Sunday, May 20, 2018

Isle Royale Winter Study celebrates 60 years

60 years. Two wolves. A lot of moose. (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech University)

By Allison Mills, Michigan Tech Associate Director of Research Communications
Posted on Michigan Tech News May 17, 2018
Reprinted in part with permission

HOUGHTON -- The 2018 report is out: two wolves, almost 1,500 moose and an ecosystem in transition. In its 60th year, the research is the longest running predator-prey study of its kind.

Researchers from Michigan Technological University have released the annual Winter Study report detailing updates on the ecology of Isle Royale National Park. For the third year in a row, the Isle Royale wolf population remains a mere two, while the moose population continues to stay above the historic average. Without the pressure of predation, the expanding moose population will have a greater impact on the island's forest ecology.

The study co-authors include Research Professor Rolf Peterson, Professor John Vucetich and Assistant Research Professor Sarah Hoy. They say the heart of the study's success has been the more than 1,000 citizen science volunteers who have bolstered the study's fieldwork efforts in small teams totaling about 40 people each year for the last 30 years. Together, they helped gather enough skulls to document the shrinking moose of Isle Royale, observe seasonal wolf activity and earned more than their fair share of hiking boot blisters....

The National Park Service has proposed introducing 20-30 wolves to the island over the next three years. The final environmental impact statement was completed and the identified preferred alternative is to restore wolf predation, but the final decision on the plan is pending as of the Winter Study report publication.*
Click here to read the rest of this article on the Michigan Tech News.

* The National Park Service's Final Environmental Impact Statement to Address the Presence of Wolves (plan/FEIS) evaluates whether and how to bring wolves to Isle Royale to function as the apex predator within a changing and dynamic island ecosystem. The NPS preferred alternative is Alternative B, which calls for the introduction of 20 to 30 wolves over a three-year period. The goal of this alternative is to provide an introduction of wolves that has the potential to become a self-sustaining population. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Omega House offers quality hospice care for terminally ill, welcoming atmosphere and counseling for families

By Vanessa Dietz *

The sign outside Omega House in Houghton beckons people to visit the hospice. (Photos © and courtesy Vanessa Dietz)

HOUGHTON -- There’s a doorbell, but you don’t have to ring it at Omega House in Houghton. Through its figurative revolving door, the 24-7 hospice welcomes visitors, most of whom come to see their loved ones -- quite possibly for the last time.

Here's the main entrance of Omega House, located at 2211 Maureen Lane in Houghton.

Music plays in the background of the renovated house, where terminally ill patients are treated with compassion, respect and dignity by professional, volunteer and family caregivers.

"This is their home," said Omega House Executive Director Mike Lutz, who joined the staff as the first executive director in January 2016. Governed by an 18-member board, Omega House has been in operation since 2005.

"They’re all at different stages of dying," Lutz explained. "People come in all day long or any time (without) restriction. Those kinds of things enhance the quality of life."

The team at Omega House provides around-the-clock services to people who need more care than is available at home in the final phases of their lives.

Eight patient rooms sport private bathrooms, recliners, cable television, individual heating and cooling controls, ample seating for visitors, and large, low windows with a view of the surrounding gardens and trees so even those who are bedridden can take in the scenery. One of the rooms is set aside to provide temporary respite care for individuals recuperating from surgery, illness or hospitalization whose caregivers need a break for whatever reason.

In addition to staff office space and commercial laundry facilities, the house has a living room with a television, VCR, laptop computer and piano, as well as a quiet, meditation room, kitchen, and dining area, all of which are open to patients and their families. The house also has two specially designed bathrooms with walk- or wheel-in showers and whirlpool baths.

Omega House is beautiful inside and out, with an inviting  outdoor patio easily accessed through a side door. Comfortable wicker furniture beckons residents and visitors to enjoy the outdoors when the weather is nice.

Omega House Executive Director Michael Lutz enjoys the spring sunshine on the patio of the Houghton hospice.

The staff regularly perform housekeeping duties and prepare home-cooked meals that are served any time of the day or night to patients. Families are welcome to cook their own favorite dishes there as well.

"You eat when you want to eat," Lutz said. "We’re not that structured here. At home, we eat when we we’re hungry. We encourage families to come in and use our stove. We want our residents to be comfortable."

While the numbers vary, Lutz said an overall average of 5.5 residents stay about 10 days. The house has had around 500 residents, with about 40 new patients coming through the door each year.

"I’d like to see people come to Omega House earlier," he said, because it would allow caregivers to work with patients and families longer to help them all more fully prepare for their loved one’s death. That’s a family choice. Some spend a year here. This year we’re training for a record year. As baby boomers start aging, we may need to add rooms. This is an elderly area."

The Copper Country’s aging population is expected to drive the need for hospice services in the western Upper Peninsula.

Addressing each family's physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological and social needs, caregivers help control pain and symptoms so residents can live each day more comfortably.

Generous community support enables Omega House to care for people with limited insurance and finances. No one is turned away from Omega House due to lack of financial resources.

Covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurances, fees are based on a sliding scale. Residents are charged a daily rate from $30 to $260 per day, depending on their insurance coverage and financial resources. Lutz said the average cost is $120.

"What makes up the difference is community donations," Lutz said. "Donations need to be strong."

Donors' names are etched in glass panes inside Omega House in Houghton.

Logging about 3,000 hours per year, volunteers help Omega House make ends meet.

"They provide us another level of care," Lutz said.

People can give of their time, or contribute in other ways.

"We get lots of donations," Lutz added, gesturing to a stack of cookies and other bakery he said was typical of the fare available at any given time. Biggby Coffee owner Landon Palmer and his wife, Abby Palmer, recently stopped by with samples of their delicious coffee, shortly before a couple showed up with their little dog in tow to visit a loved one.

Biggby Coffee owner Landon Palmer and his wife, Abby Palmer, recently delivered coffee to Omega House in Houghton.

"You see so much good," Lutz said. "The community organizations are working together."

And it’s not just the financial and food donations that make a difference in residents’ everyday lives. Tadych’s Econo Foods sends fresh flowers to each patient weekly.

"As a dedicated community partner, Econo Foods seized the opportunity to enhance the final days of Omega House residents," said Econo's Houghton Store Manager Scott Rubich.

Art from Calumet High School and Michigan Technological University students has graced the walls in the past and new exhibits are always welcome.

"We try to showcase things, to try to drive foot traffic," Lutz said, adding Omega House also relies on several fundraisers to raise money each year.

Upcoming fundraisers to include golf, music events

In addition to a yearly vacation raffle, the 16th annual Joe Evans Golf Classic will be June 9 at the Portage Lake Golf Course in Houghton. And for a $10 suggested donation, people can enjoy the 12th annual Omega House summer concert at 7 p.m. on July 24 at Saints Peter and Paul Lutheran Church in Houghton. Another musical fundraiser tentatively set for Sept. 29 will feature an out-of-town band at the Calumet Theatre.

