Saturday, March 26, 2011

Water Day speaker: Lessons from history

Prof. Alex Mayer, director of the Michigan Tech University Center for Water and Society, welcomes Dr. Nancy Langston, author and environmental historian from the University of Wisconson-Madison, as the World Water Day guest speaker on March 22 at Michigan Tech. Dr. Langston is also a member of the Lake Superior Binational Forum and editor of the journal Environmental History. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

By Gustavo Bourdieu* Translated from the Spanish by Michele Bourdieu

HOUGHTON -- On World Water Day, March 22, 2011, Michele and I went to Michigan Tech to hear "Sustaining Lake Superior," the guest lecture by Dr. Nancy Langston, noted environmental historian from the University of Wisconson-Madison. It was a good experience for me. After passing various buildings on campus (I'm always confused by the abbreviations like MUB, EERC, MDU, MTO, SDC, and finally M and M) we came in from the March wind to hear this interesting, illustrated presentation on the pollution left by the industries of the past -- especially from intensive logging and the pulp mills on the north shore of Lake Superior -- and how all this affects our cherished lake.

Dr. Langston used this map to point out some of the Areas of Concern on the north shore of Lake Superior, where pollution, especially from the post-World War II pulp industry, is still present in the largest of the Great Lakes.

Dr. Nancy demonstrated graphically the past and present impacts of this pollution and how, combined with climate change, it will affect our future and that of our descendants if important decisions are not made quickly to preserve the health of our forests and watershed. The important point of her lecture, as I see it, is that history teaches us a lesson and we must take advantage of the knowledge we have: We already know how much damage has been done and what has caused it.

Dr. Langston relates how First Nation firefighters in Canada were sprayed by DDT and how First Nation peoples also suffered serious health problems caused by mercury.

In her presentation we saw brochures about DDT from more than 50 years ago -- when it was considered a cure-all -- and even to this day it continues to poison the environment.

An old poster touting the benefits of DDT.

Each day the earth's population increases, and we must take care of our health. While borders are drawn on maps, we all exist in one world. Thus it is that what happens in Japan also affects other countries, and vice-versa.

Likewise, a few years ago when it was said that bees were contracting a virus, in my 45-year experience as a beekeeper my first thought was that this must be the residual effect of insecticides that remain in the environment and affect our tireless worker bees.

Dr. Nancy Langston recalls Rachel Carson's warnings about the dangers of DDT in her book, Silent Spring (1962).

Let us care for our environment for the good of all living creatures, yes, all. Let none be excluded. We must guarantee this -- for the water and the air and our pacchamama (mother earth in the Quechua language). Our early ancestors respected this natural world. Now it is our turn. When the next generation follows us, let us be able to say to them, "Task accomplished -- NEXT!"

Gustavo Bourdieu, author of this article, with his bees.

Thanks to Michigan Tech for inviting such a distinguished scholar. I hope that her practical advice will be followed unselfishly for the good of all.

*Gustavo Bourdieu, Keweenaw Now photographer and guest writer, has been a beekeeper in Peru, in Georgia and now in the Keweenaw.

Earth Hour -- Lights off at 8:30 p.m., Mar. 26, 2011: Go beyond the hour for the planet

At 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 26, 2011, lights will switch off around the globe for Earth Hour and people will call attention to climate change and commit to actions for the planet that go beyond the hour.

With Earth Hour almost upon us, our thoughts are with the people of Japan during this incredibly challenging and sad time for their country.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon leads a host of world and civic leaders supporting Earth Hour 2011 as a powerful symbol of a shared wish for a sustainable and secure future.

"All over the world individuals, communities, businesses and governments are creating new examples for our common future -- new visions for sustainable living and new technologies to realize it," said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. "Let us join together to celebrate this shared quest to protect the planet and ensure human well-being. Let us use 60 minutes of darkness to help the world see the light."

Messages of support for Earth Hour 2011 have also come from a host of world and civil leaders, including Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu,

"Climate change is the greatest human induced crisis facing our world today. It is totally indiscriminate of race, culture, class, nationality or religious belief. It affects every living organism on the planet -- including all of us," Archbishop Emeritus Tutu said. "Through the symbolic act of switching off our lights for one hour on Saturday 26 March from 8:30 - 9:30 p.m. we will collectively send our clarion call for change around the globe."

Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia when 2.2 million individuals and more than 2,000 businesses turned their lights off for one hour to take a stand against climate change. Only a year later and Earth Hour had become a global sustainability movement with more than 50 million people across 35 countries/territories participating. Global landmarks such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, CN Tower in Toronto, Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and Rome’s Colosseum, all stood in darkness, as symbols of hope for a cause that grows more urgent by the hour.

Click here to learn more about Earth Hour and see inspiring videos and photos of actions around the world.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Dine in China at Khana Khazana Friday, Mar. 25

HOUGHTON -- Chinese food is on the menu at Khana Khazana this Friday. Rui Pan, a management information systems major from China, will make double-cooked pork, Di San Xian (sautéed potato, green pepper and eggplant, a typical northern Chinese vegetable dish) and tomato-egg soup.

