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Thursday, May 27, 2010

A hot day at Eagle Rock -- before arrests of campers

By Michele Bourdieu

EAGLE ROCK -- On Tuesday, May 25, you could feel the heat at Eagle Rock -- not just the recent unseasonable temperatures in the 80s and 90s, but the heat of friction between the small group of campers protesting a potential sulfide mine and the giant, multinational mining company Rio Tinto-Kennecott, whose record of environmental destruction and human rights abuses has followed it from farflung locations like Papua, New Guinea, to nearer Ladysmith, Wisconsin (where residents are suing the company for polluting their fresh water) to Eagle Rock, an Ojibwa sacred site on the Yellow Dog Plains in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Camp at Eagle Rock on Tuesday, May 25. (Photos by Keweenaw Now unless otherwise indicated.)

On Tuesday and again on Wednesday, May 26, Kennecott representatives asked the campers to leave Eagle Rock. They refused.

"I like the heat," said Charlotte Loonsfoot, a member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC), who was one of three women who decided a month ago to occupy Eagle Rock in protest against the sulfide mine. She was also one of the campers who refused to leave.

"The women are the peacemakers and the protectors of the water," Loonsfoot told Keweenaw Now on Tuesday. "I said no because of our religious act and our treaty rights."*

Campers and visitors at Eagle Rock on Tuesday, May 25, are, from left, Rosa Musket, Jessica Koski, Kalvin Hartwig, Georgenia Earring, Charlotte Loonsfoot, Catherine Parker and Connie.

Loonsfoot said the Kennecott representatives tried to persuade the campers to move "across the street" to another site, which is also public land leased by Kennecott from the State.

"After I said no, I said, 'Can you give us a couple of days to consult with our spiritual advisor?'" Loonsfoot added.

A video clip posted on Stand for the Land shows Kennecott's Matt Johnson, Government and Community Relations manager, telling Loonsfoot that Kennecott is asking them to move to an "alternative campsite" because of federal and state regulations for safety.

"As construction moves forward, we need to comply with those federal and state laws," Johnson said, "and we need this site to be safe for both you and our employees."

Kennecott's fence at Eagle Rock cut off the campers' access to water earlier this week.

Today, Thursday, May 27, Kennecott representatives reportedly arrived with about 20 police vehicles to arrest the peaceful group of campers and clear them from Eagle Rock. An article on Upper Michigan's Source, quotes Michigan State Police Sergeant Robert Pernaski as saying, "Kennecott asked the parties to leave officially at 9 a.m. They were given a half-an-hour to depart the premise. At 9:30, we entered the picture, along with Kennecott again, asked them to leave. They refused to leave, and we then arrested two of the group for trespassing."**

Loonsfoot and Chris Chosa, also of KBIC, were the two who were arrested today and later released on their own recognizance. Loonsfoot was fasting and praying on top of Eagle Rock when she was arrested and handcuffed.***

The charge of "trespassing" seems unexplained, since the group has been allowed to camp at Eagle Rock and hold religious ceremonies for more than a month, ever since Cynthia Pryor, Sulfide Mining Campaign director of the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, was arrested on April 22 for "trespassing." Pryor, whose arrest led to a large rally of peaceful protest in Marquette, pleaded not guilty and faces a jury trial in June for a misdemeanor.****

Both arrests were made on public land Kennecott-Rio Tinto has leased from the State of Michigan for its mining operation for nickel and copper. Mine opponents claim the lease is not legal since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not ruled finally on permits. Native American protest is also based on 1836 and 1842 treaties guaranteeing the Ojibwa people rights to fish, hunt and gather on ceded territory. Eagle Rock, which the Ojibwa consider a sacred site, is a place where traditionally they have gathered medicines and performed religious ceremonies.

Spiritual Advisor questions State lease of public land

On Tuesday, May 25, while still camping on Eagle Rock, Loonsfoot and other campers discussed their situation with a spiritual advisor, who identified himself as Nish-Nung (Two Stars) of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwas in Minnesota.