Lutz noted these events are really part of efforts to raise awareness of what the hospice has to offer.

Facilitators, counselors help patient and family

Getting residents and their families through the dying process in the best way is another focus at the Omega House.

Trained facilitators broach often difficult discussions with patients and their families, including advance care planning. The planning process entails the patient choosing an advocate to speak for them when they no longer can, telling the staff and family how they want to be treated, including the specific medical care they want and don’t want -- all aimed at reducing the burden on the family to make hard choices at a difficult time.

The staff also provides bereavement counseling to meet the social, emotional and spiritual needs of patients and families and welcomes members of the clergy anytime.

"People don’t like to talk about death and dying, but they’ll listen," Lutz said.

The Rice Memorial Foundation recently awarded Omega House a $6,400 grant and the Portage Health Auxiliary just chipped in another $1,000 to help fund a community grief support program which provides for a ongoing series of grief workshops and free counseling for community members, including the youngest members of the family.

"These children are suffering out there," Lutz said, whether due to the loss of a loved one, or other family upset like divorce. "They get lost and they have no one to turn to."

Any remaining funds will be used to augment the library selection of the house.

Potential volunteers and donors can contact Omega House, located at 2211 Maureen Lane in Houghton, next door to The Bluffs Senior Community. For more information, call (906) 482-4438, visit, or email

* Guest writer Vanessa Dietz is a freelance journalist, formerly feature editor and reporter for The Daily Mining Gazette.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Landowners alarmed by Highland Copper subsidiary's mineral lease requests; Highland completes Copperwood 2018 winter exploration in Porkies

By Michele Bourdieu
With information from UPEC's Mining Action Group and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Granite Cliff Community along (North) Rocking Chair Lake -- an area included in recent mineral lease requests to the State of Michigan by UPX Minerals, a subsidiary of Highland Copper. (Photo courtesy Michigan Department of Natural Resources)

MARQUETTE -- Landowners and residents in Marquette and Iron counties are expressing alarm at mineral lease requests to Michigan's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) by Highland Copper Company's subsidiary UPX Minerals, leading to an extension of the comment period on the leases to June 11, 2018. Meanwhile the DNR has announced completion of this year's winter mineral exploration by Highland's subsidiary Copperwood Resources Inc.

Landowners, environmentalists concerned by UPX mineral lease requests 

According to the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition's (UPEC's) Mining Action Group, local property owners are expressing alarm over mineral lease requests made by UPX Minerals, a wholly owned subsidiary of Highland Copper. UPX is seeking to lease nearly 4,000 acres of State-owned minerals in Marquette and Iron counties. Most of these mineral properties are in Marquette County; and many are underneath private property, homes, camps, rivers and streams, lakes, wetlands -- even nature reserves.

"We opened our mail and found a notice from UPX Minerals requesting a direct metallic minerals lease from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) -- under our own home," said Sue Beckstrom Noel, a concerned local resident. "We were horrified! The owner of mineral rights can access your property, conduct exploration or drilling, or potentially develop a mine under your home or camp, and as the landowner you have very little control over that. Doesn’t that seem outrageous?"

According to Karen Maidlow, DNR property specialist in the Office of Minerals Management, "The State of Michigan, as a severed mineral owner, does have the right to lease the severed minerals when the surface is not owned because the mineral estate is considered the dominant estate. DNR staff review parcels for lease classification and determine the most appropriate lease classification for resource protection as if the State owned the surface. The lease applicant is required to notify the surface owner during the public notice period. If a Lessee of State minerals wants to explore or develop the minerals, they need to work with the surface owner regarding the anticipated reasonable use of the land surface, in addition to working with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the State mining regulatory agency. The lease provides that the Lessee shall pay damages to the surface owner should any damages occur directly or indirectly from mining operations."

Local residents and landowners have been meeting recently to discuss their concerns about the proposed leases.

After hearing from concerned citizens, the Mining Action Group, Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC), Superior Watershed Partnership and others requested an extension of the public comment period, originally scheduled to expire early in May. It has been extended to June 11, 2018.

More than 3,800 acres of the requested mineral leases would be located in Champion, Michigamme, Negaunee, Ishpeming and Marquette townships, and include sensitive and scenic areas. Some mineral lease requests could impact the Noquemanon Trail Network in the Forestville Trailhead area, Echo Lake Nature Preserve, Teal Lake -- and the Vielmetti-Peters Conservation Reserve, owned by the Upper Peninsula Land Conservancy.*

The UPX mineral lease request also targets the Rocking Chair Lakes -- considered by the DNR to be one of Marquette County’s wild gems, and recently nominated to become "The Rocking Chair Lakes Ecological Reference Area." This remote area of state land includes four different Ecological Reference Areas (ERAs): Northern Shrub Thicket, Dry Mesic Northern Forest, Mesic Northern Forest, and Granite Cliff. The rugged terrain of the Mulligan Escarpment is also the heart of Michigan’s moose range.**

Dry Mesic Northern Forest along (South) Rocking Chair Lake. (Photo courtesy Michigan DNR) 

John Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer, offered Keweenaw Now this information on the leases: "Parcels under lease request have been reviewed by DNR field staff to determine if there are resources on the parcel that need protecting. Based on the review, DNR staff have recommended the most appropriate classification for surface use for each parcel under lease request should the lease be approved. The recommended lease classification for parcels in the Rocking Chair area is Leasable Nondevelopment. This means the lease would not allow the parcel’s surface to be used for metallic minerals exploration or development without separate written permission from the DNR."

This map shows some parcels requested by UPX for mineral leasing in Marquette County. Section 10 includes the Rocking Chair Lakes area. Note that 8 of the parcels in Section 10 are marked with an X for nondevelopment, while the other 4 have an R for restricted development.***

This map shows some of the state-owned parcels requested for mineral leasing by UPX. Click here and go to p. 15 in the parcel list and maps document for a larger version of this map. (Map courtesy Michigan DNR)

Pepin also explained that a lease is not a permit.

"If a lease is granted by the DNR, the lease grants only the exclusive right to pursue exploration and development," Pepin said. "It does not provide a permit for any of these activities. Any and all needed permissions from the DEQ, the State mining regulatory agency, and local government would need to be acquired by the lessee before any surface or subsurface work occurs. The lease is only the first step to allow the Lessee the exclusive right to assess the mineral potential to the parcels under lease."

Northern Shrub Thicket along the Mulligan Creek. (Photo courtesy Michigan DNR)

Julie Hintsala, a local landowner, commented on the scenic beauty in the area of wooded lands near the McClure Basin and Neejee Road, where her family built a home in 1992.

"Other people appreciate the scenic beauty of the region also, because the old steel bridge and the new high bridge on Co. Rd. 510 over the Dead River are two of the most photographed areas in Marquette County," Hintsala said.  "Imagine having a mine in the background of your next bridge photo! It is shocking to consider. This would also impact the Noquemanon Ski Trail, the Hoist and McClure Basins, and the nearby Ore to Shore bike race."