A full meal costs $6 and includes a fountain soft drink, tea or coffee. Individual dishes are available à la carte for $2.

Khana Khazana is served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday in the Memorial Union Food Court. The weekly series of ethnic lunches cooked by international students is a collaborative effort of international students and Michigan Tech Dining Services.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Congressman Benishek meets, greets Keweenaw constituents; awesomeness ensues

First District U.S. Congressman Dan Benishek greets constituents at a "Meet and Greet" event in the Keweenaw Brewing Company in Houghton on March 22, 2011. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photos © 2011 and courtesy Jeremy S. Sandrik. Reprinted with permission.)

By Jeremy S. Sandrik*

"Objective journalism is one of the main reasons American politics has been allowed to be so corrupt for so long. You can’t be objective about Nixon," said the good Dr. Hunter S. Thompson in an interview with the Atlantic in August, 1997. That said, on Tuesday, March 22, 2011, Congressman Dan Benishek made an appearance at Keweenaw Brewing Company to meet and greet his constituents, the good people of the Houghton/Keweenaw region.

For twenty minutes or so before the event began, the microbrewery began to fill with a mix of lizards in suits, University big wigs, hippies and freaks from both bygone and burgeoning eras, artists, teachers, students, union leaders, trapeze swingers, the works. At 4 p.m. on a Tuesday, there were far too many people downing pints of strong beer for the illusion of calm and decorum to last long. The mood in the room was electric, anticipatory. Nobody knew what we’d be looking at when the Congressman entered the bar. Would there be a formal address followed by questions? Would everybody crowd around a table and have a civil discussion? Would the room collapse into an anarchic fury with indistinguishable layers of voices, sour expressions, and vehement finger pointing? As the story unfolds, consider that I was furiously photographing the Congressman’s encounters, during which time my ears became largely useless as my focus turned to capturing images. I leave it to the objective journalists to provide thorough direct quotations to softball questions. Besides, for me this event was more about the real guests of honor, the people of the Copper Country community.

Congressman Benishek chats with constituents during his "Meet and Greet" event on March 22 at the Keweenaw Brewing Company in Houghton. (Photo © 2011 and courtesy Jeremy S. Sandrik)

As it was, Congressman Benishek entered KBC, closely followed by a young handler as he began working his way down the bar, stopping to glad-hand and briefly speak one-on-one with the people bellied up to the bar. I don’t think the man made it three handshakes in before meeting fiery opposition from Barbara Simila of Copper City, who grilled him liberally and viscerally regarding K-12 education defunding.

Barbara Simila, retired Calumet teacher, chats with Ann Pace of Hancock during Congressman Benishek's visit to Houghton. Simila questioned Benishek extensively about funding cuts in education and other social programs affecting children such as Head Start and WIC (the federally funded Women, Infants and Children program to help low-income mothers provide healthy food for their children). (Photo © 2011 and courtesy Jeremy S. Sandrik)

Rattled, Benishek moved on and reintroduced himself to someone he thought was an old, familiar face: local long-haired freak Ray Molzon. There was an awkward moment when Ray informed the Congressman that they had indeed never met.

Ray Molzon, Michigan Tech graduate student in mathematics, was among the crowd that welcomed Congressman Benishek at the Keweenaw Brewing Company on March 22, 2011. At right is Stephanie Trevino, artist and photographer. (Photo © 2011 and courtesy Jeremy S. Sandrik)

Hope loomed immediately to stage right as the Congressman spotted formal suits and Michigan Tech apparel occupied by MTU’s Dean of the Graduate School Jacqueline Huntoon and Director of Graduate Marketing and Advancement Jacque Smith. Here the Gentleman from Michigan seemed to find himself at home in a conversation characterized by measured tones and polite smiles.

Congressman Benishek chats with Jacqueline Huntoon, Michigan Tech Graduate School dean, during the March 22 Meet and Greet event in Houghton's Keweenaw Brewing Company. (Photo © 2011 and courtesy Jeremy S. Sandrik)

Needless to say, I was bored out of my gourd and kibitzed with Ray and my lady, the lovely local photographer and artist Stephanie Trevino. Over her shoulder I spotted my buddy Evan, who had the look of a man deep in thought.

Stephanie Trevino, artist and photographer, is also a student in Finlandia University's International School of Art and Design. (Photo © 2011 and courtesy Jeremy S. Sandrik)

Evan spoke to Ray and me about the shock doctrine being practiced in Wisconsin, Michigan, other states, and within the Federal Government. It’s a neat trick. All you have to do is create a budget crisis by slashing taxes on business and the rich, then exploit the resulting budget shortfall to eliminate political opposition and programs designed to help the poor and middle class. At the end of the day you can sleep at night by dropping a deceptive throw-away line about the shared sacrifice. Its brilliance in execution is rivaled only by the transparency of its hypocrisy. That sucking sound you hear is a testament to the efficiency of the inverted economic funnel, moving wealth from the lowest earners of society to the top 1 percent. The government gets to brag about the balanced budget while reciprocating the campaign contributions of millionaires and billionaires in the form of tax cuts and corporate subsidies. Naomi Klein (naomiklein.org) wrote about these ideas in her number-one international bestseller, Shock Doctrine, The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, and has been featured in interviews on the topic on MSNBC (msnbc.com) and Democracy Now! (democracynow.org).

