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.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Shelter Home to hold vigil for Domestic Violence Awareness Oct. 1

CALUMET -- October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Join the Barbara Kettle Gundlach Shelter Home for a Candlelight Ceremony for Survivors of Domestic Violence at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, at Portage Lake United Church, 1400 E. Houghton Ave. in Houghton.

The program will include music, speakers and poetry. Show your support in mourning victims, celebrating survivors and reaffirming the struggle for a non-violent future.

Bring a candle or flashlight and join in the walk after the ceremony. For more information call the Shelter at 337-5632.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Community Arts Center to hold reception Sept. 28 for Printmaker's Invitational exhibit

HANCOCK -- A Printmaker’s Invitational is on exhibit at the Copper Country Community Arts Center’s Kerredge Gallery through Sept. 29, 2012. A closing reception will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28.

"Tamarack" by Emily Gray Koehler. Collagraph with color-reduction woodcut. (Photo courtesy Copper Country Community Arts Center)

The five printmakers in this exhibit all have something in common: they have a romance with the Great Lakes and Northwoods region and they all use wood and linoleum blocks to make color reduction prints in small editions. The artists come from varied backgrounds in their studies, but their inspiration has led them to this -- a celebration of place.

Betsy Bowen lives in Grand Marais, Minnesota. She works prolifically, collaborating with writers, illustrating books with her block prints which capture life in the Northwoods and feature the many creatures found there. Included in the exhibit are four new bird pieces and two other favorites, framed in barn wood embellished with rediscovered hardware.

Mary Brodbeck studied Japanese woodblock printmaking in Tokyo with Yoshisuke Funasaka through the auspices of a Japanese government Bunka-Cho Fellowship in 1998. The Japanese woodblock printmaking process differs from Western techniques by the use of brushed on water color paints and pressed by hand with a baren rather than a mechanical press. The Sleeping Bear Dunes woodblock print series is in the permanent collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Four of these are in this exhibit along with two from Lake Superior. Brodbeck resides in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Emily Gray Koehler’s work largely focuses on regional environmental and modern land use concerns. Her newest work, made for this exhibit, depicts trees silhouetted against dynamic skylines. In "Weathered Pine" and "The Roost" she has combined another printmaking technique, monotype with woodcuts. In "Tamarack" she used collagraph with color-reduction woodcut. Emily lives in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.

Tom Rudd is a sculptor and Margo McCafferty is a painter. Their collaborative work over the last 20 years has resulted in a huge body of many layered color-reduction block prints. They live in Calumet, Michigan; and their work in this exhibit is large prints from their Allegheny Flood series.

The Community Arts Center is honored to bring these extraordinary artists together in one exhibit.

The exhibit is supported by a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. For more information call (906) 482-2333.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Lake Superior Binational Forum to hold public meeting on impacts of nonferrous mining Sept 28 in Marquette

ASHLAND, WIS. -- The Lake Superior Binational Forum will hold an open public meeting called "The Impacts of Nonferrous Mining in the Lake Superior Basin: Overview and Updates" from 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28, in the Community Room at the Peter White Public Library, 217 N. Front Street, in Marquette, Michigan. Forum meetings are free and open to the public with no need to pre-register, although seating at the library is limited to 150.

Lake Superior Binational Forum meetings are free and open to the public. Pictured here are members of the audience offering public comment at the March 23, 2012, Forum in Ashland, Wis. -- the first of three open public meetings about the impacts of mining activities in the Lake Superior basin. The second meeting will take place Friday, Sept. 28, 2012, in the Peter White Library in Marquette. (Photo by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now.)

Speakers include representatives from the Lake Superior Binational Forum, the Lake Superior Binational Program, Michigan Tech University's Center for Water and Society, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, National Wildlife Federation, and employees with Rio Tinto mining company. (See below for the agenda)

"We have scheduled speakers that represent different perspectives about mining so we can learn from each other and understand more about how mining activities in the Lake Superior basin affect the economy and environment," said Bruce Lindgren, Forum U.S. co-chair.

Bruce Lindgren, Lake Superior Binational Forum U.S. co-chair, introduces speakers at the March 23, 2012, Binational Forum in Ashland, Wis. (Photo by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now.)

Members of the public are invited to a public comment period starting at 4:30 p.m. when anyone is welcome to express comments about mining and other issues as they relate to Lake Superior.

