Friday, April 26, 2013

Guest Editorial: There and Back, Again

By Adam Robarge

MARQUETTE -- For the second time in less than a month, I found myself this past Tuesday (April 23) making my way around the Capitol Square in Lansing. I had spoken at a press conference on March 27th to announce the submitting of over a quarter million signatures that hoped to protect Michigan’s gray wolf from being hunted. I had declared that as Michigan citizens, "we endeavored to become a model in wildlife conservation --  and a point of organization to forward thinking individuals across our entire nation." Two weeks later with the introduction of Senate Bill 288 and its House chamber companion, House Bill 4552, my words and the thoughts they invoke found themselves at risk of being silenced. So I returned to Lansing on Tuesday with every intent of defending them.

Adam Robarge, author of this article, is now the director of Wild Land Guardians, a Marquette-based grass-roots group advocating for wildlife and wildlife habitat. In January, February and March, he worked with Keep Michigan Wolves Protected on the petition drive for a referendum on Michigan's PA 520, legislation designating the wolf as a game animal. Here he is speaking about the petition during a presentation at the Portage Lake District Library on Feb. 9, 2013. Keep Michigan Wolves Protected collected more than a quarter of a million signatures for the petition, far more than the necessary minimum of 161,000 signatures. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)*

As I sat in the offices of our Senators and Representatives, I soon discovered that it wasn’t only my voice that was being silenced or ignored. It was truth.

The day began with a rally on the Capitol steps in opposition to SB 288 and HB 4552. As the winds picked up, a collection of activists and concerned citizens huddled in close before the podium. It was a sea of determination speckled with red, as we all wore hats silhouetted by a gray wolf, with the question "Will of the people, endangered too?" I had given nearly everything to this campaign over the course of a cold and snowy UP winter.

At times I questioned my actions, my beliefs. I always returned to the endorsement of Dr. John Vucetich. Here was a wolf biologist, co-director of the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Study and a lead researcher of the annual Isle Royale Winter Study. Who could argue with that? I stood there that morning as did many others, needing no further validation for what we had accomplished.

In front of the Capitol building in Lansing, Dr. John Vucetich, Michigan Tech professor of wildlife ecology and co-director of the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Study, speaks during the April 23, 2013, rally opposing SB 288 and HB 4552 -- both of which would allow the Natural Resources Commission to decide on a public harvest of wolves. (Photo © and courtesy Adam Robarge)

Instead, we listened intently for words to rally around, words to keep us moving forward. Listening so intently, people often forgot to cheer at opportune moments, rather remaining focused upon what would be said next.

Dr. Vucetich spoke of science, and in truths. The recent DNR population survey does not actually suggest that the wolf population in the Upper Peninsula is declining. The correct interpretation is that the population is leveling off, naturally. So the DNR suggests that the proposed hunt is to protect human safety, rather than population control.  

Dr. John Vucetich addresses the crowd at the April 23, 2013, Rally against wolf hunt legislation, saying, "Hunting is not a tool for dealing with human safety (issues). If there is a threat in April, you can't wait until the next hunting season six months from now, with the hope that some hunter will have the good fortune of taking the offending wolf. It just doesn't work that way." **

However, Dr. Vucetich appealed, "Threats to human safety, when they occur, had better be dealt with swiftly, precisely, thoroughly and immediately. Protecting human safety cannot wait until the upcoming hunting season."

Discussing the decline in hunting and the increase in negative attitudes toward its practitioners, he told us, "Studies show that the public will overwhelmingly support hunting methods when given good reason to do so."

Dr. Vucetich added that hunting the wolf will result in a further mistrust of this act steeped in our cultural heritage. There exists no good reason to randomly hunt members of the gray wolf population. It may be as simple as this. Hunting without reason is killing.