Evan and I decided the Congressman could use a pint and we treated him to a Pick Axe Blonde Ale. Dr. Benishek was seen mixing it up over Social Security with Clarence McDonald, former chair of the Houghton County Democrats and UAW (United Auto Workers) chair for the Western U.P. Some wonderful people were meandering the bar serving gooey brownies and carrot cake.

Congressman Benishek chats with Clarence McDonald, former chair of the Houghton County Democrats and UAW retiree (background), while an anonymous host serves carrot cake to, from left, Ann Pace and John Slivon of Hancock and Barbara Simila of Copper City. (Photo © 2011 and courtesy Jeremy S. Sandrik)

The beer flowed; vigorous conversation built to a pleasant hum as Congressman Benishek called the room to attention for an address.

Congressman Benishek, right, addresses the crowd about the deficit and the need for a balanced budget. His aide, Kyle Bonini, center in dark suit, looks on. (Photo © 2011 and courtesy Jeremy S. Sandrik)

The canned speech began as you might expect, with the boilerplate talking points regarding trillion-dollar deficits inherited by this Congress from both Bush and Obama administrations. There are difficult choices to be made, and he repeated his overused talking point relating the fact that everybody that comes to his office wants to cut spending in someone else’s program. Some ruckus began with a few murmurs from the crowd at about the one-minute mark . . . something mumbled under the breath here, then there.

The crowd has mixed reactions to Benishek's prepared speech. (Photo © 2011 and courtesy Jeremy S. Sandrik)

Soon enough, Evan seized a lull in the conversation and launched into what I’d describe as a show-stealing, fact-packed, relentless, beautiful oratory. Even the breathing seemed choreographed not to allow any interruption until he’d finished his point, which revolved around the previously mentioned shock doctrine and Benishek’s support of balancing the budget on the backs of the poor while giving the rich a break. A suited gentleman in front of me suggested to Evan that the crowd was gathered to hear the Congressman speak, to which a woman nearby replied, "No, I think he’s doing fine."

This sort of spontaneous room-wide conversation continued to the point where there was no longer a Congressman addressing his constituents, but constituents hashing it out with each other, occasionally throwing it back to Dr. Benishek for his two cents. Benishek made the error of referring to Social Security as an entitlement, to which Barb Simila quipped, "How dare you call Social Security an entitlement? I paid into that for more than thirty years!" He was hurling undercooked spaghetti at the walls and nothing stuck.

Barbara Simila, center with hands raised, retired teacher from Copper City, sets off a discussion on Social Security during Congressman Benishek's address to the crowd. (Photo © 2011 and courtesy Jeremy S. Sandrik)

Benishek stated he wanted to make Social Security solvent. "How?" erupted from behind my camera lens, just below my nose. I peered around the room and there was fire in the eyes of the citizens in that room. Smoke billowed from their ears. woman standing close to the Congressman extended her tongue in disgust.

A woman's nonverbal communication, right, expresses a negative reaction to Congressman Benishek's speech. (Photo © 2011 and courtesy Jeremy S. Sandrik)

Dave Rulison made a particularly poignant point when he said, "Some of this money to get us out of this debt should be coming from the top, wealthiest people, but if our leaders would lead by example -- if our governors, if our elected officials that are telling us we have to do all these things to balance the budget would step forward and, say, take a pay cut -- or offer something in return that would help the economy themselves, then I think more and more people would get behind them on these ideas that they're putting forward."

Benishek replied, "We cut our budget 5 percent."

Clarence McDonald suggested, "How about 50?"

Clarence McDonald, right, former chair of the Houghton County Democrats and UAW (United Auto Workers) chair for the Western U.P., joins the discussion on Social Security. (Photo © 2011 and courtesy Jeremy S. Sandrik)

"Teachers are taking a 12 percent cut," came from an unknown voice. The noise in the room at this point was palpable, and tying words to faces became a challenge. There was certainly a feeling in the air that what we’re witnessing in this country is far from shared sacrifice.

Shortly following this exchange, one of Benishek’s supporters in the rear spoke up and praised the Congressman’s hard work on behalf of all of us in the First District. The statement was followed by tepid applause from the previously overwhelmingly silent supporters in the crowd. Benishek spoke to a few more small groups of people before stealing away for a one-on-one interview. Among the exchanges was a conversation with Dr. Sarah Green, Michigan Tech Department of Chemistry chair. I’d missed the opening salvos of the discussion, but I clearly caught Dr. Green ask, "Well, may I educate you?" Afterward I learned the education pertained to the reality of climate change and Benishek’s denial of said reality. During this exchange the aforementioned aide seemed to be attempting to pull the Congressman from a losing battle of intellect and helping him hold his proverbial pants up.

