Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Kerredge Gallery to exhibit "On Iceland" Sept. 3-26

Artists in Iceland. (Photo © Bill Schwab and courtesy Copper Country Community Arts Center)

HANCOCK -- In April 2014 a group of artists went on an expedition to Iceland with Bill Schwab, owner of North Light Photographic Workshops. What they saw and captured was a landscape wild and foreboding -- a strange and lovely mix of glaciers, ice floes, sea stacks, cathedral-like geological formations, geysers, geo-thermals, farmland, islands, sea ports and fishing villages.

The exhibition "On Iceland," opening at the Copper Country Community Arts Center Kerredge Gallery on Thursday, Sept. 3, brings together six individual interpretations of a nine-day journey along the southern coast of Iceland.

The artists are Jerry Basierbe, Livonia, Mich.; Julie Bonney, Ashland, Ore.; Cynthia Coté, Calumet, Mich.; Linda Fitch, San Carlos, Calif.; Bill Schwab, Dearborn, Mich.; Darcie Sternenberg, Jacksonville, Ore.

A closing reception for the artists will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 25, at the Copper Country Community Arts Center in Hancock. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

The Copper Country Community Arts Center is at 126 Quincy St., Hancock. Call 482-2333 for more information.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Citizen protests to address land, water issues at north, south ends of Mackinac Bridge Sept. 6

Crossing the Mackinac Bridge in March 2015. While the Bridge will be the scene of large crowds of walkers on Sept. 7 for the Labor Day Bridge Walk, two protests will take place -- one at the north and one at the south end of the Bridge -- on Sept. 6. Concerned citizens will address several issues calling for land and water protection. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

MARQUETTE -- In response to the recent proposal for "Michigan Mining Day" on Sept. 6 (906, corresponding to the Upper Peninsula area code), proposed by State Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba), and many issues surrounding the State of Michigan’s proposed sale / exchange of over 10,000 acres of ceded treaty territory (aka "public lands") to Graymont, a Canadian mining corporation, Dr. Martin Reinhardt, an Anishinaabe Ojibway citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and associate professor of Native American Studies at Northern Michigan University, has called for a "906" protest, "We Protect Mother Earth" (WPME), on Sept. 6, 2015, at the Mackinac Bridge.

The protesters will meet at the Mackinac Bridge Welcome Center (UP side of the Bridge on the right side heading north) at about 8 a.m. and march to the Bridge before 9:06 a.m.

Reinhardt is also one of six plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the State of Michigan regarding the proposed sale of land to Graymont. Reinhardt led a similar protest at the Bridge in March 2015.*

Carrying the Eagle Staff, at left, Martin Reinhardt leads a protest just north of the Mackinac Bridge on March 28, 2015. Native and non-Native protesters carry signs expressing concerns about Michigan environmental issues -- including the state's approval of a land and mineral rights exchange and sale involving more than 10,000 acres of public land for the Graymont limestone mining project, the proposed CR 595 wilderness road near Marquette, the aging Enbridge pipeline threatening the Straits of Mackinac, and fracking. The three-day protest attracted a total of about 100 participants from both sides of the bridge. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

Reinhardt asserts that "if people are concerned about treaty rights violations, selling off public lands, dangerous pipelines, deforestation, fracking, intensive mining, destroying wetlands, and nuclear waste dumps, it is time to take a stand and tell the State of Michigan that we will be IDLE NO MORE!"

He encourages protesters to bring staffs, flags, banners, signs, hand drums, and shakers to the event.

This protest coincides with another protest, which will  take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 6 on the south side of the Bridge -- the "Pipe Out Paddle Protest" (POPP). Jannan Cornstalk is the event organizer for that event. It will include guest speakers representing various organizations and a flotilla of canoes and kayaks. The POPP is focused on the removal of the Enbridge oil pipelines running under the Mackinac Bridge.**

On May 26, 2015, members of the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) of Traverse City and other groups from "Oil and Water Don’t Mix" -- a coalition of businesses, municipalities, Native American tribes and environmental and conservation groups -- gathered at Conkling Park, Mackinaw City, for a Great Lakes Call to Action -- to shut down Enbridge's Line 5 aging pipelines under the Mackinac Straits. Their protest coincided with the Mackinac Policy Conference held on Mackinac Island May 27-29. (File photo by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)**

"These are two great opportunities to show your displeasure with the way the State of Michigan is treating Mother Earth," Reinhardt said. "Let’s join in protest against the State’s mismanagement on both land and water and on both peninsulas of Michigan."