We then sat by his side in the offices of legislators while he attempted to educate them. For we are told that these bills -- now named the "Scientific Wildlife Management Package" -- are meant to encourage just that -- science. But they weren't listening. This was an expert, a scientist from our own state of Michigan sitting in front of them. Our legislators remained fixed on the idea of outside interests and their information. They remained fixed on representing a portion of inside residents, and their phobias. Certainly, nuisance behavior is found to exist within the gray wolf population -- within any population, for that matter. And losing livestock or a pet, or feeling threatened by wolves, is not something to ignore. But a random hunt is not the answer. Data exists that suggests this may actually increase unwanted behaviors. And that is an outcome none of us are looking for.

A sign at the April 23 rally expresses the view that SB 288 and HB 4552 are not based on scientific data. (Photo © and courtesy Adam Robarge)

It's hard to know how or where to keep fighting when our legislators won't see science or listen to truths. Senate Bill 288 passed the floor with a vote along party lines on Thursday, April 25. It now moves to the House Committee on Natural Resources. We must implore our Representatives -- Dianda, Kivela, McBroom, and Foster. Implore them to hear their other constituents, to provide us answers based on science and truth. Implore them to hear you. We are running out of time. I returned home believing the only option for us is to keep fighting, despite the defeats. The truth will shine through, for it is all that truly exists.

It is my feeling now to demand that they at least represent us as equally as possible, no matter what their final vote says. I want to see that science has truly been brought to the table, whether it is merely to be debated or actually seen as an amendment to the bill. If the gray wolf is to be hunted, I want it transparent to everyone that all measures were rightfully considered and that a framework to be followed when making such designations be put in place. Only then should this bill be voted upon.

Editor's Notes:
* See our Feb. 15, 2013, article, "Video report: Presentation on wolves offers facts, petition signing opportunity" on this presentation at Portage Lake District Library in Houghton.
See also this March 10, 2013, article by Greg Peterson, "Petition signing to protect wolves continues in Marquette."

** See "Letter from John Vucetich, wildlife ecologist: Reasons to oppose SB288," posted on Keweenaw Now April 16, 2013

Click here for the present version of SB 288 as passed by the Michigan Senate on April 25, 2013.

Click here for the present version of HB 4552, which has been referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Michigan Tech Choir, Chamber Singers to perform "Springtime Voices" Apr. 27 at Rozsa

HOUGHTON -- Tired of winter in the Keweenaw? The Michigan Tech Campus Choir and conScience: Michigan Tech Chamber Singers will present "Springtime Voices," an evening of choral music to beckon the arrival of spring, at 7:30 p.m. this Saturday, April 27, in the Rozsa Center.

According to Jared Anderson, assistant professor of music and director of choral activities at Michigan Tech, "the concert will include both sacred and secular music from peoples and places around the globe -- with a mix of traditional classical standards to more contemporary music for the stage and concert hall."

Tickets for adults are $12.75, and Michigan Tech students are free. To purchase tickets, call 487-2073, go online at rozsa.mtu.edu, or visit Ticketing Operations at Michigan Tech’s Student Development Complex. SDC box office hours are 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday. Please note the Rozsa Box Office is closed during regular business hours and will only open two hours prior to show times.

Khana Khazana to serve dishes from 5 countries Apr. 26

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Tech's international students will cook favorite dishes from Cameroon, China, India, Korea and Thailand for Khana Khazana this Friday, April 26. It is the last Khana Khazana of the semester.

The international lunch will feature Cameroonian barbecued chicken, Chinese steamed egg, Indian aloo poha, Korean rice cake and Thai coconut ice cream served with sticky rice, jackfruit and red beans.

Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday in the Memorial Union Food Court. A full meal costs $6.95 and includes a free beverage. Individual items are available for $2 each. Vegetarian alternatives will be provided.

Khana Khazana is a collaboration of international students and Michigan Tech Dining Services. It is open to the campus and the community.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Finlandia Gallery to exhibit Diploma Works, opening Apr. 27

HANCOCK -- The International School of Art and Design (ISAD) 2013 Diploma Works Exhibition is featured from April 27 to May 24, 2013, at the Finlandia University Gallery,  located in the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock.

