See our right-hand column for announcements and news briefs. Scroll down the right-hand column to access the Archives -- links to articles posted in the main column since 2007.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

"Spirit of the Hunt" exhibit kicks off with Human-Wolf discussion

By Nicholas Wilson*

"Wolf," by Joyce Koskenmaki, 2021. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photos © and courtesy Nicholas Wilson)

HOUGHTON -- On Friday, September 3, community members and Michigan Tech students gathered in Forestry's Noblet atrium to view artistic representations of carnivore species and to engage in a conversation about the complicated relationship shared by wolves and humans.

The exhibit, titled "The Spirit of the Hunt," is a collaboration between the Michigan Tech College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science (CFRES), the Department of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA), and Project Coyote. Its goal is to highlight the beauty of native carnivore species and call attention to the plight of the Michigan wolf population. The exhibit continues until October 15, 2021. 

"Rebuilding the Great Lakes Wolf," Driftwood, by Catherine Plank, 2021.

This event follows the January 2021 removal of wolves from the federal endangered species list and coincides with a number of lawsuits and state legislative actions concerning the management of wolf populations. Recent proposals in Michigan’s legislature, including Senate Bill 486 and House Bills 5078 and 5079, have the potential to impact wolf management decisions.**

The exhibit features multimedia artworks including photos, paintings, and poetry displayed throughout the atrium of the Noblet Building. The art pieces on display were created by both national and local artists including UP-based artists Joyce Koskenmaki and Ladislav Hanka. The exhibit was guest-curated by Catherine Plank, a graduate student in Ecosystems Science and Management at the University of Michigan.

"Gifts of Rock and Cedar," by Ladislav Hanka, 1994.

The art pieces in the exhibit are for sale and proceeds will benefit Project Coyote, a nonprofit organization working to educate the public and enhance conservation of predator species in the United States.

The Friday afternoon event served as the opening for the exhibit and featured two speakers: Tanya Aldred of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLFWC) and Dr. John Vucetich, Michigan Tech professor and wolf expert.

In Michigan Tech's Forestry building, Tanya Aldred of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLFWC) opens the Sept. 3 discussion on the relationship between wolves and humans.

Tanya Aldred: "Ma’iingan (wolf): An Ojibwe Perspective"

Tanya Aldred, a member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) and a GLFWC biologist, began the event with a presentation titled "Ma’iingan (wolf): An Ojibwe Perspective."

She explained the significance of wolves to the Ojibwe people, providing an abridged account of the Anishinaabe creation story. In this story, Original Man was assigned the task of naming all species by the Great Spirit. When Original Man became lonely and asked the Creator for a partner, the wolf became his companion.

When the task was complete, the Creator told Original man that it was time for him and the wolf to part ways: "But from this time forward you will always be brothers," Aldred recounted. "What happens to one will happen to the other."

Aldred explained this proclamation had proven true. She noted similarities between the histories and treatment of both Native Americans and wolves in the United States. Aldred described how the mistreatment and abuse of native peoples in the United States coincided with the near extermination of wolf populations and how the movement among tribes to fight for treaty and civil rights was concurrent with wolf population recovery.

Tanya Aldred, a KBIC tribal member and GLIFWC biologist, offers an Ojibwe perspective on the wolf.

With their deep respect for and connection with wolves, Native American tribes have been strong opponents of recent wolf hunts such as Wisconsin’s February 2021 hunt during which 216 wolves -- about 20 percent of the state’s population -- were killed in just 3 days.

"The tribes were very upset about the hunt -- what they call slaughter," said Aldred. "I was devastated."

She described performing necropsies on wolves killed during the hunt and discovering that, in the case of some females, as many as 14 pups were found inside a single pregnant wolf.

"This is a bad time to be taking wolves and it's never happened this late in the season," she said.

Aldred also described her own background as a tribal member, a lifelong wildlife enthusiast, and a biologist working with fishers, otters, bobcats, and pine martins.

"I’ve always been interested in wolves, but that was someone else’s job," she said. "And then, in January during the recent delisting, it hit me."

As a member of the Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota wolf committees, Aldred called for a "bottom up" approach to wildlife and natural resources management.

"I’m here to be a voice for those who can’t defend themselves -- the plants and animals and air and water," she explained. "Because we depend upon all of them. It’s our responsibility to take care of them."

Aldred concluded on an optimistic note: "I don’t feel alone in the battle. People need to be educated about this and understand that it’s not a lost cause," she said. "There will be battles, there will be turmoil and politics that we can’t control; but participating in events like this, talking to people and having good healthy conversations -- I think that’s what brings us all together."

John Vucetich: "On the relationship between humans and wolves"

In the second presentation, Dr. John Vucetich wrestled with the legislation, government structures, lawsuits, and cultural factors that compose the complicated relationship shared by humans and wolves.