"They (Kennecott) don't have clear title to the land," he said. "If they had clear title, then they would have been able to remove us, and they haven't." [As of Tuesday, they hadn't.]

In fact, the February 2008 Metallic Mineral Mining Operations Surface Use Lease between the State of Michigan (Lessor) and Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company (Lessee) states this under Title: "Lessee acknowledges that (a) lessor makes no warranty of title with respect to the Premises (parcels included in the lease); (b) Lessee has had the opportunity to make its own assessment to such title; and (c) Lessee waives any claim against Lessor for inadequate or defective title to the Premises."

Nish-Nung had other comments on Kennecott's lease of this public land.

"They're breaking the lease agreement with the State of Michigan by logging," he said. "They're not supposed to be logging up here."

Nish-Nung added concerns about fire safety, noting he believed Kennecott lacked a fire safety marshal or a plan with the local fire department (Big Bay's is the closest).

"What would happen if they started a forest fire with their logging?" he asked.

Like Loonsfoot, Nish-Nung spoke of the need to protect the water, the use of which is guaranteed by Native American treaty rights. However, he said he believed the opposition to Kennecott's mine should not be just a Native issue.

"We have a lien against this territory to collect and gather medicines, to use the waterways," he said. "They will pollute the water here, and it will affect not just the Native communities but the white communities, too."

Nish-Nung hung an upside-down American flag in place of a Native American flag that had hung at the top of Eagle Rock earlier. He said it was upside-down to symbolize distress.

American flag is hung upside-down on top of Eagle Rock as a sign of distress.

"We are in distress," he said. "Our livelihoods, our lives, are being threatened by Kennecott. They're impeding our ability to collect water and medicines by building the fence."

Nish-Nung referred to the State fish advisories that tell people how much fish is safe to eat (mainly because of mercury pollution).

"We're only allowed to eat one fish a week now," he noted. "Five years from now we won't even be able to eat fish from Lake Superior if this mine is allowed -- or any mine on this or the Canadian side of Lake Superior. We're not going to be able to feed our children -- or our communities -- and it takes a whole community to raise a child. Why hasn't society learned from its past mistakes what mining does? Money has become more important than the lives of children."

He raised his own children in the Sault-Ste Marie Band in Michigan, Nish-Nung explained.

Campers, visitors express views

Also camping at Eagle Rock on Tuesday was Georgenia Earring, whose two young sons, Keya, 7 and Tokala, 4, have been camping with their parents at Eagle Rock, although they were not there on Tuesday.

"They love it here," she said. "They know why I'm here. They understand, and they're all for it."

Another visitor from outside Michigan was Cassandra Dixon, who lives north of Madison, Wis.

Cassandra Dixon, right, a visitor from Wisconsin, and Rosa Musket of Marquette sort items for recycling at the Eagle Rock camp on Tuesday, May 25, 2010.

"I was involved in nuclear waste dump issues which overlapped with mining issues," Dixon said. "I just don't want to see that here."

Rosa Musket of Marquette was working on sorting items for recycling with Dixon. She had also visited Eagle Rock on Saturday, May 22, when Lee Sprague of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians came to help the campers with their vegetable garden.

"With Lee's helpful guidance and everyone's participation, we started the beginnings of the garden, which had a couple of small hoop greenhouses," Musket noted.

Lee Sprague, right, of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, helps campers with their garden at Eagle Rock last Saturday, May 22. (Photo courtesy Stand for the Land)

Sprague also brought a Turkey Feather Fan Gift from the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians.

A friend of Loonsfoot's, Connie (who preferred not to give her last name), came from Minnesota because, she said, "Charlotte called and needed help."

Connie noted she came to be part of the effort in a supportive way, with respect for the cause. Loonsfoot had helped her in the past, she added.

"She's a sister," Connie explained.