Sarah Green, Michigan Tech Department of Chemistry chair, who has done extensive research on climate change, offers to "educate" Congressman Benishek by sending him information on the subject. (Photo © 2011 and courtesy Jeremy S. Sandrik)

I came away from this event not feeling any opposition had changed the Congressman’s mind, certainly no more so than his arguments had changed mine. The key to these events in my mind is to mobilize neighbors to share ideas and dreams, to build new connections and strengthen existing ones. The highlight for me was sharing beers with new friends Ann Pace and John Slivon, who encouraged me to consider a career in opera. I talked teacher shop with Barb Simila, and met one of her former students, Zach Bromley, with whom I made tentative canoeing plans. There were heartfelt conversations and connections made that will endure. The Invisible Committee wrote in their manifesto The Coming Insurrection, "We’re counting on what is unconditional about blood connections to make the framework for a political solidarity as impenetrable to state interference as a gypsy encampment." I feel that work is beginning for me and am grateful to those that have been building that framework here for decades and longer in the Keweenaw. It’s good to be home.

*Editor's Notes: Guest writer and photographer Jeremy S. Sandrik is a Copper Country resident.

The opinions expressed in our guest articles are not necessarily or not entirely the views of Keweenaw Now.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Headwaters: Regulators recommend route for Rio Tinto road

By Gabriel Caplett of Headwaters News
Posted March 21, 2011

MARQUETTE -- Headwaters has obtained more information on developments with Rio Tinto’s proposed Woodland Road/595 ore hauling route.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment one of the alternatives to the original hauling plan, the "Sleepy Hollow" route, would limit impacts on water quality and wildlife and may satisfy federal and state guidelines. The Sleepy Hollow route would start at the Eagle Mine and head down county roads Triple A, 510, the Red Road, Sleepy Hollow, and the Wolf Lake road, connecting with M-28/US-41 in Humboldt Township.

According to a February 28 email Jerry Fulcher told Marquette County Road Commission engineer Jim Iwanicki to consider pursuing this route. ... Click here to read this article on Headwaters News.

NMU speaker presentation canceled

MARQUETTE -- Northern Michigan University's Students for Sustainable Living announce that, because of unavoidable circumstances in Mecosta, Terry Swier, president of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC), will not be able to make it to Marquette to give her talk this evening, Wednesday, March 23, at NMU.

"Although we were all really looking forward to hearing from Terry this week, it was only a part of our week long 'Down to Earth Week' series; and we hope that you will be able to attend some of our other events," said Doug Turnbull of Students for Sustainable Living. "We encourage you to visit www.savemiwater.org to learn more about Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation."

Apologizing for any inconvenience, Turnbull said he hoped the talk could be rescheduled for April.

In July, 2009, MCWC stopped Nestlé Waters North America, Inc.'s attempt to pump more water from a stressed stream and lake for its Ice Mountain bottled water in Mecosta, Michigan.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Photos: Celebrate World Water Day, March 22

Wolf track traction, by George Desort. Isle Royale. February 2010. This photo of wolf tracks on Lake Superior ice can inspire us to contemplate our own human "footprint" on the Great Lakes and our stewardship of water, our most valuable resource. Click on photo for larger version. (Photo © 2010 and courtesy George Desort. Visit his Web site Fortunatewilderness.com.)

Wetland scene by Michael Shupe. Wetlands are another valuable, yet endangered, water resource. Click on photo for larger version. (Photo © 2011 and courtesy Michael Shupe of M. J. Shupe Photography.)

Read more about World Water Day today at Michigan Tech.

Lawsuit withdrawn after Minnesota Legislature exempts Iron Range Resources from Environmental Review

Press Release from the Center for Biological Diversity:*

DULUTH, Minn. -- A change in state law exempting Iron Range Resources from Minnesota’s environmental review requirements prompted conservationists today to dismiss their lawsuit against the agency. The lawsuit had been filed to challenge a premature and illegal loan by Iron Range Resources to PolyMet Mining Company, which is pursuing the state’s first open-pit sulfide mine but has not obtained the required environmental approvals. Instead of addressing the problems identified in the lawsuit, the state simply changed the longstanding rules to benefit the mining proposal.

During a Treaty Rights Teaching event held on May 15, 2010, at Eagle Rock before it was fenced off by Rio Tinto / Kennecott, Bob Tammen of Soudan, Minn., points out watersheds impacted by iron mining on the Minnesota iron range. Tammen, who worked 30 years in the Empire and Tilden mines, expressed special concern about PolyMet's proposed open-pit sulfide mine in Northeastern Minnesota, which would impact the Lake Superior watershed. Click on photo for larger version. (Keweenaw Now 2010 file photo)**

"Passing new legislation that weakens environmental requirements in response to a lawsuit is public policy at its worst," said Marc Fink, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.

