Monday, April 20, 2015

Portage Library hosts National Parks Series with Ranger Valerie Martin

HOUGHTON -- The Portage Lake District Library is hosting "Junior Ranger Underwater Explorer Family Programs," a series of family programs presented by Isle Royale National Park Ranger Valerie Martin.

Children and their families will discover their National Parks and kids will earn their Junior Ranger Underwater Explorer badge. These programs offer adventures and activities that are suitable for families and kids age five to twelve. Programs include a short presentation followed by hands-on activities. Two more programs will be held this month:

Shipwreck Sleuths -- 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 23. Kids will submerge themselves into the chilly waters of Isle Royale National Park to investigate a shipwreck. They will become an underwater archaeologist as they investigate a shipwreck site and examine artifacts. They will also find out if invasive species could affect this piece of history.

During a 2012 family presentation on Isle Royale at Portage Library, Ranger Valerie Martin introduces the concept of invasive species with an entertaining father-son game in which Dad is an invasive zebra mussel. (File video by Keweenaw Now)

Join the Kelp Crew -- 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 30. Kids will descend into the cool waters of California's Channel Islands National Park and discover a forest under the waves. They will become a marine ecologist as they survey the species and determine if the kelp forest is healthy or not.

Valerie Martin has been a National Park Service Ranger and educator for over twenty years. She has spent fifteen summers sharing the wonders of Isle Royale with others.

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

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Local firefighters put out grass fire, protect trees in Hancock

By Michele Bourdieu

A cloud of smoke rises along US-41 in Hancock, near Pat's IGA, after the first tall flames of a grass fire were extinguished by the Hancock Fire Department's deluge gun, or water cannon. Fire fighters from this Quincy, Franklin and Hancock Townships Fire Department truck join the effort, using their hand hoses to put out the rest of the fire, which occurred about 4:15 p.m. Friday, Apr. 17. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

HANCOCK -- Two volunteer fire departments quickly stopped a grass fire from spreading to tall trees along US-41 (North Lincoln Ave.) in Hancock Friday afternoon, Apr. 17. Local police were on the scene for safety and traffic control.

Hancock volunteer firefighter Mark Dennis said they received the call about 4:15 p.m. on Friday, and it took them about three or four minutes to reach the scene. Firefighters from the joint Quincy, Franklin and Hancock Townships Fire Department joined them in putting out the fire.

Hancock and local township firefighters put out a grass fire on US-41 (North Lincoln Drive) in Hancock on Friday afternoon, April 17. A total of five fire trucks participated in putting out the fire and preventing it from spreading to nearby trees. The cause of the fire is unknown.

Hancock's fire trucks have a deluge gun, like a water cannon, that sprays a lot of water at a time -- 1000 gallons of water a minute, Dennis explained.

"After the deluge gun knocked it down, the rest of the hand lines (hoses) from the other trucks mopped it up," he said.

Firefighters hose down the grass fire to keep it from spreading to nearby trees. Hancock firefighters confirmed power lines (seen here near the trees) at the site were not involved in the fire.

Asked if the power lines at the site had anything to do with the fire, Dennis replied that no electrical wires were involved at all. The cause of the fire is unknown.

Dennis added later that the fire burned a few of the tall pine trees at the bottom, but not at the top of the trees.

A police officer controls traffic on US-41 in Hancock as firefighters extinguish the last of the grass fire. Traffic coming from the north was stopped briefly during the operation.

Dennis said Hancock and Houghton Police departments, Houghton County Sheriff's officers and Michigan State Police were also on the scene to assist with safety and traffic control.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Conservation District to celebrate Earth Day with 63rd Annual Meeting Apr. 22; Tree Sale to be May 9

HOUGHTON -- Celebrate EARTH DAY with the Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District (HKCD) at their 63rd Annual Meeting from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Apr. 22, at the Ramada Inn, First Floor Conference Room, Hancock.

The event will include an Election for two Board Members, a Complimentary Buffet Supper and a Silent Auction.

The guest speaker will be Dr. Dan O'Brien, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Veterinarian. He will speak on "Bat conservation and White Nose Syndrome: How you can help the survival of one of nature’s greatest mosquito repellants!"

Everyone is welcome to this evening of food and conversation. RSVP is not required, but is appreciated. Email or call 906.482.0214.

