that will allow them to decide their future."

Notes:

* For the latest information from Friends of the Huron Mountains see https://savethehuronmountains.org/

** See UPEC's July 21 Position Paper on the Summit Lake Wind project proposed by RES, addressed to the L'Anse Township Board.

*** Click here to read UPEC's response to "Services And Vibrant Economy's" mailing to local residents titled "SEEK TRUTH -- DEMAND PROOF."

****See FOHM's April 19 press release here.

Friday, April 26, 2019

From Michigan Tech News: Michigan Tech Joins Great Lakes Research Collaborative

Michigan Tech's autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) IVER-3 is the first of the third generation sold to anyone outside the military. The torpedo-shaped robot imaged two previously unknown shipwrecks last year. (Photo © Sarah Bird and courtesy Michigan Tech University)

By Kelley Christensen, Michigan Tech Science and Technology Publications Writer
Posted April 24, 2019, on Michigan Tech News
Reprinted here in part with permission


Michigan Technological University has joined the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research -- a regional consortium dedicated to solving the critical issues facing the Great Lakes and surrounding communities.

For the millions of people who live in the Great Lakes region and along the ocean coasts, the research and work of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) affects their everyday lives. Weather reports, currents and water elevation monitoring and tracking harmful algal blooms are just a few of the services NOAA provides.

On Apr. 24, 2019, Michigan Tech joined the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research (CIGLR). Hosted by the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan, CIGLR is one of 16 NOAA-funded cooperative institutes across the United States. CIGLR partners work closely with NOAA to achieve environmental, economic and social sustainability in the Great Lakes.

"The overall goal is to make it easier for this group of universities to help NOAA meet their mission and we’re enthusiastic about that," said Guy Meadows, director of the Great Lakes Research Center at Michigan Tech.

Michigan Tech brings much to the research collaborative, particularly in three key areas: remote sensing, numerical modeling and autonomous vehicle observing systems. ... CLICK HERE to read the rest of this article on the Michigan Tech News.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein to speak April 27 at Houghton Super 8

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein. (Photo courtesy Houghton County Democratic Party)

HOUGHTON -- As a guest of the Houghton County Democratic Party, Michigan Supreme Court Justice Honorable Richard Bernstein will speak at 7 p.m. on Saturday April 27, in the conference room at the Houghton Super 8, 1200 E Lakeshore Drive. The event is open to the public.

Elected by voters statewide to the Michigan Supreme Court in November 2014, Justice Bernstein began his 8-year term in January 2015. With a commitment to justice and fairness, he has been highly successful in his human rights cases, both in private practice and through partnerships with the United States Department of Justice. Beyond his legal track record, Justice Bernstein, is a truly amazing individual as the only blind State Supreme Court Justice in the US. Here are just some of the notable aspects of his career to date:

His law practice has concentrated on fighting for the access rights of disabled people. Committed to helping clients who need him, Justice Bernstein is known for taking action in cases that have set national standards protecting the rights and safety of people with and without disabilities.

Bernstein successfully partnered with the United States Department of Justice to force the City of Detroit to fix broken wheelchair lifts on its buses, establishing a precedent for accessibility in public transportation. Further, Bernstein represented disabled residents against the Oakland County (Michigan) Road Commission after "roundabout" traffic circles were built without disabled access, impacting future ADA compliance for road construction throughout the United States.

Justice Bernstein has received many honors, including "Michiganian of the Year" by the Detroit News, one of Crain’s Detroit Business’ "40 Under 40" and recognition on worldwide television by CNN as a leader in keeping government honest. He is a recipient of the 2008 John W. Cummiskey Pro Bono Award from the State Bar of Michigan in recognition of his leadership as an advocate and activist.

Michigan Lawyers Weekly named Justice Bernstein a 2009 Leader in the Law, and the University of Michigan presented him with the James T. Neubacher Award in 2011 for his unwavering commitment to equal rights and opportunities for people with disabilities.

Justice Bernstein was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. In his spare time, Justice Bernstein is an avid runner, completing 22 marathons -- including thirteen New York City marathons -- the full Ironman triathlon in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in 2008 and the Israman triathlon’s half Ironman in Eilat, Israel in 2011.

To read more about Justice Bernstein, click here.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District Tree Sale is May 4 in Hancock

Images courtesy Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District.

HANCOCK -- Celebrate Earth Day! Make plans now to attend the Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District (HKCD) Tree Sale from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 4, 2019, at the HOUGHTON COUNTY ARENA, 1500 Birch St., Hancock.

The sale is one day only, first come-first served, so don't miss this opportunity to purchase WildFlowers, Flowering Shrubs, Wildflower Seeds, Berries and Other Plants, Grapes, Fruit Trees, Planting Tips, Conifers and Native Trees and Shrubs.

