Monday, January 27, 2020

Michigan AG Nessel opposes Federal Government's effort to replace 2015 Waters of the United States Rule

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. (Photo courtesy Michigan.gov)

LANSING -- Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel today issued the following statement on the Trump administration’s finalized Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR), which will significantly scale back the waters regulated under the Clean Water Act:

"The Clean Water Act's job is to provide a federal floor of water protection, not a basement," said Nessel. "States share water resources with one another, and without protective national standards these shared resources will be subject to the standards of the lowest common denominator. The Trump administration has once again ignored science by continuing to try to turn back the clock on environmental protection and has arbitrarily removed protections from important water resources based on lobbying from special interest groups."

The 2015 Waters of the United States Rule (WOTUS) clarified which bodies of water were subject to federal oversight under the Clean Water Act. Once published in the Federal Register, the final NWPR rule will complete the Trump administration’s efforts to replace the 2015 WOTUS rule, with a less protective rule that results in many smaller wetlands and streams being unregulated.

"As Michiganders, we have a responsibility to be good stewards of not only the Great Lakes, but all of our waterways and wetlands. I will be challenging this decision," Nessel added.*

* Editor's Note: See also: "Legendary Water Protector Robert Kennedy Jr. Goes in-Depth on Trump Clean Water Act Rollbacks." (EnviroNews Exclusive)

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

UPDATED: Heikinpäivä Mid-Winter Festival continues in Hancock

The Heikinpäivä parade is one of the main events of the annual Mid-Winter Festival in Hancock. This year's parade will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 25. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

HANCOCK -- Whether or not you attended the Heikinpäivä enrichment classes and workshops at Finlandia's Finnish American Heritage Center, don't miss the events still to come this week in Hancock's Mid-Winter Festival. The celebration’s themes are taken from Finnish folk sayings associated with the name day for Heikki (Henrik’s day - 19 January).

Each year the Finnish Theme Committee of Hancock selects a Hankookin Heikki (The Heikki of Hancock), who then presides over the Heikinpäivä festivities. This year Mary Pekkala was chosen for this honor because of her contributions to the preservation and enhancement of Finnish-American cultural life in the Copper Country.

Mary Pekkala, the 2020 Hankookin Heikki, is pictured here at the Dec. 6, 2019, Finnish Independence Day celebration, where she received her award and crown. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Mary has been a volunteer in the Archives at the Finnish American Heritage Center (FAHC) of Finlandia University and a long-time member of the Finnish Theme Committee. Mary joined the Finnish Council of America in 2012, working on the Folk Music Camps the three years it held the camp and serving as its Vice President since 2017.

Her main event task is to ride what is the arguably the world’s largest kick sled, a crowd favorite at Heikinpäivä, donning the traditional Hankooki Heikki robes and crown, and waving the copper scepter in the festival’s mid-winter parade.

Here is the schedule for the remaining events through Jan. 28:

UPDATED: Thursday, January 23
5:30 p.m. -- The Joy of Singing Finnish Favorites music workshop with Ralph and Jaana Tuttila, Finnish American Heritage Center (FAHC). FREE!

Ralph and Jaana Tuttila of Minneapolis, Minnesota. (File photo courtesy Ralph and Jaana Tuttila)

Saturday, January 25

Note: Due to lack of a suitable site, the Heikinpäivä Polar Bear Dive has been cancelled.

10 a.m. - 3 p.m. -- Tori Market, FAHC and First United Methodist Church, Hancock.

10 a.m. - 2 p.m. -- Vipukelkka (Whipsled), kicksleds, and plenty of outdoor fun! Quincy Green.

Young children love riding the Vipukelkka (Whipsled). (Keweenaw Now file photo)

11 a.m. -- Parade, downtown Hancock. Line up at La Cantina restaurant at 10:30 a.m. Prizes.

Following parade -- Wife-carrying, kicksled races, whipsled, and more! Quincy Green. Prizes.

1 p.m. -- Book talk, "Kotimaa" with author Mark Munger, North Wind Books, Hancock.

