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Saturday, June 06, 2015

Gratiot Lake Conservancy to offer nature oriented workshops this summer

Adults and children can learn to track animals like this beaver family in the Tracking Workshop with science teacher Brian Rajdl, the first of the series of nature oriented workshops to be offered by the Gratiot Lake Conservancy this summer. (Photo © and courtesy Jim Hay)

GRATIOT LAKE --  Gratiot Lake Conservancy is offering a series of nature oriented workshops in Keweenaw County this summer. All workshops are open to the public and fees vary. Preregistration is necessary and group size is limited. Detailed information and registration forms can be accessed through the links given for each workshop below. (Please note that some workshops have rain dates.) Janet Avery Scholarships are available for all workshops.

9 a.m. - 3 p.m., Saturday, July 18: Tracking Workshop with Brian Rajdl. explore the trails and shoreline of Gratiot Lake. Learn to track animals and to interpret the signs they leave behind: tracks, scats, feathers, fur, rubs, chews, lays, dens, and burrows. Adults and children (accompanied by an adult) are invited to attend. Click here for info and link to registration form.

9:30 a.m. - 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, August 1 and  2: Sketching the Landscape in Watercolor. Artist Marilynn Brandenburger is back by popular demand.

Sketching Nature in watercolor. (Photo courtesy Gratiot Lake Conservancy)

Group will meet indoors and out-of-doors at various Keweenaw locations including Eagle Harbor and Central. Click here for info and registration form.

10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Saturday, August 15: Lichen Workshop. Instructor Karena Schmidt describes lichens as complete ecosystems where the fungus has learned how to farm algae.

Lichen. (Photo © and courtesy Karena Schmidt)

Over 620 species of lichen have been identified in the Copper Country. Spend a day at the Gratiot Lake Preserve discovering what lichens can teach us. Click here for info and registration.

9 a.m. - 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, August 22 and 23, Aquatic Plant Identification Workshop with  botanist Janet Marr. Get your feet wet learning about the plants that inhabit Keweenaw inland lakes and waterways.

Aquatic plants on Little Gratiot River. (Photo © and courtesy Janet Marr)

This workshop is geared towards professionals and students in the fields of biology, botany, and environmental science and education. It will also be of interest to volunteer monitors, lake association members, and others who want to learn to identify aquatic plants and invasive species in order to protect healthy ecosystems in inland lakes. Click here for info and registration.

10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday, August 25, Damselfly and Dragonfly Workshop. Amateur odonatist Bob Marr will be leading a one day beginner’s workshop at GLC’s Bammert Farm.

Dragonfly catch. (Photo © and courtesy Bonnie Hay)

Learn to identify these "winged dragons" and "neon toothpicks." Click here for info and registration.

Questions? Please contact

Thursday, June 04, 2015

First Friday in Calumet art walk to offer art, music, poetry, more

CALUMET -- The First Friday art walk in Calumet promises some new exhibits, art receptions, music, poetry and more in the galleries on and near Fifth Street.

Paige Wiard Gallery: "Wild Things"

Art by Joyce Koskenmaki -- part of the "Wild Things" exhibit through June at the Paige Wiard Gallery in Calumet. (Photo courtesy Paige Wiard Gallery)

For the month of June the Paige Wiard Gallery, 109 Fifth Street, has encouraged the artists to walk on the wild side! For this "Wild Things" show artists have created art work that shows wild creatures, wild colors and wild movement.

Wild art by Jason Limberg -- on exhibit at the Paige Wiard Gallery. (Photo courtesy Paige Wiard Gallery)

An opening reception will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, June 5. Come in and see something wild! For more information call 906-337-5970 or email

Calumet Art Center: Music and Art

A change of landscape is in progress at the Calumet Art Center. Come wander the circular walking paths through the newly planted Heritage Rose Garden, hear the musical talents of local musician Dave Morehouse as he plays tunes on his accordion and concertina, visit the gallery displaying a beautiful collection of smoke-fired pots by clay worker extraordinaire Ed Gray and sign up for the exciting new line up of Art Class offerings.

The Calumet Art Center is at 57055 Fifth Street. Call 906-934-2228 or email for more information.

Galerie Bohème: Art by Clyde Mikkola

Art by Calumet artist Clyde Mikkola. Galerie Bohème is hosting an exhibit of Mikkola's work through June. (Photo courtesy Galerie Bohème)

On Friday evening, June 5, visit the Galerie Bohème, 423 5th Street, and check out Clyde Mikkola's outstanding images on canvas that will be festooning the walls of the small gallery on the north end of 5th street in Calumet -- two doors south of Artis books and three doors down from the Omphale Gallery and Restaurant, across the street from the yacht yard, and a couple of vacant lots uphill from the L and L bar to the place with the fish in the window. Disregard the fish, come inside for enlightenment and a plastic of Pinot Noir or punch and a cracker or two. Talk to Clyde and the Toms about the blank spot on your wall and in your collection.

"Be There or miss out on the fun and cheap wine," says Tom Rudd, Galerie Bohème host.