For more information on the "We Protect Mother Earth" event, contact Dr. Martin Reinhardt at martin@reinhardtassociates.net or click here to visit the Facebook site.

For more information about the Pipe Out Paddle Protest, contact Jannan Cornstalk at pipeout2015@gmail.com or click here to visit their Facebook site.

* Click here for our April 2015 article on the March protest.

** Click here for our article on the May 2015 protest and press conference on the Enbridge Line 5 issue.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hey, Ho! Come to the Fair: Aug. 27-30 at Hancock Fairgrounds

The 2015 Houghton County Fair opens at 3 p.m. TODAY, Thursday, Aug. 27. Kids of all ages enjoy the rides on the Midway. (Keweenaw Now file photos)

HANCOCK -- It's time for the Houghton County Fair! The 64th Annual Houghton County Fair begins today, Thursday, Aug. 27, and continues through Sunday, Aug. 30, at the Fairgrounds in Hancock. Bring the whole family to enjoy the entertainment, exhibits, livestock shows, horse shows, 4-H competitions, rides on the Midway and more.
Here are some highlights you won't want to miss:

Daily on the Ball Field: Whispering Pines Mobile Zoo and Antique Tractor / Implement Show.

Visitors enjoy feeding zoo animals at the 2014 Fair.

Checking out one of the tractors is a regular Fair visitor ...

Thursday, Aug. 27:

3 p.m. -- Exhibit Buildings open; Cirque Amongus (Ice Arena). Please note that Live Poultry and Waterfowl exhibits and shows are cancelled this year. 

3:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. -- Great Lakes Timber Show (Midway)

4:15 p.m., 6:15 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. -- Marvelous Mutts (Midway)

5 p.m. -- Open Horse Show -- Speed (Horse Arena)

Action at the Horse Arena during a previous Houghton County Fair. Don't miss the Open Horse Show at 5 p.m. today, Thursday. (Keweenaw Now video)

6:30 p.m. -- Miss Houghton County Queen Pageant (Indoor Stage)

7 p.m. -- Motocross (Main Event Arena)

8 p.m. -- Brett and Frisk Music (Indoor Stage)

Friday, Aug. 28:

Judge at the Sheep and Goat Show, right, (2014 Fair) offers comments to competitors.

At the Livestock Pavilion:
9 a.m. -- Swine Show; 11 a.m. -- Market Steer Show; Noon -- Dairy and Beef Show; 3 p.m. -- Sheep and Goat Show followed by Camelid Show (Alpaca and Llama)

11 a.m. -- Exhibit Buildings open

4-H Exhibits are an important part of the Fair. 

Noon: Carnival and Midway opens

Noon - 4 p.m. -- Senior Citizens' Day Program (Age 55 and over free lunch) -- entertainment, prize drawings (Indoor Arena)

12:15 p.m. -- Ruth E. Best Homemaker of the Year and Open Class Exhibit Awards (Indoor Stage)

Our regular Fair visitor checks out the prize-winning veggies in the Exhibit Hall.

2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m. -- Great Lakes Timber Show (Midway)

3 p.m. -- Rolling Thunder Music (Indoor Arena)

3 p.m., 5 p.m., 7 p.m. -- Marvelous Mutts (Midway)

3 p.m., 8:30 p.m. -- Cirque Amongus (Arena) Rolling Thunder Music (Indoor Arena)

5 p.m. -- Horse Jumping Show (Horse Arena)

6 p.m. -- Farm Tractor Pull (Main Event Arena)

The Farm Tractor Pull is a friendly competition.

7 p.m. -- Tom Katalin Music (Indoor Stage)

8 p.m. -- Off-Road Derby (Main Event Arena)

Saturday and Sunday will offer most of the above events plus the following highlights:

Saturday, Aug. 29: Livestock Skill-a-thon, Cowboy Challenge, Kids' Fun Day, Educational Beekeeping Demonstration, Youth Talent Show, Monster Trucks, more. Click here for the detailed schedule. Scroll to p. 4.

Sunday, Aug. 30: Youth Horse Show, Horseshoe Pitching Tournament, Demolition Derby, more. Click here for the detailed schedule. Scroll to p. 4.

Note: Exhibits close at 10 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and at 5 p.m. on Sunday. Spectrum Entertainment Carnival and Midway remain open later.

Click here for admission prices, etc.  For more info on the Fair click here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Public comments on Isle Royale Moose-Wolf-Vegetation Management Plan/EIS due Aug. 29; wildlife experts concerned about wolf rescue

By Michele Bourdieu

Isle Royale National Park Superintendent Phyllis Green fields questions from a concerned audience at the July 27, 2015, Open House seeking public input on the proposed Moose-Wolf-Vegetation Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (plan/EIS) for Isle Royale National Park. (Photos by Keweenaw Now unless otherwise indicated.)