Throughout his presentation, Vucetich emphasized that recent developments in wolf management have changed the way that he thinks about, and tells the story of, the human-wolf relationship: "The idiosyncratic nature of the comments that I have really does speak to the fact that I don’t know how to tell the story anymore."
 
He began by noting that six US states -- Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming -- have sizeable wolf populations and that some of these states, especially Wisconsin and Idaho, are pursuing aggressive wolf hunting, while Michigan is currently evaluating how to manage and hunt wolves.

Vucetich then set out to help answer the questions "Why is this happening?" and "How did it happen?" 

 "America has a really rich hunting tradition," he noted. "But never in our American history have we decided to hunt something because we hate it. If what I’m proposing is true, then this is the first time in our history that we have decided that we want to hunt something because we hate it." 

John Vucetich, Michigan Tech wildlife ecologist and leader of the Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale project, speaks on wolf hunting and wildlife management.

He added, "That is a stain on the American hunting tradition that will not easily be washed away. That’s going to be with us for a long time."

Vucetich then discussed the legal and political factors that shape wildlife management decision making in the US and stressed the importance of states.

"Wildlife is managed at the state level with few exceptions," he said. "How do you work in the states' politics environment to make things better for the natural environment?"

Vucetich explained that most state agencies that manage wildlife receive a large portion of their revenues from hunting, especially through the sale of hunting licenses.

"The people who work in these agencies have a strong tendency to see hunters as their primary constituency, not the residents of their state," he said. "This relationship will be difficult to change unless you can change the funding structure of state agencies."

He also noted while many hunters do not support the extremely aggressive wolf hunting measures, a small group of very vocal hunters do. 

Vucetich then considered the American public’s perception of wolves and the larger public relationship with the natural world. He noted concern over climate change seems to be becoming increasingly prevalent among citizens and politicians alike, but pointed out that the global climate has a direct effect on human wellbeing.

"We exterminated wolves from most of the US and for the most part human wellbeing has gotten better and better," he said. "Our human wellbeing does not fundamentally depend upon whether wolves are around. So, if we’re going to keep them around it’s an act of charity, generosity and compassion. We haven’t reached that stage with our relationship with nature."

He also explored the cultural forces shaping wolf management, posing the question "Are wolves part of a culture war?"

When an audience member asked a question about wolves killing livestock, Vucetich ruminated on the position of wolves in American culture.

"Wolves do kill livestock, but if you look at [that] from an industry perspective, the killing that wolves do is absolutely trivial," he responded. "However, if you are the livestock owner whose sheep or cattle got killed, it’s a big deal."

Vucetich then noted while problems in rural communities are things like "crappy internet connection, poor schools, poor health care," people sometimes use something else as a symbol of their problems.

"I think sometimes wolves are that," he said. "This isn’t really about wolves; it’s about much more than wolves, I think."

At the conclusion of the presentations, curator Catherine Plank encouraged audience members to continue learning about wolves and wolf management and to consider donating to wolf protection organizations like Project Coyote.

"The Spirit of the Hunt" ecological art exhibit can be viewed in the Noblet atrium Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. until October 15. 

Editor's Notes:

* Keweenaw Now guest writer Nicholas Wilson is a Keweenaw resident and free-lance journalist. See also his March 18, 2021, article, "An Uncertain Future for Michigan Wolves."

** Michigan Senate Bill 486 and Michigan House Bill 5079 concern membership on the Wolf Management Advisory Council. Michigan House Bill 5078 concerns membership on the Michigan Wildlife Council.

Thursday, September 02, 2021

Events in Mackinaw City to bring awareness to Line 5 threats Sept. 3, 4, 6; press conference held in Detroit on Canada and Line 5

By Michele Bourdieu

During a previous Pipe Out Paddle flotilla against Line 5, Native and non-Native water protectors gather near the Mackinac Bridge with their kayaks and canoes, display their banners and sing songs about the water. This year the event will take place Saturday, Sept. 4, followed by a Water is Life Festival, both in Mackinaw City. (Keweenaw Now file photo © and courtesy Miguel Levy)

MACKINAW CITY -- Native and non-Native groups opposed to Enbridge's Line 5 oil pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac will gather in Mackinaw City this Labor Day weekend -- Sept. 3, 4 and 6 -- for several events bringing awareness to the threats posed by Line 5 -- an aging pipeline beneath the Straits of Mackinac -- as well as the potential threat to Great Lakes water and bottomlands should a tunnel be built for Line 5.  

Line 5, which carries light crude oil and natural gas, is owned by the same company (Enbridge) that allowed the Kalamazoo River oil spill to occur. This 68-year-old dual pipeline poses too great a risk to the Great Lakes. If Line 5 breaks under the Straits, it will devastate the pristine waters of Lake Michigan for centuries. Many people are unaware of the danger that will completely change our way of life.