Hahn Hammered Copper: "Salvagion"

Stop by Hahn Hammered Copper this First Friday and check out "Salvagion" -- cool, salvaged, recycled industrial objects that will make you happy just looking at them! And always in store -- Peter and Shelly Hahn's very own hand-hammered copper jewelry and décor. They also feature beautiful vintage items.

Hahn Hammered Copper is at 203 Fifth Street in Calumet.

Cross Country Sports: Bike Nomads: Photography by Chris Guibert

Come explore the world from behind the handlebars and lens of photographer Chris Guibert. These giant 4' x 6' prints will inspire thoughts of traveling to Maui, Baja, the Florida Keys and many other places.

Photography by Chris Guibert. (Photo courtesy Cross Country Sports)

Chris Guibert worked as a mountain bike guide for over 10 years in the American West. He was the first person to guide a 75-day tour down the Continental Divide Route for Adventure Cycling. At age 30 he went back to school for photography and has been an adventure travel photographer for the last 15 years. His work has appeared in Bike, Mountain Flyer, Powder, Adventure Cyclist and Outside magazines.

Visitors are welcome to a special Open House from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, June 5, to enjoy refreshments and a chance to talk to Chris about his travels and his work. International foods and drinks will be served by the lovely Amy Oesteich. For more information call 337-4520, see or visit them on Facebook.

Café Rosetta: Katie's Creations and Poetry

Café Rosetta will again be showing handsewn creations by Katie of Katie's Sew Shop. Enjoy some of her re-purposed clothing items -- handsewn and made with leather and linens. Also, optional: Join the Community Poetry Reading at 6 p.m. before walking the Fifth Street Calumet Art District!

Copper Country Associated Artists: "Book Page Collage"

Copper Country Associated Artists (CCAA), at 205 Fifth Street, will offer a First Friday art workshop, "Book Page Collage," from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on First Friday, June 5. Anyone interested in learning the art of creating a collage using many mixed medias is welcome to attend. All supplies will be provided. You just need to bring your creativeness to explore new techniques using many types of paints, papers and embellishments.

This event will take most participants about an hour and a half to complete. It will start promptly at 6 p.m. CCAA does not offer reservations for this event. Sorry.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Photos: Lake Linden-Hubbell students learn stewardship, birding, more near Torch Lake

By Michele Bourdieu

Nick Squires, Lake Linden-Hubbell High School science teacher, explains to students how to plant Red osier plants along the shore of Torch Lake at the Lake Linden Sands, site of the Superfund stamp sand remediation. The student project, on May 15, was sponsored by the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

LAKE LINDEN -- Students from Lake Linden-Hubbell High School biology and English classes spent an afternoon of hands-on science activities, combined with a game of disc golf and poetry writing, on May 15, 2015, at the Lake Linden Sands Superfund site, where vegetation now covers stamp sand -- a waste product left by the copper industry.

The students were divided into three groups, each one having an opportunity to do all three activities: planting Red osier plants along the Torch Lake shoreline and learning the benefits of planting native plants in a disturbed area, birdwatching and setting up bird nesting boxes, and playing a game of disc golf combined with a poetry writing exercise.

Planting Red osier near Torch Lake shoreline ...

Lake Linden-Hubbell High School biology students listen as their science teacher, Nick Squires, demonstrates how to plant Red osier dogwoods in the remediated Lake Linden Sands during a Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative project on May 15, 2015. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

The planting activity is only one part of the project, according to Nick Squires, science teacher, who said both biology and chemistry students are involved in the native plant study. In the fall, students did monitoring for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which oversees the Superfund site.

"We do some of the analysis in class," Squires said.

For example, the students have measured plant biomass, plant diversity (the presence of different species), root depth, and air temperatures compared to temperatures right on the ground.

"The chemistry class gets involved by doing the soil analysis," he added.

Students, from left, Bailey Haller, Kirsten Codere and Alexa Destrampe, dig holes for planting Red osier along the shore.*

Both boys and girls used shovels to dig holes for the plants, learning they had to find a spot with fewer rocks in the soil.

"We've never planted these here before, but we did a field analysis here," said Alexa Destrampe. "We took soil samples and tested biomass and root depth in the fall."

Bailey Haller had no trouble digging his hole and planting the Red rosier bush.

"This is the third time I've done this," he said.

Bailey Haller finishes planting his Red rosier bush.

These students finished their planting with no difficulty. Pictured here are, from left, Brendan Sullivan, William Hornat, Gavin Jeffery, Bradley Moilanen and Shane Poisson.

Squires said the EPA, under the Superfund, planted other types of vegetation to cover the stamp sand. The purpose of the student project is to extend that vegetation with the native Red rosier plants to help prevent erosion along the shore and add species variety.

Red osier are planted near the shore to help prevent erosion.

Birding and more ...

The second science activity of the day was an opportunity to observe bird species in the area and set up bird nest boxes for them. Dana Richter, Copper Country Audubon Club president, was on hand to help the students.