Helping the campers with chopping wood for the sacred fire, setting up tarps and other camping duties was Richard Sloat of Iron River, Mich., who had arranged with his employer to spend two days a week at Eagle Rock. His purpose in supporting the campers was "to defend the water," he said.

Sloat said he became involved in the issue after hearing a library presentation by Teresa Bertossi, now of Headwaters News, a couple of years ago.

"Teresa Bertossi gave a presentation at our local library. She was so compassionate and caring about the water that her presentation convinced me," Sloat explained. "I always knew clean water was important, but -- to the degree that mining companies are polluting the water -- I just felt I had to do something more than just complain about it."

A comment by Catherine Parker of Marquette recalled the opening pages of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring.

Catherine Parker of Marquette cuts cantaloupe in the Eagle Rock kitchen on May 25.

"I've been out here for the past two nights," Parker noted. "I've never heard so many birds at twilight. If the mine opens we're not going to hear that. You wake up in the morning and it's birds and trucks, birds and trucks. I wonder how much longer they'll keep singing."

* Loonsfoot was referring to the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (1978) and to the Treaty of 1836 which guarantees the rights to hunt, fish and gather on ceded territory.

** See "Two arrested at Kennecott mine site," by Brad Soroka.

*** See "Rio Tinto’s Idea of Community Relations," by Emily Whittaker, executive director, Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.

**** See our May 13 article, "Opponents of sulfide mine hold peaceful Rally in Marquette."

Editor's Notes: A May 27 article by Greg Peterson in Indian Country Today, describing the arrests at Eagle Rock, says, "Mine officials doused the grandfather fire, uprooted the Eagle Rock Community Garden, removed two flags from atop Eagle Rock and bulldozed the camp." Read more ...

See also video clips and other updates on Stand for the Land.

Lahti fights for funds to re-open campgrounds, protect natural resources

LANSING -- State Representative Mike Lahti (D-Hancock) on Wednesday voted to protect funding for Michigan's Department of Natural Resources and the Environment (DNRE) 2010-2011 budget, a move that will reopen more than a dozen state campgrounds and protect our state's vital natural resources.

"Making these changes in the DNRE budget is important to protecting our land, air and water and the jobs of our workers who depend on them," said Lahti, chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on DNRE, who led the vote in the House. "People come from all over to fish in our streams, camp in our forests and take in the beauty of our natural resources. We must protect the attractions that draw tourists to our state. That's why I fought so hard to reopen the state campgrounds that were closed during last year's budget cuts. Our natural resources define us as a state -- we must do everything we can to ensure they will be around for generations to come."

The budget that passed the House on Wednesday will reopen 12 state campgrounds, which closed due to budget cuts in 2009; require the DNRE director to meet semiannually with timber representatives to discuss strategic issues of the timber industry; establish and expand Citizen Advisory Councils; prohibit the DNRE from charging children under 18 admission fees to enter the State Historical Museum; and fund the Cormorant Population Control and Aquatic Nuisance Control programs.

The DNRE budget now moves to Conference Committee where Lahti will work with fellow legislators to finalize it according to House and Senate recommendations.

Updated: Police on the way to Eagle Rock

EAGLE ROCK -- Update: A recent email message reports that 20 police squad cars arrived at Eagle Rock and arrested everyone today, May 27.

Stand for the Land reported earlier today, May 27, that police were on the way to Eagle Rock. The Web site also posted a video clip showing Kennecott Government and Community Affairs Manager Matt Johnson and Chantae Lessard, Kennecott's Community Relations senior advisor, asking the campers to move to another site because of "federal laws" for safety.

Johnson confirmed the second site is also State of Michigan land leased by Kennecott. He did not, at least in the video, state which federal laws required the campers to move.

Speaking for the campers, Stand for the Land reports, "Kennecott has fenced us off from our water source and broken their promises stated in local media a month ago that they wouldn’t interfere with our stand at Eagle Rock."