Metalwork jewelry by David Sarazin. (Photos courtesy Finlandia University)

A reception for the artists will take place at the gallery from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, April 27. The artists will be introduced at 7:15 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

The artworks featured in the annual Diploma Works Exhibit represent the final body of student work for each graduating bachelor of fine arts (BFA) student. The works include intensive research projects, series of individual artworks, and design prototypes. A variety of media is represented, including painting, illustration, sculpture, fiber design, graphic design, and integrated design.

Eric Hinsch hangs his Diploma Works exhibit at the Finlandia University Gallery.

The 2013 ISAD graduating seniors are Margo Anderson, Sara Beckley, Erika Gerstner, Dawn Hilts, Eric Hinsch, Sascha Hirzel, Jessica Hurkmans, Jessica Ingold, Sarah Jalkanen, Lauren Jarvinen, Charmaine Manansala, Gini Moreau, David Sarazin, Michael Simila, Audrey Small, and Cait Spera.

Please call 906-487-7500 for more information.

Conservation District Tree Sale to offer extra merchandise for sale

HOUGHTON -- Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District (HKCD) is having their Annual Tree Sale from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, May 3, and from 10 a.m. until Noon on Saturday, May 4, at the Houghton County Arena, 1500 Birch Street, Hancock.

This is HKCD's Major Fundraiser of the Year! All proceeds go to conservation and education efforts in Houghton and Keweenaw Counties.

The following extra merchandise will be for sale:

Plugs -- Northern White Cedar, Red Pine, White Pine and White Spruce
Bareroot seedlings -- Red Pine and White Spruce
Trees for Wildlife -- White Birch, Black Cherry and Roselow Sargent Crabapple
Shrubs for Wildlife -- Redosier Dogwood, Beaked Hazelnut, Highbush Cranberry and Rugosa Rose
Native Wild Flower Plugs -- Asters, Purple Coneflower and Wild Columbine
Rhubarb and Asparagus
Grapevines
-- Concord, Frontenac and Marquette
Fruit trees – apple, cherry, pear and plum
Blueberry, raspberry and strawberry plants

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Michigan LCV: DNR goes north

By Jack Schmitt, Michigan League of Conservation Voters (LCV) Political Director
Posted April 20 on Michigan LCV's Political Week in Review
Reprinted with permission.

Photo © Derek Woodman and courtesy Michigan League of Conservation Voters.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently headed north to get public input on their land management plan for Michigan. Meetings took place in Traverse City, Gaylord, Marquette and St. Ignace -- places where smart natural resources management is especially essential for recreation and the economy. A Michigan LCV member who attended the Marquette meeting reported that increased access to recreation, especially for people living around cities, was widely supported, but the way we measure which recreation opportunities people value most is not adequate. Hunting, fishing and snowmobiling are talked about much more than backcountry camping, bird watching or hiking because they require a license or permit. So, costs and benefits are automatically
assigned to those activities, making it easier for the DNR to quantify and favor.

Don’t get me wrong -- we’re all about hunting and fishing and responsible ORV use; but we can’t forget all the recreation opportunities Michiganders love and want more access to that don’t cost money. We run the risk of overlooking the need for access to more biking, hiking, nature-loving activities just because we can’t put a solid number on their benefits. This same question applies to the plan’s favoring of Michigan’s extraction industry. Money coming in from timber harvesting and mineral leasing shouldn’t trump what we are losing out on by promoting extraction of our natural resources.

Yesterday, April 22, the DNR held another meeting in Grand Rapids. The final meeting will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 25, at the Delta College Planetarium and Learning Center, 100 Center Ave., Bay City.

If you haven't been able to attend a meeting, email your comments to DNRlandplan@michigan.gov.

Click here to read more articles on this week's Michigan LCV Political Week in Review.

