Saturday, July 30, 2011

Volunteers invited to pull invasive species at Bete Grise Preserve Aug. 1

HOUGHTON -- The Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District (HKCD), Stewards of Bete Grise Preserve and Rapid Response Invasive Plant Intervention Team of the UP (RRIP-IT-UP), invite volunteers to join them for a Spotted Knapweed pull and picnic on Monday, Aug.1, at the Bete Grise Preserve.

"Our goal is to pull Spotted Knapweed and any other invasive species we find at the preserve, followed by lunch on the beach and a presentation by Botanist Janet Marr on Invasive species in our area," says Sue Haralson, HKCD administrator.

Program:
Meet at the Bete Grise Preserve Parking Lot
9:30 a.m. -- 11:30 a.m. Pull invasive species
12 Noon -- Lunch
12:30 p.m. -- Presentation on Invasive species by Botanist Janet Marr

If you wish to join the picnic, please bring a dish to share, beverages, place settings, chairs / blankets.

Directions: From US 41, take Lac La Belle Road 9.5 miles toward Gay to the BGP parking lot on the left.

Levin: Republican threat to filibuster ceiling increase legislation "outrageous and unbelievable"

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., today called on Republican senators to drop their threat of filibuster of the legislation that would raise the debt ceiling and cut the deficit. He will deliver a floor speech calling on them to allow a vote on the Reid proposal.

"The Republicans’ threat to filibuster this legislation is as reckless as it is irresponsible. It is one thing to vote 'no.' It is quite another to deny the Senate, by filibustering, the opportunity to vote on a matter of such enormous importance. It is outrageous and unbelievable that they would put our economy at risk in this way.

"Hopefully some of our Republican colleagues will support Senator Reid’s proposal, since it has no new revenues, its spending cuts match the size of the debt limit increase, and its cuts have been approved by leaders of both parties. But if our Republican colleagues don’t seek to modify the Reid plan and won’t vote for the substance of the plan, they at least should allow the Senate to vote on it, and not filibuster.

"I call on Senate Republicans to suggest changes to this proposal but not filibuster it, and let this plan come to a clean up or down vote."

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 info@savethewildup.org, 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!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Updated: Flambeau Mine Update: A new proposal from Kennecott, but still "Just Grass Over a Grave"

(Editor's Update: The hearing mentioned below has been canceled. According to the Wisconsin DNR, it will be rescheduled.)

By Laura Gauger*


LADYSMITH, WIS. -- Kennecott / Flambeau Mining Company (FMC) is proposing to convert an existing 0.9-acre, lined "detention basin" (pond) at the partially reclaimed Flambeau Mine site to an "infiltration basin" and construct two new infiltration basins at the site to handle contaminated runoff. A public hearing has been scheduled on the proposal for 5 p.m. Wednesday, August 3, 2011, at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) Service Center, N4103 State Highway 27, in Ladysmith, Wisconsin.**

Here are a few details: The existing man-made detention basin (also referred to as a biofilter) at the Flambeau Mine site was designed to collect and passively treat contaminated runoff. Since 1998, Kennecott’s own data consistently has shown elevated levels of copper in the pond. And the levels are not just a little high. Copper levels in the runoff draining into the pond have varied widely over the years, ranging from 15 ppb (Oct. 09) to 2000 ppb (Aug. 05) -- latest reported reading was 22 ppb (Sep. 10). Copper levels in the water draining out of the pond, into a tributary of the Flambeau River known as Stream C, have ranged from 4 ppb (Aug. 07) to 91 ppb (Nov. 00) -- latest reported reading was 5 ppb (Sep. 10). Wisconsin's chronic toxicity standard for copper, set to protect fish and other aquatic species, is 2.7 ppb, so the reported levels are truly significant. Elevated zinc and iron in the discharge have also been reported by Kennecott.