UPDATED: 3 p.m. -- Reception for "Animal Life: Art from the Kalevala," Community Arts Center, Hancock. See our right-hand column for details.

7 p.m. -- Heikinpäivä iltamat (hors d’oeuvres, dance), Finnish American Heritage Center. Silent auction during dance. $15 per person.

Sunday, January 26

2 p.m. -- Finnish Hymn Sing and Concert, Zion Lutheran Church, Hancock. Open to the public.

Tuesday, January 28

6:45 p.m. -- Contra Dancing, Finnish American Heritage Center. Call (818) 606-0065 for info.

Editor's Note: For more details visit the Heikinpäivä Web site or their Facebook page.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Finlandia, Michigan Tech to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day Jan. 20

Poster courtesy Michigan Tech University Center for Diversity and Inclusion.

HANCOCK, HOUGHTON -- Students, faculty and staffs at both Finlandia and Michigan Tech universities will honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, Jan. 20, with a variety of community service and other activities.

Finlandia students offer community service on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

On Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 20, students and staff at Finlandia University take a break from classes and give their energy to the local community. To pay tribute to the man that changed the trajectory of civil rights in the United States, the annual Finlandia MLK Day of Service puts the normal university day on hold so that FinnU students, staff, alumni, and friends of the university can make their little bit of difference through small acts of kindness.

Providing manual labor such as shoveling snow at Finlandia and processing firewood at Little Brothers, volunteering for St.Vincent De Paul Thrift Store or the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and reading to children in local schools are some of the activities that will give students the opportunity to involve themselves in the local community.

"Whether it’s socializing with the elderly, helping others prepare for the long winter months, or reading to small children, it’s wonderful to see our small Finlandia community make such an impact on our U.P. communities," said Finlandia Director of Residence Life Leann Fogle.

Fogle emphasized the impact that community service has on both the organization and student participants.

"We have had such a positive reaction from our students," said Fogle. "They come back from their service site excited, energized and happy they were able to help someone else. We have even had students interested in creating relationships with the sites so they can go back again."

In addition Finlandia will show the film When We Were Kings at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 20 in Wargelin 303.

Michigan Tech to observe MLK Day with school visits, Annual Banquet

Once again this year, Michigan Tech students will visit local elementary schools to read to students about the life and legacy of Dr. King. On Monday morning students will visit Barkell Elementary (Hancock) and T.R. Davis Elementary (Dollar Bay). That afternoon students will read to children at Houghton Elementary.

The 31st Annual MLK Banquet, hosted by Michigan Tech's Center for Diversity and Inclusion, will take place in the Memorial Union Ballroom Monday evening, Jan 20.

The evening's keynote speaker will be former Michigan Tech student LaShana Lewis. A systems engineer at MasterCard, Lewis has been working in the diversity space for more than 20 years. She is CEO of L.M. Lewis Consulting, a company that aims to make companies more diverse through assistance with recruitment, hiring and retention best practices.

Entertainment will be provided by a jazz band and singer David Brown.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Michigan AG challenges court decision involving Line 5 Tunnel Law

Mackinac Bridge. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel opposes Enbridge's plan to build a tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac to house the company's Line 5 pipeline. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

LANSING -- With a brief filed on Thursday, Jan. 16, in the Michigan Court of Appeals, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel continues to challenge the constitutionality of the law which provided for the 2018 agreement between former Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration and Enbridge Energy to build a tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac to house the energy company’s Line 5 pipeline.

Public Act 359 of 2018 was rushed through the Legislature to amend Public Act 214 of 1952, which allowed for the construction of the Mackinac Bridge. Nessel's brief filed Thursday argues that the 2018 act violates Article 4, Sec. 24, of the Michigan Constitution, referred to the Title-Object Clause, which provides that "No law shall embrace more than one object, which shall be expressed in its title."

In response to questions raised by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Nessel issued a formal opinion in March 2019 that concluded Act 359 was unconstitutional and the agreements based upon it made between the Snyder administration and Enbridge should likely be considered void.*

In June 2019, Enbridge Energy countered by suing the State in the Michigan Court of Claims seeking a declaration that the Act is constitutional, thereby making the December 2018 tunnel agreement valid. The Court of Claims agreed with Enbridge and ruled in the energy company’s favor on Oct. 31, 2019.

