Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Celebrate World Water Day at Michigan Tech March 20-26

Michigan Tech invites the community to celebrate the 2019 World Water Day March 20-26. (Poster courtesy Michigan Tech University)

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Tech will celebrate World Water Day from March 20-26, 2019, with events related to the United Nations theme, "Leaving No One Behind - Human Rights: Near and Far." The public is invited to attend the following events.

Green Film Marathon for Justice: Two screenings -- March 20 and 26

Marathon for Justice, a documentary by EmpathyWorks Films, tells the story of marginalized communities in Philadelphia, the Navajo Nation, and the Black Hills emphasizing the environmental injustices that these groups struggle against and fight with daily. (Photo courtesy Cultural Survival)

Events begin with a showing of the Green Film Marathon for Justice (2016) from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 20, in G002 Hesterberg Hall, Michigan Tech Forestry Bldg. Marathon for Justice explores the ways in which people of color have been disproportionately exposed to toxic chemicals in/on the air, land, and water. Meet communities around the country who have experienced the detrimental effects of pollution, contamination and the degradation of their lands and find out how these citizens are mobilizing in the long race for justice (44 min). The film will be followed by a discussion facilitated by Marie Richards, Michigan Tech PhD student, Department of Social Sciences, and enrolled Citizen of Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians (Baawting Anishinaabeg).

Enjoy coffee and refreshments. Cost: FREE, $5 suggested donation.

A second screening of Marathon for Justice will be at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 26, in in Room 202, Michigan Tech's Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC).

A Panel Discussion, "Leaving No One Behind," will follow the film at 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday, March 26. Moderators will be Valoree Gagnon, director of University-Indigenous Community Partnerships, Great Lakes Research Center, and Emily Shaw, MS, Environmental Engineering Science. Panelists will include Monica Lewis-Patrick, We the People of Detroit; Kathleen Smith, Habitat Specialist/Plants Program, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Natural Resources Department; Peter Baril, REHS, MPS, Director of Community Planning and Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, Western Upper Peninsula Health Department; Angie Carter, assistant professor in Environmental/Energy Justice, Social Sciences, Michigan Tech.

Following the Panel Discussion the GLRC will host a Recognition of Artists and Reception at 5:45 p.m. with refreshments provided by GLRC. A concluding ceremony with the Woodland Singers will follow at 6:15 p.m.

Keynote Address: "Mapping the Water Crisis of Unaffordability" Monday, March 25

The Keynote Address for the World Water Day celebration will be "Mapping the Water Crisis of Unaffordability" by Monica Lewis-Patrick, co-founder, president and CEO of We the People of Detroit, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, March 25, in Michigan Tech's Memorial Union Building Ballroom (MUB).

The Keynote lecture will be preceded by the Welcome to Traditional Homelands by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and the Woodland Singers from the Ojibwe and Menominee Nations. The lecture will be followed by an open reception. 

(Insert Photo of Monica Lewis-Patrick © Jackie Hicks and courtesy Michigan Tech University)

POSTER SESSION: Monday, March 25

Preceding the Keynote Address, Michigan Tech students will be available from 2:30 p.m. - 4 p.m. on Monday, March 25, for informal discussions with visitors to the Poster Session in the Memorial Union Building Ballroom.

Wilderness Art Show opening reception: Tuesday, March 26, in GLRC

The Wilderness Art Show for World Water Day will be on exhibit March 21 - June 14, 2019, in the Great Lakes Research Center. (Poster courtesy GLRC)

The Wilderness Art Show for World Water Day opens on Thursday, March 21 and continues through June 14, 2019, in the Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC), first and second floors.

Exhibiting artists are Daniel Hill from Six Nations of the Grand River Reservation in Ontario Canada; Josh Jaehnig, Bramble and Stag Tattoo Parlour, Houghton; and Jonathan Soper, graphic designer and entrepreneur in Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula.

An opening reception for the artists will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 26, in the GLRC. Regular building hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.


World Water Day Sponsors include the Great Lakes Research Center, Department of Social Sciences, School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, Sustainable Futures Institute, Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Visual and Performing Arts and the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region.

Green Film sponsors are Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, Michigan Tech Great Lakes Research Center, Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Keweenaw Land Trust, Michigan Tech Dept. of Social Sciences, and Michigan Tech Sustainable Futures Institute.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Power by the People: Renewable Energy Reduces the Highest Electric Rates in the Nation

Pictured here are solar panels installed on the campus of Michigan Tech University, where researchers have found renewable and distributed generation energy sources can save Michigan electric consumers money. (Photo © Sarah Bird and courtesy Kelley Christensen)

By Kelley Christensen, Michigan Tech science and technology publications writer

Posted March 14, 2019, on Michigan Tech News
Reprinted in part here with permission


Coal is the primary fuel source for Midwest electric utilities. Michigan Technological University researchers found that increasing renewable and distributed generation energy sources can save Michigan electric consumers money.

As renewable energy technologies and access to distributed generation like residential solar panels improve, consumer costs for electricity decrease. Making electricity for yourself with solar has become more affordable than traditional electricity fuel sources like coal.

However, as three Michigan Tech researchers contend in a new study, while utility fuel mixes are slowly shifting away from fossil fuels toward renewable sources, Michigan utilities, and U.S. utilities broadly, continue a relationship with fossil fuels that is detrimental to their customers. ... Click here to read the rest of this article and learn about the researchers on Michigan Tech News.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

DNR's Western UP Citizens' Advisory Council to meet in Dickinson County March 21

MARQUETTE -- The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Western Upper Peninsula Citizens’ Advisory Council is scheduled to discuss deer camp survey results, Michigan moose history and responses to council resolutions when the panel meets on Thursday, March 21, in Dickinson County.

The meeting will be from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. CDT (6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. EDT), in Room 231 at Bay College West, located at 2801 North U.S. 2 in Iron Mountain.

Five new members will be introduced to the council. DNR staffers will offer division reports. Committee reports will also be delivered.

The public can participate in the session by offering comments to the discussion during two specified periods during the meeting. Click here for public comment instructions.

The DNR’s eastern and western Upper Peninsula citizens’ advisory councils are designed to provide local input to advise the DNR on regional programs and policies, identify areas in which the department can be more effective and responsive and offer insight and guidance from members’ own experiences and constituencies.

The council members represent a wide variety of natural resource and recreation interests. Agenda items are set by the council members and council recommendations are forwarded to the DNR for consideration.