Annual Tree Sale: Saturday, May 9

The Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District will hold a ONE DAY TREE SALE: First Come, First Served from 8:30 a.m. to Noon on Saturday, May 9, at the Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District Office, 711 W. Lakeshore Drive, Houghton.

A Monarch butterfly spreads its beautiful wings in a garden in Calumet. (Video © and courtesy Gustavo Bourdieu)

New varieties have been added this year. Also, you can help Monarch butterflies by purchasing and planting milkweed ($3 per plant, 4 for $10). See Meral Jackson's article, "The Mighty Monarch: How can we help them survive?" and check out the trees and plants for sale in the HKCD 2015 Tree Sale catalogue on their Web site.

You can help With the Tree Sale! HKCD will appreciate any time you can spare from Monday, May 4, through Saturday, May 9. For more information on work session times and dates call HKCD at (906) 482-0214 or (906) 370-7248.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

DNR’s Eastern Upper Peninsula Citizens' Advisory Council to meet TONIGHT, Apr. 16, in Newberry: "Ask DNR" on WNMU-TV TONIGHT

LANSING -- DNR’s Eastern Upper Peninsula Citizens' Advisory Council to meet April 16 in Newberry

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources ( DNR) Eastern Upper Peninsula Citizens' Advisory Council will meet from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. TONIGHT, Thursday, Apr.16, at the Comfort Inn in Newberry, located at 13954 State Hwy. M-28. The meeting will take place in the motel’s conference room.

Agenda items will include the following:
  • DNR division reports by staff.
  • Subcommittee reports.
  • Wildlife habitat workgroup update.
  • Wolf program update.
  • Conservation officer academy update.
  • Public comment (for instructions, see
The Eastern Upper Peninsula and Western Upper Peninsula citizens’ advisory councils are designed to advise the DNR on regional programs and policies, identify areas in which the department can be more effective and responsive, and offer insight and guidance from members’ own experiences and constituencies.

The council members represent a wide variety of natural resource and recreation stakeholders and interest groups. Agenda items are set by the council members ­and council recommendations are forwarded to the DNR for consideration.

Citizens’ advisory council meetings are open to the public. Anyone interested in being considered as a future council member should fill out the nomination form found on the DNR website at For more information, contact the DNR Upper Peninsula regional coordinator’s office at 906-225-1331.

"Ask the DNR" to air on WNMU-TV Channel 13 TONIGHT, April 16

MARQUETTE -- "Ask the DNR" returns to WNMU-TV Channel 13 in the Upper Peninsula at 8 p.m. TONIGHT, Thursday, April 16. (EDT). The show will focus on the trout fishing opener and fishing regulations, spring wildlife activity and wildfire prevention.

The hour-long program features a panel of Michigan Department of Natural Resources employees taking questions from viewers who call in during the live show to 800-227-9668. Questions are answered live on the show; any questions not answered before the end of the episode will be answered by phone call to the viewer.

This episode will feature conservation officer Kevin Postma, wildlife biologist Monica Joseph, fisheries biologist George Madison and fire specialist Bryce Avery.

"Ask the DNR" is produced five times a year on WNMU-TV 13, the public television station in Marquette, Michigan. It is aired live on public television stations throughout the Upper Peninsula and northeastern Wisconsin and typically replays the following day at noon. Please consult local television listings to confirm replay times for the program.

Green Film Series to present "Dirt!" the movie TONIGHT, Apr. 16, at Michigan Tech

During the 2013 Global Change Teacher Institute at Michigan Tech, Evan Kane, soil scientist, U.S. Forest Service Research Station, talks about part of his research experiment on peatlands and the effects of climate change on their ability to hold carbon. Kane will be the facilitator for the Green Film Series discussion on the film Dirt! tonight, Apr. 16, at Michigan Tech.* (Keweenaw Now file photo)

HOUGHTON -- The 2015 Green Film Series will present the movie Dirt!, followed by discussion, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. TONIGHT, Thursday, Apr. 16, in G002 Hesterberg Hall, Forestry Building, Michigan Tech. Dr. Evan Kane, Soil Scientist, U.S. Forest Service Research Station, will be the discussion facilitator.