Center for Diversity and Inclusion events at Michigan Tech Apr. 23, 24

HOUGHTON -- In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Dial Help will host a workshop on "Understanding Consent" from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. TONIGHT, Tuesday, April 23, in the Douglass Houghton Hall (DHH) ballroom on the Michigan Tech campus.

The event is sponsored by Michigan Tech's Center for Diversity and Inclusion. Everyone is invited to attend.

Lavender Graduation to be April 24

The 2013 Lavender Graduation for GLBTQ graduates will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24, in Michigan Tech's MUB Ballroom B.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Keep Michigan Wolves Protected to rally in Lansing Apr. 23 against SB 288 and HB 4552

LANSING -- Keep Michigan Wolves Protected will hold a rally on the steps of the State Capitol in Lansing from 11 a.m. to 12 noon TOMORROW, Tuesday, April 23.

Poster for Rally courtesy Keep Michigan Wolves Protected -- keepwolvesprotected.com.

The purpose of the rally is to tell legislators to vote NO on SB 288 and HB 4552 -- Senate and House bills that have appropriations attached apparently for the purpose of annulling the petition for a referendum on PA 520, the legislation passed last December that would allow a wolf hunt. More than a quarter of a million of Michigan voters signed the petition against PA 520.

Dr. John Vucetich, Michigan Tech professor and co-director of the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Study, is expected to speak at the rally.**

The event will be held rain or shine. Try to arrive early.

S.B. 288 and H.B. allow unelected members of the Natural Resources Commission -- and not the voters of Michigan -- to determine if wolves should be hunted and trapped for
trophies after decades of protection.

If you are interested in attending the rally please RSVP on the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected Web site.

* See "Letter from John Vucetich, wildlife ecologist: Reasons to oppose SB288."

Tim DeChristopher released from prison, speaks on "Democracy Now" for Earth Day

From "Democracy Now" Broadcast and Peaceful Uprising
Earth Day: Apr. 22, 2013

Tim DeChristopher, climate activist and founder of the Peaceful Uprising climate crisis action group, was released yesterday, Apr. 21, 2013, after 21 months of imprisonment for bidding in an illegal oil and gas auction because he wanted to save public lands from exploitation.

Tim DeChristopher, climate activist, then a University of Utah student, speaks on "The Case for Extremism" during the Aug. 1, 2009, Protect the Earth workshops at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. This photo appears on Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now" interview with DeChristopher today, one day after his release from 21 months in prison for civil disobedience. (Keweenaw Now file photo © 2009 and courtesy Gabriel Caplett)

Journalist Amy Goodman interviewed Tim DeChristopher on her news broadcast, "Democracy Now," today.

During the interview, Goodman asks DeChristopher about his motivation for bidding at the oil and gas auction and how he feels about it today. Here is his reply:
"Well, I was primarily motivated by the threat of climate change. I saw that what we were doing as a movement wasn’t working, and we needed to be taking more serious action. And I honestly can’t say that when I got into this in 2008 I understood everywhere that it would lead and the impact that it would have on me. And now, in retrospect, I’m even more glad that I did it. It’s been a more positive experience than I ever could have anticipated. And it’s been a great growth experience for me, including my time of incarceration."

To watch Goodman's interview or read the transcript, see See "Earth Day Exclusive: Tim DeChristopher Speaks Out After 21 Months in Prison for Disrupting Oil Bid."

Tim DeChristopher to speak at Q and A following premiere of film Bidder 70

To celebrate DeChristopher's release, Peaceful Uprising  has organized community screenings today across the Nation of the film Bidder 70, which tells the story of DeChristopher's experience.

"Tim will make his first public appearance since his incarceration immediately following the film in an hour long Q and A that will be streamed live to over 50 different venues," Peaceful Uprising reports on their Web site.*

*Click here to watch the livestream of the Q and A session with Tim DeChristopher that begins at 8:15 p.m. (Mountain Standard Time) tonight, Apr. 22, in Salt Lake City. (This should be at 11:15 p.m. EDT.) Editor's Update: We regret an error in the time posted here. Apparently this program started an hour earlier.