HOUGHTON -- National Park Service (NPS) staff are now taking public comments to assist them in putting together a Moose-Wolf-Vegetation Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (plan/EIS) for Isle Royale National Park. The plan will provide direction for managing the Isle Royale moose and wolf populations for at least the next 20 years in light of the dynamic changes occurring on the island. The deadline for public comments at this preliminary stage is Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015.*

While NPS staff have welcomed input from the public, well known wolf experts question whether the plan can be done in time to help the dwindling wolf population on Isle Royale.

NPS staff offer Public Scoping/Open House events on Isle Royale plan/EIS

An Open House/ Public Scoping Meeting held in Houghton on July 27, one of four held in different locations during the last week of July, attracted about 60 interested citizens, who had an opportunity to hear from NPS staff on the alternatives being considered for managing moose, wolves (now numbered at only three on the island as observed during the 2015 winter study by Michigan researchers) and vegetation and to ask questions -- during a Q and A session following the presentations and later in one-on-one informal conversations with attending staff.

Isle Royale Superintendent Phyllis Green said the Open House/Public Scoping events were meant to open a dialogue with the public, to learn what they want to see as the future of this island in Lake Superior, 99 percent of which is wilderness.

Isle Royale Superintendent Phyllis Green welcomes the audience to the July 27 Open House and encourages them to comment on the proposed Isle Royale Moose-Wolf-Vegetation management plan/EIS.

Isle Royale Natural Resources Chief Paul Brown first presented an overview of some significant events in the history Isle Royale National Park.

During the July 27, 2015, Open House held at the Magnuson Hotel in Houghton, Isle Royale Natural Resources Chief Paul Brown presents some background on Isle Royale National Park history. Of the 23 percent land area in the park, 99 percent was declared wilderness in 1976, under the Wilderness Act of 1964.

Next Brown offered background on the historic arrival of moose and wolves on Isle Royale, on the moose and wolf population changes, on the potential effects of increased moose population on vegetation, and on potential effects of climate change.

Paul Brown, IRNP Natural Resources chief, presents background on changes in wolf and moose population, based on information from Michigan Tech's Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Study. He also comments on potential effects on the island's vegetation. (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

"We expect to see the moose population increasing for the next several years, regardless of what happens with wolves," Brown said.

Brown pointed out that this could result in impacts to vegetation and forest cover because of over-browsing. In addition, warming has an effect on the boreal vegetation species that moose prefer.

This graph shows the changes in Isle Royale moose and wolf populations from 1959 to the present, based on research from Michigan Tech's Isle Royale Wolf-Moose study. Click on photo for larger version.

In this first part of planning for the management plan Isle Royale National Park has presented to the public a number of options, or concepts, they are considering as potential alternatives for the management of wolves, moose and vegetation on the island. As listed in the recent Isle Royale Newsletter, the options are listed as follows:

Alternative Concept A (no action): Current action would continue; the park would not actively manage vegetation or the moose and wolf populations.

Alternative Concept B (introduce wolves once): Reestablish wolves on the island by bringing in new wolves one time to mimic a migration event; no moose management.

Alternative Concept C (maintain both species): Maintain populations of moose and wolves on the island, which could include wolf reintroduction or augmentation.

Alternative Concept D (introduce wolves once and reduce the moose population): Reestablish wolves on the island by bringing in new wolves one time; reduce moose density if/when the wolf population is no longer impacting the moose population and moose herbivory is having a demonstrated impact on park resources.

Alternative Concept E (reduce moose population): No wolf reintroduction or augmentation; reduce moose density if/when the wolf population is no longer impacting the moose population and moose herbivory is having a demonstrated impact on park resources.

Alternative Concept F (intensively manage the moose population): No wolf reintroduction or augmentation; intensively manage moose population to a low level; potential for direct vegetation restoration through seed gathering and planting on offshore islands.*

During the Open House, Andrew Coburn, NPS environmental protection specialist and project manager for the management plan/EIS, explained the alternatives now being considered:

Andrew Coburn, NPS environmental protection specialist and project manager for the management plan/EIS, summarizes six alternatives now being considered for the Isle Royale Moose-Wolf-Vegetation Management Plan. The public is asked to consider these and/or to suggest other options.

Coburn, NPS environmental protection specialist, who works for the National Park Service Environmental Quality Division in Denver, is charged with assisting Isle Royale National Park in preparing the EIS (Environmental Impact Statement). The National Park Service is preparing this plan/EIS in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires federal agencies to analyze impacts to the human environment for any major federal action.