The brief filed Thursday by the Michigan Department of Attorney General asks the Court of Appeals to reverse the Court of Claims decision because Act 359 violates the Title-Object Clause by not providing fair notice of the content of the law, and embraces two unrelated objects -- a utility tunnel to carry oil beneath the Straits and the Mackinac Bridge to carry motor vehicles above.

Separately, on Jan. 16, a panel of the Court of Appeals denied, by a 2-1 vote, the State’s motion for stay pending appeal. Had it been granted, the stay would have delayed the effect of the Court of Claims decision until the Court of Appeals reached its decision on the constitutionality of Act 359. Instead, Act 359 currently remains in effect during the appeal. The State is reviewing the order.

This case is separate from and not related to the Attorney General’s lawsuit that seeks to shutdown Enbridge’s existing 66-year-old pipelines in the Straits.**

Editor's Notes:

* See our Apr. 1, 2019, article, "Attorney General Nessel finds Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority Law unconstitutional; Gov. Whitmer issues directive to halt actions in furtherance of PA 359."

** See our June 29, 2019, article, "Attorney General Nessel takes legal steps to decommission Line 5; Gov. Whitmer seeks to dismiss Enbridge lawsuit."

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Fourth Annual Women's March on Portage Lake Lift Bridge is Saturday, Jan. 18


Marchers display their signs as they cross the Portage Lift Bridge during the January 2019 Women's March in Houghton. (File photo © and courtesy Jim Belote)

HOUGHTON -- The community is invited to join the Fourth Annual Women’s March on the Portage Lake Lift Bridge at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 18. Marchers will gather at Bridgeview Park and walk up to the east side of the Bridge. RiseUP, the League of Women Voters, and the Houghton County Democrats are participating. Signs and pink pussy hats are welcome.

The Copper Country joins in solidarity with women across the UP, the state, the country, in DC, and the world in support of issues that impact women’s lives -- including equality, reproductive rights, immigration, the climate crisis, and a future that fulfills the promise of this country. Each woman has her own reasons to march.

For more information contact Susan Burack 482-3270 or sburack@pasty.net

Saturday, January 04, 2020

The Gift of Computing

By Cyndi Perkins*
Posted Dec. 20, 2019, on Michigan Tech News
Reprinted here with permission.

Naomi and Eliot Haycock, BASIC Saturday regulars at Portage Lake District Library in Houghton, work through their computing to-do list with Michigan Tech student coach Parker Young, right. (Photo © Wes Rantamaki and courtesy Michigan Technological University)

HOUGHTON -- Through the years and across generations, Michigan Tech Huskies help their neighbors navigate the digital universe. In the season of giving, drop in on two volunteer programs that benefit both givers and receivers.

On any given Saturday during the academic year, you’ll find Michigan Technological University students serving as coaches and teachers in the community and on campus in a couple of programs that have been around since 2011. Building Adult Skills in Computing, or BASIC, helps older people with computer-related questions. Copper Country Coders introduces younger people to computer science and programming.

BASIC: Where No One is Left to Their Own Devices

BASIC walk-ins are welcome from 10 a.m. - 11 a.m. Saturdays at Portage Lake District Library in Houghton. Sessions used to be earlier in the day before the library opened to the public, said Kelly Steelman, Michigan Tech associate professor of human factors and psychology, who, along with Charles Wallace, associate professor of computer science, serves as a BASIC tutor and researcher. But as it turns out, technological newcomers as well as Huskies like to sleep in. The time adjustment is one of several tweaks that have taken place as the program -- and the devices we use in our daily lives -- evolve. For example, nobody’s gathered ’round the library’s desktop computer stations. On this particular Saturday, as rays of treasured winter sunlight glint on the ice-glazed Keweenaw Waterway and stained-glass art, participants are cozily tucked into the library's Michigan Room with laptops, phones and tablets at the ready.

What's your favorite thing to do on a Saturday? Huskies teach kids to code and senior citizens to surf the Internet.