To find nomination forms to be considered for a future council member vacancy, or to locate meeting packets and agendas, visit Michigan.gov/UPCAC.

For more information, contact the DNR Upper Peninsula coordinator’s office at 906-226-1331.

The Western Upper Peninsula Citizens' Advisory Council draws its membership from 10 counties in the region -- Marquette, Delta, Dickinson, Menominee, Baraga, Iron, Gogebic, Ontonagon, Houghton and Keweenaw.

The Eastern Upper Peninsula Citizens' Advisory Council represents Alger, Schoolcraft, Luce, Mackinac and Chippewa counties.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Sen. Stabenow Statement on Great Lakes funding cuts in Trump Administration budget request

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). (Photo courtesy Sen. Stabenow)

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, released a statement today on the proposed Trump Administration budget that would make a 90 percent cut to funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative:

"The Trump Administration just doesn’t get it and is once again gutting funding for the Great Lakes," Stabenow said. "Just like last year, and the year before, the people of Michigan will make their voices heard and I will lead the bipartisan fight to restore every penny."

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), which Senator Stabenow authored in 2010 and has continued to champion, is critical to cleaning up the Great Lakes, beaches, and waterways and fighting invasive species like Asian carp. According to the University Research Corridor, more than 700,000 Michigan jobs, one in five in the state, are tied to water.

During Sen. Stabenow's Apri 2017 visit to Michigan Tech's Great Lakes Research Center, she commented on the need to push back against the Trump Administration's efforts to defund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative:

Following a 2017 presentation by Amy Marcarelli, Michigan Tech associate professor of biological sciences, concerning Great Lakes research on invasive species and algal blooms, Sen. Debbie Stabenow comments on the importance of GLRI funding for Great Lakes scientific projects. Seated next to her is former Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz. (File video by Keweenaw Now)*

President Trump proposed cutting funding to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in his 2017, 2018, and 2019 budget requests. Senator Stabenow led the effort to restore that funding all three years.

* Editor's Note: Click here to read our Apr. 24, 2017, article, "Sen. Debbie Stabenow learns about Michigan Tech's Great Lakes research during visit to GLRC."

Friday, March 01, 2019

Is "Michigan’s Mining Future" a Shared Vision?

This photo of the Triple A Road near Big Bay, Michigan, shows impacts on a previously forested environment caused during construction of the Eagle Mine. (Photo courtesy Save the Wild U.P., now UPEC's Mining Action Group)

Posted on Feb. 22, 2019, by the Mining Action Group of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition
Reprinted with permission.

 MARQUETTE -- Environmental groups working to protect Upper Michigan’s natural resources from the environmental hazards of metallic mining are questioning the intent of the "Michigan’s Mining Future" legislation, introduced by State Rep. Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette).

House Bill 4227 would create a governor-appointed "Committee on Michigan’s Mining Future."

The purpose of the advisory-only committee would be to develop "legislative and policy recommendations" to "enhance the growth of the mining, minerals and aggregate industry" and "strengthen and develop a sustainable mining industry in Michigan."

"House Bill 4227, in its focus on economic development, ignores the scope of environmental problems caused by mining," said Horst Schmidt, president of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC). "Environmental groups may be invited to the table, but the make-up of this committee suggests the outcome -- more mining -- is almost inevitable. Meanwhile, we are still spending hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up after historic mining booms: polluted lakes and streams, abandoned mines, mercury in wetlands, tailings that threaten Lake Superior fisheries, and more. We advise U.P. residents to keep all options open, rather than going head-long into more disastrous mining cycles."

Jon Magnuson of the Interfaith Northern Great Lakes Water Stewards said, "We applaud Rep. Cambensy’s effort, but raise cautionary questions about the balance of representation on the committee. A larger vision of wise environmental stewardship is required, and the understanding that we must live within 'sustainable' limits in order protect our natural resources."

According to Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) Deputy Policy Director Sean Hammond, MEC cannot support this bill in its present state because it fails to include natural resource protection from mining.

"This legislation in its current state does not provide a good framework to protect Michigan’s precious natural resources when considering future mining projects," Hammond noted. "Although this bill does provide a platform for a needed discussion on the future of mining, especially with continued questions on the implementation of our mining statutes, the way in which it is currently written too heavily favors growing mining, with no mention of natural resource protection. Therefore, we cannot support this bill."

Kathleen Heideman of the Mining Action Group (formerly Save the Wild U.P.), who has studied many mining industry applications for permits to mine in the Upper Peninsula and has challenged several of them at public hearings, questioned the bill's suggestion that mining is central to Michigan's future.*

"I welcome the news that the State may be ready to take a clear-eyed look at mining in the Upper Peninsula," Heideman said. "As the district most impacted by metallic mining, we must understand mistakes of the past and address current regulatory challenges, in order to ensure a 'sustainable' environment going forward. This bill suggests a foregone conclusion: that mining is central to Michigan’s future. Is that true? I am not convinced that we have a shared vision of Michigan’s future."

UPEC Board member Jeffrey Towner said House Bill 4227 in its present form describes a committee that is unbalanced, with environmental and tribal groups underrepresented.

"The long-term impacts to the human environment from mining are at least as, if not more, important than expanding mining operations in Michigan," Towner said. "But the proposed Committee -- three representatives of the mining industry, a union representative, and two faculty members specializing in geology or mining, versus only two representatives of environmental groups -- would relegate those speaking for the environment to token representation, stacking the deck six to two, plus one position for a recognized Native American representative. We suggest that the committee be expanded to include two faculty members with specialties in ecology, water quality, wildlife biology, or a related field, and four, rather than two, representatives of environmental organizations. Only with such a committee makeup will there be a fair balance of interests."

Environmental groups in the U.P. say they were not involved in crafting House Bill 4227.

"In the past 175 years, Michigan’s environment has suffered greatly in the pursuit of mining profits. And in the past ten years, we’ve had enough of the 'economy over environment' paradigm, with environmental agencies doing as much to facilitate the exploitation of our public trust resources as they do to protect them," said Jon Saari, board member of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition. "We look forward to meeting with Representative Cambensy to share our vision of Michigan’s future."**

For more info on House Bill 4227, click here. To learn about State Rep. Sara Cambensy and to see her contact information click here.