This 80-minute film brings to life the environmental, economic, social and political impact that the soil has. It shares the stories of experts from all over the world who study and are able to harness the beauty and power of a respectful and mutually beneficial relationship with soil.

It is also a call to action: "When humans arrived 2 million years ago, everything changed for dirt. From that moment on, the fate of dirt and humans has been intimately linked." How can we affect that relationship for the better? (2009)

Cost: Admission FREE. Enjoy refreshments and facilitated discussion. $3 suggested donation.

The Green Film Series is co-sponsored by the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, the Michigan Tech Center for Water and Society, the Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and the Keweenaw Land Trust.

* Click here to read our story on the 2013 Global Change Teacher Institute.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Talking Rocks, Talking Sky: Authors of books bridging oral and earth/planetary history to visit Houghton, Apr. 14-15

The Carnegie Museum Seminar Series in Keweenaw Natural History will present "Talking Rocks: Common Ground -- geology in the Lake Superior Region and Native Americans" on Tuesday, Apr. 14. (Image courtesy Carnegie Museum)

HOUGHTON -- Two distinguished authors from Duluth, Ron Morton and Carl Gawboy, will visit Houghton and Michigan Tech as part of the Carnegie Seminar Series in Keweenaw Natural History on Tuesday and Wednesday, Apr. 14-15.

Morton is a geologist and emeritus professor from University of Minnesota, Duluth. Gawboy is an Ojibwe elder and well-known artist. They have taught unique classes together that bridge legend and geological science.

A reception will be held at the Carnegie Museum Community Room at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Apr. 14. Discussion, introductions and light refreshments will be featured, and this will be followed by a joint presentation titled: "Talking Rocks: Common Ground -- geology in the Lake Superior Region and Native Americans."

As the geologist carefully presents a modern scientific perspective, the storyteller eloquently recounts a traditional Native American understanding, passed on through tales, myths, and symbols that illustrate how intimately his people have known and honored the earth and its history for over a hundred centuries. 

Duluth authors Carl Gawboy and Ron Morton will also give a presentation and book signing at the JR Van Pelt Library, Michigan Tech campus, on Wednesday, Apr. 15. (Book cover photo courtesy Carnegie Museum)

A book signing (Two books: Talking Rocks and Talking Sky) will be held at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Apr. 15, in the East Reading room, First floor, JR Van Pelt Library, on the Michigan Tech campus. It will be followed, from 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., by a joint presentation titled: "Talking Sky: Ojibwe constellations and sky stories -- how they used them to live on and with the land."

From the important seasonal constellations (Moose, Panther, Wintermaker, and Nanaboujou) through wandering wolves, flying skeletons, and brave fisher to meteors and comets, the authors bring to life the sky world of a northern people.

This special visit is sponsored by the Carnegie Museum of Houghton with additional support from the Departments of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, and Social Sciences, the JR Van Pelt Library, the Indigenous Issues Discussion Group and the Isle Royale and Keweenaw National Parks Association. If you wish to meet with these visitors contact Elise Nelson (906 482-7140 or

The Carnegie Museum is located at 105 Huron Street on the corner of Montezuma Avenue in Houghton.

Click here for more information about these special events.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Native, non-Native concerned citizens camp at Oak Flat, Ariz., opposing potential Rio Tinto/BHP/Resolution copper mine

By Michele Bourdieu

Scenic view from Oak Flat, a Native American sacred site, where Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto and BHP - Billiton, plans to construct a large underground mine, now that a land exchange added to the Defense bill last December would privatize the area. Oak Flat is also a prime recreation area, especially for rock climbing and bouldering with more than 2,500 established climbing routes. Oak Flat is a rare desert riparian area. In Arizona, less than 10 percent of this type of habitat remains. (Photos by Keweenaw Now unless otherwise indicated. Information from Arizona Mining Reform Coalition.)

OAK FLAT, Ariz. -- Jerry Thomas is a Navajo (Dine) tribal member now living with his wife, Linda, on the San Carlos Apache reservation, nearly 50 miles from Oak Flat, a public campground near Superior, Arizona, in the Tonto National Forest, where he joined a camp of concerned citizen protesters.

Jerry Thomas, a Navajo tribal member, has been camping out at Oak Flat, a sacred site for the Apache and other tribes, to protest a federal land exchange that would allow a copper mining project that Native Americans, environmentalists and other concerned citizens have been opposing for 10 years.