The lawsuit was filed in January in response to the Iron Range Resources’ approval of a $4 million loan to PolyMet at its December board meeting. State agencies are prohibited by the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act from authorizing loans to projects that are still going through the environmental review process. The purpose is to ensure that there is no bias in favor of proposals prior to the completion of environmental review. In response, the state legislature passed a new law exempting Iron Range Resources from the definition of "government unit" under the statute.

"The new legislation undermines a critical component of environmental review, which is for the state to withhold permits, loans or approvals until it has been determined that a proposal meets the state’s environmental standards," said Betsy Daub, of Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness.

The exemption of Iron Range Resources from the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act was offered as a floor amendment by Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, when a related bill was being considered by the House of Representatives. No hearings were held on the exemption, there was no public notice, and the effect of the provision was not described fully before passage.

"We are extremely disappointed that the legislature exempted Iron Range Resources from environmental review without any public process," said Le Lind of Save Lake Superior Association. "The only reason an agency on the Iron Range is being treated differently is to bolster the highly controversial sulfide mine proposals."

In prior comments, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rated the PolyMet mine proposal as "environmentally unsatisfactory-inadequate" due to unacceptable and long-term water-quality impacts. The tribal cooperating agencies also determined that the proposed mining project would need to treat wastewater for "hundreds or thousands of years" to avoid contamination of nearby surface waters. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is currently working with federal agencies to prepare a supplemental environmental analysis for the proposed PolyMet mine project after the initial draft received critical reviews from other agencies, tribal scientists and the public.

The proposed mine site is located on the Superior National Forest, but PolyMet owns the mineral rights. PolyMet’s proposed mine is not allowed on Superior National Forest lands, which has triggered a proposed land exchange between the Forest Service and PolyMet. The $4 million loan from the Iron Range Resources Board would be used by PolyMet to purchase lands to be exchanged with the Forest Service for the proposed mine site.

The lawsuit was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Save Lake Superior Association, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness and Indigenous Environmental Network.

*The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 320,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of
endangered species and wild places.

** For more about Bob Tammen's presentation at the Eagle Rock Teaching event, see our May 19, 2010, article, "Updated: Treaty Rights Teaching at Eagle Rock attracts visitors."

Deadline for Conservation District Tree Sale orders is Mar. 25

HOUGHTON -- This Friday, March 25, is the deadline for ordering trees, shrubs, grapevines, berry plants and more from the Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District's (HKCD's) 2011 Annual Tree Sale.

Customers pick up tree sale orders in May 2010 at the Houghton County Arena in Hancock. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

Pick-up times for the sale will be from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, May 6, and from 10 a.m. until noon on Saturday, May 7, at the Houghton County Arena, 1500 Birch St., Hancock. Order early and remember Mother's Day is May 8.

"The Annual Tree Sale is our MAJOR Fundraiser of the year," said HKCD Administrator Sue Haralson. "All proceeds go to Conservation efforts and education in Houghton and Keweenaw County."

For the past few years HKCD has not received the operations funding it used to receive from the State of Michigan, Haralson noted at the Mar. 8 Annual Meeting of the Conservation District.

"The money we make at the tree sale keeps the doors open," she said.

New this year are Native Tree plugs, including Northern White Cedar, Eastern Hemlock, Red Pine, White Pine, White Spruce and Northern Red Oak. Trees for wildlife include American Mountain Ash, White Birch, Black Cherry, Roselow Sargent Crabapple, Sugar Maple and Wild Plum.

Shrubs include Redosier Dogwood, Beaked Hazelnut, American Elderberry, Highbush Cranberry, Lilacs and more. Fruit trees include several varieties of apple, cherry, peach, pear and plum. And don't forget to check out the blueberry, blackberry raspberry and strawberry bushes.

Trees are sold in "bare root" condition and are ready for planting when picked up. Fruit trees such as apple or cherry are about four feet tall with a half-inch-diameter stem, which is considered a perfect size for planting.

In addition, the sale includes conservation merchandise such as bat houses, bluebird houses and other items for planting and protecting your plants.

Visit the HKCD Web site for ordering information and for the Tree Sale Catalog.

Click here for the order form. A $15 late fee will be charged for orders not picked up by noon on Saturday, May 7.

Note: Extra stock will be sold at the pick up site.

Main Street Calumet to offer presentation on “Downtown Events” Mar. 24

CALUMET -- A presentation titled "Making the Most of Calumet's Downtown Events" will take place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 24, at the Village of Calumet Council Chambers, 340 6th Street, Calumet. Downtown Calumet business owners, staff, and any residents wishing to be a part of Calumet's downtown events are invited to attend.

Mary Lee Stotler, Michigan Main Street Program promotion specialist, will present ideas geared to the interests of Calumet business people and event organizers.