The Lake Superior Binational Forum offers this second of three public meetings about the impacts of mining in the Lake Superior basin at this upcoming meeting in Marquette. A third and final meeting about nonferrous mining activities is scheduled in the Minnesota Iron Range in March 2013. The meetings are funded through a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Susan Hedman, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 administrator, speaks at the March 23, 2012, Lake Superior Binational Forum in Ashland, Wis. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

The first public meeting--held in March 2012 in Ashland, Wisconsin  -- focused on the historical, environmental, and economic impacts from ferrous mining in the basin. All
audio and video recordings of that meeting are available on the Lake Superior Binational Forum's web site.*

September 28, 2012, Meeting Agenda:

1 p.m. Welcome to Marquette and this Meeting -- Lake Superior Binational Forum Members Jon Magnuson and Ron Sundell, Marquette
1:10 Welcome to Marquette -- Commissioner Jason Schneider, City of Marquette
1:20 Presentation of the Lake Superior Binational Program's 2012 Environmental Stewardship Awards to Michigan Recipients -- Jon Saari and Chauncey Moran, a tie in the U.S. Adult Individual category
1:40 Historical Environmental Impacts from Nonferrous Mining in the Basin -- Mike Ripley, Lake Superior Binational Program, Superior Work Group Mining Committee, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.**
2:10 A rare glimpse into the past: Lake Sediments Reveal Long-term Methylmercury Records from Mining -- Dr. Charles Kerfoot, Professor of Biological Sciences, Michigan Tech University, Houghton**

2:40 BREAK

2:55 Protecting Water Quality through Regulations -- Michelle Halley, Attorney, National Wildlife, Marquette

At a meeting preceding the Lake Superior Binational Forum meeting in Ashland, Wis., last March, National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Attorney and Senior Manager F. Michelle Halley presents a summary of a recent NWF report on sulfide mining. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

3:25 The Roles and Contributions of Native American Tribes in Mining Issues -- Jessica Koski, Mining Technical Assistant, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Baraga

At the Ojibwa Senior Citizens' Center in Baraga last February, Jessica Koski, Mining Technical Assistant, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, shows maps of UP mining projects in her update preceding the film Locked Out, shown as part of her Mining Impacts on Native Lands Film Series. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

3:55  How Communities and Rio Tinto Eagle are Shaping Modern Mining -- Simon Nish, Director of Communities, Communications and External Relations, and Jim French,
Director Health, Safety and Environment, Rio Tinto Eagle Project

Aerial view of the Rio Tinto Eagle Mine, with Eagle Rock, an Ojibwa sacred site, at right. (Photo © and courtesy Jeremiah Eagle Eye)

4:30 Q and A and Open Public Comment -- Facilitated by Rita Hodgins
5:30 Adjourn

The Binational Forum has also developed an extensive section about mining throughout the basin on its site. Users can access information about all aspects of mining in
Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Ontario.

The Lake Superior Binational Forum is a citizen stakeholder group of American and Canadian volunteers who work together to provide input to governments about management efforts and to educate basin residents about ways to protect and restore the lake basin's natural resources. The U.S. Coordinator's office is located at the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute on the Northland College campus, Ashland, Wisconsin, and is supported by a grant through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

For more information visit, call (715) 682-1489 or email

* Click here for audio and video recordings of the March 23, 2012, Forum in Ashland: "Mining Impacts and Lake Superior: A Basinwide Approach."

** Click here for a short video clip from Mike Ripley's presentation, "Historical Impacts of Ferrous Mining in the Lake Superior Basin," at the March 2012 meeting in Ashland, where he spoke about the stamp sand in the Keweenaw and mentioned Dr. Kerfoot's work on mercury.

Monday, September 24, 2012

UPDATED: MDEQ Director asks EPA to allow permit for CR 595

By Michele Bourdieu

LANSING -- The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asking the EPA to remove their
objections to the proposed County Road 595, a haul road for Rio Tinto that would impact wetlands and streams in a 21-mile wilderness corridor, connecting the Rio Tinto Eagle Mine on CR AAA with the Humboldt Mill near US 41.