Visit Stand for the Land to see the video and watch for updates on the occupation of Eagle Rock, a sacred site for the Ojibwa people.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Reading the Landscape 2010 to offer "Exploring our Diverse Watersheds" field trips

HANCOCK -- "Exploring our Diverse Watersheds" is the subject of the 2010 Reading the Landscape series of art and natural history field trips for adults to be held from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on four Saturdays -- June 19, July 10, Aug. 7 and Sept. 18.

"Natural Patterns," by Rachel Toczydlowski. Graphite. (Image courtesy Rachel Toczydlowski)

Here is the schedule:

Saturday, June 19: "A Water Year" -- Learn how water and nutrients cycle naturally through the watershed of a small stream near Calumet, with David Toczydlowski, field ecologist for a long-term research study of this site. Create informed "maps" of water systems with Phyllis Fredendall, associate professor at Finlandia University International School of Art and Design. Meet at the Calumet Township Park on Lakeshore Drive.

Saturday, July 10: "Reading a Trout Stream" -- Learn to think like a trout -- or a fisherman -- on this visit to the Pilgrim River with experienced (and retired) Fisheries Biologists Bill Deephouse and Tom Rozich. Avid fly tier Don Kreher will help you discover how fly fishermen tie flies. Meet at the Nara Nature Center chalet on Hwy US-41 near the mouth of the Pilgrim River.

Saturday, Aug. 7: "Stamp Sands Remediation" -- See various stages of ongoing restoration of the Eagle River watershed, which has been adversely impacted for over a century by copper mining. Visit ongoing remediation projects at historic Cliff and Central mine sites with Rob Aho, Project Engineer; Gina Nicholas, Chair of the Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District; and Dick Dana, who will share some of Central’s history through old bottles that have been found there.

Gina Nicholas, Chair of the Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District, speaks about the Eagle River watershed stamp sand remediation during a previous Reading the Landscape session, held at Central in 2008. This year, on Aug. 7, Reading the Landscape participants will have an opportunity to see the progress being made in the Stamp Sand Stabilization project. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

Saturday, Sept. 18: "Dynamic Shorelines" -- Lightfoot Bay is a natural embayment of Huron Bay and the heart of a diverse and ecologically rich Great Lakes coastal wetland complex protected by the Keweenaw Land Trust and conservation partners. Explore the dynamics of the marshes and bogs of this beautiful embayment with Fisheries Ecologist Casey Huckins and see how this system is impacted by the shifting barrier beaches along Huron Bay. Watercolorist and print maker Kayo Miwa will help you appreciate this ever-changing interdunal wetland and the historic structures remaining at this preserve that was once a family retreat.

"Summer Stream," by Kayo Miwa. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

Meet at the Lightfoot Bay Coastal Wetlands Preserve cabins near the Skanee Cemetery. Lunch is provided for this session. Carpooling from Hancock is available for those interested.

Registration and advanced payment of $15 per session are required. Please register early; session size is limited.

The program is for adults age 16 or older.

Sponsors include Keweenaw Land Trust (KLT), Copper Country Audubon, Gratiot Lake Conservancy (GLC), Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District, Keweenaw County Historical Society, Michigan Nature Association, Copper Country Chapter of Trout Unlimited. KLT (906-482-0820) and GLC (906-337-5476) offer some scholarships. Please contact them directly.

For more details on the sessions, what to bring, etc., click here for the brochure.

Isle Royale workshops announce space available

HANCOCK -- Due to cancellations, spaces are available in the Isle Royale Botany Workshop to be held June 14-19 on Isle Royale. Space is also available in the Isle Royale Photography Workshop, scheduled for June 11-16.

The Botany Workshop, taught for the past three years by botanist Janet Marr, is open to adults with beginning or intermediate knowledge of plant identification. Participants will learn the spring flora of Isle Royale National Park as well as family characteristics, keying techniques, etc., during hikes (up to seven miles) through a variety of habitats.