Some of the topics she will cover include the following:
  • Main Street Calumet and the downtown have developed an annual series of well attended events and festivals. How can we work together to make these events even better for attendees and the businesses?
  • The CopperDog Sled Dog race brought thousands to the downtown, and a busy summer event schedule lies just ahead. It's a great time to plan ahead and learn from past events.
  • Why does Calumet host the events? What's the purpose?
  • What are the possible short-term and long-term benefits to your business?
  • How can a business become more engaged in an event?
  • How can a business join with Main Street Calumet and other businesses as part of an "event team"?
For more information call Main Street Calumet at 906-337-MAIN (6246). Visit the Main Street Calumet Web site at http://mainstreetcalumet.com/ to learn more about their events, business goals and opportunities, historic preservation efforts, and more.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Levin, Stabenow announce final rule prohibiting importation and transportation of live bighead carp

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, both D-Mich., announced today, Mar. 21, that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will publish tomorrow a final rule in the Federal Register that prohibits the importation and transportation of bighead carp. The rule, placing the bighead carp on the federal list of injurious wildlife, implements the Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act (S.1421), which Levin introduced, and Stabenow cosponsored, in 2009. Congress approved and the president signed the act in December 2010.

"This action is an important step in the effort to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes," Levin said. "These fish pose a real, clear and growing threat to the Great Lakes, and I will continue working to ensure tools like the Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act and others will be available as we counter this threat. The devastating effects Asian carp could have on the Great Lakes are not fully known, and I want to make sure they are never realized."

Stabenow noted Asian carp threaten the fishing and boating industries and the entire Great Lakes ecosystem.

"We’ve got to fight the spread of these invasive species through every method at our disposal," said Stabenow. "Stopping the transport of all Asian carp across state lines is another good step toward protecting our Lakes. Now we need to keep fighting for permanent separation of the Chicago Waterway System from Lake Michigan so the Great Lakes are protected once and for all."

The rule implementing the Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act lists the bighead carp as injurious wildlife under the Lacey Act, which was originally passed by Congress in 1900 and amended in 1981. Listing the bighead species of Asian carp under the Lacey Act will help prevent the intentional introduction of the species by prohibiting the interstate transportation or importation of live Asian carp without a state-issued permit certifying transport is for zoological, education, medical, or scientific purposes. This legislation will not interfere with existing state regulations of Asian carp, and it will allow states to issue permits to transport or purchase live Asian carp for scientific, medical or educational purposes. The Fish and Wildlife Service has already listed other species of Asian carp as injurious under the Lacey Act.

Originally introduced into the United States as a management tool for aquaculture farms and sewage treatment facilities, Asian carp are voracious eaters that can grow up to six feet and 110 pounds. These non-native species were first used in Louisiana catfish farms in the 1970s to control snails and vegetation. In the mid-1990s, flooding allowed the Asian carp to escape from fish farms. They have spread to most of the Mississippi River watershed and the Missouri River, devastating the food resources and habitats of native and sport fish populations. The bighead carp, along with the other species of Asian carp, now account for the majority of fish in the Missouri River.

Because the Mississippi River is connected to the Great Lakes through a man-made sanitary and ship canal, Asian carp are now close to entering and establishing themselves in the Great Lakes. They also threaten entry into the lakes via other pathways, including flood plains and intentional and accidental introductions.

Sundance winning film, lecture by Katie Alvord to celebrate Earth Week at Michigan Tech Mar. 23-24

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Tech Students for Environmental Sustainability will host two events to celebrate Earth Week Wednesday and Thursday, Mar. 23 and 24. Both events will begin at 7 p.m. in room U115 of the Materials Science and Engineering (M and M) Building on the Michigan Tech campus.

On Wednesday, Mar. 23, the movie Fuel (a Sundance Festival Winner!) will be shown. This stirring, radical and multi-award-winning documentary is a comprehensive and yet oddly entertaining look at energy in America: a history of where we have been, our present predicament and a solution to our dependence on foreign oil, given an effort by the American people and our government. The 111-minute film flows seamlessly through scientific data, facts, history and personal narrative.

Keweenaw Now guest writer Katie Alvord, author of Divorce Your Car, will present "The Greenest Routes From A to B" on Thursday, Mar. 24.

"This free lecture will discuss our love affair that’s raged in the U.S. for over 100 years," says Alvord. "Now the affair is globalizing, spreading more autos around the world -- even to places like China, where the din of traffic consisted largely of bicycle bells."

Alvord has abstained from using her car and has been riding her bicycle since 1992. Her inspiration came primarily from activists within her community who were undertaking similar endeavors.

"I parked my car in the garage, deciding to let myself use it in a pinch, then took out my bicycle instead," she explains.

Alvord has written numerous articles in publications such as Wild Earth and E magazine that explain both the sociological and environmental implications of our current behavior.

She has written several articles for Keweenaw Now, including an award-winning series of three articles on climate change in the Lake Superior Basin.*

Alvord also works with many non-profit organizations that educate both young and old on how to practice greener living habits. She hopes to continue her practices in the future by working with environmental groups and organizations to spread the word about environmental responsibility.

For more information about Katie Alvord or the upcoming lecture visit her blog. FREE books to first 50 attendees at this lecture.