Hintsala described herself as "a life-long Yooper" who appreciates the importance of mining to the area, but who believes in the current importance of tourism and recreation as well.

"Tourism, mountain biking and cross country skiing in this area would be devastated by possible mining operations," Hintsala said. "Is it worth forever changing our landscape and risking our environment, including the nearby Dead River basin, for a short-term mining operation? Why would the State of Michigan consider allowing mineral rights to be leased for exploration so near a community in Negaunee township in an area that will impact recreation and tourism?"

When asked why the company wanted to conduct mining exploration in residential areas, a UPX representative contacted by phone replied, "We’re just trying to tie areas together that we already have rights to."

In 2017, UPX Minerals acquired nearly 500,000 acres of mineral properties in the Central Upper Peninsula of Michigan -- lands formerly owned by Rio Tinto and Kennecott. UPX is reviewing historic mineral exploration data, and conducting "field exploration" in search of orogenic gold, magmatic nickel-copper and zinc-copper deposits in the various properties. Their goal is to "define drilling targets" this year, creating a "pipeline" of future mining projects.

Approximately 119 acres of the lease requests are located in the Crystal Falls Township of Iron County, adjacent to the East Branch of the Fence River, and underneath Wilson Creek and wetlands.

"Iron County communities and watersheds continue to feel the impacts of the iron ore mines that have been closed for more than 40 years," said Maggie Scheffer, a board member of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition, who resides in Iron County. "The parcels identified for mineral exploration, and potential mining in Iron County, are remote, water-rich sites. It is in our best interest to protect our watersheds from wide-scale ecological disruption, and look instead toward a future that allows our local economies to thrive because of the natural beauty that attracts people to our area."

Richard Sloat, also a resident of Iron County, commented on Highland Copper's wetlands and soil erosion violations during their 2017 winter exploration in and near the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park during last year's spring thaw.

"Granting the mineral lease rights allowing exploration could lead to a possible mishap such as what occurred in the Porcupine Mountains wilderness area," said Sloat. "Degradation at that exploration site could have been prevented had there been proper oversight and inspection by the DNR and DEQ."

This April 26, 2017, photo shows sediment-filled muddy water passing through fiber rolls (erosion control) on an access road left chewed up by Highland Copper's drilling equipment in early spring last year. Muddy water was flowing into ditches of CR-519, which conveyed the water to a ravine that feeds the Presque Isle River. (Keweenaw Now file photo © Steve Garske and courtesy Mining Action Group)

Last year UPEC's Mining Action Group alerted the public when the DNR, DEQ and the Gogebic County Road Commission did not monitor the contractor during a period of rapid thawing, causing significant damage to public property along CR-519 or 510.**** 

Highland Copper's Copperwood Project: more exploration in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

Highland Copper is currently developing projects in Gogebic and Ontonagon counties, and in the Keweenaw Peninsula. They own the Copperwood Project, where they propose to mine adjacent to the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (aka the Porkies) and potentially underneath the park itself.

In April, the DNR announced that Copperwood Resources Inc. -- a subsidiary of Highland Copper -- had completed its 2018 winter exploration of a 1-mile section of the westernmost portion of the Porkies.

Exploratory drilling was conducted in this part of Gogebic County to see if the eastern extension of a mineral deposit first explored in the 1950s might feasibly be mined, which could potentially enlarge the mining company’s Copperwood Project beyond its currently-permitted boundaries.

Drilling and testing will determine hydrologic and geologic composition of the bedrock beneath the surface. Copperwood Resources is leasing the mineral rights from another company, which owns those rights beneath this part of the park. The state of Michigan manages the land surface features.

Earlier this winter, the Michigan DNR granted a land use permit for the work, allowing the mining company to resume exploration begun last winter at the park. The Gogebic County Road Commission granted a separate permit. Additional permits were required from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for two of the drilling sites situated in wetland areas.

The Gogebic County Road Commission and DNR permits included several provisions aimed at protecting land surface features.

"All of the stipulations in the use permit were followed," said Doug Rich, western U.P. district supervisor for the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division.

Steve Casey, Upper Peninsula district supervisor of Michigan DEQ Water Resources Division, told Keweenaw Now that Highland Copper restored the wetlands they had damaged last year and obtained wetland permits for this year's drilling.

"We're not aware of any problems this year," Casey said. "They did what they were supposed to do according to the permit to prevent problems like those they had last year."

Three holes were drilled this winter on park land. A separate land use permit was granted by the Gogebic County Road Commission for drilling work at three sites that took place on county property, within the right-of-way of County Road 519.

Two additional test holes were drilled to the ore body from Copperwood Resources property situated west of the park. The mining company has completed winter exploration on its lands.

"We are pleased to have completed the drilling program on our Copperwood project, and would like to thank the DNR, DEQ, and the Gogebic County Road Commission for their cooperation over the last few months," said Justin van der Toorn, exploration manager of Copperwood Resources Inc. "The winter conditions have held out well for us and allowed us to finish all eight drill holes as planned. The information and assays that are derived from this work will now be incorporated into our ongoing feasibility study that is still on schedule for completion this summer."

UPEC President Horst Schmidt commented on Highland Copper's and state agencies' improved oversight of the winter exploratory drilling.

"This year the DNR, fearing negative public reaction, has had a carefully orchestrated PR campaign to show the public they are monitoring the drilling activity," Schmidt said. "I applaud them for it. This is what should be done at all times in all places by both the DNR and DEQ as well as by county agencies."

Schmidt added, "The real problem is the state's destructive severance of surface and subsurface rights -- which gives the extractive industries carte blanche to remove minerals, oil, gas and water almost anywhere. The DEQ gave permits for mining right next to Lake Superior for the Copperwood project and the DNR can allow them to mine under the Porkies, a supposedly development-free wilderness park. There must be a change in the way 'resources' are removed. 'Resources' are inextricably linked to the essential constituents necessary for all creatures to survive: water, air, land. UPEC has conveyed this message for over four decades. The lesson has still to be learned."

Public urged to comment on UPX mineral lease requests by June 11, 2018

Dennis and Kim Ferraro of Marquette, who formerly lived in Chicago and Indiana, said they relocated to the U.P. last year because they fell in love with the natural beauty, clean air and water, and opportunities for outdoor recreation.

"However, we now face a grave threat to that environment because UPX, Inc., subsidiary of Canadian conglomerate, Highland Copper, has targeted Marquette County for exploration and potential development of sulfide ore mining, a form of extraction that may leave the air, streams and groundwater polluted with toxic by-products," the Ferraros said. "We ask our fellow citizens to join us in urging DNR to reject this corporate poaching of our environment by submitting comments before the public comment period expires."