Both Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel have asked for Line 5 to be shut down. In fact, Line 5 has been operating illegally since May 2021. Gov. Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) notified Enbridge in November 2020 that the 1953 easement allowing it to operate dual pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac to transport petroleum and other products was being revoked and terminated. They gave Enbridge six months to decommission Line 5, but the company continues to operate it.*

On Friday, Sept. 3, a Potluck Feast will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Minogin Market, 229 S. Huron, Mackinaw City, to be followed by the Light Brigade at 9 p.m. under the Mackinac Bridge in Mackinaw City. Opponents of Line 5 can join the Light Brigade for a direct action with light panels.

On Saturday, Sept. 4, the 6th Annual Pipe Out Paddle Up Flotilla will be held from 8 a.m. to noon on the Mackinaw City side of the Mackinac Bridge, 102 W. Straits Ave. This flotilla is a large group of kayaks/kayaktivists demonstrating on the water to bring awareness to Line 5 and call for action. Tribal jimanns (large canoes) are also invited. This family and dog friendly event will include Tribal leadership, Water Ceremony, Jimaans, Pipe Ceremony, Tribal Drum, and Jingle Dancers. Food and water will be provided. Please bring your own water bottle.

Poster announcing the Sept. 4, 2021, Pipe Out Paddle Up Flotilla. Click on poster for larger version. (Poster courtesy Jannan J. Cornstalk)

Please consider making a donation to help cover event costs!
Donate via PayPal here:
https://www.paypa l.com/paypalme/paddleout2019

Donate to the Water Is Life Festival here:
https://www.waterislifefestival.org/donate 

CAMPING: Please email Jannan Cornstalk at jcornstalk@gmail.com to reserve a spot. Camping is first come first served and limited to 50 people.

Following the Pipe Out Paddle Up Flotilla on Saturday will be the Water is Life Festival from noon to 8 p.m. in Conkling Heritage Park, Mackinaw City. It will feature music, art, speakers, youth activities, food and more:

Poster announcing Sept. 4 Water is Life Festival in Mackinaw City. (Poster courtesy Jannan J. Cornstalk)

On Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 6, Oil and Water Don't Mix supporters will gather at the Bridge Walk for two purposes: 1. To welcome Governor Whitmer as she finishes the bridge crossing. 2. To spread awareness about the urgency to shut down Line 5 by handing out postcards to bridge walkers. They will gather at the corner of Nicolet and Jamet streets in Mackinaw City, just off I-75 at the south end of the bridge where many people will begin and end their bridge walk. Click here to learn more and to sign up for a shift.

Oil and Water Don't Mix holds press conference on Canada and Line 5

DETROIT -- On Sept. 1 2021, citizen groups, including tribal members, gathered near the Canadian consulate at the international Detroit River to send a message to the Canadian government: "Canada: Protect the Great Lakes from the Line 5 oil pipeline." The event, organized by Oil and Water Don't Mix, was livestreamed on YouTube.

Sean Mc Brearty, campaign coordinator for Oil and Water Don’t Mix, spoke about the need to persuade Canada to support the Line 5 shutdown. 

During a Sept. 1, 2021, press conference in Detroit, Sean McBrearty, Oil and Water Don't Mix campaign coordinator, speaks about why Canada needs to support shutting down Line 5. (Screen shot from Oil and Water Don't Mix livestream by Keweenaw Now)

"Today we have with us a container of water from the Great Lakes, from the Straits of Mackinac -- clean, pure water of the Straits of Mackinac, where the Anishinaabe people who lived here first have their creation story," McBrearty said.

Noting that Canada shares with the US and Michigan the responsibility of protecting the Great Lakes, McBrearty held up a bottle of that clean water from the Straits and announced a similar container of that clean water has been sent to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a reminder of that responsibility.

McBrearty continued, "Our message in a bottle to the Prime Minister is history will remember you for the choices that you make right now and the choices that you make today. You can protect our Great Lakes and our climate and support shutting down Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac -- and you need to do so -- or you can support Enbridge and its fossil fuel agenda, but you can't do both."

McBrearty also read a statement from the National Wildlife Federation's Beth Wallace, who commented on Enbridge's proposed tunnel and Canada's support of it. According to her statement, "Enbridge created this false narrative around a tunnel alternative to divide communities and prolong the life of Line 5. With a legal strategy that's also based around creating as much delay as possible, the Canadian government is now actively working alongside Enbridge to prolong the life of a pipeline that could devastate our way of life."

Christy McGillivray, political and legislative director for the Michigan Chapter of the Sierra Club, then spoke in support of Governor Whitmer's legal plan to shut down Line 5.