At the Oak Flat Campground, Thomas and his wife joined Native Americans from other tribal groups and non-Native concerned citizens camping there in protest against the land exchange with Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto and BHP - Billiton. Resolution Copper is proposing to mine a rich copper vein more than 7,000 feet deep just east of Superior, Ariz., and an hour east of Phoenix, Ariz.

The land exchange was recently approved by Congress when it was attached at the 11th hour last December to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015, mostly because of the efforts of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)*

Oak Flat is a sacred ceremonial and burial site for the Apache (Indeh) and other tribal groups, and Thomas says the mine would violate freedom of religion, not just for Native Americans but for others as well.

"That's the reason we're fighting," Thomas told Keweenaw Now during our March 8, 2015, visit to the camp, where we were invited by Roger Featherstone, director of the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition.

Thomas expressed fears that "no trespassing" signs by the company will prevent people from praying at their sacred site.

"That's the issue with this bill," he said. "It's a defense bill against all religions."

Upper Peninsula residents -- Native and non-Native -- who opposed the Eagle Mine near Big Bay, Mich., are familiar with Rio Tinto's disregard for Native American sacred sites. Despite the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community's objections to Eagle Rock, a sacred site being used as the portal for the Eagle Mine, and despite KBIC's participation in a contested case against the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for permitting the mine, the Eagle Mine, constructed by Rio Tinto, is now operating under the ownership of the Lundin Mining Company.**

Gene Champagne of Big Bay, Mich., who has opposed the Eagle Mine, constructed by Rio Tinto and now owned by Lundin Mining Co., visited Oak Flat and the site of Rio Tinto/BHP/Resolution Copper's potential mining project in 2014. Here he inspects signs evidently posted by residents who support the project because of promises of jobs and oppose their town leaders' decision not to support it. (Photo © and courtesy Gene Champagne)

Thomas and his wife were camping at Oak Flat and attending meetings with both Native and non-Native concerned citizens, who are trying to educate themselves and others about the potential impacts of the proposed underground mine.

"It's a learning stage," Thomas said. "We're just now waking up."

Thomas noted the spiritual fight is combined with water issues and environmentalists are involved with water sampling.

"Water is our biggest concern," he said.

Thomas added the people are also concerned for their grandchildren and future generations.

The Pachero family, members of the Yaqui tribe, came from Tucson, Ariz., to the camp at Oak Flat.

The Pachero family, members of the Yaqui tribe from Tucson, joined other concerned citizens at the Oak Flat camp.

"We came to support the Apaches in their defense of freedom of religion, the land and the right to clean water for everybody," said Cati Carmen of the Pachero family.

Featherstone, who also lives in Tucson, was visiting the camp and meeting with representatives of several groups united in their opposition to the land exchange and the proposed mine.

Roger Featherstone, director of the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition, is pictured here at the Oak Flat Campground sign. The land exchange would mean the loss of this public campground to private ownership and potential destruction by subsidence caused by the proposed block cave mining method.

"The land is still ours until they complete environmental studies," Featherstone told Keweenaw Now.

In the meantime there is a petition to repeal the bill, he noted.

"This encampment will stay here until we get it protected," Featherstone said.

Just recently the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition requested citizens sign a letter to the U.S. Forest Service commenting on Resolution Copper's proposal to conduct invasive hydrological and geotechnical testing for Rio Tinto’s preferred toxic tailings location for their proposed mine at Oak Flat.

According to the Coalition, Rio Tinto’s toxic tailings location is between the towns of Superior and Queen Valley and right in the middle of the Queen Creek watershed. The toxic tailings location would heavily affect Boyce Thompson Arboretum, a world-class botanical preserve.

The U.S. Forest Service (the permitting agency for the project) has written a Preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA) on Rio Tinto's plan of operations and would like to approve Rio Tinto's plan with very few (and minor) changes. The Coalition objects to the fact that the Forest Service did not examine Rio Tinto's full mining plan and insists that this action has no relationship to a larger mine. The deadline for comments is April 12, 2015.***

Featherstone said the Coalition works to protect communities and the environment from inappropriate mines.

"And from the very first it was clear that what Rio Tinto wanted to do here was inappropriate," Featherstone noted.