"Easy for you to remember, but hard for them to guess." That’s how Parker Young sums up the perfect password for Naomi and Eliot Haycock, who brought in a tablet and laptop. He explains to the lively couple that encrypted password management programs make it easier to keep track of all the passwords safely. "As long as you remember the one password, you have all the others," he said. They also discuss PayPal -- Naomi’s intrigued, Eliot’s skeptical. Both are interested in what kind of writing programs are already available on their newly acquired laptop. Young shows them options, from Google Docs to the preinstalled writing software.

"Good. We can do a Christmas letter," Naomi said.

They move on to installing updates and discuss the necessity to perform them regularly ("There goes another one!" Parker exclaimed). Next, the trio walks through how to connect to Wi-Fi at home for the first time with the new device.

"They do a great job. We’ve come here quite a few times," Naomi said. "People tell us, 'if you had to pay for this, you’d be paying a lot.'"

"Give this guy a good grade. He’s good," Eliot tells Charles Wallace, who is on the other side of the wide wooden library table helping a gentleman who’s never used a computer. First-timers are rare these days. Whenever a new user powers up, it’s exciting; both tutor and learner are smiling as he Googles for the first time, locating his church on the map and visiting its website.

Wallace encourages the beginner to keep exploring, then explains to the Haycocks that students aren’t graded for being part of BASIC. They’re here only because they want to be.

"We’re giving the gift of bringing people to the digital table," said BASIC volunteer Abby Kuehne, a double major in psychology and communication, culture and media with research experience in human-computer interaction.

Today she’s working with a soft-spoken man looking for pointers on getting started with a tablet. "Because this is a mobile setting, the tablet is going to be set up differently," she explained.

Portage Lake District Library has been hosting BASIC Saturdays since the program's inception. You'll often find Huskies Abby Kuehne, left, and Paige Short, right, bringing fellow community members to the digital table. (Photo © Wes Rantamaki and courtesy Michigan Technological University)

The work Kuehne does here aligns with her career goals, which include enhancing technology accessibility and effective communication across cultures. More than that, it’s establishing a lifelong pattern of service.

"It becomes a good habit," said Kuehne. "I believe in karma, in giving back."

For scientific and technical communication major Paige Short, showing up on Saturday mornings has also become second nature. Short, whose endeavors include work to communicate science on a global level, sees the relationship between students and the people who come for help as mutually beneficial. "It builds community," she said. "It connects us to the local community, and helps them be a part of the digital community." Never more so than on this Saturday, when Short is assisting with budget workflow strategy for a local community garden.

The session wraps up shortly after 11; the group meets for a quick debrief. There’s just enough time for Young to do some work on his truck before he heads over to the Michigan Tech College of Computing, where Copper Country Coders meets every Saturday afternoon of the academic year. Wallace will be there, too -- this program also benefits from his co-leadership, in this case with Leo Ureel, computer science senior lecturer and coordinator of the Michigan Tech College of Computing Learning Center.

Programmed Snowflakes and the Python Boiz

Compared to the quiet of the library, the atmosphere is a tad more rambunctious in the first-floor labs of Kanwal Rekhi Hall, where the youngest of the Copper Country Coders teams is raring to go. In sessions that run from 1-3 p.m., Michigan Tech students work with young people from area schools who share a goal not dissimilar from those of their older counterparts: they’re learning how to make computers do what they’re told. They’re learning to speak the language of programming.

"Can we play games before the other people come?" asks one youngster, bouncing up and down on a computer desk chair.

Instructor Keith Atkinson smiles, patiently explaining that they’ll all be creating a holiday snowfall game once everyone has gathered. He doesn’t mind the rowdier element or the challenge of keeping active young people engaged. "I’m pretty high energy myself and I like thinking on my feet," said the computer science major, who started with the Coders in 2015. He also clearly enjoys serving his community -- for his directed study class this semester, Atkinson created an inventory system for Michigan Tech’s Husky Food Access Network pantry.