Christy McGillivray, political and legislative director for the Michigan Chapter of the Sierra Club, speaks on Canada's support of Enbridge. (Screenshot by Keweenaw Now)

"Since May Enbridge has been operating Line 5 illegally in defiance of the State of Michigan and with support from the government of Canada," McGillivray said.

Pointing out that Governor Whitmer's plan to shut down Line 5 protects the health and safety of Michiganders from a "ticking time bomb" while meeting Michigan's energy needs, McGillivray noted that Canadian government officials have supported Enbridge -- the company responsible for the devastating Kalamazoo oil spill -- in their "defiant refusal" to decommission Line 5 in the 6 months (November to May) allowed by the Governor.

McGillivray also noted that at least 33 spills were reported officially along the Line 5 pipeline since the 1960s.

"That does NOT include a Line 5 spill in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, just a few miles from the Straits of Mackinac, in the Hiawatha National Forest, that resulted in 825 tons of soil being excavated and removed to a contamination site. Enbridge kept that spill secret for 30 years," McGillivray said. "Canada should work with us right now -- should work with Michigan and the Biden administration -- and prevent Line 5 from continuing to contribute to our Code Red climate crisis."

Jamie Simmons, Michigan Climate Action Network engagement director, spoke about the effects of climate change -- noting its recent impacts on Detroit, other Michigan communities and Canada.

At the press conference, Jamie Simmons, Michigan Climate Action Network engagement director, notes that Canada's support of Enbridge conflicts with its signing of the Paris Climate Accord. (Screenshot by Keweenaw Now)

"The Line 5 pipeline is a threat to our lives," Simmons said. "Every day the Line 5 pipeline carries oil, a fossil fuel, that is causing a major carbon spill in our atmosphere -- every day -- which is warming our planet at alarming rates."

Noting that Canada was one of the countries to ratify the Paris Climate Accord, Simmons cited the recent IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report, which calls for limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The goal is to cut global emissions in half by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 in order to limit the worst consequences of climate change. Canada agreed to that goal by signing the Paris Accord, she said.  

"Allowing Line 5 to continue to operate, or to be replaced by a new oil tunnel, as Enbridge is proposing, is not consistent with that climate goal," Simmons added.

Instead of supporting Enbridge's fossil fuel agenda, Canada should work with the US on a North American climate plan to cut emissions, Simmons concluded.

Andrea Pierce, chair of the Michigan Anishinaabek Caucus and a citizen of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, represented her tribe and read a message from her Tribal Chair, Regina Gasco-Bentley, who was unable to attend the event.

Andrea Pierce, chair of the Michigan Anishinaabek Caucus and a citizen of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, delivers a message from her Tribal Chair and speaks about Enbridge's threat to the bottomlands of Lake Michigan, where evidence of a 10,000-year-old cultural sacred site was recently observed.** (Screenshot by Keweenaw Now)

In her message, Gasco-Bentley stated, "Line 5 poses an immediate threat to our Anishinaabek homeland. This water in the Straits nourishes our people. It provides critical habitat for our fish and medicines. We depend on healthy clean water to feed our communities. We know the Enbridge pipeline leak in the Kalamazoo River has been devastating to escosystem of the river and the tributaries. We must continue on a path to make people realize the vision we want: Safe water for our next seven generations. Women, I call on you. We are the water protectors, and we must stand together. Water must be protected. It's time to shut down Line 5."

Pierce then spoke of her own experience as one of the team that recently discovered a 10,000-year-old cultural sacred site on the bottomlands of Lake Michigan.**  Enbridge could destroy those bottomlands. Her people need to research that site in order to learn about their tribal history, she explained.

"We can't do that if the water is destroyed and the bottomlands are covered in oil," Pierce said. "All of the lakes are in jeopardy. All of our water is in jeopardy. When that breaks, think about Kalamazoo."

A Q and A session, facilitated by David Holtz of Oil and Water Don't Mix, followed the speakers. To hear those questions and the full statements of the speakers see the video recording on YouTube. Since audio difficulties delayed the event, scroll to about 9 minutes, 34 seconds, for the actual beginning of the press conference.

Editor's Notes:

* See our Nov. 13, 2020, article, "Governor Whitmer, DNR take action to revoke Enbridge easement, shut down Line 5 dual pipelines through Straits of Mackinac; AG Nessel files new lawsuit."

** See: "Ancient underwater tribal cultural site discovered in Mackinac Straits near Line 5."

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

"The Spirit of the Hunt" -- ecological art exhibit reception, wolf talks Sept. 3 in MTU's Forestry Noblet Building

"Peace in the Forest," by Jim Brandenburg. (Photo © Jim Brandenburg and courtesy Michigan Tech University)

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Tech’s College of Forest Resources and Environmental Sciences (CFRES) is hosting an ecological art exhibit and public talks calling attention to local carnivore populations. The exhibit, titled "The Spirit of the Hunt," is a collaboration between CFRES, the Department of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA), and Project Coyote. 