*Click here to read about Katie Alvord's journalism award and links to these articles, which were published on Keweenaw Now in 2007.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Gluten-free Recipe Exchange to hold monthly meeting Mar. 21 at Portage Library

HOUGHTON -- The Gluten-Free Recipe Exchange will hold its next meeting from 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 21, at the Portage Lake District Library. The group meets at this time on the third Monday of each month. Everyone is invited to participate.

Each month features a different type of food, and the March meeting will focus on gluten-free casseroles. Participants are welcome to bring their favorite gluten-free casserole for sampling and are encouraged to share their recipes. Copies of the recipes will be made at the library. Please list all ingredients used in making foods that are shared at these meetings and identify the brand names of the gluten-free ingredients. Bringing food is not a requirement for attendance.

The Gluten-Free Recipe Exchange is organized by and for those who are interested in or required to follow a gluten-free diet. Gluten-free eating requires the avoidance of all wheat, rye, barley, and oats. Most people find it challenging at first, but are excited to find recipes and foods that are fun and easy to make and tasty to eat. The Gluten-Free Recipe Exchange is an opportunity to share those great recipes and learn from others. Everyone who is interested in learning more about gluten-free eating is encouraged to attend.

This program is free and open to all. For more information, please call a member of the group at 281-5216. You may also call the library at 482-4570 or visit www.pldl.org.

Emerald ash borer seminar to be Mar. 22

HOUGHTON -- The SLow Ash Mortality pilot project (SLAM) will hold a free public seminar next week on insecticide options and other treatments for ash trees threatened by the invasive emerald ash borer. The seminar is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 22, 2011, in the U.J. Noblet Forestry Building, Hesterberg Hall Room G002 at Michigan Tech.

Associate Professor Andrew Storer and colleagues from Michigan Tech's School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science and from the Michigan Departments of Agriculture and of Natural Resource and Environment will summarize the results of work done by the federally funded five-county project during the 2010 field season, outline plans for the 2011 field season and discuss insecticide options suitable for homeowners and licensed professional applicators. Management options for woodlot owners will also be covered.

The speakers will give a brief overview of the efforts being used to slow the rate at which ash trees die as a result of infestation, along with the latest quarantine information for Houghton and Keweenaw Counties.

The SLAM project has been trapping emerald ash borers to determine their distribution and implementing various treatments to manage populations of this pest.

SLAM is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). It operates in Houghton, Keweenaw, Mackinac, Delta and Schoolcraft counties in the Upper Peninsula. The project is a collaborative effort of Michigan Technological University, Michigan State University, the Michigan Departments of Agriculture and of Natural Resources and Environment, the US Forest Service and the US Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Storer and colleagues identified the first emerald ash borer found in Houghton County in an abandoned cemetery in Laurium in the summer of 2008. They estimate that the insect has been here for six to eight years. SLAM identified the first of the invasive beetles in Keweenaw County in fall 2010. The emerald ash borer so far has been found in fifteen states and two Canadian provinces.

Pre-registration for the free seminar is preferred, but registration at the door will also be accepted. Michigan certified pesticide applicators, arborists and certified foresters may earn continuing education credits.

To preregister or ask questions, contact Anne Collins, ahcollin@mtu.edu, 906-231-2312.

Sierra Club Michigan: Send a message to Congress: STOP funding for Frontier Biofuel Boondoggle!

MARQUETTE -- Michigan's 1st District Congressman Dan Benishek calls for "reducing spending and forcing the federal government to live within restraints" and says "we cannot hope to see real job growth in Northern Michigan so long as federal deficits drown out private enterprise."

You can encourage Congressman Benishek and Michigan's Senators to start at home by killing the $53 million Department of Energy proposed grant for the Frontier Renewable Energy wood-to-biofuel plant in his district.

Stopping federal subsidies for this boondoggle will save taxpayers in Michigan and nationwide more than $100 million in direct taxpayer subsidies to Frontier, including state and local taxes. Frontier wants to use our tax dollars to cut 1 million tons of Michigan trees (standing, green wood -- not waste wood) each year to feed the biofuel plant, even though it would create fewer jobs than any other forest industry investment. And in the end, the Frontier plant would use 8 percent of Michigan's annual forest growth to produce a miniscule 0.02 percent of Michigan's annual gasoline usage.

Tell Congressman Benishek and Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin that you want them to cut funding for this boondoggle -- that's the smart way to cut federal spending AND protect Michigan's future!

Editor's Note: Congressman Benishek will be traveling through the First District this week to "Meet and Greet" his constituents. During each visit, residents will have the opportunity to meet with Congressman Benishek and share with him their thoughts and concerns on legislative issues facing Congress. Casework staff will also be available to assist constituents with questions regarding federal agencies.