Andrew Coburn, NPS environmental protection specialist and project manager for the Isle Royale management plan/EIS, explains the purpose of the plan/EIS.

Coburn also commented on questions to consider in making comments and on the estimated schedule for preparing the plan/EIS.**

This slide from Coburn's presentation outlines the estimated schedule NPS is following to prepare the Moose-Wolf-Vegetation Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (plan/EIS). See also the Isle Royale Summer 2015 Newsletter for more information and directions on how to comment.*

Following the presentation by NPS staff, Isle Royale Superintendent Phyllis Green welcomed questions from the audience. She asked that official comments be made in writing, but that audience members should feel free to ask questions or make suggestions during the question / answer session. Green noted people's comments need not be limited to the six options presented -- they should feel free to offer their own ideas.

"What would you like to see on the island?" Green asked. "We will respond to all of your comments."

Several local residents and visitors shared with Keweenaw Now their own reactions to the proposed options for the management plan and the effort of NPS to seek public input.

Keweenaw resident Gina Nicholas said she was glad to have the opportunity to make comments on the management plan.

"I'm just glad they're doing this," Nicholas said. "I think it's an important decision for the future, and I'm glad the public has a chance to weigh in."

Scientists, wolf experts prefer genetic rescue for Isle Royale wolves

Michigan Tech professors Rolf Peterson and John Vucetich --wildlife ecologists, researchers and co-directors of Michigan Tech's Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Study -- also offered their reactions.

"Responding to the six alternative concepts from the NPS material, I would amend the one that refers to maintaining both moose and wolves for a 20-year time frame to just maintaining wolves over that time frame," Peterson said. "There is no need for the NPS to fret too much over the future of moose at Isle Royale in the next 20 years unless the island is left without wolves. Restoring wolves should be their sole focus for management, as moose and vegetation will then have maximum security."

Vucetich also noted the importance of restoring the wolf population.

"The health of Isle Royale's ecosystem depends vitally on the presence of wolves," Vucetich said. "Because the purpose of a park is to maintain ecosystem health, the National Park Service should mitigate the harms against the wolf population that have been caused by climate change. The most appropriate way to mitigate those harms is by genetic rescue."

John Vucetich, Michigan Tech professor and co-director of the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Study, and his wife, Leah Vucetich, attended the July 27 Open House on the management plan.

A Michigan Tech News article reporting Vucetich and Peterson's findings during their 2015 Winter Study stated, "The wolves’ numbers started plummeting in 2009, declining by 88 percent from 24 to 3 wolves, which Vucetich and Peterson think is a result of inbreeding. All geneticists who have studied the current situation agree that recovery is unlikely without new genetic material."***

Several people who attended the Open House shared the view that, with only three wolves left on the island (according to the Winter 2015 study), NPS officials should have started this process of putting together a management plan much earlier.

"I think this is a really interesting process," said Marcia Goodrich of Hancock. "I hadn't really envisioned all the alternatives they're considering. I think there's a lot of wiggle room. I do wonder if they might not have started the process earlier so that a rescue of the existing wolves might have been possible."

Nancy Warren, National Wolfwatcher Coalition executive director and Great Lakes regional director, said biologists and researchers have been sounding the alarm for at least six years and NPS has done nothing -- and their schedule for the management plan requires another two to three years for completion.

"We could potentially lose those three animals and their genetic material, and that's what I feel is a disgrace," Warren said. "Had [NPS] acted when they were first alerted of problems, they could have written the EIS and gone through this process several years ago."

During the July 27 Open House, Nancy Warren, National Wolfwatcher Coalition executive director and Great Lakes regional director, second from left, chats with friends Sandy Monville of Ontonagon, left, and Ted and Alice Soldan of Pelkie. The Soldans are members of the Michigan Nature Association and stewards of the Estivant Pines. Ted Soldan has also led Earth Watch groups on Isle Royale -- volunteers who have assisted Michigan Tech researchers on the island.

Warren recently published a Newsletter on the National Wolfwatcher Coalition Web site, which discusses the future of Isle Royale wolves and asks the public to comment on the proposed management plan Alternative Concepts.