The present discharge of this contaminated water into Stream C is the subject of a lawsuit filed in federal court this past January (U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin; Case No. 11-cv-45). I am one of the plaintiffs in the case, as is the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council and the Center for Biological Diversity. We are alleging violations of the Clean Water Act, since Kennecott does not have, nor has it ever had, a Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit authorizing the discharge of contaminants to Stream C.***

Now Kennecott is proposing that, instead of routing the contaminated water from the (lined) detention basin into Stream C (where levels of contaminants can be measured easily and standards enforced), the liner be removed, the detention basin be converted to an infiltration basin (so the contaminated water can seep down into the earth), and two additional infiltration basins be created at the site.

Instead of CLEANING UP the source of the contamination, Kennecott is COVERING UP the problem. The proposed "infiltration basins" will allow the contaminants to move down into the groundwater, hiding the problem from view and making it more difficult to hold the company accountable for the pollution. Like Roscoe said: "Just Grass Over a Grave."

See the link below for a "Notice of Complete Application for and Public Informational Hearing for Proposed Grading and Stream Realignment" regarding Kennecott/FMC's proposal to create the infiltration basins.****

As I mentioned above, the hearing is set for 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011, in Ladysmith, Wis. If anyone cares to attend the public hearing but needs more information, please contact me at kettu2010@callta.com and I will do my best to help.

Please note that this action proposed by Kennecott is separate from our lawsuit.

Laura Gauger
Duluth, MN 55805

* Laura (Furtman) Gauger is the co-author, with the late Roscoe Churchill, of The Buzzards Have Landed: The Real Story of the Flambeau Mine.

** Click here for Notice of the Public Hearing.

*** Click here for a "Fact Sheet" with details of the lawsuit (and background information on the detention basin).

**** Click here for a "Notice of Complete Application for and Public Informational Hearing for Proposed Grading and Stream Realignment" regarding Kennecott/FMC's proposal to create the infiltration basins.

Music on the Menu at Portage Library to feature guitarist Steve Jones July 29

HOUGHTON -- The Portage Lake District Library invites everyone to bring a lunch and enjoy "Music on the Menu," an outdoor series of events held on the dock outside the library.

Steve Jones will perform his unique and intricate style of guitar music from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, July 29.

Everyone is invited to eat, relax, and enjoy the lunch hour while listening to some great music. In the event of bad weather, the program will be held in the community room.

This event is part of the library’s Summer Reading Program and is free and open to all. For more information, please call the library at 482-4570 or visit www.pldl.org.

Volunteers needed to pull knapweed at McLain State Park July 30

Spotted knapweed is an invasive plant that should be pulled before its seeds allow it to spread. Volunteers are needed to pull it at McLain State Park Saturday, July 30. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)*

By Janet Marr, botanist


HANCOCK -- McLain State Park needs your help in pulling spotted knapweed, the Copper Country's most "popular" invasive plant species! The Park recently received funding from the UP Resource Conservation and Development Council for spotted knapweed mapping, control/removal, and restoration in this popular Lake Superior lakeshore park. The mapping phase has been completed, and two areas have been set aside for volunteers to help in removal efforts.

You are invited to join a knapweed pull beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, July 30, at McLain State Park, near the bathing beach. Help as long as you care to stay.

The Park is part-way (more or less) between Calumet and Hancock on the lake side of M-203. Drive into the Park and tell folks at the park entrance that you're a knapweed- pulling volunteer and you will not need to pay to enter the Park); hang a left and drive down to the end of the road (where the bathing beach is); park at the far end of the parking area to the left. It's only about a one- or two-minute walk to the pulling site. In case you're not able to get there right at 9 a.m., the area to be pulled is to the left (west) of the swimming beach near the metal walls lining the canal.

Bring the following: garden gloves if you have a favorite pair (we'll have dollar store specials if you need a pair). Spotted knapweed has a substance that is an irritant so gloves, long-sleeve shirts, and long pants should be worn. You might want to bring water and a hat/sunscreen, if it's a toasty/sunny day. Jumping in the Lake is always an option to cool off!

