Saturday, March 10, 2012

KBIC to host film, potluck, FOLK presentation of new mining education project March 14

BARAGA -- The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) will host two showings of the film Four Corners: A National Sacrifice Area? on Wednesday, March 14, in Baraga in conjunction with a potluck dinner with Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK) and an introduction to the launch of FOLK's "Mining Education and Empowerment Project."

The schedule is as follows:

12:30 p.m. -- Film Screening at the Ojibwa Senior Citizens' Center
5 p.m. -- Potluck Dinner and presentation with Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK) at Ojibwa Casino Chippewa Room
6 p.m. -- Film Screening at Ojibwa Casino Chippewa Room

Four Corners documents the cultural and ecological impacts of coal strip mining, uranium mining and oil shale development in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona -- homeland of the Hopi and Navajo. It examines Peabody Coal Company’s massive Black Mesa strip mine and the history of uranium mining on the Colorado Plateau, including the 1979 Church Rock tailings spill on the Navajo Reservation, where high levels of lung cancer and birth defects have resulted from decades of radiation exposure. The film challenges the U.S. government policy of locating destructive energy projects in remote "national sacrifice areas" and illustrates serious "environmental justice" issues ten years before that term was coined. Concluding that the extraction of coal and uranium involves huge hidden costs, Four Corners argues for development of alternative energy from solar and wind along with a major conservation initiative.

This film is part of the Mining Impacts on Native Lands Film Series hosted by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Natural Resources Department Mining Outreach and Education Initiative. The event is free and open to the public.

FOLK's "Mining Education and Empowerment Project"

According to FOLK President Linda Rulison, FOLK has organized a two-phase campaign to enable citizens to do the following:
  • Assess the risks new mining poses to the western Upper Peninsula ecosystem, economy and society.
  • Make well-informed, effective and ethically grounded responses to proposals to undertake new mines.
  • Participate fully in the process through which new mining proposals are reviewed.
Phase one of this campaign is now underway. FOLK has formed an action research committee that has begun its investigation of the risks and benefits of new mining.

"Soon we will begin an outreach and education program to provide information about mining to our citizens," Rulison writes in FOLK's March 2012 newsletter. "We will conduct house parties, hold workshops, and make public presentations. In addition, we plan to engage our government representatives in a dialogue about the risks of new mines."

In phase two of this campaign, FOLK plans to use knowledge acquired in phase one to evaluate new mining proposals.

FOLK has received a $3,000 grant from the Western Mining Action Network (WMAN) to support this action research program.

Concerned citizens are invited to become involved in the campaign. Contact fupemail386@folkup.org for more information or attend the potluck and presentation next Wednesday, March 12, in the Ojibwa Casino Chippewa Room.

Rozsa Center Gallery to host Great Lakes Showcase Mar. 12-30

"Central's Heritage," by artist Susan Robinson of Hancock. Acrylic paints on canvas, 12" x 24." This is one of the entries in the The Great Lakes Showcase juried exhibition opening with a reception in the Rozsa Center Gallery Monday, March 12. Click on photo for larger version. (Photo courtesy Susan Robinson)

HOUGHTON -- The Rozsa Center will present The Great Lakes Showcase: An Annual Juried Exhibition of Fine Arts and Crafts celebrating the region’s visual arts community March 12-30. The public is invited to the opening reception from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday, March 12.

The gallery will be open during its regular hours Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

According to Michigan Tech Professor of Art Mary Ann Beckwith, "This year’s show offers a stunning array of art work from throughout the region, varied enough to find something to please every viewer."

This annual juried exhibition showcases recent work by artists in multiple categories including oil, watercolor, acrylic, drawing, printmaking, photography, woodworking, fiber arts, ceramics, multi-media and more! With a long tradition of shining the spotlight on regional artists, the Great Lakes Showcase welcomes the community to enjoy its own artist richness in Michigan Tech's Rozsa Center.

Over $2000 worth of awards will be given this year to honor outstanding work in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional categories. The three top prizes are being sponsored by the Michigan Technological University President, Provost, and Dean. This year’s juror is Dr. Stephen Perkins, Curator of Art at the Lawton Gallery, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. As always, the show includes a Community Favorite Award voted on by gallery visitors. Throughout the Showcase, most exhibition works will be available for purchase through Ticketing Operations by calling (906) 487-2073.