Notes:

* The UPEC Mining Action Group (MAG), formerly known as Save the Wild U.P., is a grassroots effort to defend the clean water and wild places of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula from the dangers of sulfide mining. Contact the Mining Action Group at info@savethewildup.org or call 906-201-1949. Learn more about the Mining Action Group at miningactiongroup.org.

** Founded in 1976, the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition’s purpose remains unchanged: to protect and maintain the unique environmental qualities of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan by educating the public and acting as a watchdog to industry and government. UPEC is a nonprofit, registered 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, call 906-201-1949, see UPenvironment.org, or contact: upec@upenvironment.org.

Editor's Note: Michigan House Democrats appear to believe that HB 4227 "would create [a] committee to develop safe, sustainable mining strategies." See "Cambensy Bill Lays Groundwork for Michigan’s Mining Future."

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Anishinabek Nation mourns passing of Grandmother Water Walker Josephine Mandamin

Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Glen Hare greets Grandmother Josephine Mandamin as she arrives at the 2017 Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Assembly in Aamjiwnaang First Nation with other Water Walkers. (Photo courtesy Anishinabek News)

Posted on Feb. 22, 2019, in Anishinabek News* 
Reprinted here with permission.

ANISHINABEK NATION HEAD OFFICE -- The Anishinabek Nation mourns the passing of our Grandmother, our Water Commissioner, our kind and gentle Water Protector, Biidaasige -- Josephine Mandamin.

"It is a very sad day. We have lost a great advocate, teacher, and role model. She will be so deeply missed by all and will be fondly remembered for all of what she did to protect the water. Our prayers are with Josephine as she begins her journey home into the Spirit World and back to her ancestors," expressed Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Glen Hare. "Our thoughts of comfort are with Josephine’s family and community as they prepare for her journey."

Josephine Mandamin, originally from Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, and affectionately called Grandmother Water Walker or Grandmother Josephine, dedicated her life to protecting the water and giving it a voice. She made it her life’s mission to raise consciousness about the fragility of water and emphasize that water is precious, sacred, and one of the basic elements required for all life to exist. Water is life.

"Through all of the years of Josephine’s determination and dedication to raise awareness through her legendary Great Lakes Water Walks, it is my hope that the world hears her message -- that water is life!" stated Grand Council Chief Hare. "Our world is a better place because of Josephine’s efforts and those of us who will continue her work to protect our life-giving Nibi, not only to honour her legacy, but to ensure water, the world over, is protected. What a remarkable Anishinaabkwe we have had the absolute pleasure of knowing and learning from."

Grandmother Josephine founded Mother Earth Water Walks -- an initiative that brings awareness to the risks and threats to the health and sustainability of our waterways. Through that initiative, she has walked the shorelines of the five Great Lakes as well as in all four directions of Turtle Island -- bringing water from all oceans together. She has walked the equivalent of half of the earth’s circumference while building awareness about pollution, laws, fracking, and the selling of water.

As part of her advocacy role, she conducted community ceremonies where she would unite communities with water and empower them to start their own water walks to bring awareness to local lakes and watersheds. Grandmother Josephine has touched the lives of many and inspired a whole new generation of water walkers and warriors.

In her capacity as the Chief Commissioner of the Anishinabek Nation Women’s Water Commission, she was a predominant contributor and leader of the Great Lakes Guardians’ Council, established under the Great Lakes Protection Act. She was also previously on the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada in 2006.

She was also honoured with an Anishinabek Nation Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 and the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation in 2016 for Excellence in Conservation for Water Walks, and received distinctions and honours from the Assembly of First Nations National Chief Sean Atleo, Native Women’s Association of Canada, Ontario Native Women’s Association and from the Mayor of Duluth Minnesota.

* Thanks to Anishinabek News for this article. Please visit their Web site here.

Editor's Note: Keweenaw Now wishes to extend our deepest sympathy to the family of Josephine Mandamin and her fellow water walkers. We had the privilege of meeting Grandmother Josephine Mandamin, her sister Melvina Flamand, and her grandson Joshua Metansinine at Ojibwa Community College in Baraga, where they spoke to Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) members during their 2011 Water Walk.

Josephine Mandamin speaks to water walkers and visitors during the reception held by Keweenaw Bay Indian Community members on June 8, 2011, at Ojibwa Community College in Baraga, Michigan. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

Click here to read our Aug. 5, 2011, article, "Updated: KBIC welcomes 2011 Mother Earth Water Walk participants."

UPDATE: Grandmother Josephine would be proud of these water walkers, now on their way from Mackinaw City to Lansing to protest Line 5: "Indigenous trio walks from Mackinaw City to Lansing to call for a shutdown of Line 5."

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Gov. Whitmer signs new Executive Order aimed at cleaning up Michigan’s drinking water

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. (Photo courtesy Office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer)

LANSING -- On Wednesday, Feb. 20, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a new executive order to continue moving forward on her commitment to create the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), which will fight for clean drinking water, protect the Great Lakes, mitigate PFAS, and address climate change. The new executive order was issued to replace Executive Order 2019-2, which was voted down on a party-line vote by the Michigan Legislature.*

"Every Michigander deserves safe, clean drinking water, and I’m not going to let partisan politics slow down the important work that needs to get done right now to protect public health," said Whitmer. "That’s why I’m taking action to sign this new executive order so we can start cleaning up our drinking water, protect the Great Lakes, and take action to address climate change."

This new Executive Order, 2019-6, restructures the Department of Environmental Quality as the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, which will be focused on improving the quality of Michigan’s air, land, and water, protecting public health, and encouraging the use of clean energy. The new department will oversee Offices of Climate and Energy, Clean Water Public Advocate, and Environmental Justice Public Advocate and will serve as a full-time guardian of the Great Lakes, our freshwater, and our public water supplies. EO 2019-6 requires submission to the legislature and takes effect after 60 days.

Per the order, the Environmental Science Advisory Board will be eliminated. The Environmental Rules Review Committee and the Environmental Permit Review Commission will remain intact while the governor awaits a response from the Attorney General on the legality of these commissions. 

Executive Order 2019-2 received strong bipartisan support from Michigan businesses, environmental groups, and advocates such as Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha and Governor Snyder’s former director of the Department of Environmental Quality, Heidi Grether.  

To view the full executive order, EO 2019-6, click here.

*Editor's Note: See our Feb. 6, 2019, article, "Michigan Gov. Whitmer signs executive orders, directive to protect water, combat climate change; legislators oppose her efforts."