The Photography Workshop, offered for the second time by professional photographer Bob Guiliani, will help beginning or intermediate photographers get the most from their film or digital cameras, while learning nature photography techniques with the treasures of Isle Royale as their subjects.

For details about either workshop, visit the website of the Isle Royale and Keweenaw Parks Association (IRKPA), sponsor of the workshops, at and click on Upcoming.

The fee for either workshop is $650 ($625 for IRKPA members; see for info on how to become an IRKPA member). The fee covers transportation to Isle Royale from Houghton, Mich., on the National Park Service Ranger III, camping, meals and instruction. Lodge rooms or housekeeping cabins at your own expense are another option. For more information about the workshops, contact IRKPA at 906-482-7860 or email The registration fee is due May 31, 2010.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Eagle Rock camper counts coup on Kennecott

EAGLE ROCK -- On Sunday, May 23, one of the campers "counted coup" on a Kennecott worker putting up a fence around Eagle Rock. Kennecott informed the Michigan State Police, who are now investigating it.

According to one of the spiritual advisors at Eagle Rock, "Coup is a hundreds-of-years-old tradition of touching your enemy without hurting them. It brings shame to the enemy, Kennecott, by getting that close to them."

According to Gabriel Caplett, a camper at the Eagle Rock settlement, "Kennecott seems to have a habit of blowing things out of proportion. We’ve seen this when they wasted taxpayer resources getting a citizen arrested for sitting on a stump with her dog. While campers at Eagle Rock have had to listen to Kennecott supporters drive by at night yelling racial slurs, swerving at us while we walk on the road, throwing beer cans and, in one incident reported to the State Police, firing shots, Kennecott gets the State Police investigating a camper who tapped a construction worker on the butt with a jackpine twig. This is kind of ironic coming from a company with one of the worst human rights and worker rights records around the world."

The fence would prevent the Eagle Rock community from accessing their water sources, community garden and sacred medicines. The community asked Kennecott staff not to put the fence up for these reasons, but their request has been ignored.

Settlers at Eagle Rock are planning to hold a meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday evening, May 26, to discuss this situation and plans to finish planting their community garden. The public is welcome to attend.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Minnesota couple hikes "Full Circle" around Lake Superior

By Kate Flynn

HOUGHTON -- Kate Crowley and Mike Link, grandparents and naturalists from Willow River, Minn., are taking a five-month hike around Lake Superior, a journey of roughly 1600 miles -- the first shoreline circumnavigation of Superior by foot in recorded history, according to the couple’s Web site.

Mike Link and Kate Crowley are hiking the entire Lake Superior shoreline. (Photo © Full Circle Lake Superior and courtesy Michigan Tech University.)

Crowley and Link, who set out from Duluth on April 29, began their journey by heading eastward on Minnesota Point on a grey, cloudy day. They have since made their way across the shores of Wisconsin and part of Upper Michigan, arriving in Houghton on May 19.

Crowley and Link cite a number of different motivational factors for this trip, including their shared sense of adventure and a desire to stay in shape as they age. Their most important inspiration, however, is their three grandchildren.

"There’s a big emphasis on youth education," Link said in the couple’s May 20th presentation at Michigan Tech.

Link and Crowley will be giving a number of presentations over the course of their journey, and they hope to instill in their listeners a sense of the importance of preserving the lake for future generations. They have also partnered with a number of universities and colleges around the Lake Superior basin, including Michigan Tech, to include a research component in their trip.

Mike Link and Kate Crowley in Michigan Tech's Forestry Atrium, where they gave a presentation on May 20. (Photo © 2010 Kate Flynn)

The couple stopped in Houghton on May 19-20 on their circumnavigation, on foot, of Lake Superior.

"It’s allowed us to speak to the media," Crowley said of the expedition. "There’s been tremendous coverage of our trip. We’re concerned about fresh water. It’s a vehicle by which you can express concern and capture people’s interest."