Congressman Benishek will visit the following locations this week. (Times and locations are taken from his Web site.):

Iron Mountain: Monday, March 21, 2011, 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m., 500 S. Stephenson, Ste 500

L'Anse: Tuesday, March 22, 2011, 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m., Hilltop Restaurant, U.S. 41

Houghton: Tuesday, March 22, 2011, 4 p.m. - 5 p.m., Keweenaw Brewing Company, 408 Shelden Ave.

Ontonagon: Wednesday, March 23, 2011, 5:30 a.m. - 6 a.m., Ontonagon City Hall, 315 Court Street

Ishpeming: Wednesday, March 23, 2011, 9 a.m. - 9:45 a.m., Ishpeming Housing Commission Activities Room, 111 Bluff Street

Bessemer: Thursday, March 24, 2011, 1:30 p.m. - 2 p.m., Bessemer American Legion, 1201 4th Avenue Southwest

Iron River: Thursday, March 24, 2011, 5 p.m. - 5:45 p.m., Zippidy Dudas, 202 West Genesee Street

Menominee: Friday, March 25, 2011, March 25, 2011, 10:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. [sic], Spies Public Library Meeting Room One, 940 First Street

Escanaba: Friday, March 25, 2011, 1:30 p.m. - 2 p.m., Drifters Restaurant 701 North Lincoln St.

You can contact Sen. Carl Levin on his Web site. Click here. Sen. Debbie Stabenow also has a contact page on her Web site.

Updated: "Sustaining Lake Superior" to be World Water Day Lecture Mar. 22 at Michigan Tech

HOUGHTON --"Sustaining Lake Superior" is the subject of the 2011 World Water Day Lecture at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 22, in M and M, Room U115, on the Michigan Tech campus.

Dr. Nancy Langston, a noted environmental historian, will discuss her work on Lake Superior, in particular the interconnectedness of watershed health, human health and forest health -- all in the context of climate change.

Langston is on the faculty at University of Wisconsin-Madison, at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, as well as the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology.

She is the author of three books. Forest Dreams, Forest Nightmares (University of Washington Press, 1995) examines the cause of the forest health crisis in the inland west. Where Land and Water Meet (University of Washington Press, 2003) explores watershed change in the arid west. Toxic Bodies: Hormone Disrupters and the Legacy of DES explores why the environment has become saturated with synthetic chemicals that disrupt hormones -- and it asks what can be done to protect human and environmental health.

Langston is a member of the Binational Forum and editor of the journal Environmental History. She has been the recipient of fellowships from the Marshall Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the National Humanities Center, the American Philosophical Society and the American Council of Learned Societies.

Her first book won the 1997 Forest History Society Prize for best book in forest and conservation history; and a recent article won the 2009 Leopold-Hidy Prize for best article in Environmental History. More information can be found at www.nancylangston.net.

Langston will also present a seminar on "Toxic Bodies" from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday, March 24, in AOB (Academic Office Building) 201.

For more information, contact Associate Professor Carol MacLennan at 487-2870 or at camac@mtu.edu, or Professor Alex Mayer at 487-3372 or at asmayer@mtu.edu.

Update: Another Michigan Tech activity for World Water Day will be Center for Water and Society reception and poster display from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Mar. 22, in the Rosza Center lobby. Click here for more details on the Michigan Tech News.

Letter: A home-grown remedy for budget woes

Dear Editor,

Governor Snyder tells us that we are broke, that we are facing a two-billion dollar deficit -- and that we must make dreadful cuts in spending.

There is, however, a potential remedy on our doorstep, in that the Michigan Legislature is giving away similar amounts of our natural resources (specifically, metal ores) which could instead be applied to the deficit.

For example: The Eagle Deposit in the Upper Peninsula is to be mined by Rio Tinto, a London-based "mining giant" corporation, probably Number 3 in the world, depends on who is counting.

The value of the metals therein is around 4.7 billion dollars, with much more to come.

To put 4.7 billion into terms which Joe Doakes can comprehend: $4,700,000,000 in dollar bills taped end-to-end would stretch this far :
4,700,000,000 divided by (5280 ft/mile x 2 bills/foot) = 445,000 miles.

Most of us simply cannot even grasp 445,000 miles in our mind. Like deer in the headlights we are truly blinded by the numbers. The accountants are not blinded by them and take advantage of our blindness.

Anyway -- the State of Michigan has no firm plans for taxing the profits on that income, which will go offshore. King George III, the villain in your Revolutionary War, is chuckling in his
grave.

At the Flambeau Mine in Wisconsin, Rio Tinto paid a miserly 2.5 percent to that state.

Considering the magnitude of the loot and the probability that more mines would follow, let it be known that we, the people, want/demand a fair share of the income from Michigan’s non-renewable resources.

Let us follow the lead of the Australian government, which recently placed stiff taxes (initially 40 percent) on excessive income from resources.

Can we get a mining tax law like that in Michigan? You bet! How? Call Sen. Tom Casperson (517-373-7840) and Rep. Matt Huuki (888-663-4031) to demand that they push for enactment of an Australian-type supertax on profits from your resources. And do it NOW!

Jack Parker, Mining Engineer
Baltic MI 49963