Atkinson is co-leading one of the middle-school teams with fellow computer science major Galen Resh Chimner, who was enrolled in the program as a youngster. "It was fun to come and learn and get challenged," he said.

Today’s project is a holiday snowfall game. Students learn to program a snowflake -- to draw it and make it move. Every click of the computer mouse adds a new snowflake.

Programming is the Universal Language

Trevor Good, like many of the Huskies in Copper Country Coders, is in it for the fun of both learning and teaching. (Photo © Wes Rantamaki and courtesy Michigan Technological University)

Across the hall, Parker Young is at it again -- this time teaming up with computer science major Trevor Good to introduce ninth-grade and middle-school students to the popular, easy-to-use programming language that inspired their tongue-in-cheek team name: the Python Boiz. Young has been doing both BASIC and Coders for three years; it’s Good’s second year and second time co-leading with Young.

"Last year, we did Minecraft," said Good. "We picked Python because it’s the number-one programming language in the world; it’s used for AI, machine learning, automation ... logically it makes a lot of sense. I wanted to learn it myself."

Young was also new to Python. "Teaching others helps me learn," said Young, who is also a coach in the College of Computing Learning Center.

The College of Computing is piloting a course to teach Python to non-computing majors across campus. For today, though, the focus is on the half-dozen younger students situated at monitors in the lab.

"What’s up man? Oooh, you’re so close!" Young moves between computer stations, checking out the ongoing project. "Let’s go, you guys! I wanna see some cool tic tac toes."

 "I love coming here every Saturday and I love teaching," said Young.

The vibe is sedate in comparison over at the Electrical Energy Resources Center (EERC), a short walk from Rekhi Hall, where high school-aged students are working with two graduate students, Marissa Walther and Shaun Flynn. Walther has been with Copper Country Coders for five years, Flynn four.

Marissa Walther, left, and Shaun Flynn's group works on hardware coding. (Photo © Wes Rantamaki and courtesy Michigan Technological University)

Walther, who earned a bachelor’s in computer science in 2019, is studying for her master’s.

Flynn, who earned a BS in computer engineering, is working toward his master’s. In 2018, their lesson plans focused on teaching young coders Java development and how to create games using JavaFX morphed into the book The World of Java Programming.

The two instructor-mentors said that the goal this year is to introduce students to hardware and the work that goes into building it.

"They can choose what it can do. They can do a lot of hardware prototyping," said Flynn.

"I like teaching students. It’s fun to watch them develop," he said, as the pair watches students work intently at their lab monitors. "They chose to spend two hours with us, programming. I came to Michigan Tech not knowing any of this."

Time and again Huskies involved in the programs mention the joy of both teaching and learning.

It’s Not You, It’s the Technology

Place the responsibility where it belongs. On the technology. Both Copper County Coders and BASIC give participants the confidence to deploy digital tools to do desired and necessary tasks. That benefits both the students teaching and the students who are learning from them.

Copper Country Coders organizes young people from local schools into teams of six to eight, depending on enrollment fluctuations and the level of difficulty of each team. Two Huskies co-lead each group -- each group compiles its own lesson plans, learning objectives and means to measure outcomes. Sessions are adjusted as the academic year moves along to keep pace with student progress. If more time is needed, the group stays with a project longer. If something doesn’t go over well, it’s documented for future Coders planning their own programs.

Last year the group presented its first Computer Science Expo.

At the Saturday BASIC sessions, coaches often work with people who are familiar with some tasks, but are continually challenged by the pace of technology -- if you’re retired, for example, you aren’t required to adapt to the latest program or process being used in your workplace. Things like running out of space on a smart phone or other roadblocks with apps and social media present have the potential to present discouraging or demoralizing roadblocks. BASIC eliminates the blame game.

"Our approach is meeting people where they are," said Kelly Steelman, BASIC tutor and researcher. "Tutoring is more about empathy and compassion. We're paying attention and mirroring the words. What are the things that freak people out about computers? How can we alleviate those concerns?"

BASIC offers one tutor training session every semester; the interdisciplinary program is open to students from all majors. Beyond résumé building, "it feels good, making differences in lives," said Steelman. The regionally and nationally recognized service-learning opportunity aspires to expand; beyond Michigan Tech outreach Wallace has shared the concept with other libraries and organizations who could bring BASIC to their communities.