"Concept C appears to be the best alternative, however, it does not go far enough," the Wolfwatcher article states. "There must be sufficient flexibility to allow for wolf reintroductions as necessary over the next 20 years to insure genetic diversity for wolves and sustainable populations of both wolves and moose into the foreseeable future."****

The Wolfwatcher Newsletter also notes the danger to vegetation if moose increase without wolves to control their population: "The constant browsing and girdling by the moose stresses the trees and can eventually kill them. Unless the next five winters are especially harsh, the moose population is likely to dramatically increase, and moose will begin to die by disease and starvation. Wolves are the only predators of moose on Isle Royale and there is no way to predict how long the island's wolves will hang on without intervention."**** 

Bill Deephouse, retired Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) fish biologist who has made many trips to Isle Royale, said he believed NPS should add more wolves on Isle Royale but also consider additional concepts like adding some caribou and lynx.

During the question period following NPS staff presentations, Deephouse asked about the caribou and Phyllis Green gave a brief summary of their history on Isle Royale. Others in the audience asked about such issues as culling moose and past efforts to introduce wolves:

Isle Royale National Park Superintendent Phyllis Green fields questions from the audience during the July 27 Open House on the proposed Isle Royale management plan for wolves, moose and vegetation. Here she talks about caribou, culling moose and a past effort to introduce wolves.

The Wolfwatchers Newsletter also notes their opposition to culling: "The NPS has also stated that it may be necessary to use motorized or mechanized equipment to effectively manage moose. The National Wolfwatcher Coalition does not support the culling of moose or the use of motorized or mechanized equipment on Isle Royale within wilderness areas."**** 

To a question as to whether ticks have increased on Isle Royale, Green explained the problem of winter ticks on moose. She also replied to Ted Soldan's concern about the vulnerability of the three remaining wolves and the perceived need to speed up the process for management:

Phyllis Green answers questions on increases in ticks and on the need to speed up the planning process if wolves are to be reintroduced to help the dwindling wolf population.

Following the Q and A session, Isle Royale staff made themselves available for one-on-one questions.

Reece Peterson of Cedar Falls, Iowa, has been coming to Isle Royale over the years for sailing and kayaking.

During the July 27 Open House, Reece Peterson of Cedar Falls, Iowa, center, a frequent visitor to Isle Royale, chats with Paul Brown, Isle Royale Natural Resources chief, and Kristine Bradof, Isle Royale and Keweenaw Parks Association executive director.

Reece Peterson, who has been to Isle Royale about 15 times, often for kayaking, said he found the NPS staff presentations very interesting.

"It's a wonderful place," he said. "Malone Bay is one of my favorite spots."

He noted in addition to kayaking he likes watching the animals.

"I've seen lots of moose, but I've never seen a wolf," he added. "It's pretty spiritual for me."

Peterson said he would probably submit comments but he wasn't sure yet which option he preferred.

The easiest way to comment is to go to the comment page and reply to questions here: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?documentID=66961

The public may also mail or hand deliver written comments to:
Isle Royale National Park
Attention: Moose-Wolf-Vegetation
Management Plan
800 East Lakeshore Drive
Houghton, Michigan 49931

Inset photos of Isle Royale moose, wolves © George Desort and courtesy National Wolfwatcher Coalition.


* See the Isle Royale Moose-Wolf-Vegetation Management Plan/EIS Public Scoping Newsletter.

** See especially p. 7 of the above Newsletter for questions to consider when making comments.

*** See the Apr. 17, 2015, Michigan Tech News article "Down to Three Wolves on Isle Royale," by Allison Mills.

**** Click here for the July 29, 2015, National Wolfwatcher Coalition Newsletter.

Heart and Hands Award nominations due Aug. 30

HANCOCK -- Each year the Martha and Floyd Heart and Hands Society gives special recognition to persons who have had a significant positive impact on the Keweenaw community by giving of themselves in a caring, committed, and heartfelt way. In addition to receiving the Heart and Hands statue and plaque, awardees receive a monetary prize which they then designate for donation to a nonprofit of their choice.

Nominations are now open in two categories:
ADULT AWARD (receives a $1200 monetary award that they donate to a non-profit of their choice)
YOUTH AWARD for a young person age 21 or under (receives a $300 monetary award that they donate to a non-profit of their choice)

Download the nomination form at heartandhandssociety.org. Or send in the nomination including the following information: whether nominee is in the Adult or Youth category; candidate name and address; your name, address, phone number, and email. Include in 500 words or less a description of how the candidate has had a significant impact on the Keweenaw community in the area of peace, justice, human needs and/or environmental stewardship.  Please be specific about what form their contribution and involvement has taken. Send nomination to Heart and Hands Award, 53044 Hwy M203, Hancock, MI 49930. Nominations are due by August 30, 2015, and decisions will be announced by September 13.

To learn more about the Heart and Hands Award and read about previous winners, click here.