The public is urged to submit written comments expressing their concerns and providing additional information "relative to the request to lease the specified mineral rights" by June 11, 2018, to DNR, Office of Minerals Management, P.O. Box 30452, Lansing MI 48909, or

"If Highland Copper / UPX succeeds in taking even a fraction of these sulfide-mineral deposits from exploration to development, the risk to the Lake Superior watershed will be significantly heightened," warned Louis Galdieri, a writer and filmmaker interested in the history and long-term prosperity of the Lake Superior basin.

Asked if the DNR might hold a public hearing in addition to extending the public comment period, Karen Maidlow replied, "The lease only allows the Lessee the exclusive right to assess the mineral potential to the state-owned parcels under lease. The majority of leases expire without exploration or development occurring. Separate permissions to explore or mine must be obtained from the DEQ. In the event a metallic ore body is discovered, a mining plan must be submitted to the DEQ (and to the DNR if state land is involved). At that stage, public hearings are held so the public can be informed of the specifics of the proposed mining plan and provide valued feedback."  


* See the Michigan DNR: UPX Mineral Lease Request: Parcel List and Maps

** Click here for the Rocking Chair Lakes ERA Plan.

*** Click here for the DNR's definitions of Metallic and Nonmetallic Minerals Lease Classifications.

**** See our May 12, 2017, article, "DEQ cites Highland Copper's wetlands, soil erosion violations from mining exploration in Porkies, along CR 519."

Thursday, May 03, 2018

WUPPDR offers program to help reduce small business energy costs

Logo courtesy WUPPDR.

HOUGHTON -- Businesses looking to lower their energy bills can now make more informed investment decisions thanks to a grant awarded to the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region (WUPPDR). WUPPDR, which received the grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), will pay up to 75 percent of the cost of commercial energy audits and assessments to help local businesses identify opportunities to reduce energy expenses and target resources to pay for energy waste reduction investments.

The program is a partnership between WUPPDR and Michigan Energy Options, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing communities’ access to energy efficiency and renewable energy. The program reviews both common energy conservation measures (ECMs) such as lighting and building envelope improvements, as well as more advanced ECMs like smart thermostats, building control technologies, and renewable energy. In addition to receiving a report with specific energy efficiency recommendations and cost saving projections, participating businesses with be connected with existing resources to help finance energy efficiency investments.

"There are a number of programs out there to help businesses reduce their energy expenses, but it can be confusing and time-consuming to track them down, find the right fit, and complete the necessary paperwork," said Brad Barnett, program coordinator. "At the end of the day, we want to help businesses save energy and money, so we plan to work with them to capitalize on the audit’s recommendations."

Participating businesses can choose from two different program options: a Level I energy assessment or a Level II energy audit.  The Level I assessment offers an on-site consultation with an energy services professional to identify energy waste-reduction best practices and is geared toward small businesses looking to better understand their utility bills and opportunities for improvement. The Level II audit is a data-intense evaluation of on-site energy consumption and analysis of fuel, electricity, and water bills and usage for trend analysis and industry benchmarking. Return on investment (ROI) and payback period calculations are also provided to help businesses evaluate trade-offs of different energy efficiency investments.

"Investing in energy waste reduction is a safe and predictable way to improve a business’s bottom line," says Barnett. "Spending less on energy frees up capital for other forms of business investment, and the savings from some projects pay for themselves in a year or two."

To obtain more information about the program or to schedule an audit, visit; or contact Brad Barnett, Program Coordinator, at (906) 482-7205, ext. 316 or

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

MDEQ to hold public meeting, hearing on permit application to dredge stamp sands in Houghton County TODAY, May 1, at Michigan Tech

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This press release was sent by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality on April 30, 2018. We regret this last-minute posting.]

What: The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) is hosting an information session to answer questions and a public hearing to receive comment on a permit application by Torch Lake Industries, Inc., regarding proposed dredging of Lake Superior stamp sands.

When: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 1, 2018: Public information session including an opportunity for Q and A with MDEQ staff, MDEQ presentations regarding the permit application process and Part 325 statute and a presentation by a Michigan Tech official regarding previous studies on stamp sands.

6 p.m. to 9 p.m.: Public comment period.

9 p.m.: Public hearing concludes.

Michigan Technological University
Alumni Lounge, Memorial Union Building
1400 Townsend Drive
Houghton, MI 49931
NOTE: Michigan Tech has provided for a "call in" line for multiple people unable to attend the meetings to call and listen in to today's Info Session from 2-4 p.m. and to the hearing from 6-9 p.m. The number is 906-487-1627.

Torch Lake Industries, Inc. is requesting a permit to mechanically and/or hydraulically dredge an estimated 33,528,422 cubic yards of stamp sands waterward of the ordinary high water mark of Lake Superior in Stanton Township, Houghton County (extending from the Graveraet River approximately 13 miles northeast to the North Portage Entry). The company applied for a Great Lakes Submerged Lands permit (under Part 325 of Michigan’s NREPA, 1994 PA 451) in October of 2015 with MDEQ’s Water Resources Division.

Written public comments that pertain to the proposed Lake Superior submerged lands project are being accepted by MDEQ through May 11, 2018. Comments may be submitted online through MiWaters or by mail to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Upper Peninsula District Office, 1504 W Washington Street, Marquette, MI 49855.

Please note this information session and hearing pertain to Stanton Township stamp sands only. These meetings will not address projects proposed in other stamp sand areas.

For links to the public notice and application in MiWaters, please visit or

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Finlandia's International School of Art and Design 2018 BFA Diploma Works Exhibition to open April 28

Abigail Tembreuil, Finlandia International School of Art and Design intermedia senior, prepares one of her diploma works for the exhibit opening Saturday, April 28, at the Finlandia University Gallery in Hancock. (Photos courtesy Finlandia University)

HANCOCK -- Finlandia University’s International School of Art and Design (ISAD) 2018 Bachelor of Fine Arts Diploma Works Exhibition is featured from April 28 to May 31, 2018, at the Finlandia University Gallery, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock.

A reception for the artists will take place from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, April 28, at the gallery. The artists will be introduced at 7:20 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Zong Deng, graphic design senior, works on one of his pieces.

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 drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramic design, textile design and graphic design.

William Thompson, ceramics senior, installs his ceramic piece.

The 2018 International School of Art and Design graduating seniors are Zong Deng (Graphic Design), Levi Grannis (Intermedia), Olivia Leukuma (Graphic Design), Taylor Ruotsala (Fiber and Fashion Design), Hannah Scott (Graphic Design), Mark Siminski (Graphic Design), Abigail Tembreull (Intermedia), William Thompson (Ceramics), Clancy Tunstall (Graphic Design), and Sara Williams (Intermedia).

Sunday, April 22, 2018

State Certified, secure electronic recycling returns to the Keweenaw

HOUGHTON -- The Copper Country Recycling Initiative (CCRI) -- in partnership with Michigan Tech, Goodwill Industries, and the cities of Hancock and Houghton -- has recently received funding from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for electronic waste recycling. Spring and fall collection events are planned for 2018, in addition to the development of two permanent collection sites in the area. 