Digging the hold for the bird box presents a challenge. It has to be 18 inches to 2 feet deep. Here Emma Sarazin tries digging with the auger. Also pictured in her group are, from left, Elijah Norman, Brendan Middleton and Madison Butkonen.

Students finish digging a hole and setting up a nest box for birds near the holding ponds of the Lake Linden sewage treatment system. At right, Dana Richter, Copper Country Audubon Club president, supervises. Richter said the boxes would probably be used by migrant tree swallows or possibly bluebirds, although there are fewer bluebirds than swallows in the area.

Pictured here with the bird nesting box they installed are, from left, Jordan Craig, Jeff Keranen and Owen Mattila. Jeff is the son of Amy Keranen, Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) Remediation and Redevelopment Division project manager for the Abandoned Mining Wastes (including PCBs) project at Torch Lake.

Owen Mattila said it was fun to learn about the native plants and the birds.

"We learned some new types of birds and we dug the bird houses for the tree swallows," Mattila said. "Putting the bird house in -- that was the most fun."

Swallows fly around or land on one of the nest boxes set up by the students. According to Dana Richter, one pair of birds will use one box for nesting.

Students look through binoculars to observe various species of birds. Some of the students had never used binoculars or done any birding previously. Binoculars are lent to the students by Joan Chadde of the Western U.P. Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education.

Birds line the fence at the Lake Linden holding ponds. Dana Richter called students' attention to an uncommon duck near the ponds -- a Northern Shoveler. They also observed a Bonaparte's Gull and some Ring-Billed Gulls.

"It's a wonderful place for birding," Richter said.

Disc golf and poetry ...

The third activity of the day was a game of disc golf. At each hole of the course, students were asked on a handout to pause and answer a question, describing in detail something they saw, heard, tasted, smelled, etc. The assignment was to put these elements together at the end of the course and create a nature poem. Heather French, Lake Linden-Hubbell English teacher, supervised the activity.

This group of students paused for a photo during their game of disc golf. Pictured, from left, are Brent Basto, Lincoln Klein, Steven Suhonen, Kirk Strietes and Billy Brinkman.

At the end of the two-hour afternoon session, Nick Squires called for volunteers from the disc golf group and others to help plant 50 more Red osiers in a nearby wetland.

Students finish the afternoon project by planting -- in record time -- 50 more Red osiers in a wetland near the shore.

"This is perfect weather for planting (cloudy with moist soil)," Squires said.

Beth Squires, Nick's wife, and their son, Rowan, now age 3, enjoyed the outing with the students. "He helped Daddy plant trees," said Beth, who has also been a science teacher.

Nick Squires said students study other areas in the Torch Lake watershed and learn about the impacts of mining waste on the environment. Eighth graders do a tour of the Traprock River watershed and monitor the dissolved oxygen, pH, dissolved copper, temperature and macro-invertebrate count.

"We've had pretty good success," he noted. "Scales Creek is the only one where we can detect the slightest bit of copper."

*Correction: We originally made an error in identifying the students in this photo and in attributing the quote that follows it. Thanks to Nick Squires for the correction.

Middle School students to hold Open House on stewardship projects at Calumet Township Park June 3

Students from Calumet's Washington Middle School work on a stewardship project at Calumet Township Park. (Photos courtesy Washington Middle School)

CALUMET -- Washington Middle School (WMS) will hold its annual Community Day Open House at Calumet Township Park from noon to 2 p.m. TODAY, Wednesday, June 3, along the shores of Lake Superior.

Each year WMS students show off their stewardship projects as presenters to parents and community partners at the township beach and School Forest areas. These place-based projects are a part of the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative (LSSI) in conjunction with community partners Calumet Township, BHK Great Explorations, Keweenaw National Historical Park, The Alliance for the Great Lakes, and Michigan American Water Company.

After a brief introduction students will lead guests around to stations that exemplify projects undertaken last fall and throughout the school year. Each student’s work will be displayed in portfolios, project posters and slide shows at the main pavilion within the park. The students’ projects were all completed at Calumet Township Park and included Adopt-a-Beach, invasive plant removal (Spotted Knapweed), native plant plantings and School Forest management studies.

Students learn to remove invasive Spotted Knapweed safely and to replace it with native plantings as part of their stewardship projects.

Students will be on hand to show guests how trash was gathered, tallied and weighed. Representative charts will be displayed showing past and present work. Students will also demonstrate proper methods of removing Spotted Knapweed safely. Special projects like the EPA grant for exemplary schools will be demonstrated as 6th graders planted nursery stock students planted from the 7th grade science lab. Students planted native lupine to areas overrun by Spotted Knapweed in sample areas to study its effects on the noxious weed. Students have been sampling treatment effects on knapweed the past couple of years. In the School Forest students will demonstrate all facets of gathering information from one of the 1/20th-acre test plots. This will include gathering tree height data and measuring the density of the forest crowns.

217 students and thirteen teachers will continue stewardship projects like these now and in the future -- teaching students a responsibility for the place in which they play, work and live. The Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative is a part of the statewide Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative.

Click here to learn more about the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative and other local LSSI projects.