He said he had also worked with the San Carlos Apache Tribe on other efforts to protect sacred sites.

Featherstone said an important point here is that Oak Flat is clearly sacred to San Carlos, but it's sacred to other tribes as well.****

"Also because of what's happening here all the tribes of the United States, through the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and other national organizations -- all the tribes are together on this one," Featherstone explained.

The NCAI, which represents all the tribes in the U.S., has consistently passed resolutions unanimously against this Oak Flat mining project, which was first proposed in 2005.*****

The bill that was passed under the Defense bill was the 13th bill for the land exchange, Featherstone said. The first 12 stand-alone bills did not pass, but when Sen. McCain, joined by fellow Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake in an argument for jobs, attached it to the Defense bill, it passed.

Tina Kitcheyan, who was washing dishes at the camp, is a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe and lives on the reservation, more than 40 miles from Oak Flat. She said she was coming to the camp every day because of her concern for the sacred site.

Tina Kitcheyan of the San Carlos Apache Tribe washes dishes at the Oak Flat camp. She came with her grandsons (not pictured) who were also helping out with various chores. Kitcheyan said she used to come to Oak Flat as a child to pick acorns used in Sunrise Dances.

"We used to come here when we were small to pick acorns and gather plants for traditional uses," Kitcheyan said.

The acorns are used in stew and also in the Sunrise Dances at the site, she explained.

Kitcheyan said she believes one reason the site is sacred is the historical memory of the Apache warriors who jumped off a cliff in the area when the U.S. cavalry was coming to kill them.

"My grandpa used to tell us a lot about it," she said.

She may have been referring to the story about "Apache Leap," which is often left out of history books about the area.

The Arizona Mining Reform Coalition notes on their Web site, "The land exchange would include Apache Leap, a cliff where more than 80 Apache warriors chose to leap to their deaths rather than surrender to the US cavalry."

Kitcheyan noted visitors from several different tribes, as well as non-Native birders and rock climbers, have come to the camp every weekend since it began as a protest and powwows and Sunrise Dances have been held there.

Two participants in the camp activities, Standing Fox (left), a San Carlos Apache, and Jake Toledo, a Dine (Navajo), were on their way to a meeting at the camp.

Former miner: New mining method could destroy Oak Flat area

Roy Chavez -- a former miner and former mayor of Superior, Ariz., who is now chair of the Concerned Citizens and Retired Miners Coalition of Superior -- says he has been fighting this proposed mine since 1998. His protest is in solidarity with that of the Native Americans at Oak Flat.

Chavez calls the land exchange under the Defense bill "a military action the U.S. Government is using as an attack on the San Carlos Apache Tribe."

Chavez cites his own experience in previous mines as one reason for his opposition to Resolution Copper's proposed mine.

This photo, taken from the town of Superior, Ariz., shows the original smelter from the Magma mine of the 1960s to 1980s.

"All these towns are here because of the mining industry," Chavez told Keweenaw Now at the Oak Flat camp. "I support the mining industry but not this method of mining."

Chavez said he had worked in a mine at Superior that used a "cut and fill" method -- backfilling the empty spaces with tailings (mine waste) mixed with concrete; but the plan for this mine projects a "block cave" method, which could cause excessive subsidence and possibly leave a huge crater at Oak Flat.******

This photo shows Rio Tinto/BHP/Resolution Copper’s No. 9 and No. 10 shafts at their current mine workings on private land for their proposed mine at Oak Flat. This was first built in the 1960s by then Magma Copper, which was purchased by BHP and then was merged into the Resolution Copper project. (Photo by Keweenaw Now. Information from Roger Featherstone.)

In his 2011 statement as spokesperson for the Concerned Citizens and Retired Miners Coalition to the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, Chavez warns of the potential negative impacts of the block cave method:

"We are alarmed about the issue of subsidence by virtue of the mine's proposed block cave method and its effect on the Oak Flat campground, the Apache Leap escarpment, US Highway 60 through Queen Creek and the Town of Superior.

"The mine has finally admitted to 'minimal' subsidence at Oak Flat -- just how 'minimal?'