The spring collection will be from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, May 4, and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 5, at Goodwill Industries at the airport. The following items are among those that will be accepted: cell phones, computer monitors, copy machines, cordless phones, fax machines, laptop computers, keyboards and mice, microwave ovens, printers, scanners, stereo equipment, televisions, and VCR and DVD players.

The CCRI  is committed to providing environmentally and socially conscious recycling services for your unwanted electronics. The Keweenaw electronic recycling events are in collaboration with Comprenew, a Grand Rapids recycling company that is now expanding to the Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin.*

Comprenew is a Michigan DEQ-inspected and nationally certified  facility. By working with a Michigan based company we are helping to create jobs for UP families. The company has a "no landfill" policy that is strictly enforced.**

Free film on electronic recycling to be shown April 30

CCRI, along with Portage Lake District Library and the Michigan Tech Center for Science and Environmental Outreach, will sponsor a free showing of the film Death by Design (2016) at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, April 30, at Portage Library. A discussion will follow the film, and a recycler of the year award will be presented. ($3 suggested donation)

We love and live on smartphones, tablets and laptops. By 2020, four billion people will have a personal computer. Five billion will own a mobile phone. But this revolution has a dark side. From factories in China, to high tech Silicon Valley, the film tells of environmental degradation, health tragedies, and the fast approaching tipping point between consumerism and sustainability.

* See: "Comprenew announces expansion into Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin."

** For a sample list of Comprenew's items acceptable for electronic recycling click here.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Rozsa Center to host two concerts, art exhibit opening this weekend

Michigan Tech's Choirs will present "Beyond the Veil" at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 20, at the Rozsa Center. (Photo courtesy Rozsa Center)

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Tech's Rozsa Center will offer art and music lovers three events featuring talent from the local community this Friday and Saturday, April 20 and 21.

Michigan Tech Choirs to present "Beyond the Veil" April 20

The Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts and Michigan Tech's Department of Visual and Performing Arts will present a concert by the Michigan Tech Choirs -- conScience: Michigan Tech Chamber Singers and the Michigan Tech Concert Choir at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 20, in the Rozsa Center.

According to Jared Anderson, chair, Visual and Performing Arts Department, and choirs director, "The choirs at Tech have been working hard to prepare a concert that includes a number of interesting themes. The title of the concert, 'Beyond the Veil,' refers to themes that seem to be opposites as if on two sides of a veil: love and loss, life and death, health and sickness, slavery and freedom, youth and old age. There will be something for everyone at the concert this Friday -- love songs, spirituals, folksongs, and sacred motets."

Tickets for "Beyond the Veil" are on sale now, $13 for adults, $5 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, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex, or at the Rozsa Box Office the evening of the performance. Please note the Rozsa Box Office only opens two hours prior to performances.

"From There to Here": Opening Reception Friday, April 20

The Rozsa Center and the Department of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) invite the public to visit their semi-annual student showcase, "From There to Here," featuring works of art created by Michigan Tech students who are participating in Project Learning Lab, an innovative arts classroom based inside  Rozsa gallery b.

Work on display was created by students in Lisa Gordillo’s Traditional Sculpture, Advanced Sculpture, and 3D Design classes. Students from many campus disciplines are represented, including Materials Sciences, English, and Theatre Arts.

The exhibition continues through this Friday, April 20. A reception will be held from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 20, in Rozsa Gallery b. The reception is free and all are welcome.
Students in Traditional Sculpture study traditional ways of making art around the globe, including Guatemalan kites, Zimbabwe-Shona carving, and metal casting, with help from Michigan Tech’s department of Materials Sciences. Students in Advanced Sculpture are encouraged to work with the gallery’s architecture and to create large-scale installations in the gallery. Students in 3D Design have designed and built a tree house for a local, three-year old client.

Student artists represented: Shane Arnold, Rebecca Barkdoll, Jalen Beck, Jessica Boelcke, Alyssa Cinder, Scott Davison, Holly Eyrich, Charlie Heckel, Mads Howard, Aaron Kruzel, Alex Kuehn, Haylee Lakenen, Miles Lefevre, Dakota Lowrance, Michael Miller, Adam Mitchell, Evan Monko, Zack Nelson, Neal Nordstrom, Via Ouellette Ballas, Justin Pearl, Ted Smith, Matt Tascarella, Gabe Toczynski, Makenzi Wentela, Kitty Williams, and Amanda Wils.

For more information please contact Lisa Gordillo, Assistant Professor, Visual and Performing Arts, 906-487-3096,

Superior Wind Symphony to celebrate contemporary composers Saturday, April 21

The Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts and the Department of Visual and Performing Arts will present a concert by Michigan Tech's Superior Wind Symphony and Campus Concert Band, titled "Right Now," a celebration of music written by contemporary composers. They will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 21, in the Rozsa Center.

According to Michael Christianson, Michigan Tech director of bands, "The Superior Wind Symphony and Campus Concert Band combine once again for their year-end wind concert: 'Right Now!' -- the music of living composers. These 14 composers are people who walk among us and who you could conceivably meet. I have met five of them and performed with two of them. Two of them have been on this campus!! Two of them are jazz bassists! They range in age from 33 to 94 and write in a wide range of styles, so there is bound to be something you will love. Composers include: John Mackey, Shelley Hanson, Chris Brubeck, Eric Whitacre, Michael Daugherty, Fred Hersch, Rufus Reid, Esperanza Spalding, Radiohead, Bjork, Andrew Boysen, Jr., Tan Dun, and Sammy Nestico! Join us for a fresh and invigorating evening!"

Tickets for "Right Now" are on sale now, $13 for adults, $5 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, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex, or at the Rozsa Box Office the evening of the performance. Please note the Rozsa Box Office only opens two hours prior to performances.

For more information please contact Mike Christianson at, 906-487-2825, or visit

(Inset photos courtesy Rozsa Center)

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Kathleen Heideman -- activist, artist, poet -- honored as Freshwater Hero

Kathleen Heideman of Marquette, Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC) board member, active in UPEC's Mining Action Group, has been named a Freshwater Hero by Freshwater Future. (Photo © Christine Saari and courtesy UPEC)

MARQUETTE -- Last week, environmental group Freshwater Future announced the winners of their annual Freshwater Hero awards, which they "bestow upon unique and pioneering water protectors in the region."

Among the recipients of this year’s award is Kathleen M. Heideman of Marquette -- writer, artist, and environmentalist -- who’s been defending clean water and wild places from the dangers of sulfide mining for years. Heideman serves on the board of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC) and works with the UPEC Mining Action Group, previously known as Save the Wild U.P.

Freshwater Future has supported Heideman and her colleagues for their work related to the Aquila Back Forty project and the Eagle Mine and for their efforts to educate the public about the hazards of sulfide mining.