This wetland in the proposed CR 595 corridor is one of many sensitive areas that would be impacted by the proposed wilderness road intended primarily for hauling ore from the Eagle Mine to the Humboldt Mill. (Photo © and courtesy Jessica Koski)

Dan Wyant, MDEQ Director in Lansing, states in the Sept. 17, 2012, letter, "At USEPA's August 28, 2012, public hearing in Marquette, local elected officials expressed overwhelming support for this road, which will reduce truck traffic in populated areas while improving access to a remote part of northwest Marquette County. While that support was far from unanimous at the hearing, the voice of the elected representatives of the local populace speaks to the benefits of this road."*

State Senator Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) reacts to being booed by a large number of people in the audience at the Aug. 28, 2012, EPA public hearing on CR 595 after he stated most of his constituents support the road. (Photo © and courtesy Jeremiah Eagle Eye)

"His comment, 'far from unanimous,' is the only acknowledgement Wyant makes of the many comments made by local residents, sportsmen, Native Americans and members of environmental and conservation groups who oppose the road and who made it clear during the hearing that these 'elected' representatives do not represent them on this issue," said Joanne Thomas, a UP resident who followed accounts of the hearing in various local media.

In a letter to EPA, Catherine Parker of Marquette objected to the idea that the road would benefit the public.

"This is not a project that was worked up for the public benefit, and EPA’s concerns are with the regulations," she noted. "They do not have to weigh economic factors or bow to pressure from industry."

Parker also notes MDEQ staff are hampered in their efforts to follow the rules of the Clean Water Act (CWA) by their limited budget and by political pressure from state and local officials.

"Michigan has been in trouble with this before, and is still, apparently, unable to discharge its responsibilities properly with regard to CWA regulations. Budgetary concerns, regulatory capture, and the current political climate have made it difficult to impossible for even the most conscientious staffers to achieve outcomes that are consistent with their ideals," Parker writes. "In a recent meeting between DEQ’s Dan Wyant and local environmentalists, Wyant said that DEQ intended to 'excel at customer service,' and that he was happy to announce that Michigan would be keeping its wetlands program, with another $1.5 million in funding from Governor Snyder.  It isn’t hard to read between the lines, here."

In their April 23, 2012, letter objecting to the proposed CR 595, EPA expressed their concerns for the potential impacts to wetlands and streams, the existence of better alternatives and the inadequate wetland mitigation plan.**

In his letter to EPA, Wyant continues, "As director of the MDEQ, I believe the improvements to the Road Commission's proposal since last April (he refers to the USEPA's April 23 objection letter) have brought this project to the point that Michigan will soon be in a position to issue a permit under state authorities. Any permit that MDEQ issues will be appropriately conditioned to ensure that all USEPA objections will be fully resolved."

Residents, tribal representatives note road would threaten valuable ecosystem

In their comments to EPA on this proposed wilderness road, Jim and Nancy Haun of Skanee wrote, "The 595 Highway through the mountains will disrupt the wildlife corridor and reduce wildlife numbers as well as interfere with historic wildlife trails. The disturbed wetlands and streams will impact the way of life of many animals, plants and vegetation. The CR 595 will become the backbone of a huge  mining and logging district and cannot help but change the flora, fauna and wildlife forever."

The Hauns also noted they had observed in the area of the proposed road a small stream that flows out of a marsh filled with rare Pitcher Plants.

These rare Pitcher Plants grow in a marsh in the area of the proposed CR 595, which, if built, would impact more than 24 acres of wetlands, mostly high quality forested wetlands.* (Photo © and courtesy Nancy Haun)

In their letter to EPA concerning CR 595, The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community commented on the impacts to wetlands and to plants used for medicinal purposes by
tribal members.

"The significant impacts associated with the development of this mine haul road in a relatively pristine area (along with additional foreseeable secondary development associated with it) within our 1842 Treaty territory poses a considerable threat to treaty reserved resources still used and being revitalized by tribal members for subsistence, cultural and medicinal purposes," the letter states.

"In 1993, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) published 'Plants Used by the Great Lakes Ojibwa,' which provides detailed data and information about traditional plant use and occurrence in the northern Great Lakes region, including within the proposed CR 595 corridor," the KBIC letter continues. "Many of these essential culturally significant plants occur specifically in wet areas and wetlands. Rights to access, harvest and use these resources are protected through treaty-reserved usufructuary rights within the project area. CR 595 and additional foreseeable potential developments would have significant impact on important remaining wetland plant resources and habitat. Many culturally important plants were not adequately documented by the applicant, some of which may be threatened species."

Jessica Koski, KBIC mining technical assistant, who spoke at the Aug. 28 EPA Hearing on CR 595, had this to say in reaction to MDEQ Director Wyant's recent letter to EPA: "Allowing a public entity to utilize its authority to apply for permits in the name of public interest primarily for the direct benefit of a private mining interest sets a dangerous precedent for other similar industrial projects that may affect our Community and treaty resources."