By the way, pulling knapweed out of the sands of McLain is sooooo easy compared to many other local sites with more compacted soils. You won't be able to stop pulling!

Tools: we'll have an assortment of tools you may borrow (pulling works fine on many plants, but others will need a little nudge with a tool before pulling). Feel free to bring your favorite knapweed tackling tool as well. The smaller the blade the better (that'll help assure less disturbance to the ground and exposure of seeds from the seedbank).

If you know others who may be interested in joining in the fun, please let them know the details.

For more information call Janet Marr at 337-5529 or email her at jkmarr@mtu.edu.

*Click here for more photos of spotted knapweed.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Farm Block Fest to offer music, art, camping, good food July 29, 30, 31

AHMEEK -- Farm Block Fest is a two-night, three-day camping and music festival this Friday, Saturday and Sunday -- July 29, 30 and 31 -- in the heart of Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula -- just outside Ahmeek at the Parsons’ Farm, 2239 N. Farmers Block Rd, Allouez Township.

In conjunction with Keweenaw Krayons, Farm Block Festival is put on as a fundraiser for the Dan Schmitt Gift of Music fund. The fund provides instruments and music lessons for area youth.

Farm Block Fest strives to create a safe, family-friendly environment that harnesses the power of music and arts in order to create a unique and positive community experience.

Live Music! Great Food! Art Vendors! A beautiful and pristine environment! 3 on 3 basketball tournament!

Gates open at 4:30 p.m. Friday, July 29.

A weekend pass (includes camping) is $40; day pass -- $15 Friday, $20 Saturday; $5 per car -- carpool!

Local, organic, and sustainable food provided all weekend long by Bill Caputi and Ray Weglarz of Ray's Polish Fire. Pay per plate.

Remember to bring dishes and silverware. This helps things flow smoothly and helps reduce waste. Some utensils will be provided, as well as a sink and drying rack for your dishes.

Rules :
No Pets (only Otis is allowed)
No campfires (there will be one designated site)
No kegs
No underage drinking
RESPECT the land, each other, and our HOME

The 2011 Farm Block Fest Music Lineup includes Seth Bernard and May Erlewine, Luke Winslow-King, Chris Bathgate, Fiona Dickinson, The Chanteymen, Benjamin Riley Band, The Go Rounds, Elk Welcome and many more ...

Carnegie Museum to host Bug TV at Nara Nature Park July 30

HOUGHTON -- The Carnegie Museum has teamed up with the Nara Nature Park and created a Summer Science Natural History program. From 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, July 30, the team will present Bug TV, the second in their series of explorations of Plants and Pollinators.

There is no fee for the program, but space is limited, so please email history@cityofhoughton.com or call 482-7140 to reserve your spot. As programs are weather dependent, please remember to leave contact information so we can reach you in case of cancellation, postponement, or change of location! All ages are welcome, but children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult.

Meet at the Nara Trail Chalet to watch bugs in action! Be there any time after 9 p.m. for Jim Bess' preview of insect specimens to show you what to look for. Then, after dark, with the help of a white sheet and light, participants will watch all kinds of flying insects and learn what they are, what they like to eat, and why nighttime is the right time to see them! Highly recommend wearing mosquito repellant and bringing a flashlight; a blanket and/or folding chair may be useful if the group stays in one place.

NOSOTROS to host potluck beach potluck July 29

HOUGHTON -- NOSOTROS will host a family-friendly potluck from 6 p.m. to dusk this Friday, July 29, at the East Houghton Waterfront Park (next to Super 8 Motel). Eating will start at 7 p.m.

Click on poster for larger version. (NOSOTROS poster courtesy Julio Rivera)

'Expecting great weather, we are planning to have games and enjoy the sun," says Alessia Uboni, NOSOTROS vice-president. "You can bring any outdoor game (Frisbees, etc.), dominoes, board games, a beach chair, etc."