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Michigan Attorney General joins states opposing Trump’s National Emergency Declaration

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. (Photo courtesy Michigan.gov)

LANSING -- (Feb. 18, 2019) Calling President Donald J. Trump’s declaration of a national emergency "a manufactured crisis," Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined 15 other states to seek an injunction against the president’s actions.

The states joined forces in opposition to the president to "protect revenue, natural resources and economic interests" from Trump’s "flagrant disregard of fundamental separation of powers." The president’s declaration will redirect federal funding already appropriated for the states and divert it toward building a wall along the border between the United States and Mexico.

"This fake emergency is a publicity stunt that will raid our federal funding and cost us millions," said Nessel. "We cannot in good conscience stand by while our president seeks to undermine our own efforts to keep our residents safe and our military strong."

The Michigan National Guard has more than 10,000 soldiers and airmen, employs a substantial number of employees on a full-time basis, and operates more than 40 facilities in the state. The Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs receives a majority of its funding from the federal government. It performs missions training and prepares citizen soldiers and airmen to respond to, among other things, state emergency response, military support, and protection of local communities. Loss of funding negatively impacts this vital service for the State of Michigan.

Joining Attorney General Nessel in the lawsuit led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra are the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Virginia.

Editor's Note: Moveon.org reports thousands protested against Trump's national emergency declaration on President's Day, Feb. 18, in events across 48 states. Click here for photos.

Friday, February 15, 2019

New technical report finds fault with Aquila Back 40 sulfide mine plans

This photo shows the Menominee River near some historic garden sites not far from the proposed site for Aquila Resources' Back 40 sulfide mine. (Sept. 2017 file photo by Keweenaw Now)

From: Mining Action Group and Front 40 Environmental Fight
Posted Feb. 12, 2019*

MARQUETTE -- A new technical report from the Center for Science in Public Participation (CSP2) identifies serious faults with Aquila Resources’ Back Forty Mine Permit Amendment application, now under review by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

The technical review of the Back Forty permit was conducted by Dr. Kendra Zamzow, an environmental geochemist, and Dr. David Chambers, an internationally-known expert on tailings dam safety. CSP2 analyzes mining applications in order to "provide objective research and technical advice to people impacted by mining."

The Back Forty project proposes to excavate an 800 foot deep open-pit sulfide mine on the banks of the Menominee River, 100 feet from the water. Milling will also take place on-site, using cyanide leaching, mercury recovery, and flotation. Aquila claims to be "minimizing impacts" but the footprint of the facility has ballooned to 440 hectares (1087 acres), largely due to a larger tailings management facility. Most of the mine site would be covered by waste rock, ore storage, milling facilities and tailings storage. Environmental groups claim that the Back Forty’s environmental impacts could be significantly reduced by using feasible, common-sense alternatives -- but Aquila has rejected these options.

This map from the Back 40 Mine Permit Amendment application shows a plan for the mine site, including the proposed Tailings Management Facility (large rectangular structure) and the open mining pit to the left of it and very near the Menominee River. Click on map to see full image.(Screenshot from the Back Forty Mining Permit Amendment provided by Mining Action Group.)**

Nearly all of the Back Forty rock is reactive -- capable of producing Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) when exposed to air and water. AMD pollution devastates watersheds and lasts hundreds of years. Tailings and waste rock will be stored on-site during mining, and the tailings will remain on the surface forever. Aquila has told their investors they will pursue underground mining as a "second phase" of operations, but this is not acknowledged in any permit. Underground mining could extend the mine’s life from 7 years to 16 years, greatly magnifying the risks. During closure, the open pit will be backfilled with waste and tailings. Once this takes place, groundwater contaminated with AMD is predicted to seep into the river.

This map, including the "former mine pit" and "closed Tailings Management Facility," shows some of Aquila's plans for reclamation after mining. Click on map to see full image. (Keweenaw Now's screenshot from Back 40 Mining Permit Amendment)**

CSP2’s technical report evaluated the Back Forty mining permit, including updated environmental impacts, feasible alternative designs, financial assurances, and Aquila’s proposed use of an "upstream" tailings design, the same risky construction method that has resulted in catastrophic tailings dam failures around the world.

"This report only underscores the fact that the original Mining Permit should not have been granted," said Ron Henriksen, spokesperson for the Front 40, an environmental group opposed to this mining project. "Aquila continues to provide inadequate applications with missing information. The DEQ should rescind this entire permit, have the applicant revise their mistakes, and refile it, properly formatted, with all material in one complete, organized application package."

Kathleen Heideman, a member of the Mining Action Group of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC), said the State of Michigan needs to hold a consolidated hearing on this Mining Permit Amendment, the Air Permit application, and the Dam Safety Permit application, since their environmental impacts are interrelated.

"We need a thoughtful, consolidated hearing to discuss these permits," said Heideman. "Nothing less than the future of the Menominee River is at stake."

Technical review of the Back Forty Mine Permit Amendment was made possible by a collaborative effort of the Mining Action Group, the Front 40 Environmental Fight, the Coalition to Save the Menominee River, a 2019 grant from Freshwater Future’s Great Lakes Network, and a 2019 emergency mini-grant from the Western Mining Action Network.

The deadline for submitting written comments on the Aquila Back Forty Mine Permit Amendment has been extended until 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, 2019 (EST). Email comments to DEQ-Mining-Comments@michigan.gov with "Back Forty Mining Permit Amendment" as the subject.

*CLICK HERE to read this complete article, which includes the key findings of the CSP2 technical report and links to more information.

 ** We have edited these screenshots slightly to fit this column.

Editor's Note: See also Keweenaw Now's Jan. 23, 2019, article, "Environmental groups, Menominee Nation, community residents oppose Back 40 mining permit amendment, seek technical expertise."

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Local women showcase fishing stories from the Keweenaw and beyond in new Carnegie Museum exhibit

By Michele Bourdieu

Emila Downes displays a fish she caught in a local stream near Skanee. Downes participated in the new exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw, "Connections: Stories From Women Who Fish." An opening reception will be held this Thursday, Feb. 14. (Photo courtesy Emila Downes)

HOUGHTON -- Local anglers are sharing photographs and stories in a new exhibit, "Connections: Stories from Women Who Fish," at the Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw in Houghton.

The community is invited to an opening reception for the exhibit from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14, at the Carnegie Museum, located at 109 Huron Street in Houghton. The exhibit and reception are free and open to the public, and the women who created this exhibit will be in attendance to share their fishing experiences. Refreshments will be served.

