Friday, February 26, 2016

Environmental groups to hold forum "Save the Michigamme Highlands" March 1 in Marquette

Save the Wild U.P. and the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition invite the public to the forum "Save the Michigamme Highlands" on Tuesday, March 1st. (Photo courtesy Save the Wild U.P.)

MARQUETTE -- Local environmental groups Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP) and the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC) will co-host "Save the Michigamme Highlands," an informational forum concerning threats to Marquette County’s last stretch of wild lands. The forum will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 1st, in the Community Room of the Peter White Public Library in Marquette. The event is free and open to the public.

The primary threat to this region remains the twice-defeated County Road 595 (CR-595) proposal, which is the subject of ongoing lawsuit brought by the Marquette County Road Commission (MCRC) against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The contentious CR-595 plan would have torn open the wild heart of Marquette County, pushing a paved mining haul road disguised as a "county road project" through 22 miles of remote wild lands, fragile wetlands and critical wildlife corridors, and necessitating stream and river crossings of the Dead River, Escanaba River, Mulligan Creek, Voekler Creek and Wildcat Canyon, Yellow Dog River, and many more.

This aerial photograph shows Wildcat Canyon Creek wetlands and the proposed 595 route (2015). (Photo courtesy Save the Wild U.P.)

Tuesday’s forum will offer an overview of the Michigamme Highlands and discuss federal objections to wetlands destruction along the CR-595 route, the lawsuit brought by the Marquette County Road Commission, the role of "dark money" in funding the lawsuit, recent road work that has taken place along the route, and other emerging threats.*

"Save the Michigamme Highlands" will feature mini-presentations addressing rare plants in the path of CR-595, basic elements of the MCRC lawsuit, the importance of interconnected "Wild Lands," the EPA’s 2015 Clean Water Rule, the beauty of remote wetlands as seen through the eyes of artists who visited Wildcat Canyon Creek in 2015, and more. Speakers include Jon Saari, Northern Michigan University professor emeritus of history and vice president of Save the Wild U.P.; Catherine Parker, concerned citizen and environmental advocate; Gene Champagne, spokesman for the Concerned Citizens of Big Bay; Michelle Halley, local attorney; Steve Garske, botanist and SWUP board member; Kathleen Heideman, SWUP’s president; and Alexandra Maxwell, SWUP’s executive director.

In 2015, Save the Wild U.P. focused their outdoor summer programming on multiple threats posed by the CR- 595 proposal. They led concerned citizens on several well-attended hikes at remote locations ranging from Pinnacle Falls to the Mulligan Creek wetlands.

 
SWUP Summer Fellows at the Dead River (2015). (Photo courtesy Save the Wild U.P.)

"This stretch of wild land is irreplaceable. The Michigamme Highlands are ideal habitat for moose and other wide-roaming mammals, rich with creeks, rivers and wetlands, and home to the narrow-leaved gentian, a threatened native species found only in three U.P. counties," said Maxwell. "In addition to the enormous environmental impacts, there’s the very real issue of regulatory capture. Why is our Road Commission so dedicated to building a road-to-nowhere -- for the benefit of one sulfide mine? We don’t even have enough money to fill potholes in Marquette County, much less fix our old bridges. Who is the Road Commission serving, if not taxpayers?"

Maxwell said the cumulative impacts of road construction in this environmentally sensitive area must be calculated.

“Any road construction in this environmentally sensitive area must be seen as part of a network of actions related to CR-595," Maxwell explained. "We need to be ever-vigilant to stop creeping incrementalism -- a new bridge here, a gravel mine there, and lots of wetland destruction all along the way. The CR-595 proposal remains a bad deal for taxpayers and the environment."

In 2014, SWUP, along with regional environmental allies, alerted citizens to illegal construction along snowmobile Trail #5, which served as the only functional trail through much of this isolated region.

Marquette County Trail #5, 2014, before road work. (Photo courtesy Save the Wild U.P.)

Kathleen Heideman, SWUP president, noted, "The EPA’s position was clear: no CR-595 route may be constructed without permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers."

Marquette County Trail #5, 2014, after road work by Plum Creek. (Photo courtesy Save the Wild U.P.)

Heideman said the forum is an opportunity for the public to learn why this stretch of wild lands needs to be protected -- for its clean water and its contribution to a better quality of life for all U.P. residents.

"Our organizations remain outspoken opponents of the CR-595. The damage would be too great, period," said Heideman.

* Editor's Note: See Louis V. Galdieri's recent article, A Postscript on the Political Project of MCRC v. EPA.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Absentee voting information for March 8 Michigan Presidential Primary Election

LANSING -- The Michigan Presidential Primary Election is Tuesday, March 8, 2016. To be eligible to vote in this March 8 election you must be registered by Feb. 8, 2016. Registered voters who are unable to vote that day may apply for an absentee ballot.

As a registered voter, you may obtain an absent voter ballot for one of the following reasons:
  • age 60 years old or older
  • unable to vote without assistance at the polls
  • expecting to be out of town on election day
  • in jail awaiting arraignment or trial
  • unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons
  • appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence.
A person who registers to vote by mail must vote in person in the first election in which he or she participates. The restriction does not apply to overseas voters, voters who are disabled or voters who are 60 years of age or older. (Voting in person on one governmental level clears the restriction on the other levels. For example, if a voter subject to the restriction votes in person at a school election, the voter would be free to obtain an absentee ballot for the first state election in which he or she wishes to participate.)