This exhibit is sponsored by the Michigan Technological University Visual and Performing Arts Department.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Conservation District 2012 Tree Sale begins: Orders due March 30

HOUGHTON -- The Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District (HKCD) 2012 Annual Tree Sale is underway! Tree orders are due by Friday, March 30. Please order early!

This year's sale offers a wide variety of native trees, trees and shrubs for wildlife, fruit trees, native wildflowers, vegetables, grapevines, berries and conservation merchandise. Click here to see the detailed catalog.

If you did not receive an order form in the mail with the recent HKCD newsletter, you can find it here, print the order form from the Web site and mail it with your payment to Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District, 600 East Lakeshore Drive, Suite #204, Houghton, MI 49931.

You can pick up your order from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, May 4, or from 10 a.m. until Noon on Saturday, May 5, at the Houghton County Arena, 1500 Birch St., Hancock. A $15 late fee will be charged for orders not picked up by Noon, Saturday, May 5.

"Volunteers are always needed and greatly appreciated to help sort trees and shrubs into individual orders from April 30 through to May 5," says HKCD Administrator Sue Haralson.

The annual tree sale is HKCD's major fundraiser of the year. All proceeds go to conservation efforts and education in Houghton and Keweenaw Counties. Learn more about HKCD on their Web site.

For more information call Sue at 906-482-0214.

Portage Library to host Public Forum for Houghton County Master Plan

HOUGHTON -- The Houghton County Planning Commission will hold a public meeting to discuss the draft of the five-year update to the county’s Master Plan at 7 p.m. Monday, March 12, in the Portage Lake District Library.

The plan is a compilation of current information about the county -- including how land is used, demographics, infrastructure, recreation, and some economic data. The plan identifies a number of trends and issues facing the county including changes in cities and villages, development patterns, waterfront development, land fragmentation, recreational access to trails, and historic preservation. Land use is depicted on maps for each township.

A copy of the Master Plan is available for review at the library and online at www.houghtoncounty.net.* According to the Planning Commission, citizens are strongly encouraged to review the plan and provide their comments either by attending the March 12 meeting or by attending Planning Commission meetings at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 20, and Tuesday, April 17, at the Houghton County Courthouse. Written comments may also be mailed to the Houghton County Planning Commission, c/o Houghton County Controller, Houghton County Courthouse, 401 E. Montezuma Ave., Houghton, MI 49931, or emailed to Planning Commissioner Bill Fink . The deadline for comments is April 18, 2012.

The Houghton County Planning Commission will be holding a Public Hearing on the 2012 Houghton County Master Plan at 4 p. m. on Tuesday, April 24, 2012, in the Commissioners Room on the 5th Floor of the Houghton County Courthouse. After the hearing, the Houghton County Planning Commission will adopt the final version of the 2012 Houghton County Master Plan.

* Click here to view and download the 2012 Houghton County Master Plan (incorporating the updated Township Land Use Maps). The Houghton County Land Use Map at the website is from 2006; it will be updated in the near future. Printed copies of the 2012 Master Plan are available for review in the Controller’s Office at the Houghton County Courthouse and in the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton.

For more information you may call the library at 482-4570 or visit www.pldl.org.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Democracy activist addresses road controversy in Marquette County

By Jon Saari, UPEC (Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition) Board Member

MARQUETTE -- Phil Bellfy is one savvy activist who is not afraid to take on City Hall. He’s done it in East Lansing for the past four and one-half years, largely on his own in the name of good government. His forthcoming book title says it all: How to Fight City Hall, and Win: One American Indian's Odyssey Through the World of Eminent Domain, Tax Fraud, Tax-Increment Financing, and High-Stakes Development.

It took Bellfy six hours to drive from Sault Ste. Marie to Marquette on a wintry day in late February. He had been invited by the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC) to talk about eminent domain, which has surfaced as an issue in a battle over a new proposed road in western Marquette County. This 22-mile road would link the Kennecott Eagle Mine with the Humboldt mill, but it is being touted less as a private haul road and more as a great public benefit.

The road would ostensibly provide a needed alternative to the present designated mine haul road, which runs eastward towards Big Bay and then south along CR 550, traveling near the population centers of Marquette, Negaunee, and Ishpeming before arriving at the mill. But opponents argue that the proposed CR 595 would change and endanger an undeveloped wild area that is the Headwaters Country for six Lake Superior streams, and that it is falsely being presented as a road with predominantly public benefits.