While only one in every five fishing licenses sold in the state of Michigan is purchased by a woman, recent research shows that women’s fishing participation is slowly increasing. "Connections: Stories from Women Who Fish" was created by a group of local women who took photographs and shared stories about why they fish and what fishing means to them.

Keweenaw area project members share their photographs and fishing stories during a "photowalk," part of the project process. (Photo courtesy Erin Burkett)

Project group member Emila Downes explained the importance of the group interaction.

"Everyone has an idea about what fishing means to them, but as a community or group, what does fishing mean? It facilitates the connection to everything around us from people to nature," Downes noted. "For some it is a break from the world and for others it's a connection to the world. Whatever fishing means to you, it is a way to connect everyone across generations, nationalities, lifestyles, and occupations. It's what brings us together!"

Project participant Emila Downes displays a crappie she caught during the Otter Lake fishing derby. "I love fishing!" Downes said. "River fishing is where my heart lies, but when the streams and rivers are frozen, it's time to head out on the ice to continue doing what I love." (Photo courtesy Emila Downes)

Erin Burkett, Michigan Tech Environmental and Energy Policy PhD student, who received a Graduate Research Fellowship from Michigan Sea Grant to fund the project, described the activities.

"Project members took part in a community-driven research technique called photovoice that uses a combination of individual photography, group discussion, and storytelling," Burkett said. "I wanted to use photovoice because it is community-driven and ideal for highlighting groups that we don't typically hear from. Only about one of every five Michigan anglers are women, and, in the past, women have been largely absent from studies asking who fishes and why."

Downes said the storytelling is essential to the project.

"This project is really about women telling stories," Downes explained. "It is not just about why we fish, but each picture tells a story about us and what fishing means to us. This project highlights our commonalities and our differences in a very positive way. We hope our stories will help inspire others, men, women and children alike, to get out and enjoy the therapeutic benefits of fishing as well. It is a great past-time that reaps more benefits than meet the eye."

Emila Downes is pictured here setting up the "Connections: Stories From Women Who Fish" exhibit at the Carnegie Museum. (Photo courtesy Erin Burkett)

Project member Amber Voght said for her the project is about more than just catching fish.

"Fishing has taught me to appreciate everything more each day," Voght explained. "I am constantly awestruck by the beauty of the outdoors and the power of nature, especially in the Keweenaw. Being near the water makes me feel at home; the water is where I have learned to truly connect to what is important to me."

Amber Voght displays a lake trout she caught while fishing with two friends. One was Travis White, who runs Keweenaw Charter Fishing Co. and is also Co-Founder of ProNav Marine. "This photo was taken in the spring and all of us caught great fish," Voght said. "There was hardly any time when we didn't have any fish on. The thrill of the catch is what keeps me going back -- whether it's on the big lake or in a small stream." (Photo courtesy Amber Voght)

"It's never been all about catching fish," Voght added. "The fish are a bonus. I have learned things, seen places, and met people that I would not have otherwise if it were not for fishing. Connecting with other people, places, and nature -- that is the true catch."

Amber Voght shared this photo of her experience fishing on an unseasonably warm November afternoon on Lake Superior. (Photo courtesy Amber Voght)

Voght has also enjoyed fishing for salmon in Alaska and for brook trout.

Amber Voght, right, and a close friend display salmon they caught in Alaska. (Photo courtesy Amber Voght)

Amber Voght shows off the beautiful colors of a brook trout she caught. (Photo courtesy Amber Voght)

The exhibit "Connections: Stories from Women Who Fish" will be on display at the Carnegie Museum through April.

Editor's Note: Asked if the group participants considered Department of Natural Resources (DNR) fish advisories as part of the project, Erin Burkett said, "The project didn't focus on fish advisories in any detail, but we did invite local DNR staff to attend the opening."

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Michigan Tech's Center for Diversity and Inclusion hosts inspiring speakers at MLK Banquet, sponsors coming Black History Month events

By Michele Bourdieu

At Michigan Tech's 30th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet, keynote speaker Donzell Dixson challenges the audience to be "FEARLESS Like Dr. King." (Photos by Keweenaw Now unless otherwise indicated.)

HOUGHTON -- At Michigan Tech's 30th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet on Jan. 21, 2019, students, faculty, staff and community members were inspired by the young keynote speaker, Donzell Dixson, a 2014 Michigan Tech graduate who has, in a few years, become a talented motivational presenter. Dixson spoke on being "FEARLESS Like Dr. King."

The Banquet was also an occasion for presenting Michigan Tech's first Bayard Rustin award -- to Darnishia Slade, a 1998 Tech graduate, who presently serves as manager of Global Engagement Programs for Tech's Pavlis Honors College. In addition, Kamara Taylor, Michigan Tech lecturer in Cognitive and Learning Sciences, presented a dramatic reading of "I Too Am America." The Banquet kicked off Martin Luther King Jr. week, with related events sponsored by the university's Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI).

Black History Month Events

UPDATED: Ilyasah Shabazz, the third daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, will speak at 7:30 p.m. on TUESDAY, FEB. 26, in the Rozsa Center. The event is part of Black History Month at Michigan Tech. Please note change of date. (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech University)

This month CDI will sponsor at least three events for Black History Month at Michigan Tech: "A History of Whiteness," presented by Rachel Jones and CDI, from  12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 12, in the MUB Ballroom; "Is Our Campus an Island? Exploring Diversity and Inclusion with the Keweenaw Culture Project," presented by Josh Loar and CDI, 4:05 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 27, in Rekhi Hall G05, Jackson Active Learning Center; and Ilyasah Shabazz, the third daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, who will speak at 7:30 p.m. TUESDAY, Feb. 26, in the Rozsa Center. (Please note date change for Ilyasah Shabazz.)

Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet

As a welcoming introduction to the Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet, Kamara Taylor, Michigan Tech lecturer in Cognitive and Learning Sciences, presented a dramatic reading of "I Too Am America." Taylor said she composed the piece, a derivative of the poem "I Too" by Langston Hughes, during her visit to the Lorraine Motel -- now a museum, the place where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968.*

Kamara Taylor, Michigan Tech lecturer in Cognitive and Learning Sciences, presents a dramatic reading of "I Too Am America." (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

This year Michigan Tech's Center for Diversity and Inclusion, for the first time, gave a "Bayard Rustin Award" named for Martin Luther King's behind-the-scenes African American advisor on non-violence and civil rights. Rustin was also an organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where King gave his historic "I Have A Dream" speech.** The winner of the award, Darnishia Slade, told the audience why she returned to work at Michigan Tech:

Darnishia Slade, manager of global engagement programs for Michigan Tech's Pavlis Honors College, accepts the university's first Bayard Rustin award, a new tradition that recognizes an influential advisor and behind-the-scenes advocate for civil rights and equity. Slade, a 1998 graduate of Michigan Tech, explains how she hopes in her work to help under-represented students.