"They have admittedly chosen the block cave method to cut and fill because it is the least expensive and quickest method to approach this massive ore body. Experts have demonstrated that there will be irreparable destruction to the surface. Since the block cave method creates a huge volume of tailings which are toxic to both the water supply and the air we breathe, we are concerned regarding reclamation of these tailings upon mine closure."******

In these video clips Chavez shows visitors to the camp a map of the proposed mining area and notes Resolution Copper's plans for the tailings:

At the Oak Flat camp on March 8, 2015, Roy Chavez, former miner and former mayor of Superior and chair of the Concerned Citizens and Retired Miners Coalition, explains a map of the proposed mining area to visitors Sandy and Bruce Whitehouse of Corona de Tucson, who are opposing the projected Rosemont mine near Tucson. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Here Chavez talks about the changing price of copper and questions the value of putting a new mine at Oak Flat:

Discussing the changing price of copper with Sandy and Bruce Whitehouse, Roy Chavez points out that a copper mine in the area would not benefit the community but would ship the ore to China.  (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Chavez discusses the impacts of tailings with Sandy and Bruce Whitehouse:

At the Oak Flat camp Roy Chavez describes tailings placement for the proposed Resolution Copper mine to Bruce and Sandy Whitehouse of Tucson, who express concerns about a proposed tailings pile from the Rosemont mine in their area. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Tucson area visitors: Rosemont mine would be open-pit

Bruce and Sandy Whitehouse visited Oak Flat in solidarity with the protest since they have been fighting Hudbay Minerals' proposed massive Rosemont open-pit copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson that threatens another scenic area and Arizona's diminishing resource -- water.

According to the Save the Scenic Santa Ritas Web site, "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has stated that the massive open-pit mine that would destroy more than 3,000 acres of Coronado National Forest would result in 'substantial and unacceptable impact' to water supplies of 'national importance' and that proposed mitigation measures are 'scientifically flawed' and 'grossly inadequate.'"*******   

A truck owned by a member of Save The Scenic Santa Ritas protests the proposed Rosemont mine. (Photo © and courtesy Bruce Whitehouse)

"We had hearing with the U.S. Forest Service and they always had information and tried to educate the public," Bruce Whitehouse said. "The Rosemont people always said they would provide job, jobs jobs."

Bruce Whitehouse has a favorite bumper sticker that reads, "There will be no need for jobs on a dead planet."

This is a photo of the Rosemont ranch site where Hudbay Minerals hopes to dig a massive open-pit copper mine. (Photo © and courtesy Bruce Whitehouse)

Activist Bruce Whitehouse on top of Lopez Pass where the power lines and water lines are planned for the proposed Rosemont mine. "Huge 167KV towers and destruction of the landscape," Bruce says. "The tye-dyed t-shirt is custom designed by me. It says 'Ruck Fosemont' in olde English fonts. They hate it!" (Photo © and courtesy Bruce Whitehouse)

The group Save the Scenic Santa Ritas says the Rosemont project, if permitted, would have "disastrous AND permanent impacts to our water, air quality, wildlife and economy."*******

Oak Flat mine threatens rock-climbing tourism

Also participating in the protest camp at Oak Flat was rock climber Stephen Shaffer of Scottsdale, Ariz. He was helping prepare firewood for campers.

Stephen Shaffer of Scottsdale, Ariz., left, joins Roy Chavez, center, and Mike Gray of Smoke Hole, West Virginia, in chopping wood for campfires at the Oak Flat camp.

Shaffer said he was interested in joining Chavez's group, the Concerned Citizens and Retired Miners Coalition of Superior. Rock climbers like Shaffer are opposed to the mining project because it would prevent them from accessing their climbing routes that have been on public land until the recent land exchange.

According to a Dec. 21, 2014, article in, "Oak Flat -- which for 15 years was the site of an international bouldering competition -- contains thousands of bouldering and rock-climbing routes that will be inaccessible when mining begins."********

Chavez notes the rock-climbing and other outdoor activities add to a diversified economy, which the town leaders of Superior support -- and which a mining economy threatens.

A 2013 report, "Exaggerating the Net Economic Benefits of the Proposed Resolution Copper Mine, Superior, Arizona: A Critical Review of Resolution’s Economic Impact Analysis," by Thomas Power and Donovan Power of Power Consulting, for the San Carlos Apache Tribe, includes many of the points on the economic impacts of mining that Thomas Power, research professor and professor emeritus in the Economics Department at The University of Montana, made in his 2013 presentations in Houghton and in the report he did for FOLK (Friends of the Land of Keweenaw).