There are no BBQ facilities, however you are welcome to bring your own grill.

Music will be playing so you can dance or listen to it, or you can just hang around, sit by the deck, and meet new friends.

* Bring your own dishes and silverware
* Bathroom facilities available
* Dogs allowed
* No glass containers (see poster)

If you have any questions, please feel free to email auboni@mtu.edu.

NOSOTROS is a student organization established to create a "sense of community" of the Hispanic/Latin culture at Michigan Technological University and to share the Hispanic/Latin culture with the campus community and others. You don't need to speak Spanish or be Hispanic to attend NOSOTROS events.

Click here for the location of the East Houghton Waterfront Park.

Recall Rick Snyder petition signing July 29 in Houghton

HOUGHTON -- Volunteers for the Recall Rick Snyder petition effort will be at Veterans' Park in Houghton from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, July 29. (Just up from the Portage Lake Lift Bridge)

Come to sign your name on the petition to recall Governor Rick Snyder. Any Michigan registered voter can sign at this event. You do not have to be a resident of Houghton County.

For more information visit the Web site: http://www.firericksnyder.org/

Keweenawan Jewels

By Jack Parker (aka jprockdoctor)*

Guest author Jack Parker, mining engineer, calls this rock an "amygdaloidal beach cobble." See below to learn why. (Rock painting by Gustavo Bourdieu. Photo © 2011 and courtesy Jack Parker)

You think it’s hot here this month?

You should have been here a couple of billion years ago, when it was being built. The whole earth was in a state of upheaval. There were no trees, no grass, no lakes or beaches. She was rumbling and shaking, as if waking from a bad dream.

Volcanoes were showering bombs and hot ashes on Keweenaw County, cracks opened up and vast flows of molten rock oozed across the land. Fire and brimstone -- the brimstone being sulfur. The atmosphere was really toxic -- there being no EPA to regulate it.

Thirsty? Sorry, there is no fresh water. Hungry? You’re going to have to wait. There’s nothing to eat yet …

But there is so much going on -- it keeps the amateur geologist thinking and wondering and puzzled to this day. Always looking for clues.

Vesicles for example: As those lavas flowed across the landscape gas bubbles rose to the tops of the flows and many of them were preserved in the rocks as they cooled, bubbles large and small. So we can recognize a flowtop when we see it.

Then, again over a very long period of time, fluids passed through the rock and entered the bubbles, often precipitating new minerals in them. The filled bubbles are called amygdules (from the Latin word for almond), frequently white with calcite, glassy with quartz, yellowish- green with epidote, sometimes banded with agate, occasionally with native copper and rarely with native silver.

If there is enough value we mine those flowtops, calling them "Amygdaloids." Some folks search in them for semi-precious stones, including agates, amethysts, greenstones, and thompsonites.

Today folks scour the wasterock piles and gravel pits and the beaches to find specimens which please them -- tons of them. Michigan Tech has contributed to a lot of what is called "student erosion" of the UP, now scattered all over the world in showcases, basements and garages.

One very special collection can be seen at the "Tori Market" in Hancock on Wednesdays and Saturdays. You will find vegetables, honey, artwork, handicrafts and not a few tall stories, in the open air or under canvas.

The above photograph is of an amygdaloidal beach cobble, about three inches long -- the prettiest I have seen in eighty years of looking. It’s a happy rock. Just to look at it makes me smile.

* Editor's Note: Keweenaw Now guest author Jack Parker of Baltic is a semi-retired mining engineer / geologist, who specializes in practical rock mechanics.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Updated: MEA reps to hold petition signing on EFM legislation at Firefighters' Tournament July 29

CALUMET -- MEA (Michigan Education Association) representatives will have a table during the 117th annual U.P. Firefighters' Tournament from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, July 29, in Calumet. MEA will have give-away items and petitions to place the Emergency Manager legislation on the ballot.