This is HKCD's only fundraiser of the year. Click here now to see the Tree Sale Catalog listing a wide variety of items as well as a U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zone Map for the Keweenaw and a map showing the location of the Houghton County Arena in Hancock. For more information call Sue at (906) 482-0214.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra to perform "Rhapsody in Blue," "Firebird Suite," more April 20 in Rozsa Center

The Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra will present its last concert of the year Saturday, April 20, in the Rozsa Center. (File photo courtesy Rozsa Center)

HOUGHTON -- The Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra will present Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 20, in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. Popularized in Disney’s Fantasia, Rhapsody in Blue will be performed along with the haunting ballet music to Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite and the angst-ridden Chamber Symphony of Schoenberg.

"This is our last concert of the year, so we saved the very best for last," said Joel Neves, conductor for the event. "Everyone loves Rhapsody in Blue, one of the great jazz-infused orchestra works of all time. Popularized in Disney's Fantasia, Rhapsody in Blue features local pianist extraordinaire, Jon Ensminger, who plays the soaring, swinging, sophisticated piano solo. Also on the program is sublime music by Verdi, Schubert, and Schoenberg, as well as Stravinsky's magical Firebird Suite, also featured in Fantasia. You don't want to miss this fantastic program!"

Founded in 1970, the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra is the Upper Peninsula’s oldest orchestra. The KSO is a college-community ensemble comprising Michigan Tech students, faculty and staff, and community musicians. Most of the musicians pursue something other than music as a career, with engineers, scientists, mathematicians, educators, and retirees filling the roster. Students occupy about 60 percent of the orchestra; none are music majors. The KSO presents 4-5 concerts per year -- including choral-orchestral, opera, ballet, and pops -- in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

Tickets are on sale now, $19 for adults, $6 for youth, and no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee. Tickets are available by phone at (906) 487-2073, online at mtu.edu/rozsa, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex (SDC) , or at the Rozsa Box Office the evening of the performance. Note the Rozsa Box Office only opens two hours prior to performances.

For more details, contact Joel Neves at (906) 487-2859 or jbneves@mtu.edu.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Weyerhaeuser Co. requests state metallic mineral lease in Marquette County

This map shows the parcels in Wells Township nominated for metallic mineral lease. Click on map for larger version. (Map courtesy Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources)

LANSING --Weyerhaeuser Company, of Seattle, Washington, has requested four direct metallic mineral leases from the State of Michigan covering Department of Natural Resources (DNR) metallic mineral rights located within Wells Township, Marquette County, containing a total of 1,476.46 acres, more or less. For a full description of the parcels requested for lease, please visit the Weyerhaeuser Company Public Notice.

The parcels are currently being reviewed by resource experts to determine the most appropriate level of surface use that should be allowed for development activities. To learn more about State of Michigan metallic minerals leasing, click here.

Written comments from interested parties, relative to the request to lease the specified minerals, may be submitted to DNR, Office of Minerals Management, P.O. Box 30452, Lansing, MI 48909 or DNR-Minerals@michigan.gov.  All comments must be received no later than May 10, 2019.

Click here for more information on mineral leasing and links to additional maps.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Lake Superior Celebration is TONIGHT, April 11, at Great Lakes Research Center

 Poster courtesy Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative.

HOUGHTON -- All Are Invited to the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative (LSSI)11-Year Celebration from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 11, at Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC). The event is FREE, family-friendly, and open to all.*

The Lake Superior Celebration will highlight the work of the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative (LSSI), which brings schools and communities together in the stewardship of Lake Superior and its watershed. Displays and presentations by Barkell Elementary School, Washington Middle School, Dollar Bay-Tamarack City High School, and Copper Country ISD, in addition to informative displays by community organizations, local growers, and non-profits will be offered. Jerry Jondreau and Katy Bresette of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community will have traditionally harvested and processed maple sugar and manoomin (wild rice) products.

At 6:30 p.m., LSSI school teams will offer presentations (Washington Middle School, Dollar Bay High School, CCISD Special Education). At 7 p.m., Dr. Valoree Gagnon, director, University-Indigenous Community Partnerships at the Great Lakes Research Center and Research Assistant Professor, Social Sciences, and Rachael Pressley, assistant regional planner, Western UP Planning and Development Region, will present on the Western UP Food Hub. Presentations are in 202 GLRC.

Students will get in on the fun and learning with a variety of hands-on activities including Tomato Planet, Making Butter, Posy Poetry, How Trees Grow.

The event will also feature LIVE Music with Handful of Humans with Sue Ellen Kingsley, Eric Munch, Norm Kendall and Shawn Oppliger, and the World Water Day art exhibit "Wilderness" featuring artists Daniel Hill, Josh Jaehnig and Jonathan Soper.

Light refreshments, including snacks, cake, lemonade and coffee will be provided.

The event is sponsored by the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, Michigan Tech Center for Science and Environmental Outreach, and the WUP MiSTEM Network with funding from the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative.

For more information: contact:  Emily Gochis, Director, WUP MiSTEM Network at the Copper Country ISD at 482-0331 or egochis@copperisd.edu or Joan Chadde, Director, Michigan Tech Center for Science and Environmental Outreach, at 906-487-3341 or jchadde@mtu.edu .

Visit the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative on the web here or on Facebook.

*Editor's Note: Joan Chadde has confirmed that this event will take place definitely in hopes that the winter storm waits.