Portage Lake District Library announces the free computer assistance program on Saturday mornings, resuming on Jan. 18, 2020. (Poster courtesy Portage Lake District Library)** 

Eliot and Naomi Haycock are on their own until the student coaches return January 18. Given the skills they’ve acquired, and the knowledge that help will be available again in the new year, they don’t appear to be particularly worried.

"We miss them when they’re not here," Naomi said.

"But they deserve a vacation," Eliot said.

Editor's Notes:

* Guest author Cyndi Perkins is a feature writer for Michigan Tech University Marketing and Communications. Learn more about her here.

** See Portage Lake District Library Facebook page on events for updates on Saturday BASIC sessions. Learn more about Copper Country Coders on their Facebook page.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Group formation of new Isle Royale wolves leads to territorial aggression

From National Park Service
Dec. 20, 2019, Press Release

Female Wolf at Night. Trail camera photo of the first female wolf released on Isle Royale. Captured 9-27-18. (Photo courtesy National Park Service)

HOUGHTON -- The National Park Service (NPS) and research partners from the State University of New York – College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) are using data from GPS collars on introduced wolves to monitor associations between individuals and identify possible pack formation. As researchers and NPS staff anticipated, new wolves immediately began interacting with each other. Researchers confirmed introduced wolves were feeding, traveling, sleeping in proximity to each other, and forming groups.

A trail camera photo of the first male wolf relocated to Isle Royale dragging off food. (Photo courtesy National Park Service)

A wolf "group" is characterized by two or more wolves traveling and feeding together. Wolf groups are further defined as a "pack" if groups of two or more wolves are traveling together and/or defending a territory, and if a breeding pair reproduces. Individual preferences for mating and group or pack formation can be quite variable for a social animal like the wolf. Mate selection and pair bond formation can occur at any time, but wolves only breed and produce pups once per year. Consequently, pack formation can take time. Based on these definitions, there are currently no wolf packs on Isle Royale.

Staff unloads a wolf in a crate from the seaplane on Oct. 4, 2018. (Photo by Jim Peaco and courtesy National Park Service)

GPS collar data shows three wolves, 1 female and 2 males, have been traveling, feeding, and bedding together since March, 2019 (W001F, W007M, and W013M). This is the first wolf group to form and remain associated since introduction efforts began. Additionally, two male wolves shared bed sites and carcasses over the summer with several different female wolves, but their associations lack consistency and are currently not defined as wolf groups. Two female wolves shared bed site areas over the summer (July), but are also not considered a group. Loose associations are common when smaller prey items like moose calves, beaver and snowshoe hare are abundant on the landscape. These animals are easy prey for a single wolf.

Dr. Jerry Belant, Campfire Conservation Fund Professor at SUNY-ESF and project collaborator, said, "Wolves are a highly social species and we continue to monitor their movements to document groups, and ultimately pack formations as demonstrated by reproduction. We developed a public online tool, https://belantlab.shinyapps.io/wolf-networks/ based on these analyses to understand potential associations among these wolves and the areas they occupy."

From left, Ashley Lutto, a research associate with the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry; National Park Service veterinarian Michelle Verant; Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) veterinary specialist Dan O’Brien; and Michigan DNR wildlife technician Brad Johnson collect and record data on a gray wolf captured Sept. 8, 2019, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. (Photo courtesy John Pepin, Michigan DNR)

Researchers monitoring the GPS collar signals identified two wolf mortality events this fall. In September, researchers and NPS staff detected a mortality signal and recovered the remains of female W004F. Field evidence and subsequent necropsy at the U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis., determined W004F died from wounds caused by another wolf or wolves. In October just prior to island closing, NPS staff came across the remains of male wolf, M183, one of the two remaining uncollared resident wolves inhabiting Isle Royale prior to introduction efforts. Necropsy revealed that M183 had also been killed by another wolf or wolves. These events are not uncommon as wolves defend and establish their territories and social hierarchy. With many wolves on the island sorting out their relationships with one another, the dynamic nature of wolf social organization, territoriality, and wolf-on-wolf aggression during group and pack formation is not unexpected.