Update: The table will be at the tennis courts next to the Gipp Arena in Laurium.

The Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) law passed in March of this year gives Governor Snyder the authority to assign emergency financial managers (EFMs) to any community or school district that has to request assistance in times of financial stress. The EFM will have the full authority to dissolve unions and overrule local governments. The EFM legislation is a serious concern for Upper Peninsula educators since Hancock and Ewen Trout Creek schools have been targeted for an EFM because of financial deficits.

The Calumet Village, Laurium Village and Calumet Township Fire Departments will be hosting the U.P. Firefighters' Tournament this Thursday, Friday and Saturday -- July 28, 29 and 30. Firefighters from throughout the Upper Peninsula will be attending this three-day event in the Calumet-Laurium area. Click here for the schedule of the tournament and maps.

Updated: Climate activist Tim DeChristopher sentenced to two years in prison

From Peaceful Uprising:

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Climate activist Tim DeChristopher was sentenced to two years in prison on July 26, 2011, at the Salt Lake City federal courthouse. He was taken immediately into custody, being denied the typical three weeks afforded to put his affairs in order and say goodbye to his friends and family.

Tim by Daphne Hougard. (Press Photo from peacefuluprising.org)

After the sentencing, the Web site Peaceful Uprising, which supports Tim's civil disobedience to call attention to climate change, reported the following: "Federal prosecutors asked for Tim to receive an extra harsh prison sentence in an effort to intimidate the movement that stands with him. They hoped that by condemning him to years behind bars, they would 'make an example out of him' and deter all of us from taking meaningful action."

Click here to see a video of the call to action by Tim's supporters outside the courthouse.

Editor's Note: In March 2011, DeChristopher was found guilty on two felony counts for derailing a Bureau of Land Management auction in December 2008.

Update: The auction was later overturned by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who ruled that the majority of parcels (including land adjacent to recreation areas, national parks and private residences) had not undergone adequate review. Despite cancelling the auction, the Obama administration proceeded to indict DeChristopher, whose trial and sentencing has continually been rescheduled for the last two and a half years. Judge Dee Benson ruled early on that Salazar’s dismissal of the auction and DeChristopher’s motivation would not be admissible in court during his trial.

Update: Tim DeChristopher was also sentenced to a $10,000 fine. Peaceful Uprising activists initiated a sit-in to blockade the two front entrances of the federal courthouse and emphasize that they had no hesitation in joining DeChristopher in jail, giving meaning to the slogan, "We are all Bidder 70 (Tim's number during the auction)." Members of the community joined the blockade to show their love and outrage, and by the time police had finished, 26 people were arrested.

DeChristopher acted to stop the oil and gas industry from drilling in pristine Utah wilderness near Arches and Canyonlands national parks and to prevent the release of greenhouse gas emissions.

Click here to see a video interview with Tim just before his sentencing.

Keweenaw Now has been following Tim's case since we met him at the 2009 Protect the Earth event in Marquette and on Eagle Rock. See our Aug. 5, 2009 article, "Protect the Earth 2009: Part 1" on Tim's presentation at Northern Michigan University. See also our Aug. 8, 2009, article, "Protect the Earth: Part 2, Walk to Eagle Rock," for Gabriel Caplett's video clip of Tim DeChristopher pouring water from Salt Lake City during the water ceremony at Eagle Rock.

Protect the Earth 2011 will take place Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011, at Van Riper State Park on the shores of Lake Michigamme in Champion, Mich. Watch for details, coming soon.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Historian to discuss life of pioneer resident Lucena Brockway July 28

HOUGHTON -- The life and experiences of Lucena Brockway will be the topic of a public presentation at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 28, in the East Reading Room of the J.R. Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie library at Michigan Tech. The presentation is part of the "Archival Speakers Series" and is free and open to the public.