Koski said her own personal concern is whether the state agency is compromising its important environmental protection role for political decision-making.

Don Henson, a botanist who has worked in the Upper Peninsula, wrote to the EPA about his concerns that the road and the noise and vibrations from the trucks would threaten rare ecosystems containing plants that could have future medicinal purposes. It will also "increase the ability for the introduction of disease and invasive species that larger, relatively undisturbed (in many places) ecosystem segments prevent," Henson says.

This is a drawing of one of Rio Tinto's trucks that would be used to haul ore on the proposed CR 595. According to Dan Blondeau, Rio Tinto advisor, Communications and Media Relations for the Eagle Mine, "The trucks will be washed prior to leaving the mine site and the trailers will be covered. The side dump trailers reduce the rattling that comes with rear dump trailers." (Image courtesy Dan Blondeau, Rio Tinto)

"The diversity and interdependence of the organisms in these soil ecosystems is so specialized that extremely careful attempts to move them to the lab for further study has not worked for about 95 percent of the organisms in this amazing ecosystem," Henson adds. "There are all forms chrysotile present. Chrysotile is the the easiest rock mineral formation for me to identify, given that I am a less than a professional geologist but one who, as a botanist, has learned a lot about geology just to look for plants that are specific to certain substrates. In spite of this I see no reference to the contents of the disturbed soil from the Eagle Project, other than general dust size control attempts that are said to be planned, but no mention of what the dust contains. I wonder why that would be?"

In his letter to EPA, MDEQ Director Wyant concludes that the Marquette County Road Commission has made significant improvements to their January 2012 application for the MDEQ permit for CR 595.

"Those improvements include clarification and amplification of the alternatives analysis that demonstrate the proposed route is the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative to achieve the project purpose," he states. "The Road Commission's application now includes reduced impacts to streams via shorter and wider stream crossings or bridges. The road footprint has been narrowed or removed across the rare and imperiled wetlands to reduce impacts. The proposed route has been modified in several locations to avoid critical wetlands and further reduce overall impacts. Other concerns expressed in the EPA's objection letter will be addressed by conditioning of any permit the state issues. This will include a comprehensive plan for monitoring and minimizing wildlife collisions and invasive species monitoring and eradication. Finally, the mitigation plan has been significantly improved, now consisting of preservation of a large, critical tract of land adjacent to the McCormick Wilderness."

Wyant's letter is addressed to Dr. Susan Hedman, Administrator, USEPA Region 5, 77 West Jackson Boulevard (R-19J), Chicago, IL 60604-3590.

UPDATE from Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve:

The Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve (YDWP) reported this afternoon, Monday, Sept. 24, 2012, that they received a message from Melanie Haveman of EPA Region 5 Water Division's Watersheds and Wetlands branch, saying the EPA will not meet the originally stated Oct. 1, 2012, deadline for announcing the status of the CR 595 permit application.

In an email message, YDWP reported, "The EPA received a lot of comments and will spend time going through all of them before making their decision. They will come up with a timeline for the release of their decision on the permit and provide the timeline to the MDEQ. It is possible that they could approve the permit at the state level but not at the federal level. At this point the Marquette County Road Commission has submitted most if not all of their information."


* Click here for Part 1 of our article on the Aug. 28, 2012, EPA Hearing on CR 595.
Click here for Part 2 of our EPA Hearing article. Both parts of the article include video clips of the hearing.

** Click here to read the April 23, 2012, objection letter from EPA to the MDEQ. Michigan is one of two states -- the other is New Jersey -- that have the authority to issue wetlands fill permits under the Clean Water Act. EPA retains oversight authority to object to proposed projects that do not comply with federal guidelines.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Friends of Portage Library to host Summer's Bounty Social potluck Sept. 24

HOUGHTON --The Friends of the Portage Lake District Library invite everyone to bring  appetites and favorite summer dishes to share for an evening of good eating among good friends.

The Summer’s Bounty Social is from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 24. For this potluck event, people are asked to bring their favorite dish made from locally available fruits or vegetables. Foods can be fresh or frozen, sweet or savory, and hot or cold. If participants want to share their recipe, copies for all can be made at the library.

Community garden members and local producers who want to participate may set up a display with information about their project or business. Please contact Chris at the library for more details.

Door prizes featuring local food products will be given away throughout the evening. Guests will enjoy an arrangement of summertime music, and table service and beverages will be provided by the Friends of the Library.

Everyone is invited to this free event. For more information, please call the library at 482-4570 or visit