Local and national artists are featured in the exhibit, including U.P. artists Joyce Koskenmaki and Ladislav Hanka. The exhibit is guest-curated by Catherine Plank, a graduate student in ecSeptosystem science and management at the University of Michigan, who arranged the exhibit "to create discussion and to highlight the beauty and value of native predators."

"Wolf," by Joyce Koskenmaki. (Image © Joyce Koskenmaki and courtesy Michigan Tech University)

The exhibit is open now through Oct. 15, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday in the CFRES atrium.

At 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 3, John Vucetich (Michigan Tech, Forestry) and Tanya Aldred (Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission) will lead a public discussion on wolves, and the species’ history with mankind.

All events are free and open to the public:
Michigan Tech, CFRES Noblet Building, Room G002:

    Presentations and Reception -- Friday, Sept. 3, 4:30-5:30 p.m.
    John Vucetich: "On the relationship between humans and wolves"
    Tanya Aldred: "Ma'iingan (wolf): An Ojibway Perspective."      

Michigan Tech, CFRES Noblet Building, Hesterberg Hall and Atrium:   

    Exhibit -- Aug. 30 - Oct. 15, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., Monday-Friday.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Live events return to Rozsa for 2021-2022 season

Michigan Tech's Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts will open its doors in September 2021 for live events. Tickets go on sale Sept. 1. (Photo courtesy Rozsa Center)

HOUGHTON -- Live events at the Rozsa are back! After more than a year of a dark theatre stage, the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts joyfully announces that its doors will open in September to bring the U.P. incredible performances. Once again, we will celebrate the togetherness we have all missed -- complete with people scooting past you to get to their seats, the whispers of neighbors behind you, and a theatre full of laughter. Tickets will be available on September 1 through the MTU Ticket Office.

The new season will feature 70 performances and art exhibits on the Rozsa Stage, in the McArdle Theatre and the Rozsa Gallery, and in the community. This year has the whole community in mind: theatre productions, dance, community workshops, poetry, visual art exhibits, and concerts ranging from country to classical to psychedelic indie rock. 

"We’ve been looking forward to this season for two years," says Mary Jennings, Rozsa Center director. "A theatre is meant to have an audience, and I know that we’ve all been aching for live shows to come back to the Rozsa. This year is going to offer something for everyone. We’ve got a great lineup of musicians, starting with Vieux Farka Touré in September. We’re showing Rocky Horror Picture Show again, back by very popular demand. And of course, a highlight of this season is the return of the Nutcracker, which is always a community favorite."

Performances include the following:

  • Vieux Farka Touré, "The Hendrix of the Sahara," one of the top guitarists in the world
  • A screening of Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • Renowned country music performer Erik Koskinen 
  • Sinkane, a "funky, lighter-than-air global pop" band
  • The beloved Nutcracker with the Minnesota Ballet, Superior School of Dance, and the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra
  • The world premiere of Anchorage, a dance show choreographed and composed on a remote island in Lake Superior (no, not Isle Royale)

View the full calendar of events and ticket information here.

As we rejoice in coming together again, the Rozsa Center will prioritize health and safety in its reopening plans for all so that we can all focus on the joy. The Rozsa will follow the latest public safety guidelines and release updates to its COVID policies to reflect changes. Plan your family’s year with the complete Rozsa season at mtu.edu/rozsa.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

DNR public meeting on mineral lease application in Menominee County postponed; virtual meeting to be announced

LANSING -- The public meeting regarding the Great Lakes Exploration, Inc., metallic mineral lease application for parcels in Faithorn Township and Holmes Township, Menominee County, previously scheduled for Wednesday, September 1, 2021, in the conference room at the Menominee County MSU Extension in Stephenson, is postponed due to venue capacity concerns.

The public meeting will be scheduled to be held in a virtual format and advertised in the near future. Questions and comments regarding the direct lease application may be submitted to DNR, Minerals Management Section, P.O. Box 30452, Lansing, MI 48909 or DNR-Minerals@michigan.gov.

Watch for more details, coming soon.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Health Department recommends increasing COVID-19 precautions, including mask wearing, as rise in transmission risk detected in Western UP counties

This report from the Western UP Health Department (WUPHD) shows the increase in COVID-19 transmission, as well as vaccination rates, in local counties between Aug. 5 and Aug. 11, 2021. Click on image for larger version.