Freshwater Future also recognizes Heideman's artistic talents: "Kathleen’s stewardship and sense of place is evident in her paintings and her poetry, and she incorporates her experiences with water into media that are accessible to a much broader population."*

Freshwater Future recognizes the power of citizen activism, noting that "in every community around the Great Lakes, you’ll find thoughtful, committed residents taking action to protect our lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands, shorelines, and drinking water. Small, individual actions can make a big difference, and at Freshwater Future we’re inspired by those who devote their time to making things better. It’s this collective involvement that helps keep our waters safe, clean, and accessible to all."

Freshwater Future is a watershed-wide organization dedicated to supporting the needs of community-based groups such as UPEC and the Mining Action Group, who work to protect Great Lakes land and water resources.**

Each year, Freshwater Future awards recognize "a handful of the good people doing good things to protect the water in our Great Lakes region. From social justice activists in Detroit, Michigan, to tribal leaders on the remote shores of Lake Superior, every one of these Freshwater Heroes is not only working to safeguard their water, but also caring for the people in their communities and serving as an inspiration to us all."

UPEC President Horst Schmidt notes Heideman's hard work in environmental protection.

"I applaud Kathleen’s diligent efforts, working along with other talented individuals in the Mining Action Group," Schmidt said. "She urges us to work collaboratively and stay vigilant. She understands that what we have up here are not merely natural resources, but waters that are the wild and sustaining essence of our lives."

Heideman among Marquette poets to launch new book at Portage Library April 17

In addition to her activism, Heideman finds time for art, photography and poetry. She is a member of the Marquette Poets Circle, who will celebrate the launch of their anthology Maiden Voyage with readings from the book from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. this Tuesday, April 17, at the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton. Along with Kathleen Heideman, poets Beverly Matherne, Jesse Koenig, Janeen Rastall, John Taylor, and Richard Rastall will read from their poems, offering a great variety of themes and images.


* Click here to read more about Kathleen Heideman and her work.

** Click here to read more about Freshwater Future's Freshwater Heroes.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Richard J. Koubek elected Michigan Tech’s next president

Michigan Tech President-Elect Richard Koubek and his wife, Valerie Koubek. (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech University)

By Stefanie Sidortsova, Michigan Tech Director of Communications and Public Relations
Published 10:15 a.m., April 13, 2018, on Michigan Tech News
Reprinted in part with permission

President-elect Richard J. Koubek will lead the University as its 10th president, the Michigan Technological University Board of Trustees announced today.

Koubek, who is executive vice president and provost of Louisiana State University, begins his tenure at Michigan Tech on July 1, 2018. He succeeds Glenn D. Mroz, who has served as president since 2004 and is stepping down to rejoin the University’s faculty.

"Rick Koubek is a man of unquestioned integrity, character and leadership," said Terry Woychowski, chair of the Michigan Tech Board of Trustees. "He has a profound and passionate vision of the role Michigan Tech will play in our nation's prosperity, and the betterment of the world, as he leads this historic University in developing and delivering -- on a global scale -- the solutions to some of society's most vexing challenges. I believe that Dr. Koubek was born for this time, this place and this position."

The Board of Trustees selected Koubek from a pool of four semi-finalist candidates brought forward for consideration by a 14-member Presidential Search Committee (PSC) that included student, faculty, staff, alumni and community representatives....
Click here to read this full story on Michigan Tech News.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Tech Theatre to present "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" April 12-14 at Rozsa

Tech Theatre will present Shakespeare's magical comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream, this Thursday through Saturday, April 12-14, at the Rozsa Center. (Photo courtesy Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts)

HOUGHTON -- Love abounds! Trickery and magic reveal lovers and fools. A Midsummer Night’s Dream brings together some of Shakespeare’s most memorable characters in a romantic and hilarious adventure. Tech Theatre presents the classic Shakespeare comedy of love, magic, and mixed signals, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, for three nights at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. The play will run Thursday, April 12, through Saturday, April 14, at 7:30 p.m. each night.

Lysander loves Hermia, but Hermia loves Demetrius. The trouble is Demetrius loves Helena who believes she loves Lysander! This is what happens when a love potion gets into the wrong hands. How does it end? Happily, of course! But the mad romantic romp won’t end until magic restores the lovers’ senses. In Shakespeare’s words:
"Ay me! for aught that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth."

Play director Patricial Helsel describes the production: "A Midsummer Night’s Dream features actors from all across campus, as well as community and staff members. Christopher Schwartz, lecturer in the Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology Department, plays Oberon, the King of the Fairies. Mark Wilcox, news writer for University Marketing and Communications, joins the cast as Quince, leading the comedic troupe of artisans. The play features original music created by instructor Libby Meyer and student Devin Deal. The fairies sing beautiful harmonies and the show has lovely incidental music composed by Deal. The forest comes alive with a robust ambiance created by student sound designer Samantha Palumbo. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is sure to delight with spectacle, sound, love, and humor."

Tickets for A Midusmmer Night's Dream are on sale now, $15 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, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex, or at the Rozsa Box Office the evening of the performance. Please note the Rozsa Box Office is only open one hour prior to performances.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Keweenaw March for Our Lives: videos, photos

By Michele Bourdieu
Videos by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now
Photos by Allan Baker and guest photographers

Participants in the March 24, 2018, Keweenaw March for Our Lives against gun violence gather in Houghton before marching across the Portage Lift Bridge to Hancock and back. (Photo by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON-HANCOCK -- On Saturday, March 24, local participants of all ages gathered for the Keweenaw March for Our Lives against gun violence, crossing the Portage Lake Lift Bridge from Houghton to Hancock and back to show support for changing gun laws to protect our students and schools.

"I counted over 200 people at the Keweenaw March for Our Lives," said organzier Erin Burkett, Michigan Tech PhD Student in Environmental and Energy Policy.

During the Keweenaw March for Our Lives, organizer Erin Burkett, right, Michigan Tech PhD Student in Environmental and Energy Policy, is joined by Hongmei Lu, center, and Sophia Ford --fellow graduate students in Michigan Tech's Department of Social Sciences. (Photo © Hongmei Lu and courtesy Erin Burkett)

This march was held in solidarity with the March for Our Lives that took place in Washington, D.C., and in many other cities that same day.

The event was created, inspired, and led by students across the country who have been speaking out and acting to stop the epidemic of school shootings. Students, teachers, families, and allies are demanding better gun regulations. An average of 23 children are shot every day. School shootings are now the third leading cause of death for American children.


Preceding the Keweenaw march, participants gathered near the bridge in Houghton to hear some brief comments by organizers. Allan Baker captured these introductions on video:

Erin Burkett, organizer of the March 24, 2018, Keweenaw March For Our Lives, welcomes participants gathered to march across the Portage Lift Bridge from Houghton to Hancock to protest gun violence. (Videos by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

Preceding the march, Barry Fink of the League of Women Voters reminds participants of the importance of voting.

Ilya Holden, Houghton High School student, speaks about gun violence in the U.S. and reasons for the Keweenaw March for Our Lives.