The Marquette County Road Commission filed the application for the new road (CR 595) in October, 2011, pressed by the County Commission, the City of Marquette, and most townships.

Despite the political push all the way to Lansing and Washington D.C., the Road Commission has declined to use one tool in its toolbox, the hammer of eminent domain (condemnation of private land), that would have allowed it to establish an alternative route through the Mulligan Plains.

This map shows several alternatives being considered for the potential CR 595. The dotted line (running north-south near center of map) is the route through the Mulligan Plains, which includes private land protected by a conservation easement held by The Nature Conservancy. Click on map for larger version. (Photo of map by Keweenaw Now, reprinted with permission from Steve Casey, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, from his March 5, 2012, presentation at the Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District meeting.)

To Bellfy, it is immaterial that the private land in question is protected by a conservation easement held by The Nature Conservancy, except that TNC is a powerful organization with deep pockets. The reason the Road Commission is hesitant, says Bellfy, may not be their respect for conservation values or environmental sensitivity, but the near certainty that they would lose the case in court.

Since a famous 2005 US Supreme Court case, in which Suzette Kelo, a small homeowner in New London, CT, lost her home to a private developer for the "public good" of a higher tax base, some 44 states have tightened up their standards for eminent domain. Michigan revised its Constitution in 2006 in a referendum supported by 80 percent of the voters.

A mere claim of "public use" is now insufficient in eminent domain cases; the condemning government body must prove in court that the preponderance of benefit accrues to the public.

It must also prove that the "public necessity" is of the "extreme sort, ... limited to those enterprises generating public benefits whose very existence depends on the use of land that can be assembled only by the coordination central government alone is capable of achieving." This quote is taken from the famous County of Wayne v. Hathcock case, decided by the Michigan Supreme Court in 2004. This quote from the Supreme Court decision is the language that eventually found its way into the Michigan Constitution via that 2006 referendum.

Public authorities have become wary of the high scrutiny that a court test of eminent domain now requires. Translated into the CR 595 case, the preponderance of use of this proposed road is for the private advantage and financial benefit of a multinational mining conglomerate, Rio Tinto, with a sideways nod to its public benefits for commerce, recreation, and emergency services. Alternative routes abound (including the already designated haul route), and the Road Commission would have a very hard time making the case in court that a "public necessity of the extreme sort" requires that this new road be built.

Bellfy says that flimsy cases are often created by public bodies collaborating with vested interests, whether it is the city of East Lansing working with a developer, or by extension the County of Marquette collaborating with a mining company. The best tools activists have are the Freedom on Information Act (FOIA) and the Open Meetings Act (OMA); the former reveals discussions and documents that are sometimes incriminating, and the latter sets standards -- that are often flaunted -- for conducting the government’s business in public.

Bellfy’s visit helped local activists understand that vigilance and complaints are not enough. Opponents need to go on the offensive, to request documents through FOIA, and use the OMA to challenge the actions of "public bodies" where the public’s business is really being conducted behind closed doors. And for that, activists also need friends who are lawyers conversant with the often intricate and hidden world of legalese and power.

Phil Bellfy’s analysis from inside the game of politics was an eye-opener to many in the audience who heard him that late evening in February. He illustrated how good-government activists have tools and opportunities to get in the game themselves. Many can’t wait to see his book in print.

Author's Note: Phil Bellfy is a White Earth Anishinaabe, active in the Great Lakes region as an educator, author, and professor. He commutes between his rural home near Sault Ste. Marie and work sites downstate. He will be returning to Marquette on March 31, 2012, to speak on indigenous environmental ethics at the UPEC-sponsored Celebration of the U.P.*

*Click here to read about the March 30-31 UPEC celebration and to see the schedule of presentations to be held in Marquette at three locations: the Peter White Public Library, the Federated Women's Clubhouse and the Landmark Inn. All events are free and open to the public.

March 8: International Women's Day marks need for progress in many countries

TORONTO, CANADA -- Which countries are the best -- or worst -- in progress for women? An International Women's Day article by Toronto Star columnist Heather Mallick gives statistics that show women have a long way to go to achieve equality in health, education and political rights.