Requesting an Absent Voter Ballot

Your request for an absent voter ballot must be in writing and can be submitted by mail or in person to your city or township clerk. Your request must include one of the six statutory reasons stated above and your signature. You must request an absent voter ballot by mailing the application, large print application, a letter, a postcard, or a pre-printed application form obtained from your local clerk's office. Requests to have an absent voter ballot mailed to you must be received by your clerk (by mail or in person) no later than 2 p.m. Saturday, March 5, 2016. (Even though this is a Saturday some local clerks may be in their offices until 2 p.m. on March 5.)

Once your request is received by the local clerk, your signature on the request will be checked against your voter registration record before a ballot is issued. You must be a registered voter to receive an absent voter ballot. Requests for absent voter ballots are processed immediately. Absent voter ballots may be issued to you in person or at your home address or any address outside of your city or township of residence. You may also apply for the absentee ballot in person and vote in person in the clerk's office the same day.

After receiving your absent voter ballot, you have until 8 p.m. on March 8, election day, to complete the ballot and return it to the clerk's office. Your ballot will not be counted unless your signature is on the return envelope and matches your signature on file. If you received assistance voting the ballot, then the signature of the person who helped you must also be on the return envelope. Only you, a family member or person residing in your household, a mail carrier, or election official is authorized to deliver your signed absent voter ballot to your clerk's office.

If an emergency, such as a sudden illness or family death prevents you from reaching the polls on election day, you may request an emergency absent voter ballot. Requests for an emergency ballot must be submitted after the deadline for regular absent voter ballots has passed but before 4 p.m. on election day. The emergency must have occurred at a time which made it impossible for you to apply for a regular absent voter ballot. Your local clerk will have more information about emergency absent voter ballots.

Voting is one of the most cherished and fundamental rights in our country. If you are eligible to obtain an absent voter ballot and cannot attend the polls on election day, use of the absent voter ballot is strongly encouraged.

For more Michigan voter information click here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra to present Celebration of Concertos Feb. 27 at Rozsa Center

HOUGHTON -- The Rozsa Center is pleased to welcome the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra (KSO) in their Celebration of Concertos at 7:30 p.m. this Saturday, Feb. 27.

The eight talented winners of the KSO Concerto Competition join the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra in an exciting evening of concertos by Prokofiev, Strauss, Mendelssohn, Offenbach, Puccini, Saint-Saens, Massenet, Kabalevsky, and Mozart.

Tickets are on sale now: $19 for adults, $6 for youth, and no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee. Tickets are available by phone at (906) 487-2073, online at Rozsa.mtu.edu, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex (SDC), or at the Rozsa Box Office the evening of the performance. Please note: the Rozsa Box Office only opens two hours prior to performances.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Carnegie Museum to host opening reception for exhibit "Black Voices in the Copper Country" Feb. 23

Members of the Michigan Tech African-American student group, 1981. (Exhibit photo courtesy Michigan Tech Archives)

HOUGHTON -- The Carnegie Museum in Houghton will host a Reception and Presentation of the exhibit "Black Voices in the Copper Country," beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23. At 7 p.m. in the museum's downstairs Community Room, Lindsay Hiltunen, Michigan Tech Senior Archivist and curator of the exhibit, will talk about the exhibit, the project, and the mission of the Michigan Tech Archives.

Exhibit and program are free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

The Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections recently partnered with the Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw to launch a photograph installation documenting moments in local African American history. This exhibit is part of the Black Voices in the Copper Country project, a research and outreach series developed by the Michigan Tech Archives. Designed to illuminate black social history in Michigan’s northwestern Upper Peninsula, especially Houghton and Keweenaw counties, the primary goal of this project is to inform and engage the public about the existence of historic black residents in the Copper Country and to explore how themes of community, belonging and identity evolved and changed over time, from the late 1800s to the present day. These themes are explored in both an historical and a modern context, with sights set on exploring the region generally as well as on activities and student life at the Michigan Technological University campus.

The Black Voices project is funded in part by the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. For more information about the project or the Michigan Tech Archives, please contact Lindsay Hiltunen at (906) 487-2505 or email copper@mtu.edu.

Portage Library to host film exposé of rape culture on U.S. campuses, with panel discussion, March 1

HOUGHTON -- The Portage Lake District Library will host a screening of the film The Hunting Ground at 6 p.m., followed by a panel discussion at 7:45 p.m., on Tuesday, March 1.

Produced by the directors of The Invisible War, a documentary about sexual assault in the United States military, The Hunting Ground presents a startling exposé of rape culture on U.S. campuses, institutional cover-ups, and the brutal social toll on victims and their families. Weaving together actual footage and first-person testimonies, the film follows survivors as they pursue their education while fighting for justice. This film was shown at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

The film will be followed by a question and answer discussion with panelists from the Michigan Technological University Department of Institutional Equity and Inclusion/Title IX, the Barbara Kettle Gundlach Shelter Home, and Dial Help, Inc.

All library programs are free and everyone is invited. For more information please call the library at 482-4570 or send an email to info@pldl.org.