PHOTOS: New slide show

More than 200 participants in the Keweenaw March for Our Lives form a long line as they head across the west side of the Portage Lift Bridge toward Hancock. (Photo by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

Click here to see our new slide show, Keweenaw March for Our Lives: Houghton, Michigan, with photos by Allan Baker and several guest photographers. Click on the lead photo and follow arrows to the right for the slide show. Click on info icon for captions and photo credits.

For more information on the March for Our Lives and ways you can join the movement, click here.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

County Road 595 Appeal concludes

This wetland in the proposed CR 595 corridor is one of many sensitive areas that would be impacted if the proposed road were built. (Keweenaw Now file photo © and courtesy Jessica Koski)

By Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve
Posted on their Web site March 23, 2018*
Reprinted here with permission.

MARQUETTE -- The battle between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Marquette County Road Commission concluded on March 20th in the U.S. 6th Circuit Court over County Road 595, the proposed road leading from Eagle Mine to Humboldt Mill. For those who need a refresher, the permit for CR 595 was submitted to the MDEQ (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality) in 2012 and as part of the review process, the U.S. EPA issued objections to the project based on the Clean Water Act. Long story short, the MDEQ did not issue the permit and the process then transferred to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Road Commission then decided to file suit against the U.S. EPA with the crux of the lawsuit over the their perception that the EPA’s objections were "arbitrary and capricious" and that they "exceeded their authority" in the process. After review in District court, it was determined that the court cannot even decide on the case because, according to the Administrative Procedures Act, you cannot bring suit against a decision unless it is considered a "final agency decision." The case was dismissed.

The Road Commission then teamed up with a lobbying group called Pacific Legal Fund, who paint themselves as the champions of the little guy against the Goliath of government. They decided to appeal the decision. Oral argument transpired in Circuit court, from which you can read transcripts thanks to journalist Louis Galdieri.** Ultimately Circuit court agreed and affirmed the District court’s decision. The EPA’s objections were not final agency decisions and therefore not reviewable because the permitting process could have continued, but it was abandoned by the Road Commission.

It remains to be seen what the next step is for the Road Commission. In an interview, Road Commission manager Jim Iwanicki said that they have options including asking the court to look at specific things again, proceeding with the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, or dropping the case. It is also a possibility that the permitting process could continue under the authority of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. While the road isn’t going to be built anytime soon, the future is still unclear. The Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve still strongly opposes building a mine road through this remote and wild area. Enough damage has already occurred from mining related activities and we don’t need anymore!

* Click here for this and other articles by the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.

** Click here to read Louis Galdieri's series of articles on the CR 595 controversy.

Monday, March 26, 2018

EPA objects to issuance of Aquila Back Forty Wetland Permit

Posted March 15, 2018, by the Mining Action Group on their Web site. Reprinted in part with permission.

The Aquila Back Forty property, as viewed from Wisconsin side of the Menominee River. A large open pit sulfide mine is proposed for this site. (March 10, 2018, photo © Deborah Skubal and courtesy Mining Action Group.)

STEPHENSON, Mich. --The Front 40 Environmental Group and the Mining Action Group (MAG) of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC), along with their regional environmental allies and fishing organizations, applaud the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) significant objections to the issuance of the Aquila Back Forty Wetland Permit.

The EPA’s objections were announced in a March 8, 2018, letter to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).* Federal concerns are detailed in a supporting document, representing the combined comments of the EPA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The EPA’s letter identifies seven primary areas of concern regarding the wetland application, and directs the DEQ to resolve those concerns within 90 days.

Sixty Islands section of the Menominee River, riparian wetlands located approximately 200 feet from the proposed Project Boundary. Aquila Back Forty Mine site. (Jan. 9, 2018, photo © Kathleen Heideman and courtesy Mining Action Group.)

In conclusion, the letter states, "This letter constitutes a federal objection to the issuance of a permit for this project. Pursuant to CWA (Clean Water Act) § 404 (j) and the CWA 404 MOA Section 5(d)-(e), the MDEQ has 90 days from the date of this letter to work with the applicant to resolve the issues raised above or deny the permit. The MDEQ may request a public hearing on EPA's objection. If the State does not satisfactorily resolve this objection within 90 days after the date of this letter, or within 30 days after the completion of the hearing if one is held, authority to process the CWA Section 404 permit transfers to the Corps (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) by operation of law."*

* Click here to read the EPA's March 8 letter to DEQ.

Click here to read the full article from the Mining Action Group (formerly Save the Wild U.P.), stating the EPA objections and reactions to their decision from several environmental and fishing groups.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Celebrate the UP! March 23-24 with films, speakers at GLRC and outdoor sports on Tech Trails

Celebrate the UP! offers environmental speakers and more this Friday and Saturday, March 23-24, in Houghton. Click on poster for larger version. (Poster courtesy Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition -- UPEC)

HOUGHTON -- The Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC) along with Michigan Tech's Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) and Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK) are co-sponsoring the 2018 Celebrate the UP! on Friday and Saturday, March 23-24, at the Great Lakes Research Center and Michigan Tech trails. Guest speakers will offer presentations and films related to the environment and Lake Superior. This event is free and open to the public and includes a Saturday afternoon outdoor outing to enjoy the Michigan Tech world class trails with skis, snowshoes or fat bikes!

Events begin at 6 p.m. Friday, March 23, with a reception for keynote speaker James Mills, followed by a screening of his film, An American Ascent (Denali,  70 min.) and discussion in GLRC Room 202. An American Ascent documents the first African American expedition to tackle Denali, North America’s highest peak, and explores the complex relationship many African Americans have with the outdoors. As the United States transitions to a "minority majority" nation, a staggering number of people of color do not identify with America’s wild places. By embarking on the grueling multi-week climb of the 20,327ft. Denali, nine African American climbers set out to bridge this "adventure gap" -- challenging outdated notions of what adventure looks like by changing the face of America’s biggest and baddest mountain on the 100th anniversary of its first summit.

On Saturday, March 24, the GLRC will be the scene of three concurrent session talks per hour, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Click here for the schedule and bios of the speakers.  
From 11:15- noon lunch will be available for purchase.

At noon Saturday Keynote Speaker Dudley Edmondson will present "My Connection to Nature." Edmondson is the author of the landmark book, Black and Brown Faces in America’s Wild Places, profiling African Americans in nontraditional vocations and avocations in the outdoors. Edmondson also contributes to newspapers and magazines and lectures regularly about diversity in the outdoors.
From 3:15 p.m. - 4 p.m. Saturday the UPEC Annual General Membership Meeting and Panel Discussion will be held in GLRC 202. It will include a Round Table: UPEC Board Members Jon Saari, Maggie Scheffer and Kathleen Heideman will talk about UPEC’s achievements in 2017, focusing on conservation, environmental education, and mining.

From 4:30 p.m. - 6 p.m. Saturday bring your snowshoes, cross country skis, or snowbike to Michigan Tech Trails. Trailhead is on Sharon Avenue, across from football field.