Although Link and Crowley spend much of their day hiking on foot, generally averaging 17 miles a day, they still take the time to update their Web site and communicate daily via their Facebook page. Their assistant, Amanda Hakala, who drives the RV that Crowley and Link sleep in most nights, is in charge of finding wireless at the couple’s destination for the night while they hike the shores of Lake Superior.

Crowley spoke positively of the role that Facebook has played in keeping them connected on their journey.

"It’s been very helpful," Crowley said. "So many people of all ages are on it. We’ve made connections with people who are going to help us along the way. We have 1,478 friends and we’re getting daily postings. We consider it as part of our educational outreach."

Crowley also admits that keeping in contact every day, on top of their miles and miles of hiking, has been difficult.

"It’s been hard," she said. "Once, in Ontonagon, there were only two places with free wireless -- our RV campground and the public library. The wireless in the campground didn’t work, so we had to sit in the parking lot of the library because it was closed. Cell phone service has also been an issue."

Crowley and Link both have very specific ideas about what they want to take away from this journey.

"A healthier body," Crowley said when asked what she hoped her own personal outcome of the trip would be. "And a wonderful movie in my head of what we’ve seen and experienced."

Sometimes Kate Crowley's shoreline hike actually lands her in the water. (Photo © Full Circle Lake Superior and courtesy Michigan Tech University.)

"We’ll have a catalog of experiences," Link adds. "Our lives are made up of stories. The other part of the story is how much fun I’ve had with Kate. It’s hard to have the same kind of moments in any other situation. It’s another commitment that we’ve made to each other. Whatever comes along, we deal with it in the moment. We look at each other and rely on each other. We have a great partnership."

Crowley and Link expect to return to Minnesota around Sept. 15, 2010. Their sponsors include Lake Superior Magazine and Anytime Fitness, for which they contribute a weekly health blog. A full list of sponsors, as well as a daily update, can be found on their Web site at

Editor's Note: Guest reporter Kate Flynn is a student at Beloit College. She is doing an internship in journalistic writing for Keweenaw Now and for the L'Anse Sentinel this summer.

Updated: Eagle Rock community garden threatened by Kennecott mine fence

Rosa Musket of Marquette shows a little one some steps in planting a garden on Eagle Rock. (Photo courtesy Stand for the Land)

EAGLE ROCK -- One month ago on April 23, native and non-native people from around the Great Lakes took a peaceful stand at Eagle Rock, Migi zii wa sin, to protect the water, public land rights and their way of life from proposed metallic sulfide and uranium mining in the Great Lakes region.

Since then, hundreds of people have visited the site to camp and to help support the campers by bringing supplies -- including wood for the sacred fire, food and water. Two weeks ago, a small garden was started by visitors to help beautify the site on an area of public land that had been bulldozed by Kennecott/Rio Tinto. As of this weekend, for a one-month anniversary, the garden became officially known as the "Eagle Rock Community Garden." Community members gathered to expand the garden and help plant miskomin (raspberries), potatoes, native flowers, as well as mushkeekiwinun (medicines) including ahsayma (tobacco).

Eagle Rock Community Garden. (Photo courtesy Stand for the Land)

Despite Kennecott’s response to the peaceful stand -- saying that participants "have an interest in expressing their viewpoint on the project…and we're not going to interfere with that" -- the company has begun to fence in the encampment, threatening the community garden and closing off the access trail to a freshwater spring where the group has been gathering its drinking water. Read more on Stand for the Land ...

Update: See the video clip, "Expanding the Eagle Rock Community Garden."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hancock, Calumet join Houghton for Bike 2 Work Day

Ann Pace of Hancock, a member of the Houghton County Bike Commission, offers snacks and bike safety information to biking commuters early Friday morning, May 21, during Bike 2 Work Day. Pace prepared the snacks, and the nearby 5th and Elm Coffee House donated coffee. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

By Kate Flynn

HANCOCK -- Residents of Houghton, Hancock and Calumet left their cars at home this Friday, May 21, to participate in Keweenaw Bike 2 Work Day.