Betty Chavis, left, now retired, who recruited Darnishia Slade for Michigan Tech -- and who, in addition to working with many student groups, developed Black History Week at Michigan Tech to showcase African American accomplishments in the United States -- is pictured here at the MLK Banquet with Slade and Chris Anderson, retired special assistant to the President for Institutional Diversity.

Keynote Address: "FEARLESS Like Dr. King," by Donzell Dixson

Addressing this year's theme for Michigan Tech's Martin Luther King Jr. week, "Living Fearlessly," Donzell Dixson gave examples of Dr. King's fearlessness on many occasions during his life. Dixson also spoke of his own fears -- how he overcomes them and how Dr. King's courage inspires him to speak out.

Donzell Dixson, a 2014 Michigan Tech University graduate, begins his keynote speech at the 2019 Michigan Tech Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet. Dixson speaks about overcoming his own fears as a student at Michigan Tech and later -- as a public speaker.

During his speech, Dixson showed a video clip of King speaking shortly before he was assassinated and photos of King in prison. Dixson noted King's selfless fearlessness in the face of threats, prison and death during the Civil Rights Movement.

Noting King's fearlessness and moral courage, Donzell Dixson shows a video clip of King speaking shortly before he was assassinated.

Dixson then gave examples of his own experience -- learning about the courage to speak out, not for himself alone, but for others.***

Donzell Dixson, a 2014 Michigan Tech graduate, concludes his presentation, "Fearless Like Dr. King," during the 2019 Michigan Tech MLK Banquet. Kellie Raffaelli, assistant dean and CDI director, who invited Dixson, leaves the audience with some inspiring quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.

Betty Chavis commented positively on Donzell Dixson's presentation.

"It was excellent," she said. "I think he did a marvelous job. I was impressed."

Gloria Melton, retired Michigan Tech Dean of Students, was also pleased to hear Dixson's talk at the Banquet.

"I didn't know him as a student," Melton noted, "but I'm very encouraged to see in him the fruits of the efforts at Michigan Tech for diversity and inclusion."

Betty Chavis, left, and Gloria Melton were both happy to attend the MLK Banquet and very impressed by Donzell Dixson's presentation.

Notes:

* Click here to read Kamara Taylor's account of her reaction to visiting the hotel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

** Read about Bayard Rustin here.

*** Learn more about Donzell Dixson on his Web site.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Phi Kappa Tau in Hancock wins overall first place in Winter Carnival month-long statue competition

Phi Kappa Tau, the Michigan Tech fraternity located in Hancock, captured overall first place in the Winter Carnival month-long statue competition with "Behold For Your Eyes to See, the Glory of Roman Technology." (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech University)

HOUGHTON -- Returning to its long record of first place Winter Carnival wins (after a second place last year), the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity in Hancock captured overall first place in the 2019 Winter Carnival month-long statue competition.

This year's theme is "Years of Innovation STEM from this Snowy Situation."

Second place in the overall division went to last year's winner, Tau Kappa Epsilon, for "In Frigid Fields Carved From Snow, A Nation's Progress Has yet to be Slow." Third place again this year went to Delta Sigma Phi's "Paradigm Shifts in These Snowy Drifts."

In the Women's Division, Alpha Sigma Tau grabbed the top spot with "Ford Frozen in Time." Second place went to Theta Chi Epsilon for "Women of the Past Who Proved the Possibilities are Vast," while last year's women's division winner, Delta Phi Epsilon, took third place.

The team of Alpha Gamma Delta and Sigma Tau took first place in the Co-Ed Division with "The Kennedy Space Center." They were followed by Delta Zeta and Delta Upsilon in second place for "Magic School Bus." Third place in the Co-Ed Division went to the Four Wheelers of Michigan Tech for "Parking Garage."

For the third straight year, St. Albert the Great University Parish was the overall winner in the All-Nighter competition. They also took the top spot in the Co-Ed Division. Construction in the division began at 4 p.m. Wednesday and ended at 9 a.m. Thursday.

The Society of Women Engineers placed second overall and best among the Women's Division, while the Lutheran Collegians, competing in the Co-Ed Division, took third place overall.

Treehouse took the top spot in the Men's Division of the All-Nighter competition, followed by Sleepy Hollow and More in second, and Toll House in third.

Phi Delta Chi was runner-up in the Women's Division and Pavlis Honors College was awarded third place in the Co-Ed Division.

Click here for complete results and photos of winners.
Click here to see more photos of the snow statues.

UPDATE: Gov. Whitmer discusses drinking water executive order, seeks legal opinion on "fox in henhouse" commissions

LANSING -- On Feb. 6, 2019, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer held a brief media availability after House Republicans voted against her executive order to protect the Great Lakes and clean up Michigan's drinking water. To watch the press conference, click here.

In a Feb. 6, 2019, letter Governor Whitmer requested a legal opinion from Attorney General Dana Nessel regarding the legality of the Environmental Rules Review Committee and the Environmental Permit Review Commission (introduced in Senate Bills 652 and 653, which became Public Acts 267 and 268 on June 28, 2018, under the Snyder administration).

"From high lead levels to PFAS contamination to foul-smelling emissions, the people of Michigan have faced increasing threats to our drinking water, air, the Great Lakes, and our overall public health," said Whitmer. "These commissions create unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles that get in the way of our state government responding to problems with drinking water quickly, and their creation may violate federal requirements under the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. I look forward to hearing from Attorney General Nessel as we work to resolve this issue and ensure every community has clean, safe drinking water."

To read the full letter, click here.

Editor's Note: See this recent article in Bridge Magazine: "Michigan Republicans move to block Gov. Whitmer’s environmental overhaul."