At 7 p.m. Saturday the film Saving Snow will be shown at MTU Forestry Bldg Room G002. This film is a new documentary on climate change and the north. Admission is free. $3 recommended donation.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

NPS Notice of Availability of Final Isle Royale Environmental Impact Statement to Address the Presence of Wolves

Isle Royale wolf. (File photo © and courtesy Rolf Peterson)

Houghton -- The National Park Service (NPS) has proposed a project to introduce 20 to 30 wolves at Isle Royale National Park. The proposal is the preferred alternative in a Final Environmental Impact Statement that is available at : for the next 30 days.

The Final Environmental Impact Statement to Address the Presence of Wolves (plan/FEIS) evaluates whether and how to bring wolves to Isle Royale to function as the apex predator within a changing and dynamic island ecosystem. The NPS preferred alternative is Alternative B, which calls for the introduction of 20 to 30 wolves over a three-year period. The goal of this alternative is to provide an introduction of wolves that has the potential to become a self-sustaining population.

In addition to the online availability of the plan/FEIS at, a limited number of hard copies are available at park headquarters as well as public libraries in Houghton and Marquette, Michigan; Superior, Wisconsin; and Duluth, Minnesota.

After a waiting period of at least 30 days, the NPS will issue a Record of Decision that documents the final decision and sets out a course of action for the project.
Editor's Note: For background on Alternative B, click here to read our March 13, 2017, article on the public meeting held on Feb. 15, 2017, to discuss the four alternative actions (A, B, C, and D) proposed by the National Park Service (NPS) in their draft Environmental Impact Statement (draft EIS) to Address the Presence of Wolves on Isle Royale.


The City of Hancock will hold a Public Hearing at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, at City Hall in the Council Chambers, 399 Quincy St., Hancock, to consider public comments on the proposed exchange of the following real property:

CITY TO ACQUIRE: 1.29-acre parcel located in the NE ¼ of the SW ¼ of Section 23, T55N, R34W, located contiguous and North of the City’s Department of Public Works facility, 1601 Tomasi Dr., currently owned by Paul Tomasi.

CITY TO EXCHANGE: 1.29-acre parcel located in the SE ¼ of the SW ¼ of Section 23, T55N, R34W located on the West side of Portage Drive just North of 1626 Portage Drive (Edgewood Senior Independent Living Apartments) currently owned by the City of Hancock.

A copy of the map and exact legal description of the two exchange parcels is available during regular business hours at City Hall.

Mary Babcock
City Clerk

Monday, March 19, 2018

UPDATED: Nick Estes, Native American historian and activist, to speak at Michigan Tech March 20

Nick Estes, historian and indigenous rights activist from the Oceti Sakowin (The Great Sioux Nation), will speak at Michigan Tech on Tuesday, March 20. Click on poster for larger version. (Poster courtesy Indigenous Peoples' Day Campaign)

HOUGHTON -- Nick Estes, a historian and indigenous rights activist from the Oceti Sakowin (The Great Sioux Nation), will present "Resistance beyond Party Politics: From Standing Rock, to Black Lives Matter, to Palestine" at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, in Michigan Tech's Alumni Lounge, Memorial Union Building. He is presently an American Democracy Fellow at Harvard University.

Estes is also a co-founder of The Red Nation, a coalition of Native and non-Native activists, educators, students, and community organizers advocating Native liberation. According to their mission statement, they seek "to address the marginalization and invisibility of Native struggles within mainstream social justice organizing, and to foreground the targeted destruction and violence towards Native life and land."*

* Click here to read the full mission statement of The Red Nation.

UPDATE: Nick Estes' talk will be livestreamed. You can access the livestream here (Follow steps to launch it).

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Three women to announce run for Houghton County Commissioner March 17

From Houghton County Democratic Party:

HOUGHTON -- Melissa Davis, Gretchen Janssen, and Dr. Sharon Stoll will announce their candidacies for Houghton County Commissioner, District 2, District 4, and District 5, respectively, at 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 17, 2018, at the Super 8 Conference Room in Houghton, Michigan. All three candidates will run as Democrats in the November 2018 election. The three candidates will be endorsed on March 17 by Scott Dianda, current Michigan State Representative for the 110th district and himself a candidate for the Michigan State Senate, and by other local office holders. This is the first time that three women have run for Houghton County Commissioner seats in the same election year.

Melissa Davis is known in the Houghton County community for her work as the Energy Manager of the Houghton Energy Efficiency Team (HEET). HEET helps residents of Houghton County address the energy issues in the Upper Peninsula and our high electric rates. Davis is also the President of New Power Tour, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to increase the use of renewable, water and energy-efficient technologies in the Copper Country. With the work done by HEET and New Power Tour, which included home winterization and connecting residents to rebates, local residential and business electricity and natural gas usages were decreased by nearly 13 percent each during a two-year period running from 2015 to 2016. For additional information, contact Melissa Davis at

Melissa will use her expertise and her commitment to the community to serve the residents of District 2, which includes Torch Lake, Schoolcraft, Osceola, Franklin, and Quincy Townships. Melissa and her husband are the parents of one son.

Gretchen Janssen has had roots in the City of Houghton since 1968. After graduating from Houghton High School, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Advertising from Michigan State University and a Master’s in Education from Boston University. She has over 17 years of experience as a real estate professional with RE/MAX Real Estate in Houghton County and the surrounding areas.

Gretchen will apply her experience and knowledge on issues such as zoning, property taxes, and property ownership rights to the Board of Commissioners. Transparency of government is a priority for Gretchen and she welcomes the input of the constituents of District 4 in the City of Houghton on the county-wide issues that affect them.

Dr. Sharon Stoll was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula. After graduating from Northern Michigan University with a Bachelor’s in Human Physiology and Political Science, she went on to medical school at Michigan State and completed her training at the LaCrosse Mayo residency program in 2010. She has been serving the Keweenaw as a physician ever since the day she completed residency. She brings her energy and problem solving abilities, as well as an understanding of the healthcare needs of the community, to find solutions to issues confronting the residents of Houghton County, from the Houghton County Medical Care Facility to the County Jail.

Sharon is passionate about people and looks forward to serving the folks of the rugged and beautiful District 5: Chassell, Duncan, Elm River, Laird, Portage and Stanton Townships. Sharon, a mother of three, is a member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and the Red Jacket Cycling Club. She has volunteered in the medical tent at many area sporting events, founded a school garden, and served as a coach with the Copper Country Soccer Association.

(Inset photos of Melissa, Gretchen and Sharon courtesy Houghton County Democratic Party.)

Houghton County Master Plan Favors TEA Party: What you can do about it

Recently, there have been changes that favor TEA party positions in the county Master Plan.

Citizens are encouraged to read the proposed plan and make verbal comments along with submitting written comments at a Planning Commission Meeting at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 20, on the 5th Floor of the Houghton County Courthouse.

The plan is available to read online or download by clicking here.