Monday, August 24, 2015

National Park Service to mark 99 years at Open House events in Calumet, Hancock Aug. 25

CALUMET -- In celebration of the 99th anniversary of the National Park Service, Keweenaw National Historical Park will be hosting a Park Open House from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 25, at two Park locations. There will be activities, live music, and a reception with refreshments and ice cream at 3 p.m.

Outside of the Calumet Visitor Center, live music will feature Elijah Halpin from noon to 4 p.m. Elijah is gifted singer-songwriter and composer of Irish and Americana music. As a talented multi-instrumentalist, Elijah picks, strums, plucks, and bows many instruments, including the cello, viola, violin, guitar and mandolin.

Throughout the day, activities will be held at both the Calumet Visitor Center and at the Quincy Mine in Hancock. At the Quincy Mine there will be a Mechanics of Mining interactive activity, geology tours by Erika Vye, and a ranger-led photography activity for 6th-8th graders. At the Calumet Visitor Center there will be live foundry demonstrations, LEGO building of Historic Calumet structures, pollinator construction from recycled materials, map and compass activities, tours of the Calumet and Hecla general office building and library, historic kids games, and screenings of park films on local history and geology. While at the Visitor Center, be sure to stop by the gift shop, as merchandise will be 10 percent off.

The Park Open House is part of the national Find Your Park campaign. Find Your Park is a public awareness and education campaign celebrating the milestone centennial anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016. The National Park Service preserves and interprets some of the best places in the country and Keweenaw National Historical Park is excited to take part in this landmark celebration.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Bete Grise picnic, potluck fundraiser to be Aug. 23 at Point Isabelle Park

View of Lake Superior and Point Isabelle from Point Isabelle Park. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

BETE GRISE -- The Stewards of Bete Grise Preserve will host a picnic potluck and fundraiser next Sunday, August 23, at the recently acquired Point Isabelle Park on the beautiful shores of Lake Superior.

This sign at the Point Isabelle Park lists partners and funding sources that have contributed to the Bete Grise Preserve. Click on photo for larger version. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

The event kicks off at 3 p.m. with the potluck beginning at 5 p.m. Bring a dish to share, a lawn chair and your own tableware for this great event!

Live music from talented local musicians will start at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, though donations are appreciated as the Stewards of Bete Grise look to take care of this treasured natural and scenic resource.

"This is the 11th year anniversary of the Bete Grise Preserve in which a total of 4,000 acres, including 5.5 miles of sensitive shoreline on Lake Superior, has been preserved and now includes almost all of the sloughs of Lac La Belle," says Anita Campbell of Stewards of Bete Grise Preserve. "Last year we celebrated the 10-year anniversary with guest Senator Carl Levin, announcing the acquisition of several additional parcels.*  It’s been 11 years of dedicated folks writing grants, along with a large number of local, state and federal partners helping to preserve this unique land for public use, education and enjoyment. Bete Grise is also historically and culturally important to Native American communities."

A large crowd gathers at the Point Isabelle Park on Aug. 17, 2014, to dedicate new additions to the Bete Grise Preserve and celebrate its 10th anniversary. Former U.S. Senator Carl Levin is seated in the foreground, center. (Keweenaw Now file photo)*

To reach the Point Isabelle Park, take US-41 north until you reach Lac La Belle Road.  Turn on to Lac La Belle Road for 10.6 miles, then look for a roadside sign on the east side indicating you have reached Point Isabelle. Click here for directions from Calumet. For more information, contact the Stewards of Bete Grise at (906) 369-3400.

* Editor's Note: See our Sept. 1, 2014, article, "Sen. Levin joins supporters, visitors at Bete Grise 10-year celebration."

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Rep. Dianda to host three Energy Town Halls -- Aug. 22, 24, 25

Poster announcing Energy Town Hall Meetings this month with State Rep. Scott Dianda. (Poster courtesy Rep. Scott Dianda) 

CALUMET – State Representative Scott Dianda (D- Calumet) will hold three town halls to discuss energy generation and the Upper Peninsula’s energy independence. The town halls will be held in Hancock, Ishpeming and Ironwood and will include a presentation on energy generation followed by a question-and-answer period with Rep. Dianda and guests. These events are free and open to the public.  

The town halls will be held as follows:

Hancock Energy Town Hall: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (ET) Saturday, Aug. 22, at Franklin Township Hall, 49850 U.S. Highway 41, Hancock.

Ishpeming Township Energy Town Hall: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. (ET) Monday, Aug. 24, at Ishpeming Township Hall, 1575 U.S. Highway 41W, Ishpeming.