HANCOCK --  The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD) announced on Friday, Aug. 13, a rise in COVID-19 cases and transmission over the past few weeks in the five counties WUPHD covers: Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Keweenaw and Ontonagon counties. According to state and local data, four out of five counties are now classified as having substantial or high transmission risk. The Delta variant continues to be detected in Houghton and Gogebic counties and has now been detected in Baraga county.

Aligning with updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), WUPHD also recommends that when the community is experiencing substantial and high transmission levels, everyone, including fully vaccinated individuals, wear a face mask in public indoor settings to help prevent spread of the Delta variant and protect others.

While vaccination continues to be the most important public health action to end the COVID-19 pandemic, the surge of the Delta variant across the U.S. prompted the CDC to issue updated recommendations for masking. These recommendations now apply to local UP counties with substantial transmission risk. Click here for details. (Image courtesy michigan.gov)

Wearing a face mask is particularly important when attending indoor public gatherings and where social distancing is not able to be maintained. Given the community transmission status change, the health department also encourages businesses, community and faith based organizations and event organizers to consider the latest public health recommendations when determining risk mitigation strategies for employees, customers, community members and events.

Vaccination is best protection

These recommendations are based on emerging science showing the Delta variant to be highly infectious and able to spread at greater rates than any other strains of COVID-19. Research shows that the COVID-19 vaccines provide protection against the Delta variant and most people who experience a breakthrough infection after being fully vaccinated report mild or no symptoms, with an extremely low risk of hospitalization and death. Past infection with COVID-19 does not assure protection from the Delta variant, so people who have had past COVID-19 infection are still strongly encouraged to get vaccinated. High vaccination coverage will not only reduce the spread of the virus, but also help prevent new, and possibly more concerning, variants from emerging.

"When providing guidance and recommendations to our community about which COVID-19 mitigation measures may need to be in place, we are taking into consideration many local factors, such as the current rate of COVID-19 transmission, our health system's capacity, vaccination coverage, testing and which populations may be at risk," said Kate Beer, Health Officer, WUPHD. "The best way to protect yourself, your family, and your community from COVID-19 and the Delta variant is to get vaccinated."

A layered protection strategy should be followed to ensure a healthy environment, allowing all WUPHD residents the best chance to remain healthy and physically present at work and in the classroom setting. Such strategy should include the following risk mitigation measures:

• Receive the COVID-19 vaccine, if eligible
• Wear your face mask while indoors
• Wash your hands frequently
• Maintain a distance of six feet from others
• Stay home when sick and get tested for COVID-19
• Adhere to isolation if you test positive for COVID-19 or quarantine if considered a close contact

At this time, 53 percent of WUPHD residents over the age of 12 have initiated vaccination for COVID-19. Vaccinations can be scheduled with local providers by calling your local health department office, your physician’s office, or by visiting www.coppercountrystrong.com/vaccine.

Vaccines and immunocompromised individuals

CDC now recommends that people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems receive an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days after a second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. (Image courtesy Centers for Disease Control)

Currently, CDC is recommending that moderately to severely immunocompromised people receive an additional dose. This includes people who have:

  •     Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  •     Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  •     Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  •     Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  •     Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  •     Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response

People should talk to their healthcare provider about their medical condition, and whether getting an additional dose is appropriate for them. 

Read CDC's Aug. 13, 2021, statement.

Friday, August 06, 2021

COVID-19 Delta variant identified in Houghton, Gogebic counties

HOUGHTON, GOGEBIC counties --  The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has notified the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD) that the MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories identified the COVID-19 Delta variant in 6 Houghton County and 2 Gogebic County cases.

The SARS-CoV-2 B.1.617.2 or Delta variant is thought to have emerged in India and has since been detected in many countries and states. On June 14, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) classified Delta as a variant of concern due to evidence of increased transmissibility and potential reduction in effectiveness of current monoclonal antibody treatments.

When a variant is identified or suspected, additional measures take place, such as a strict 14-day quarantine," said Kate Beer, Health Officer at WUPHD. "A new variant in our community is concerning since it can be related to higher transmission rates. Residents across the jurisdiction are reminded to continue practicing mitigation strategies including mask wearing in public spaces, social distancing, hand washing, and getting vaccinated. These actions help slow the spread of the virus."

The WUPHD has posted 41 new COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks: 7 in Baraga County, 22 in Gogebic County, 10 in Houghton County, and 2 in Ontonagon County.

With the high transmission rate of the Delta variant, vaccination is more important than ever. Vaccination is currently open to anyone 12 and older. Vaccinations can be scheduled with local providers by calling your local health department office, your physician’s office, or by visiting www.coppercountrystrong.com/vaccine.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Keweenaw Now, Michigan leaders remember Senator Carl Levin, 1934-2021

Senator Carl Levin, Michigan's longest serving US Senator, passed away Thursday, July 29, at 87.