The loss of a diversified economy when mining dominates a community is an important point in both of Power's reports.

In his report for the San Carlos Tribe, Power states the following: "Mining tends to displace most other economic activities in the region around the mine. The spectacular environmental degradation combined with the instability associated with mining operations actually discourages individuals, families, and businesses from locating in mining towns. That is why mining communities tend to be so specialized in mining, lacking in the economic diversification that can stabilize communities in the face of commodity price fluctuations. People and businesses are not drawn to mining areas except for the job opportunities. When those job opportunities 'flicker' or disappear, residents and businesses disappear too. That is how 'ghost towns' are generated." ********

Concerned citizens in Arizona have not yet surrendered their sacred site, their environment or their towns to giant mining interests. 

Editor's Notes:

** See our slide show (Keweenaw Now, right-hand column) on the 2010 camp protesting Rio Tinto's use of Eagle Rock, a sacred Ojibwa site, for the Eagle Mine.

*** Visit the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition Web site for more info on their work.

**** Click here to read the San Carlos Apache Tribe Resolution opposing the land exchange.

***** Click here for the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) resolution "To Protect Oak Flat and Apache Leap in Arizona from Mining."

****** Click here for the 2011 statement by Roy Chavez to the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands.

******* Visit for more info on Rosemont.

******** See the Dec. 21, 2014, article here.
Click here for the report by Power Consulting for the San Carlos Apache Tribe. See also our article on Thomas Power's presentations in Houghton.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Keweenaw Land Trust to host 3rd Annual Land Jam fundraiser at Orpheum Theater April 11

Poster for Keweenaw Land Trust 3rd Annual Land Jam at Orpheum Theater April 11. (Poster courtesy Keweenaw Land Trust)

HANCOCK -- The Keweenaw Land Trust (KLT) will host their 3rd Annual Land Jam from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, April 11, at the Orpheum Theater in Hancock. Proceeds from the event will help KLT purchase new Keweenaw nature areas for the public to enjoy and will help pay off loans to expand KLT's Paavola Wetlands Nature Area, establish a water trail campsite at Princess Point, and protect rugged shoreline near the tip of the Abbaye Peninsula.

Cover at the door is $10/person. Local and regional beers will be on tap at the bar. KLT pint glasses will be on sale at the event. Stop by early to buy one before they're gone!

This year's show will feature The Old Hats, a band headed by Adam Kentala and Tony Laux, as well as Keweenaw Brewgrass. The Old Hats are scheduled to play from 8 p.m.- 9 p.m., with Keweenaw Brewgrass closing out the show. The $10 cover charge gets you the entire show, so bring a friend or two and help pack the house in support of public nature areas for the community.

Outdoor Gear Swap Apr. 11 at Houghton High School to benefit Ski Tigers

HOUGHTON -- The Copper Country Ski Tigers will hold a used Outdoor Gear Swap Saturday, April 11, at the Houghton High School Multi-Purpose room. Buy or sell outdoor gear -- bikes, kayaks, canoes, camping gear, skis, snowboards, soccer, hockey and outdoor clothing or any other item for the silent sport enthusiast.

Drop off items to be sold from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 10, or from 9 a.m. - 9:45 a.m. Saturday, April 11.

The sale will be held from 10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Unsold items or $$ earned are to be picked up from  12:45 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. A 15 percent commission, with a $50 maximum commission per item, will be charged on all items sold. The Ski Tigers will also summer wax cross country skis for $10 and snowboards for $15.

The outdoor gear swap is a huge fundraiser for the Copper Country Ski Tigers Race Team made up of middle and high school age Nordic skiers throughout the Copper Country.

For more information, Contact Amy at 487-6072.

Art installation by Lisa Johnson opens TODAY, April 9, at Community Arts Center

Ecotone (detail), by Lisa Johnson. Handmade milkweed, flax, and abaca papers 2012. (Photo courtesy Copper Country Community Arts Center)

HANCOCK -- The Copper Country Community Arts Center announces its new exhibition in the Kerredge Gallery, macho-maynitch... (more or less), an installation by Lisa Johnson, which opens with a reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. TONIGHT, Thursday, April 9, and will be on view through April 30, 2015.