The Michigan Senate may also vote on the House Resolution against Whitmer's EO 2019-2. The Michigan League of Conservation Voters urges citizens to contact their state senator by using this form.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Michigan Gov. Whitmer signs executive orders, directive to protect water, combat climate change; legislators oppose her efforts

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. (Photo courtesy Office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer)

LANSING -- On Monday, Feb. 4, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed two executive orders and one executive directive to protect the Great Lakes, clean up our drinking water, and combat the impacts of climate change. Today, however, state legislators threaten to overturn her efforts.

Executive Order 2019-2 restructures the Department of Environmental Quality as the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). The executive order also creates new offices within the department, including the Office of the Clean Water Public Advocate, the Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate, and the Interagency Environmental Justice Response Team.

Executive Order 2019-3 strengthens the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) as an effort to inform the public about perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), locate contamination, and take action to protect sources of drinking water from these dangerous chemicals.

Executive Directive 2019-12 enters Michigan into the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of governors from 19 other states that have committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

"This is about finding real solutions to clean up our drinking water so every Michigander can bathe their kids and give them a glass of water at the dinner table safely," said Whitmer. "We have a chance to build a system that really works so we can protect our water and improve public health. We’ve also got to take action to protect our state from the effects of climate change. The science is in, and it’s time we get to work to mitigate the impact of climate change for the sake of our kids and future generations in Michigan."

Liesl Clark, who will serve as Director of EGLE, agreed that these executive orders mean the State of Michigan will be more responsive to protecting drinking water and the environment.

"By creating offices like the Clean Water Public Advocate, we can get to work solving the problems that dozens of communities are facing with their drinking water," Clark said. "I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work with Governor Whitmer to protect Pure Michigan and strengthen our economy."

Executive Order 2019-2 also creates a new office of climate and energy that will work with the governor to mitigate the impacts of climate change, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and embrace more sustainable energy solutions.

This executive order will make state government more efficient, responsive and effective by transferring duties related to process improvement and good government to the Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB).

"DTMB is committed to developing and supporting meaningful process improvement and risk management tools across the state to make government more efficient and accountable," said DTMB Director Tricia Foster. "I look forward to working with all departments to enact Governor Whitmer’s vision of a more responsive and effective state government here in Michigan."

Michigan Environmental Council lauds Governor Whitmer's  directives

"It’s great to see the Whitmer administration following through on their campaign promises and making a concerted effort to protect the health of Michigan’s people and environment," said Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) Policy Director James Clift. "We hope this reorganization will return Michigan to a leadership position in protecting our residents."

Governor Whitmer also announced the elimination of the environmental rules review and permit oversight committees, which were created by the legislature and heavily dominated by representatives from industry and the regulated community.

"We commend Governor Whitmer for eliminating these undemocratic rule and permit panels," said Clift. "The removal of these committees puts the control of Michigan’s environmental protections back where it should have been all along, into the hands of elected officials who can be held accountable by voters."

MEC also commented on the directives creating offices of an environmental justice public advocate and drinking water public advocate to investigate complaints.

"An environmental justice public advocate and drinking water public advocate establishes accountability that has been sorely lacking in our state government and will allow the new environmental department to be more responsive to the concerns and needs of impacted communities," said Michigan Environmental Council Community Engagement Director Sandra Turner-Handy. "Minority and low income communities across our state are disproportionately impacted by environmental degradation, and we thank the Whitmer administration for addressing some of the recommendations put forth by the 2017 Environmental Justice Work Group, and taking step towards preventing another environmental crisis from impacting the health of Michigan residents in the future."

MEC also praised Governor Whitmer for addressing climate change by creating an Office of Energy and Climate Change and pledging to keep Michigan committed to the Paris Climate Agreement to reduce carbon emissions in order to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

UPDATE: The Michigan Environmental Council today, Feb. 6, announced their awareness that the state legislature is trying to stop an executive order that will help protect the health of Michigan's people and environment. MEC asks citizens to email their state legislator and ask him/her to vote no on the resolution that would overturn Executive Order 2019-2 issued by Governor Whitmer on Monday, February 4. Click here for a form to help you take this action.

League of Conservation Voters applauds Governor Whitmer, challenges legislature to support her

On Feb. 4 the Michigan League of Conservation Voters (LCV) applauded Governor's Whitmer's announcement; and today, Feb. 6, Michigan LCV called on state lawmakers to support, not block, her recent executive order that restructures the Department of Environmental Quality to better protect our air, land and water.

On Feb. 4, Lisa Wozniak, executive director of the Michigan LCV, said, "Today’s announcement is a step toward ensuring Michigan cleans up toxic contamination in our drinking water, addresses climate change head-on, and is a regional leader in creating the jobs of the future."

However, on Feb. 6, warning that the Michigan House and Senate are poised to vote to overturn Governor Whitmer's Executive Order 2019-2 that reorganized the DEQ and dissolved the "Fox in the Henhouse" polluter panels, Wozniak said, "We need swift action to promote clean water, not legislative delays, political games or additional layers of bureaucracy. We urge the state Legislature to support and work with Gov. Whitmer to ensure state government can protect our water, Great Lakes and the health of Michigan citizens."

According to a Feb. 6 article posted this morning on MLive.com, "The legislature has 60 days from the signing of the order to decide whether to overturn it.

"Whitmer spokesperson Tiffany Brown said the Governor has broad Constitutional powers to reorganize government, subject to a legislative veto, 'including the power to support the action she took in EO 2019-2.'"*

* See "Lawmakers may overturn Whitmer plan to restructure DEQ" on today's MLive.com.  

Monday, February 04, 2019

MDEQ extends comment period on Back 40 Mining Permit Amendment request to Feb. 15, 2019

Scenic view of the Menominee River near the proposed site of Aquila Resources' Back 40 open-pit sulfide mine. Following a Jan. 9, 2019, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) public meeting on Aquila's request for a Mining Permit Amendment, many concerned citizens, Native and non-Native, asked DEQ to extend the comment period on the amendment request. It has now been extended to 5 p.m. on Feb. 15, 2019. (Keweenaw Now 2017 file photo)

LANSING -- The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Oil, Gas, and Minerals Division (OGMD), announces a COMMENT DEADLINE EXTENSION to 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, for Back Forty Project, Mining Permit Amendment Request (MP 01 2016). The Back Forty Project is in Lake Township, Menominee County.

The extension is due to the holidays and computer operating system problems which caused difficulties in accessing the Back Forty Mining Permit Amendment Materials.