Lucena Brockway was one of the first white female settlers in the Keweenaw Peninsula. Visiting historian Kathleen Warnes will discuss Lucena's pioneer experiences at a public presentation at 6:30 p.m. on July 28 in in the East Reading Room of the J.R. Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie library at Michigan Tech. (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech Archives)

Dr. Kathleen Warnes, an independent scholar based in Allendale, Michigan, will discuss her research into the life of Lucena Brockway, an early pioneer resident of Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. A native of New York State, Lucena arrived in the Lake Superior region in 1843 with her husband Daniel Brockway as one of the first white families to settle the area. Initially living in L’Anse, where Daniel worked as a government blacksmith, the Brockways moved to Copper Harbor in 1846 and remained linked to the Keweenaw until their deaths in 1899.

Details of Lucena’s life are captured in a series of personal diaries, photographs, and family and business papers preserved at the Michigan Tech Archives. As her children matured and left home, and as her husband spent more and more time at his various business ventures, Lucena found herself increasingly isolated and alone. Brockway’s diaries document her daily activities and struggles, pointing out the type of independent character required of women along the copper mining frontier.

Lucena and Daniel Brockway on the porch of their home in 1898. (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech Archives)

Warnes’s research is supported by a Michigan Tech Archives travel grant, with funding provided by the Friends of the Van Pelt Library. Since 1998, the Michigan Tech Archives Travel Grant has assisted more than 25 scholars advance their work through research in the department’s varied historical collections.

For more information on the July 28 presentation, call the Michigan Tech Archives at 487-2505, e-mail copper@mtu.edu, or click here.

House debates conservation funding bill this week; Michigan projects at risk

WASHINGTON, D. C. -- The American public strongly supports the federal government's decades-old program of protecting land with money received from oil companies, a new bipartisan poll showed today. The poll was released as the House of Representatives prepares to vote this week on whether to siphon off almost all the money in the program putting projects in Michigan and across the country at risk.

Support for the program, known as the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), was at 85 percent in the poll, which was taken by two polling firms.

Since 1965, the LWCF program has been the nation's primary tool to conserve land for parks, wildlife refuges, forests, rivers, trails, historic and cultural sites and other important federal, state and local public lands.

By similar margins, the poll finds that a vast majority of Americans want Congress to honor its commitment to dedicate LWCF funds to these purposes rather than diverting them for unrelated uses.

The telephone poll of 800 likely voters was conducted during the week of July 10, 2011, and was undertaken jointly by two research firms, one Republican (Public Opinion Strategies) and one Democratic (Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates). The poll's major findings (margin of error of +/- 3.46 percent) include the following:
  • An overwhelming majority -- 88 percent -- of voters support continuing to deposit fees from offshore oil and gas drilling into the Land and Water Conservation Fund. In 2009, 81 percent of voters supported continued LWCF funding.
  • Voters from all major segments of the electorate support continued funding for LWCF, including 93 percent of Democrats, 87 percent of independents, and 83 percent of Republicans; 95 percent of Latinos, 88 percent of whites, and 85 percent of African Americans -- as well as 86 percent of voters in each region of the U.S.
The poll's findings come at a time when the U.S. House of Representatives has proposed a draconian 78 percent cut to LWCF in the FY 2012 Interior funding bill to $65.8 million -- the lowest level of funding since the law establishing LWCF was passed in 1965. The cuts have been proposed despite the fact that the fund uses no taxpayer dollars.

LWCF protection in Michigan

Over the past 45 years, LWCF has helped to protect land in every state, and in 98 percent of U.S. counties. In Michigan, LWCF has provided approximately $292 million in funding to help protect the state's most special places and ensure recreational access for hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. Public lands such as the Pictured Rocks and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshores, Keweenaw National Historic Park, and the Hiawatha, Huron, Manistee, and Ottawa National Forests are among the places that have benefited from LWCF funding. Several pending and proposed projects in Michigan are still awaiting LWCF funding.