Ironwood Energy Town Hall: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. (CT) Tuesday, Aug. 25, at Memorial Building Auditorium, 213 S. Marquette St., Ironwood.

Kivajat Dancers to present highlights from Finland trip, Finnish Folk Music and Dance Aug. 20 in Chassell

The Kivajat Finnish Dancers perform at the 2014 Parade of Nations. They performed at the children's international folk dance festival in Turku, Finland, in July 2015 and will present highlights of their trip on Thursday, Aug. 20, at the Chassell Heritage Center. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

CHASSELL -- Enjoy an evening of Finnish Folk Music and Dance at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 20, at the Chassell Heritage Center. Our local Kivajat Finnish Dancers attended a children's international folk dance festival in Turku, Finland, in July. Come to enjoy an evening with them, as they share their homecoming program and a few highlights from their trip.

These Kivajat dancers demonstrate their skills at fancy footwork during a stick dance they performed at the 2014 Parade of Nations international entertainment in Houghton's Dee Stadium. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Ilon Kaiku Kantele Ensemble will add a splash of traditional music as well. Both groups, directed by Kay Seppala, are sponsored by the Finnish American Heritage Center at Finlandia University.

Chassell Heritage Center is located at 42373 Hancock Ave, Chassell, Mich. From US 41 in downtown Chassell, turn west on 2nd Street. The building is air conditioned! The doors open at 4 p.m., so come early to enjoy the museum exhibits.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Gov. Snyder, The Nature Conservancy, Michigan DNR commemorate 10-year anniversary of Big U.P. Deal in Luce County

Text and photos from Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources 

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, right in kayak, talks with canoeists in his paddling party along the Two Hearted River Wednesday, Aug. 12, in northern Luce County. (Photos courtesy Michigan Department of Natural Resources)

LUCE COUNTY, Mich. -- In January 2005, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and several partners announced the "Big U.P. Deal" that preserved roughly 423 square miles of forest land for forestry, recreation and conservation through a unique public-private partnership.

Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 12, 2015, Gov. Rick Snyder and other dignitaries, including TNC’s Michigan Director Helen Taylor and Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Director Keith Creagh, marked the 10-year anniversary of the historic land deal with a ceremony at the Mouth of the Two Hearted River State Forest Campground.

During Wednesday’s ceremony, Gov. Snyder cut a ribbon on a sign detailing efforts of The Nature Conservancy and its partners to reconnect 35 miles of rivers and tributaries within the 130,000-acre Two Hearted River watershed. 

Gov. Rick Snyder uses his left-handed scissors to cut a ribbon on a new interpretive sign detailing the re-connection of the Two Hearted River. Watching, from left, are state Rep. John Kivela; state Sen. Tom Casperson; Helen Taylor, The Nature Conservancy’s Michigan state director; and Keith Creagh, director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

"This monumental land deal provided key environmental protection for landmarks across the Upper Peninsula, from the Porcupine Mountains in the west to Tahquamenon Falls and the Two Hearted River in the east," Snyder said. "Michigan has set a model for responsible land management that supports healthier forests and rivers while creating more jobs and improved recreation opportunities."

Before the ceremony, Gov. Snyder, Taylor and Creagh joined others on a canoe and kayak trip down a stretch of the Two Hearted River.

Gov. Rick Snyder gets ready to begin his Two Hearted River canoe trip Wednesday, Aug. 12, with the help of Theresa Neal of Tahquamenon Falls State Park.

Along the way, the group saw some of the landscape scorched as the Duck Lake Fire raced north in May 2012, blackening 21,069 acres and claiming 136 structures at a cost estimated at $4.1 million.

Gov. Rick Snyder’s paddling party heads down the Two Hearted River in northern Luce County. Higher along the banks of the river, burnt trees from the Duck Lake Fire continue to stand.

The river is home to more than 50 fish species.

In 1919, famed author Ernest Hemingway fished for brook trout along the East Branch of the Fox River, which is located farther to the west. Afterward, Hemingway penned "Big Two-Hearted River," borrowing the name for his Nick Adams adventure from this winding river in northern Luce County, because its name had more poetry.

Gov. Snyder and the canoeists floated the river for roughly an hour, from the fish ladder north to the campground where the ceremony was held, which is located just a short distance from the Lake Superior shoreline.

Gov. Rick Snyder, in blue life vest, takes a picture as he kayaks toward a bridge over the Two Hearted River in northern Luce County Wednesday, Aug. 12.