She says, for example, that Afghanistan may not be the worst place to be a woman (Yemen is), but it is the most dangerous -- not only because wife beating is acceptable if a man has "a good sharia reason," but also in Afghanistan, "a woman is at least 200 times more likely to die during childbirth than from warfare," she notes.

"Going solely by political representation, Rwanda does best with 56.3 per cent of its 80-seat lower house being female," Mallick writes.*

"Egypt has all of two women representatives, which suggests the so-called Arab Spring is still wintry for women," she adds. "Canada does badly, 40th in the world for women political representatives -- one place below little Luxembourg -- with 76 of 308 Canadian House of Commons seats going to women. But it’s better than Britain at [Number] 54, tied with Malawi. And it is much better than the U.S. which stands at [Number] 78, tied with Turkmenistan, and far below many nations it professes to despise."

* Click here for data on women's representation in politics.

Click here to read the full article (including links to statistics), "International Women’s Day 2012 marks little progress worldwide in women’s health, education and political rights," on www.thestar.com.

One of the themes for International Women's Day 2012 is "Connecting girls, inspiring futures." Visit internationalwomensday.com to read about more themes and events around the world marking this day.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Wisconsin State Sen. Jauch disappointed with GTAC announcement

The following is a statement, sent March 7, 2012, from Senator Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) in reaction to the announcement that GTAC (Gogebic Taconite) has decided to pull out of its plan to mine the Penokee Range in Iron and Ashland Counties, Wisconsin:

I am disappointed that GTAC has decided to abruptly leave Wisconsin instead of working with lawmakers to reach a compromise on responsible mining legislation.*

Contrary to GTAC’s statement, the Senate did not reject mining reform. The Senate simply rejected the Assembly plan and we were prepared to adopt a bipartisan mining reform proposal until the Senate Republican Leader decided to move the bill back to committee.

Senator Schultz and I along with a majority of the Senate would have preferred to adopt our bipartisan plan instead of ending debate. However we joined the Republican leader in his request to move the bill back to committee in order to continue the effort to reach a compromise.

Even though a year ago the company made a similar announcement when they closed their Hurley office for a week, I am puzzled by this decision. Mr. Williams’ remarks are inconsistent with a conversation I had with him the night before, where he never indicated that GTAC’s bottom line was passage of the Assembly Bill. He also never mentioned any specific concerns or offered any suggestions on how to improve the bipartisan plan put forth by Senator Schultz and me.

Regardless of GTAC’s announcement, it is our duty to continue to work towards reform of the mining regulatory process. For over a year, I have worked to create a fair, flexible and responsible mining law that protects the public voice, helps create jobs and preserves our environment. In fact, our bipartisan plan is very similar to the mining laws in Minnesota, where more iron is mined than any other state.

Yesterday I met with Governor Walker’s Chief of Staff and re-emphasized my willingness to work to achieve our common goal of reforming our mining laws.

Senator Schultz and I have demonstrated that Republicans and Democrats can work together and believe our proposal can be a blue print to achieving a bipartisan, responsible legislation solution on the issue of mining reform.

*Editor's Note: See "Statement by Gogebic Taconite after Wisconsin Senate vote."

Ski Tigers to raffle hand-made ski waxing bench Mar. 8-10

HANCOCK -- Ski Tigers Nordic Race Team is raffling a magnificent hand-made hardwood ski waxing bench, valued at $500. Tickets will be on sale this Thursday, Friday and Saturday only, with the prize awarded at the Great Bear Chase awards Saturday, March 10, at the CLK High School Gym in Calumet.

Raffle tickets are $2 each, 3 for $5, and 13 for $20. Tickets will be on sale as follows:

Thursday, March 8, from 3:30 p.m. to 3:55 p.m., at the lobby of the Health Department in Hancock (540 Depot St, behind McGann’s).

Friday, March 9, from 4 pm. - 9 p.m., at Bear Chase packet pick-up, CLK High School Gym.

Saturday, March 10, after the races, before the awards at the CLK Gym.

Please go to this web site to see pictures and learn more about this beautiful piece of art that is built to last a lifetime.

New mineral named for Seaman Museum Curator

By Jennifer Donovan, Michigan Tech Director of Public Relations
Posted Feb. 29, 2012, on Michigan Tech News. Reprinted with permission.