MDEQ will  accept written comments regarding the amendment application by mail or e-mail. Mail your comments to Back Forty Mining Permit Amendment, MDEQ-OGMD, 1504 West Washington Street, Marquette, MI 49855. E-mail your comments to the designated MDEQ mailbox at DEQ-Mining-Comments@michigan.gov -- including "Back Forty Mining Permit Amendment" as the subject. The MDEQ will only consider comments that pertain to the Mining Permit Amendment Application prior to making a final decision. For additional information, contact Melanie Humphrey, MDEQ, Oil, Gas, and Minerals Division, 906-250-7564, or e-mail humphreym@michigan.gov.

The Mining Permit Application Amendment documents may be accessed HERE. Once you are in the FTP site, select the "Mining" directory, then select the "Back Forty project." It is recommended that you use Internet Explorer as the web browser in order to properly access these files.

The amendment documents are:
R-MP Amendment Volume II EIA_Nov. 2018.pdf
R-MP Amendment Volume I_Nov. 2018.pdf
A paper and digital copy of the Permit Amendment Materials may be viewed at the Menominee County Public Library, S319 Railroad Street, Stephenson, MI 49887

Editor's Note: A formal public meeting with testimonies on the proposed mining permit amendment was held on Jan. 9, 2019, at Stephenson High School, Stephenson, Mich. Click here for our report on that meeting with videos and photos of testimonials from the public, many of whom requested an extension to the comment period in order to access and read the lengthy documents posted by MDEQ.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Third annual Women's March attracts participants in Houghton, DC and beyond

By Michele Bourdieu

Participants in the third annual Women's March in Houghton head up the hill to Shelden Ave. to begin their march across the Portage Lift Bridge to Hancock on Jan. 19, 2019. (Photo © and courtesy Jim Belote)

HOUGHTON -- Despite very cold weather on Saturday, Jan. 19, a group of hardy participants marched from Houghton to Hancock and back in the third annual local Women's March, a sister march to #WomensWave -- the 2019 Women’s March in Washington, DC. The Houghton march was one of more than 200 sister marches across the country, with dozens more around the world.

Organizer Susan Burack of Hancock spoke to the group as they gathered to begin the march on the Houghton side of the Portage Lift Bridge.

Susan Burack addresses the marchers gathered at Bridgeview Park in Houghton before the march begins. At left, assisting with the megaphone, is Valorie Troesch of Dollar Bay. (Photo © and courtesy Horst Schmidt)

"I spoke about the power of women to create change, that we celebrate the election of women, together we're stronger, and that it is important to make a statement locally," Burack said.  "Be the change, Get involved, Make a difference!"

Valorie Troesch, who has helped organize previous marches and participated again in this year's march, said she was glad to see people of younger generations joining the march.

Marchers display their signs as they cross the Portage Lift Bridge. (Photo © and courtesy Jim Belote)

"One of the signs I saw at the Women's March stated, 'The future is female,'" Troesch noted. "I agree but would add that the future is also young. I often read that the Millennials and Generation Z'ers are far more progressive than older generations. The problem is that they are not as engaged and they do not vote in the same percentages as their older counterparts. Unless that changes, they will have little impact. Of all the marches I've participated in over the past two years, the Women's March is the only one that attracts a broad diversity of participants, including young voters. This tells us that the women's movement embraces issues that attract and engage younger generations. Keeping these people active and motivating them to vote based on their values and convictions is our challenge as we move forward."

Members of the Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (KUUF) came out in full force for the Women's March. KUUF members pictured here, from left, are Janeen Stephenson, Miriam Pickens, Carol and Pete Ekstrom, Barry Fink and Paul Mitchell. (Photo © and courtesy Horst Schmidt)

Horst Schmidt of Tamarack City, community volunteer, said Jan. 19 was a cold, windless day that made for a safe march for him and others.

Participants in the Jan. 19 Women's March head across the Portage Lift Bridge. (Photo © and courtesy Jim Belote)

"The marchers, men and women alike, were in high spirits as they gathered in Bridgeview Park," Schmidt said. "At one o' clock, the group started towards the bridge where they crossed the Keweenaw Waterway to Hancock and then returned. Marchers were carrying signs, waving at drivers who honked their horns in support. People were talking with one another during the walk -- which reflects our community spirit. It's good to see our leaders, young and old, letting the president know his behavior is unacceptable and his decisions are also dangerous and irresponsible to the public in many ways."

Linda Zimmer of L'Anse displays a sign with her opinion of the president. (Photo © and courtesy Horst Schmidt)

Marika Seigel, community member, said, "I am energized to know that there is a large group of people in this community who have hope for a better, more inclusive, future and who stand against the divisive and damaging policies of this administration."

The Rev. Bucky Beach, pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Houghton, chats with fellow marchers. (Photo © and courtesy Horst Schmidt)

Linda Belote, whose husband, Jim Belote, shared his photos of the event for this article, also commented on the friendliness of the marchers.

"Everyone who marched was so warm-hearted we didn't even notice it was only 9 degrees out there," Linda said.

Women's March in DC

A scene from #WomensWave -- the Jan. 19, 2019, Women's March in Washington, DC. In the background is the Trump International Hotel, formerly a historic Post Office building. (Photo © Jesse Johnston and courtesy Emily Newhouse)

Emily Newhouse of Calumet -- who was visiting her son Jesse Johnston and son-in-law, Ricky Punzalan, in Washington, DC -- attended the Jan. 19, 2019, DC Women's March, #WomensWave.

"It was heartening to see so many people using their right to express their views and opinions," Newhouse said of the third annual Women's March in the nation's capital.

Newhouse had previously participated in the Copper Country Women's Marches in 2017 and 2018. She noted she appreciated these local sister marches as opportunities not only for seeing friends she hadn't seen for a while but also for local networking and organizing.

The DC Women's March this year has published The Women’s Agenda, which lays out the priorities of the organization for the next two years and serves as a roadmap for the work ahead. The platform includes: passing the Equal Rights Amendment, universal healthcare/Medicare for All, investing in independent living and autonomy for women with disabilities, expanding the Violence Against Women Act to include Native women, democracy reforms that include voting rights and campaign finance reform, the decriminalization of sex work, passing the Equality Act, reducing racial health disparities in maternal health, and repealing the Hyde Amendment. The full Women’s Agenda can be found here: womensmarch.org/agenda.

Editor's Note: For a report, with photos, on this year's Women's Marches in DC, across the U.S. and around the world, see "'Represent us!': Women's March returns amid controversy over anti-Semitism" in USA Today.