The event, organized in Hancock by John Silvon and his wife, Ann Pace, is in its first year on the north side of the bridge. Houghton hosted the first Bike 2 Work Day on a Friday last year. Pace, a member of the Houghton County Bike Commission, says that the event is intended to increase awareness of biking as a mode of transportation.

Hancock City Councilor John Slivon, who coordinated Hancock's participation in this year's Bike 2 Work Day -- held Friday, May 21 -- puts finishing touches on one of the signs for the event. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

"The bike subcommittee," Pace explained, "examines the feasibility of biking and walking in Hancock. Houghton is pretty far along in plans for bike trails, but Hancock is just starting out."

Ann Pace prepares raisin bars (a special recipe!) for the morning Bike 2 Work snack table and energy bars (containing whole wheat, wheat germ, apricots, almonds, walnuts and organic canola oil) for the afternoon. "I wanted to provide snacks that I would actually eat myself," she said. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Dan Dalquist, a Hancock resident who has been riding since 1984 and now bikes six to seven days a week, including to and from his job in Calumet, describes his love of cycling as "a passion." On Friday, he helped to put air in bike commuters' tires and to troubleshoot other bike-related problems at the Bike 2 Work snack and information station at Dave’s BP in Hancock.

Dave's BP was the site of the afternoon snack and information station in Hancock on Bike 2 Work Day. (Photo © 2010 Kate Flynn)

"I got into [cycling] to rehab a bad knee," Dalquist said. "It worked. Now I ride to work, on pleasure rides, and on trails."

Heather Wright-Wendell, a member of the Red Jacket Cycling Team, volunteered at the Houghton Bike 2 Work snack and information station, located on the Waterfront Trail at the bottom of Quincy St. near the Ambassador Restaurant. She herself commutes to Houghton on a regular basis.

Members of the Red Jacket Cycling Team, including Terry Kinzel, second from right, and Heather Wright-Wendell, right, volunteer at the tent for Houghton's Bike 2 Work Day. (Photo © 2010 Kate Flynn)

"I started when I came to school here in 2001. I’ve found a really strong biking community in Houghton," Wright-Wendell said. "I’ve met avid racers as well as people who are more laid-back. There are a variety of groups and a lot of good trails."

Kyle Bordeau, a Michigan Tech student from Alpena, Michigan and the president of the Copper Country Cycling Club, was also present at the Houghton tent to take a look at commuters' bikes.

Kyle Bordeau, right, a Michigan Tech student and president of the Copper Country Cycling Club, tunes up a commuter's bike. (Photo © 2010 Kate Flynn)

"I’m basically just giving them a free bike check -- shifting, tire check, brakes," Bordeau said. "The main thing is to make sure it’s safe. If it’s not, I’ll send them to a bike repair shop."

In Calumet, a snack and info station was set up on U.S. 41 near Calumet High School in the morning. Returning commuters had the opportunity to receive free bike check-ups by the professionals at the Cross Country Sports snack station on Oak Street.

Cyclists "caught in the act of safe cycling" were given a water bottle by a Bike 2 Work Day volunteer or city police officer in each of the three locations this year.

Those using other non-motorized modes of transportation (such as skateboarders and pedestrians) were also welcome to participate in the event and enjoy the snacks.

To encourage participation among local businesses, this year's Bike to Work Day featured a business challenge. Certificates will be awarded to the businesses with the greatest level of participation in several different categories. A catered coffee break will be raffled off among the winners in each community. Winners will be announced on Friday, May 28.

Sponsors of the event are listed on the Bike 2 Work Day Web site.

Editor's Note: Guest reporter Kate Flynn, who also took some of the photos for this article, is a student at Beloit College. She is doing internships in journalistic writing for both the L'Anse Sentinel and Keweenaw Now this summer.