HOUGHTON -- A new mineral discovered in the Mammoth-St. Anthony mine in Arizona has been named georgerobinsonite. The mineral is named after George W. Robinson, professor of mineralogy and curator of Michigan Tech's A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum. It is a lead chromate -- a salt of chromic acid -- that occurs as minute, transparent, orange-red crystals on cerussite, another lead carbonate and secondary lead mineral.

Georgerobinsonite, a newly discovered mineral named for Michigan Tech's A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum Curator George Robinson. (Photo courtesy University of Manitoba. Reprinted with permission.)

The publication Mineral News reported on the newly named mineral in its February 2012 issue.

A team of Canadian scientists discovered the new mineral and reported on it in the October 2011 issue of the journal The Canadian Mineralogist. They decided to name it for Robinson because "George is a prominent curator who has contributed a lot to the mineral community," said Frank Hawthorne, corresponding author on the journal article and a professor at the University of Manitoba. Hawthorne and the journal article’s other authors got to know Robinson during his 14 years as curator of the Canadian Museum of Nature, where he worked before coming to Michigan Tech.

It is a convention in the profession not to name new minerals for their discoverers, Hawthorne explained. A description of the new mineral and its proposed name is submitted to a committee of the International Mineralogical Association, which must validate the description of the find as a unique mineral and approve the recommended name. The IMA has approved naming the new mineral georgerobinsonite.

George Robinson, Michigan Tech professor of mineralogy and curator of the A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum. (Photo courtesy Michigan Technological University. Reprinted with permission.)

"It's a real honor," said Robinson, who also said the naming came as a complete surprise to him. "It's like a chemist having a new element named after him. I guess it's in recognition of my long career as a mineralogist and a curator."

Club Indigo to celebrate St. Patrick's Day March 9 with film set in Ireland

CALUMET -- The movie event for this Friday, March 9, at the Calumet Theatre is the annual extravaganza celebrating St. Patrick's Day for its Club Indigo.

War of the Buttons is the film -- a delightful, funny, sobering, characteristically Irish movie, adapted from a French novel (and film) of the same name. The time is the 60s, the place, near the coast in Southern Ireland. The situation involved two warring groups of kids on either side of a river -- one of poorer class, the other financially endowed. The antagonism starts simply enough, then escalates with sticks, bats and sling shots -- and the taking of buttons as trophies. The parents are drawn into it as it becomes increasingly serious, but is finally resolved with an unexpected occurrence. Watching it you want to laugh, cry, learn something about the lives of youngsters and their relationship to their parents. It's a memorable experience.

The movie is at 7:15 p.m, preceded at 6 p.m. by an all Irish buffet featuring -- straight from the Auld Sod itself -- a corned beef dinner with Irish trimmings. For those celebrating the Lenten season, an equally fine fish dinner will be served. Cost: $18 for food and film; $5 for the movie alone. Children receive a special discount for this PG-rated film.

To reserve a place at the buffet, call the theatre at least a day in advance: 337-2610.

Celebrate Youth Arts Month at Community Arts Center

"Dragon" by Ellie Sturos of Barkell Elementary, 4th grade. (Photo courtesy Copper Country Community Arts Center)

HANCOCK -- The Copper Country Community Arts Center is featuring artwork from area elementary, middle, and high school students March 10-31. The opening reception will be held from 1 p.m. - 3 p.m. at the Arts Center on Saturday, March 10.

This is an exhibit not to be missed! The Youth Gallery and the Kerredge Gallery will be filled floor to ceiling with amazing youth art. March is a time where our young artists get to shine. And it’s a time not only to celebrate youth art, but to appreciate the art teachers who work throughout the school year encouraging and inspiring their students.

A special thank you to the exemplary art teachers who went above and beyond by bringing in their students’ work for Celebrate Youth Arts Month: Houghton Elementary: Melissa Hronkin; Houghton High School: Kristine Halonen; Baraga Area Schools: Bob Foster; Lake Linden-Hubbell Schools and Washington Middle School: Danielle Alfafara; Calumet High School: Susan Rosemurgy; Calumet Elementary School: Debbie Mues; Barkell Elementary and Hancock Middle School: Karen Scholie; and Hancock High School: Kris Raisanen Schourek.

The Copper Country Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. Call 482-2333 for more information.

Portage Library to host presentation on organic heirloom seed March 8

HOUGHTON -- The Portage Lake District Library will host its monthly program in the Natural Health and Wellness series from 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 8.