LANSING -- Keweenaw Now learned of the passing of former US Senator Carl Levin, who served Michigan for 36 years in the Senate, through email statements we received Friday from Michigan leaders -- Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist, Attorney General Dana Nessel, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, and US Rep. Andy Levin.

Their messages attest to Senator Levin's long career of public service, his accomplishments and his integrity. During some of Senator Levin's frequent visits to the Keweenaw, we had the  honor to meet the Senator, to interview him and to film some of his very down-to-earth, friendly speeches. We have memories of Carl Levin as not just a politician from Detroit, but a man who cared about the Great Lakes, conservation of our beautiful natural resources, and historical preservation. Here are some of our memories from Keweenaw Now's archives:

At 2014 Bete Grise Celebration ...

Pictured here with Sen. Carl Levin at the Aug. 17, 2014, celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Bete Grise Preserve, near Point Isabelle on Lake Superior, are Jeff Knoop, former director of land protection for The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Marquette office, and Gina Nicholas, Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District chairperson. "It was an honor to have the Senator come," Nicholas said. "He's done so much to help the Keweenaw." (Keweenaw Now file photo)* 

Former Keweenaw County Sheriff Ron Lahti chats with Senator Levin during the 2014 Bete Grise celebration near Point Isabelle. (Keweenaw Now file photo)*

Senator Levin and Amy Berglund, his Upper Peninsula regional representative, pause for a photo with the late Gustavo Bourdieu, who was proud to be a recently naturalized US citizen. Berglund had represented Senator Levin at Gustavo's citizenship ceremony in Marquette. (Keweenaw Now file photo)*

At Grand Opening of the Calumet Visitor Center (Union Building) on Oct. 27, 2011...

On Oct. 27, 2011, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin speaks outside Keweenaw National Historical Park's Union Building -- now the Calumet Visitor Center -- just before cutting the ribbon for the building, which now houses historical displays. Also pictured are, from left, Tony Bausano, Calumet Village president; Paul Lehto, Calumet Township supervisor; Mike Reynolds, National Park Service Midwest Regional director; Kim Hoagland, Keweenaw National Historical Park (NHP) Advisory commission chairperson; and Mike Pflaum, Keweenaw NHP superintendent. Following the ribbon cutting, a Naturalization Ceremony for new U.S. citizens was held on the remodeled third floor of the building. (Keweenaw Now file photo)**

Senator Levin speaks about the importance of preserving our local history through the Keweenaw National Historical Park. (Video by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)**

Senator Levin was instrumental in securing federal funding for the restoration of the Union Building, which now, as the Calumet Visitor Center, houses exhibits that tell the story of Calumet's mining history and of the immigrants from many countries who came here to work in the mines.**

At Small Business Roundtable Meeting on Aug. 20, 2010...

U.S. Senator Carl Levin discusses climate and energy issues with Sarah Green, Michigan Tech University Department of Chemistry chair and researcher on climate change, following Sen. Levin's visit to a Small Business Roundtable Meeting on Aug. 20, 2010, at the Franklin Square Best Western Inn Shelden Grill in Houghton. Also pictured is Ed Lahti, local inventor. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Since the press was not allowed at the Small Business Roundtable Meeting but only given the final 15 minutes to interview Sen. Levin, Keweenaw Now asked him about two issues -- Afghanistan and Kennecott-Rio Tinto's sulfide mine, now the Eagle Mine near Big Bay, Mich.***

At Democratic breakfast, 2009 ...

Senator Levin speaks to Democratic supporters at a breakfast organized for him on Sept. 26, 2009, during a visit to Houghton County. (Keweenaw Now file photo)****

Michigan leaders remember Senator Carl Levin

Governor Gretchen Whitmer: "Senator Carl Levin was a champion for Michigan. His 36 year tenure in the United States Senate, the longest in state history, was marked by a tireless commitment to our auto industry, Great Lakes, and men and women in uniform. Carl paved the way for a safer planet, helped pass several nuclear weapons and missile treaties, and spoke out courageously against entering the war in Iraq. He made Michigan a safer and better place for our families, securing funds to create the Detroit Riverwalk and writing the bill that established Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. Carl would often wear his glasses on the tip of his nose, but he saw the best in us. He saw what we were capable of when we came to the table as Michiganders, as Americans, to get things done. Carl devoted his life to public service, and it us up to us to follow his example. My thoughts are with his family, many of whom are lifelong public servants, including his brother, former Congressman Sander Levin, and his nephew, Congressman Andy Levin. Carl, we miss you."

Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist: "Senator Levin was a giant whose power and dedication was felt throughout our state. Michiganders trusted Senator Levin to get the job done, which is why they continued to send him back to Washington, D.C., as our state’s longest-serving senator. And throughout all of those years, Senator Levin never backed down from putting Michigan families first. There’s not a single Michigander who hasn’t benefited from the policies and programs that Senator Levin helped to usher through Congress. His presence will be greatly missed by the untold lives that he touched, especially the young leaders like me who he continually encouraged and supported. My heart is with his family and all of the Michiganders across the state who are mourning this tremendous loss. Senator Levin set the path for all of us to continue his great work."

Attorney General Dana Nessel: "The world lost a giant today, and I lost a personal hero. Senator Levin’s decades-long dedication to representing the people of Michigan set a bar few elected officials will ever meet. His no-nonsense, brutally honest approach to politics is what gained him respect across the aisle. I greatly admired his unwavering commitment to doing what was right -- even if it wasn’t easy -- and his passionate approach to understanding every single issue he voted on. We all could learn a great deal from his service. My thoughts are with his loved ones. There will never be another Carl Levin."

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson: "A light has gone out today in Michigan that can never be replaced. I have no words to express what Senator Carl Levin and his lifetime of dedication to our city, state and country meant to me and so many of us who seek to serve and lead during these uniquely divided times.

"My best days as Dean at Wayne State University Law School were when I got to work with and learn from him, whether it was co-teaching a class on legislation and leadership or launching the Levin Center, or simply sitting in his office asking him for advice and hearing stories from his life of service.

"When I told him I wanted to run for Michigan Secretary of State he was unhesitatingly all-in: hosting events, calling supporters, nominating me at the Michigan Democratic Party Convention. He was a constant source of wisdom and support, always encouraging me to lead courageously and always having my back.

"In our last conversation I thanked him for writing his memoirs at a time when we all desperately need to learn more of how he served 36 years in the U.S. Senate and a lifetime in politics while remaining steadfastly humble, loyal, devoted, and kind. His commitment to service was everything we need from our leaders but so rarely get. I will miss our lunches, talks, and I'll keep working every day to be more like him. If we all do that, we can honor his years of devotion to Michigan, to Detroit, and to our country."
 
US Rep. Andy Levin, nephew of Carl Levin and son and successor of US Rep. Sander Levin: "Today, my uncle, Senator Carl Levin, passed away.

"Throughout my adult life, wherever I went in Michigan, from Copper Harbor to Monroe, I would run into people who would say, ‘I don’t always agree with Senator Levin, but I support him anyway because he is so genuine, he tells it straight and he follows through.’

"Carl Levin personified integrity and the notion of putting the public good above self-interest. As he walked about the Capitol in a rumpled suit, almost always with a plain white shirt and pedestrian tie, carrying bulging files with the occasional paper flying away, Carl was the very picture of sober purpose and rectitude. In truth, he wasn’t unfun. In fact, he often pierced tense situations with self-deprecating humor, and he privately shared incisive observations about others with staff and colleagues.

"But Carl was all about the work, and the great honor the people of Michigan had bestowed upon him with their votes and their trust. He did not seek to divine their views to be popular, but rather to study the issues and advance the people’s interest to the best of his ability. Uncle Carl met with more presidents, kings, queens and other important people than all but a few of us ever will. But he treated them all the same as he did a Detroit autoworker or a beet farmer in Michigan’s Thumb -- with a full measure of dignity but no airs, ever ready to puncture self-importance, posturing, mendacity and avarice.

"He was so well-prepared for every meeting, hearing, and conference that he challenged conventional boundaries between senator and staff. He was one of the most challenging senators to work for and one of the most rewarding. Challenging, because you had better know your business in detail, since he surely did. Rewarding, because he had authentic relationships with staff, treated them with deep respect, and was loyal to them.

"Uncle Carl was above all a family man. No matter the pressing business he faced as a senator, he always centered Aunt Barbara, my cousins Kate, Laura and Erica and their families, devoted time to them and so obviously cherished them. And the way he loved and treated his family radiated out and served as a model for how he treated colleagues, staff, constituents, soldiers and the world.

"From my earliest memory to this moment, perhaps above all, he has defined with my dad how close two brothers, two siblings, two people can be. In the end, these two Jewish boys from Detroit, these grandsons of immigrants, each served 36 years in Congress, 32 of them together, becoming by far the longest co-serving siblings in the 232-year history of this place. As heartbroken as we are in this moment, I feel so grateful to have experienced this love and legacy."

Notes:

* See "Sen. Levin joins supporters, visitors at Bete Grise 10-year celebration."

** See  "Photos, videos: Grand Opening of Calumet Visitor Center (Union Building)."

*** See "Sen. Levin speaks at Small Business Roundtable in Houghton."

**** See "Photos: Local Dems, supporters greet Sen. Carl Levin at Houghton breakfast."