Lisa Johnson is a sculptor and collaborative artist living in Hancock. In her work she combines quilting techniques with fragile papers that she makes from plant species to create ethereal installations.

Sculptor and collaborative artist Lisa Johnson is Assistant Professor of Visual and Performing Arts at Michigan Tech. (Photo courtesy Lisa Johnson)*

She states, "My practice explores our relationships to landscape and to one another. I am particularly interested in the hidden narratives that make up our sense of personal and ecological place. My work often asks: What is the space between us? And: What does it take to cross it."

Lisa Johnson is Director of the Artist in Residence program at Iowa Lakeside Laboratory, a biological field station in Northwest Iowa -- where she links artists, scientists, and community members to address the varied ecological concerns of the region.* She received her MFA from The University of Iowa in 2012 and is an Assistant Professor of Visual and Performing Arts at Michigan Tech.

The Copper Country Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. This exhibition is supported by a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information call (906) 482-2333 or visit the website:

* Editor's Note: Sculptor and scenic artist Lisa Johnson, assistant professor in the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Michigan Tech, involved her 2D and 3D Design classes in the art project "People's Climate March art: 30-city wheatpaste action," initiated by the Justseeds Artists' Cooperative. See our Oct. 28, 2014, article, "People's Climate March, Part 3: Home front action -- local art students create People's Climate March posters."

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Tech Theatre to present new Mel Brooks musical, "The Producers," at Rozsa April 9-11

Poster for The Producers courtesy Rozsa Center.

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Tech University’s Tech Theatre presents The Producers, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 9 - 11, at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. If you're a Mel Brooks fan, or just find his movies fun, you'll enjoy Tech Theatre’s musical version of The Producers.

The Producers is a perfect story for the stage, since the premise is a satire of the Broadway culture of the 1950s. The show is appealing on a couple of different levels. Many audience members will enjoy the way Mel Brooks pokes fun at the Golden Era of the Broadway musical, with many references to popular musicals like Fiddler on the Roof or The Ziegfeld Follies, as well as the stars that made these shows great, such as Zero Mostel and Ethel Merman. While the play is set in the 1950s, some of the jokes reference The Sound of Music and A Chorus Line.

The music is much more sophisticated than a Mel Brooks title might suggest. True to Brooks' style, the sophistication is paired with base characterizations of Broadway stereotypes and situations. In Brooks' story, the Broadway producer (Max Bialystock) leads a glamorous life in the public eye, but is actually a lecherous, greedy, and crass man. A picture emerges of "good" and "bad" characters, with the arrival of Leo Bloom, a naive and nerdy accountant and Broadway producer wanna be. Add the bombshell actress, Ulla, and the crazed Nazi playwright, Franz Liebkin, and we have a set of unlikely characters to embark on a Broadway show. 

In Mel Brooks fashion, no topic is safe from ridicule. He is a master of comedy, poking fun at every human frailty including, greed, lechery, pretentiousness, self-righteousness and false authority. Some may find Brooks' humor vulgar. The campfire/bean scene from Blazing Saddles comes to mind as an example of the type of humor most of us find crass, but undeniably funny. Brooks boldly satirizes normally taboo topics including religion, race, and sexual preference. He seems to have no fear of being offensive. The treatment of situations is done with such a lightness of touch that most viewers accept the gross exaggerations as necessary in arriving at a certain social justice. 

There is a happy ending. Those who misbehave are punished. Those who are inherently good are rewarded. Everyone is redeemed.

While the show may not be appropriate for young children (mature language and situations), audiences are in for a treat. Prepare yourselves for a hilarious chorus of tap-dancing old ladies, an unthinkable revue of dancing Nazi storm troopers, and the show-stopping musical number, "Keep It Gay"!

Tickets are $19 for adults, $6 for youth (17 and under), and free for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee. To purchase tickets, call (906) 487-2073, go online at, or visit Ticketing Operations at Michigan Tech’s Student Development Complex (SDC), 600 MacInnes Drive, in Houghton. SDC box office hours are 8 a.m. - 9 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 7 p.m. Saturday and noon - 8 p.m. on Sunday. Please note the Rozsa Box Office is closed during regular business hours and will only open two hours prior to show times.  

For more details, please contact Patricia Helsel, 906-487-3283 or