"Americans across the political spectrum recognize the importance of investing oil and gas revenue in protecting our outdoor recreation heritage," said Nancy Warren, board member of the Upper Peninsula Public Access Coalition and resident of Ewen, Michigan. "The House of Representatives is set on dismantling a program that has done so much for our state in spite of overwhelming support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Congress needs to restore its promise to the American people and set things right by not diverting these funds away from their intended purposes."

The House began to debate the Interior Appropriations bill, which includes funding for LWCF, on Monday, June 25. A vote on the bill is expected this week. Michigan Reps. Dale Kildee, Sander Levin, John Conyers and John Dingell recently joined a bipartisan group of 150 House members who signed a "Dear Colleague" letter requesting "robust and consistent" funding for LWCF.

The LWCF Coalition comprises conservation, recreation, business, and sportsmen's groups working together to support the LWCF program in order to meet America's conservation and recreation needs in the 21st century. For more information on LWCF and the places in each state that have been protected using LWCF funds, visit www.lwcfcoalition.org.

Trio Tumpelot to entertain at Copper Island Beach Club July 27

HANCOCK -- Trio Tumpelot (Anna Gawboy, Meghan Pachmayer and Pasi Lautala) will double the number of their public performances as they perform from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 27, at Copper Island Beach Club, Hancock waterfront.

They also expect to have the master accordionist Don Reinholm join the trio for waltzes tangos, etc. (If somebody sees him, tell him that he has a gig on Wednesday.)

Today, July 26, is last day to register for Summer Arts Camp

HANCOCK -- The deadline to register for Summer Arts Camp is today, July 26! Call the Copper Country Community Arts Center in Hancock at 482-2333.

Poster announcing Summer Arts Camp at the Copper Country Community Arts Center. Today, July 26, is the last day to register. Call 482-2333. Click on poster for larger version. (Poster courtesy Copper Country Community Arts Center)

Summer Arts Camp is in its 26th year and provides a week of art activities for 3rd-6th graders including painting, collage, writing, sculpture, dance, puppet making, and music.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Gabriel Caplett: Letter on "special interest law"

ESCANABA -- Gabriel Caplett of Headwaters News has written a letter to the editor, published July 23, 2011, by the Escanaba Daily Press: "Watch out for special interest law," concerning the legislation proposed recently by State Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) and State Rep. Matt Huuki (R-Atlantic Mine).

Caplett points out in his letter that this legislation "will strip every Michigan township of the right to deny any mining project."

Click here to read the letter on why this is a "special interest" law.

Editor's note: Click here for background on this legislation from the Michigan Townships Association.
Click here for a June 24, 2011, Daily Mining Gazette article, "Controversial mineral extraction bill debated" and click here for the Gazette's July 2, 2011, article, "Legislation concerning mining approved."

Community Arts Center to host final Art in the Garden lectures July 26, Aug. 2

HANCOCK -- The Copper Country Community Arts Center (CCCAC) in Hancock is hosting a series of lectures and demonstrations leading up to the Art in the Garden Tour at the end of July.

Herbal Medicine Lecture July 26

The fourth program in the series will be a lecture about medicinal plants. Join botanist Andrea Corpolongo Smith from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 26, as she describes a few of the many medicinal plants that call the Copper Country home. Get to know Yarrow, the herbal first aide; St. Johns Wort, the nerve remedy; Usnea, the antibacterial lichen; and more. Andrea will share photos, home made tinctures, as well as samples of the plants discussed. The fee for this lecture is $7, or $5 for those taking the Art in the Garden Tour, with proceeds benefiting the CCCAC.

Design Principles in the Garden Aug. 2

The final lecture in the Art in the Garden series, Design Principles in the Garden by Lynn Watson, will be at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 2, at the Community Arts Center.

