Saturday, July 30, 2011

Updated: Protect the Earth Great Lakes Community Gathering to be held Aug. 6 in Champion

MARQUETTE -- The 4th Protect the Earth Great Lakes Community Gathering will be held Saturday, Aug. 6, at Van Riper State Park in Champion, Michigan. This year’s theme is "Coming Together: Uniting for Strength and Success."

The purpose of the gathering is to seek ways in which the citizens of the Upper Great Lakes Region can work together more effectively to defend their water resources against the threat of new extraction projects.

According to conference organizer Margaret Comfort, speakers will focus on proposed activity that threatens the health of the region, including the controversial Eagle Project on the Yellow Dog Plains and Hud Bay’s proposed Front 40 Project for zinc and gold takings in Menominee County.

Also on the program are "Fracking" of gas wells in lower Michigan, proposed extractive resource projects in the Penokee Hills of Wisconsin, and proposed copper-nickel sulfide projects in NE Minnesota, plus a special presentation on environmental justice and indigenous cultural issues.

The gathering is free to interested participants. It will begin with an optional walk at 9 a.m. from Koski’s Corner (intersection of US-41 and M-95) to the proposed Humboldt processing facility, approximately 2.5 miles round trip. The focus of the walk is to raise awareness of the importance of defending local water resources. Rides back to the cars will be available.

The main conference will be held in the Van Riper Park Pavillion beginning with lunch at 11:30 a.m. Al Gedicks (WI), Frank Koehn (WI), Bob Tammen (MN) are among the highlighted speakers scheduled from 1 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. A round-table discussion from 4:30 p.m. - 6 p.m. will involve threats to health due to heavy metals, sustainable alternatives to dead-end industries, and recent Michigan legislation limiting townships’ zoning authority over extractive industries. Participants will address ways of working more effectively together.

Update: Here is the schedule of featured speakers for the event:

11:30 a.m. -- LUNCH and Introduction (Kristi Mills of SWUP and WAVE)
12 noon -- Frank Koehn - Penokee
12:30 p.m. -- Bob Tammen - Minnesota
1 p.m. -- Jessica Koski - KBIC
1:30 p.m. -- Al Gedicks - Wisconsin

2 p.m. -- Strawberry Shortcake Break

2:30 p.m. -- Kristi Mills (Eagle Project)
3 p.m. -- Marla Tuinstra (Front 40)
3:30 p.m. -- Lee Sprague (Little River Band of Odawa)
4 p.m. -- Reflections on Activism - Scott Rutherford (FOLK, WAVE)

4:15 - 4:30 p.m. -- Break

4:30 p.m. - 6 p.m. -- Open Round-Table Discussion (moderated by Martha Bush)

6 p.m. Supper and Entertainment

The day will close with a catered supper and an 'open mic' session. While there is no charge, seating is limited to 100 people. Reservations are not required, but are helpful to the organizers preparing the food. Attendees can e-mail, or call 906-228-4444 to reserve a place at the gathering or arrange for carpooling from Marquette, Big Bay, or Houghton.

This event is sponsored by WAVE -- Water Action Vital Earth -- working for clean water and a sustainable future, and Save the Wild UP, protecting the Upper Peninsula from environmental degradation and dangerous contamination.

Click here for information on camping, lodging and other details.

Please bring lawn or folding chairs -- thanks!

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