Rolf Peterson, research professor at Michigan Technological University and long-time wolf and moose investigator on Isle Royale, commented on the death of M183, one of the two remaining uncollared resident wolves inhabiting Isle Royale prior to introduction of the new wolves.

"With the death of the island-born male, travel patterns of the remaining wolves are likely to change significantly, and probably dependent on whether or not the island-born female is still alive, whether she is territorial and how she gets along with the newcomers, both males and females," Peterson said. "She is the final native wolf, never radio-collared; and searching for her will be a priority during the upcoming winter study."

Summer wolf location cluster investigations documented 122 instances of two or more wolves with overlapping space use. Twenty-nine cases (23.8 percent) of space use overlap were associated with prey remains and feeding behavior, 68 percent were associated with bed sites, and wolf use for the remaining 7.4  percent of sites was unknown or could not be determined.

Researchers continue to monitor location data weekly for evidence the three newest wolves, released on the island in September 2019, are adjusting to their new homes, interacting and forming associations. These wolves are interacting with each other (W017M and W018F were traveling together in late November) and with the wolves released last spring (W018F and W016M traveled together in early November).

NPS and its collaborators will continue to monitor the interactions, group formation, and genetic diversity of new wolves over winter and spring to document breeding (January/February) and denning (April/May) activity in Isle Royale’s wolf population. Closely monitoring social organization will provide insights into the genetic health of the population. The NPS has partnered with Dr. Kristin Brzeski, wildlife geneticist at Michigan Tech, to sequence the Isle Royale wolf genome for long-term monitoring of genetic health of the population.

"We have a unique opportunity to look simultaneously at the past and future of Isle Royale wolves’ genetic health," said Dr. Brzeski. "With the death of M183, we can now more fully understand how genetic isolation and inbreeding impacted the historic wolf population and use that to better monitor the new founders. This is an exciting time and we will be using cutting-edge genetic tools to track reproduction, inbreeding, and genetic change through time, hopefully providing a piece of the puzzle for maintaining a thriving Isle Royale wolf population."

According to Mark Romanski, NPS project coordinator and Division Chief of Natural Resources at Isle Royale, multiple lines of investigations regarding this population will help the NPS evaluate the success of the project over the next few years.

Fall 2019 First Wolf: Observation 6. Mark Romanski, Isle Royale National Parks’ division chief for natural resources and project leader for wolf relocation efforts, center, gets ready to record gray wolf information from Michigan DNR wildlife technician Brad Johnson, left, and Michigan DNR veterinary specialist Dan O’Brien. (Photo courtesy John Pepin, Michigan DNR)

"We are using everything we can in our toolbox to track how this population interacts with each other, prey and the landscape," Romanski noted. "We’ll continue to learn as much as we can moving forward to help with the decision to add wolves as needed to meet project objectives and document ecosystem effects."

The first wolf introductions on Isle Royale occurred in September 2018.

Isle Royale Superintendent Phyllis Green, left, and Ecologist Lynette Potvin prepare to open the crate to release the first new wolf relocated to Isle Royale in September 2018. (Photo courtesy John Pepin and National Park Service)

This video captures the first new wolf release:

A female wolf emerges from her crate on Isle Royale to begin exploring her new home on Sept. 26, 2018. (Video by Jacob W. Frank, courtesy National Park Service)

Isle Royale Ecologist Lynette Potvin speaks about the first wolf release:

Lynette Potvin discusses the work that went into preparing for the first wolf release on the island in September 2018. (Video by Jacob W. Frank, courtesy National Park Service)

The current population includes 7 females and 8 males. All introduced wolves are from the Great Lakes Region, translocated from northeastern Minnesota (W001F), the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (W017M, W018F, W019M), mainland Ontario, Canada (W005F, W016M), and Michipicoten Island in northeastern Lake Superior, Ontario, Canada (W007M, W009M, W010M, W011F, W012M, W013M, W014F and W015F).