During his visit to Michigan Tech on Thursday, Aug. 13, Gov. Snyder -- who is a strong advocate for Michigan’s developing system of water trails -- mentioned how much he enjoyed his trip down the Two Hearted River leading to the campground.*

Under the $57.9 million Northern Great Lakes Forest Project -- nicknamed the "Big U.P. Deal" -- the conservancy facilitated the DNR purchase of several conservation easements over a period of years on about 248,000 acres located throughout eight counties in the Upper Peninsula.

In addition, the deal included the purchase of 23,338 acres in the Two Hearted River watershed in northern Luce County, helping to enhance an existing conservancy nature preserve.

Gov. Rick Snyder is pulled ashore at the end of his paddle down a stretch of the Two Hearted River Wednesday, Aug. 12.

At the time the deal was announced, Snyder was serving as a member of The Nature Conservancy Michigan Board of Trustees, a position he held from 2004-2009.

Managing the conservation easements under a "working lands" approach provides several benefits to a range of interests in the region. Among them, the conservancy said the easements:
  • Keep the lands open to the public for recreation, including fishing, hunting, snowmobiling and other pursuits.
  • Protect thousands of timber and tourism jobs.
  • Keep the lands in private ownership and on the tax rolls, generating important revenue for local communities.
  • Help protect some of Michigan’s most treasured landscapes.
  • Keep valuable and environmentally sensitive forest lands habitat from fragmentation.
  • Limit development, which keeps forest lands from being converted to non-forest uses.
The easements and lands were purchased from The Forestland Group, LLC, a North Carolina timberlands investment firm, which outbid the state and bought 390,000 acres at auction in 2002 from the Kamehameha Schools Trust of Hawaii.

Much of that land had been purchased by the trust from Cliffs Forest Products more than a decade earlier.

Some of the notable features protected with the easements and land purchase include the following:
  • More than 500 miles of rivers and tributaries, with almost 200 miles of prime trout streams.
  • More than 300 lakes.
  • 52,000 acres of wetlands.
  • Thousands of acres of important buffers along federal and state park units and forests.
Taylor praised and thanked the public and private donors to the deal for their support. She also commended others, including government officials and interest groups who worked hard and cooperatively to make the ambitious project a reality.

"We always accomplish more when we work together," Taylor said.

Helen Taylor, The Nature Conservancy’s Michigan state director, talks Wednesday, Aug. 12, at a ceremony in northern Luce County commemorating the 10-year anniversary of announcement of the "Big U.P. Deal."

"The leadership of three of Michigan’s governors -- John Engler, Jennifer Granholm and Rick Snyder -- is unprecedented and should be applauded," Taylor added. "We were fortunate that this was truly a bipartisan effort with many legislators in both Washington, D.C., and Lansing who supported this project along with staff at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, The Forestland Group, LLC, and within the conservancy."

Taylor said she especially wanted to recognize the conservancy’s local partners, including Luce County and the Luce County Road Commission, McMillan Township, the Central Superior Watershed Partnership and the East Branch Sportsman’s Club.

Taylor also acknowledged local contractors and businesses that have worked to complete many of the conservancy’s improvement projects and the loggers and mills that buy its forest products.

During the Aug. 12 celebration, Gov. Rick Snyder, left, listens as Jeff Knoop, The Nature Conservancy’s Upper Peninsula director of land protection, talks about the Duck Lake Fire.

Some of the biggest donor contributions to the project’s land and easement purchases included $10 million from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, $5 million each from the Kresge Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and $4.5 million from the Herbert H. and Grace Dow Foundation.

Among the additional donors to the land project was the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund -- administered through the DNR -- which contributed a total of $16.1 million over a five-year period, beginning in 2002.

"This project represents a great use of the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to leverage local partnerships and assure access, recreation and forestry on Michigan lands," DNR Director Creagh said. "This deal ensures generations to come will be able to celebrate Michigan’s world-class natural resources, and U.P. residents will continue to benefit from the jobs these lands provide."

Over the past 39 years, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund has granted more than $1 billion to state and local units of government to develop and improve recreation opportunities in Michigan.

Nearly $10 million was also contributed in federal funding through the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program, which is funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Twenty-three re-engineering projects were undertaken to remove obstructions, stabilize stream banks and make other improvements, reducing the estimated sediment load into Michigan’s only designated "wilderness river" by 626 tons each year.

The Nature Conservancy’s interpretive "Reconnecting the Two Hearted River" sign will be erected along the CCI Road, a few miles to the west, just north of Pine Stump Junction.

* Editor's Note: See our Aug. 13, 2015, article, "Video preview: Gov. Snyder visits Michigan Tech's GLRC."