Horticulturist Wendy Wiegert will present step-by-step instructions on how to grow, harvest, dry, clean, and store organic heirloom seed. Participants will have an opportunity for hands-on experience and will learn about the importance of starting with the right kinds of seeds for continued health and sustainability.

Weigert will also discuss "Need for Seed," a non-profit program dedicated to providing free seeds to local and national community gardens and families who cannot afford to purchase organic heirloom seeds. Weigert’s farm is the main donor and grower of seeds for this program, and her efforts provided over 20,000 packets of seeds for the program last year. She relies on local volunteers to help with this project, and participants will have an opportunity to sign up for a wide range of tasks.

Over 118 varieties of organic heirloom seed will be available for purchase after the presentation. Profits from seed sales will go to "Need for Seed." Handouts will also be available.

Weigert has been studying, growing, and using medicinal herbs for 30 years and raises over 60,000 naturally grown heirloom plants with an emphasis on medicinal herb plants. She strives for sustainable agriculture on her farm outside of Hancock and sells culinary and medicinal herbs, salves, oils, and extracts as well as vegetable, herb, and flower plants.

This Natural Health and Wellness series is held on the second Thursday of each month. All programs begin at 6:30 p.m., they are free, and everyone is welcome. No pre-registration is required. For more information, please call the library at 482-4570 or visit www.pldl.org.

Statement by Gogebic Taconite after Wisconsin Senate vote

The following is a statement by Gogebic Taconite President Bill Williams on the March 6 Wisconsin State Senate "Rejection of Mining Reforms" (amended Assembly Bill 426):

"Senate rejection of the mining reforms in Assembly Bill 426 sends a clear message that Wisconsin will not welcome iron mining. We get the message. GTac is ending plans to invest in a Wisconsin mine. We thank the many people who have supported our efforts."

Editor's Notes: Earlier today Keweenaw Now reported an Associated Press version of this statement. We removed our announcement after being told the source had been in error. The above statement is from the official press release from Gogebic Taconite, dated March 6, 2012.

See the March 6, 2012, Journal Sentinel Online article, "Mining firm drops out after Wisconsin bill rejected," for more details. According to this article, "A week ago, in an email, Williams said Gogebic did some mineral exploration in Michigan last summer and has discussed mining with officials in that state."

In a phone conversation today, Steve Casey, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Water Resources Upper Peninsula district supervisor, told Keweenaw Now that Gogebic Taconite did make some brief contacts with the Michigan DEQ last summer concerning exploration in Michigan.

"I have not heard of them making contacts (with the DEQ) since then," Casey added.

Also, a March 2, 2012, article in the Duluth News Tribune said Gogebic Taconite had struck a tentative deal to pipe in 1.2 million gallons of water a day from Ironwood, Mich., for processing the ore into taconite. See: "Gogebic Taconite agrees to water deal for planned mine."

Wisconsin LCV: Open-pit mining bill struck down with bi-partisan opposition

Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters press release
March 6, 2012

MADISON -- On Tuesday, March 6, 2012, a major victory was scored for Wisconsin citizens who opposed an open-pit mining bill that threatened to contaminate water with arsenic, lead, and mercury. The Vos-Darling amended version of AB 426 contained unprecedented rollbacks to environmental protections, including provisions that could expose Wisconsin families to deadly chemicals.

"Today’s vote is a victory for Wisconsin families and clean drinking water. This bill was filled with some of the worst conservation rollbacks in recent memory. Its sound rejection by a bi-partisan set of Senators reflects the values of Wisconsin voters who are genuinely concerned about the effects this bill would have had on our families and public safety," said Anne Sayers, Program Director for Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, on Tuesday.

The Senate voted to reject the amended bill on a bi-partisan vote of 17-16. AB 426 was sent back to the Senate Organization Committee on a unanimous vote.

Casting pro-conservation votes were Senators: Carpenter, Taylor, Coggs, Larson, Holperin, Cullen, Miller, Schultz, Wirch, Lassa, Jauch, Risser, Erpenbach, Hansen, Vinehout, King, Shilling.

Casting anti-conservation votes were Senators: Lasee, Cowles, Vukmir, Darling, Leibham, Harsdorf, Kedzie, Fitgerald, Olsen, Ellis, Grothman, Wanggaard, Moulton, Lazich, Galloway, Zipperer.

Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to electing conservation leaders, holding decision makers accountable and encouraging lawmakers to champion conservation policies that effectively protect Wisconsin's public health and natural resources.

Editor's Note: Click here to read Woods Person's short report on the Wisconsin Joint Committee on Finance’s meeting on Assembly Bill 426 (the ferrous mining bill) held Monday, March 5, before the Senate vote on March 6.

To learn more about the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters visit their Web site.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

DEQ to hold hearing for public comment on Copperwood mining permit March 6

LANSING -- This announcement was posted on the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Web site on March 2, 2012:

The DEQ recently announced its proposed decision to grant a Part 632 Mine permit to Orvana Resources US Corp. to conduct mining operations at the proposed Copperwood Mine in Gogebic County.

The department's proposed decision follows an extensive review by the DEQ, which incorporated public comments and supporting information, to determine whether Orvana's proposal meets the strict standards contained in Michigan's mining laws.

Based on information available, the DEQ has determined that the application appears to meet the requirements for approval under Part 632 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act. The DEQ is required to make its decision based solely on whether a proposal meets those standards.

The department will host a public hearing March 6 at Gogebic Community College, E4946 Jackson Rd., Ironwood, to accept public comment on the proposed decision. The hearing is scheduled 6 p.m. - 9 p.m CST.

Following the hearing, the DEQ will accept written comments until 5 p.m. on April 3. The DEQ is required to issue a final decision on the mining permit by May 1. The decision date may be extended if the DEQ requires additional information from ORUSC based on questions raised by public comments.

Editor's Note: Questions on this permit application may be directed to Joe Maki, Application Review Team coordinator, 906-346-8563, makij3@michigan.gov or Melanie Humphrey, Application Review Team co-coordinator, 906-346-8566, humphreym@michigan.gov.

Click here for the names of other members of Orvana Minerals Copperwood Mine Project Part 632 Permit Application Review Team for the DEQ.

Nordic Film Series to present Finnish film on musicians March 8

HANCOCK -- The Finnish American Heritage Center will show Kulkuri ja Joutsen (The Swan and the Wanderer, Finland, 1999) at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 8, as part of the Nordic Film Series.

Based on true events, this film explores the storied friendship of Finnish musicians Tapio Rautavaara and Reino Helismaa. It is presented in the Finnish language with English subtitles. Screenings are free and open to the public. For more information, call 487-7505.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Red Jacket Readers Club to hold discussion March 7

CALUMET -- The Red Jacket Readers Book Club will hold a discussion of Boom Copper: The Story of the First US Mining Boom, by Angus Murdock, at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 7, 2012, in the Calumet Public Library.

This event is open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

First written in the 1940s, Boom Copper is a Copper Country classic. Take this opportunity to revisit an old favorite and delve into Copper Country history.

Join the Red Jacket Readers for a discussion of this book. Multiple copies of the book are available to check out at the library and are also available for sale in many area shops.

This event is sponsored by the Friends of the Calumet Public Library. For more information, visit the library or call 337-0311 ext 1107.

(In case of bad weather, when school is cancelled, all library programs are cancelled.)

Friends of Calumet Public Library to hold Monthly Meeting

Friends of the Calumet Public Library will hold their next Monthly Meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 13, 2012.

Get involved! This is an open meeting. New members and new ideas are welcome. There are many ways to lend a hand at the library: programming ideas, volunteer opportunities, the Red Jacket Readers book club, and more! Come find out what's ahead in the upcoming year at the Calumet Public Library. Meetings are held the second Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. in the library -- mark your calendar!

Sunday, March 04, 2012

DEQ's Steve Casey to speak at Conservation District, Pilgrim River Watershed Council joint meeting March 5

HOUGHTON -- Steve Casey of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) will give a special presentation: "Hot Topics in Western UP Water Resources," at a joint meeting of the Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District (HKCD) and the Pilgrim River Watershed Council at 5 p.m. Monday, March 5, at the Michigan Tech Lakeshore Center. The public is welcome.

The meeting will include a Pizza Potluck Buffet and Silent Auction as well as an election of HKCD Board members.

The Michigan Tech Lakeshore Center (former UPPCO building) is at 600 E. Lakeshore Drive, Houghton.

For more information call 906-482-0214. RSVP greatly appreciated!