Inset photo: Rolf Peterson (File photo courtesy Michigan Tech University)

Editor's Note: Learn more about Isle Royale National Park by visiting their Web site.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Michigan Tech students participate in COP25 in Madrid

By Kelley Christensen*
Posted December 6, 2019, and modified Dec. 12 on Michigan Tech News
Reprinted here with permission


Seven Michigan Tech students have participated in the COP25 global conference on climate change Dec. 2-13, 2019, in Madrid, Spain. (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech University)

Seven Michigan Tech students from a range of academic disciplines have presented research and observed negotiations at the global conference on climate change held from Dec. 2 to Dec. 13, 2019, in Madrid, Spain.

Earlier this year Michigan Technological University was granted official observer status to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP25).

Michigan Tech sent these seven students to the global climate change conference in Madrid to present research findings related to four of the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDG): SDG 6, clean water and sanitation; SDG 7, affordable and clean energy; SDG 9, industry, innovation and infrastructure; and SDG 11, sustainable cities and communities. The students are also in Madrid to observe negotiations between nations concerning the threats climate change poses to humanity.

Pictured here at COP25 in Madrid are three of the Michigan Tech students who participated: from left, Adewale Adesanya, Alexis Pascaris, and Shardul Tiwari. (Photo courtesy Shardul Tiwari)

COP25 brings together policy makers, nongovernmental organizations and scientists. Originally slated to take place in Chile, the conference was moved to Madrid because of social unrest in Santiago. Sarah Green, professor of chemistry and scientific reviewer of the UN’s Sixth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6), leads the group.

"Michigan Tech students are fully immersed in international climate science and policy this week at COP25," Green said. "I see very wide eyes as they experience the deluge of data at COP25 on everything from science of the cryosphere to climate finance. In collaboration with Colorado State University and Clark University, Tech students are presenting their work on links between the SDGs and climate action."

Green added, "These UNFCCC meetings are where science is translated into policy. Students are able to see this firsthand by observing the actual negotiating sessions."

The students attending COP25 are Adewale Adesanya, doctoral student in environmental and energy policy; Jessica Daignault, doctoral student in civil engineering; William Lytle, doctoral student in environmental and energy policy; Alexis Pascaris, master’s student in environmental and energy policy; Shardul Tiwari, doctoral student in environmental and energy policy; Kenny Larson, doctoral student in environmental engineering; and Karuna Rana, master’s student in environmental and energy policy. Also attending is Bruce Woodry, a Michigan Tech alumnus and CEO of Sigma Capital Group. Gabriel Ahrendt, master’s student in geology, was selected to attend the conference and participated in the research and presentation development, but was unable to go to Madrid when his flights to Chile could not be reimbursed.

The COP25 Experience

The students are part of a university consortium with Clark University, Colorado State University, Monash University in Australia, University of Indiana, Scripps Institute and the Mountain Institute.

On Dec. 3, some of the Michigan Tech students presented research, in partnership with students from Colorado State and Clark, in support of SDG 11. Their presentation focused on sustainability case studies they examined, from the residential to the community scale: Michigan Tech’s Sustainability Demonstration House; the Aldo Leopold Center in Baraboo, Wisconsin; Artefact in Glücksburg, Germany; and a middle class community Lake County, Illinois.

Others of the Michigan Tech contingent will present two case studies about renewable energy access at Clark University and Colorado State, and about a project to build microgrids out of solar panels in rural Rwanda. The students also participated in a press conference.

"Climate change, a global issue, requires cooperation and coordination with a multitude of actors and policy makers," Tiwari said. "COP25 gives the ideal platform for the actors to negotiate the targets for the global goal. Climate change mitigation and adaptation does not have to be a zero-sum game where one group’s losses profit another group."

Three of the students attending COP25 are also blogging about their experiences. Visit mtu.edu/unscripted to read more.

Inset photo: Sarah Green, Michigan Tech professor of chemistry and scientific reviewer of the UN’s Sixth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6). (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech University)

* Kelley Christensen, author of this article, is a Michigan Tech Science and Technology Publications Writer.