Alexander Pope said, "All gardens are landscape paintings." With this truth in mind, "art in the garden" is another creative expression for good design principles. The principles of line, direction, shape, size, texture, and color apply to any well designed garden. Establishing pattern through repetition, alternation, harmony, contrast, and balance moves the eye through the plantings -- guiding the viewer.

A thoughtfully planted garden intrigues at a distance and, like a tapestry, gets more interesting upon close inspection. A good garden satisfies through multiple seasons. This lecture with Lynn Watson, Michigan Tech University gardener, will show how these elements can be applied to your garden planning or resetting. At Michigan Tech, Watson's work includes the Rosza Performing Arts Center gardens and plantings throughout campus.

The fee to attend this lecture is $5 with proceeds benefiting the Copper Country Community Arts Center.

The Community Arts Center is at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. Please call 482-2333 to RSVP.

Sidney Butler to present solo Harp Concert July 26 to benefit Keweenaw Heritage Center

CALUMET -- Sidney Butler will present a solo Harp Concert at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 26, at the Keweenaw Heritage Center at St. Anne's in Calumet (corner of 5th and Scott Streets).

Sidney Butler explains three types of harps during her 2010 solo concert at the Keweenaw Heritage Center. (Keweenaw Now 2010 file photo)

From Ragtime to The Beatles and Bach, Sidney will be playing 200-year-old classics interspersed with popular tunes -- a variety of music for all ages. Tickets are $6 at the door, with proceeds benefiting the universal accessibility project at the Keweenaw Heritage Center.

The weather forecast is for a cool and pleasant evening in Calumet!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Response to "Minerva" on the Petition to Recall Gov. Snyder

By Joanne Thomas*

I am a petitioner in the firericksnyder.org effort. My time is valuable to me, and I only care to invest it where I feel my abilities will go to the most good. The gravity of this governor's actions, so early in his term, is drastic and largely unnecessary and may carry dire consequences if not halted. Simply not liking a Republican governor in office would hardly be a motivator.

There is one particular transgression from the Snyder administration that pushed me into action, and that is the seizing of the Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor. An order the EFM issued on May 4 restricts access to the public waterfront park. This park was deeded to Benton Harbor in 1917 "in perpetuity." Part of it has now been turned into a private luxury golf resort, with the help of an economic development group that until recently included the sponsor of the Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) law on its board of directors.

Yes, having a full account of another of Snyder's actions -- implementing the EFM -- is important and difficult to understand. And yes, I like your "Exercise your mind, don't wash it" quote. Here is one caveat in this law that you, and the sources you received your information from, may have missed. It is apparent that these regulations were not followed.

A member of one financial review team explains, "The EFM law has been on the books for years. Unfortunately, it had no teeth. Also, by the time an EFM is appointed, the public body will have had (?) a number of warnings and hearings (?). In fact, the public body must execute a Consent Agreement which includes a road map of how to comply with applicable laws that govern financial management and reporting. It is only when the public body violates the Consent Agreement that an EFM is even considered. Even then, the public body has a right to a hearing before an EFM is appointed. The entire process can take 18 - 24 months." (So, how long has Mr. Snyder been in office?)

During that time the citizens have plenty of opportunities to convince their elected officials to clean up the problems. Only after these phases does the EFM law actually benefit the citizenry and provide fair warning that their elected officials are not in compliance with law.

While this Web site, like many others, offers the advantage of anonymity in posting comments, I believe those who post comments still need to be correct and civil and to be responsible for the content of their words. And it is unhelpful when any of us resort to verbal attacks like "greedy" and name-calling -- such as "dictator," "thugs," "hacks," etc. It is an unfortunate tendency on all sides of the political spectrum. I trust that you correct your associations when you hear them make such calls about our president and other Democratic officials. I will try to be more vigilant about that too.

* Editor's Note: Keweenaw resident Joanne Thomas is responding to the first comment under our July 1 article on the Recall Rick Snyder petition signings.