Monday, June 11, 2012

Big Bay citizens' kayak trip to raise funds for third-party air monitoring program at Eagle Mine

BIG BAY -- Some members of Concerned Citizens of Big Bay are having a kayaking fundraiser to help create public awareness for an independent, third-party air monitoring program for the Eagle Mine.

This is a view of the bay of Big Bay, where kayakers will set out on one part of their fundraising journey, which will be divided into two trips for safety concerns. (Photo © and courtesy Gene Champagne of Concerned Citizens of Big Bay)

The group -- Carla and Gene Champagne, Ben Kent. Emily Whittaker, Cynthia Pryor, and Bill Kinjorski -- will soon kayak from the mouth of the Iron/Yellow Dog River to the mouth of the Salmon Trout River. This fundraiser will fulfill part of a Fresh Water Future grant of $2,500 the group received last year. The kayakers are also the proposed Eagle Mine Air Quality Monitoring Team.

"The fumes (from the Eagle Mine) are making folks nauseous. Kennecott is venting right into the pristine air up there," says Gene Champagne, author of a recent opinion article on this issue, published in the Marquette Mining Journal on June 3, 2012.

In that article, Champagne writes, "The time has come to seek the best available, and least disputable, science with regards to air quality monitoring for the Eagle Mine in northern Marquette County and any other hard rock (sulfide) mines that follow. To this end. the Powell Township Board, at its May 22 meeting, passed a resolution that calls for an independent, third party air monitoring program for any current and future mines that may affect Powell Township."*

The second part of the kayaking trip will require crossing Big Bay (3.5 miles across), resting perhaps at the black rocks on the west side of the bay, and then continuing around Salmon Trout Point (center of this photo) and into Salmon Trout Bay and the mouth of the Salmon Trout River. Lake Superior can be seen to the right beyond the point. (Photo © and courtesy Gene Champagne of Concerned Citizens of Big Bay)

Two other members of this group, Carla Champagne and Cynthia Pryor, recently requested this independent, third-party air monitoring program for the Eagle Mine at Rio Tinto's Annual General Meeting with shareholders in London, England.**

Concerned Citizens of Big Bay will be collecting donations through July on their Web site and plan to post photos of the two-day kayaking trip on the site as well. The kayakers hope to start the journey, which is weather and wave dependent, this month (or possibly as early as this week). They have a maximum of six kayakers in order to leave little to no footprints and impact upon the private lands they will be launching from.

Concerned Citizens of Big Bay fund many of their activities out of their own pockets, with the help of supporters.

"If you can give a little to our own fundraiser we can hopefully have some added impact to the proper and scientific monitoring at Eagle Mine," Gene Champagne notes.

Click here to donate to the fundraiser on the group's Web site.

Editor's Notes:
* Click here to read Gene Champagne's guest op-ed article, "Science, public relations are two different things."

** In case you missed it, see Keweenaw Now's updated May 23, 2012, article, "Big Bay residents report on Rio Tinto AGM in London."

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