Guided Hike to Pinnacle Falls with Save the Wild U.P.

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MARQUETTE — Grassroots environmental group Save the Wild U.P.  will host a Guided Hike to Pinnacle Falls this Thursday, June 23rd. Attendees will enjoy a beautiful hike on the Yellow Dog River, truly one of the wild gems of Marquette County. SWUP guides will share stories of ecology, geology and local history.

Save the Wild U.P.’s guided outdoor summer programs are perfect for nature-lovers, hikers, artists and budding environmental activists.

“This is the third year in a row we are holding this hike, because people love it so much. Finding the falls on your own can be kind of tricky!” said Alexandra Maxwell, SWUP’s director. “We’re highlighting the intrinsic value of wild and scenic places, especially clean rivers and undisturbed wetlands – and providing a grassroots update on the environmental threats posed by active sulfide mining and mineral exploration, just upstream.”

There is a $10 fee per person for this waterfall hike, with proceeds supporting Save the Wild U.P.’s grassroots work to oppose sulfide mining. Participants should meet-up at the Big Bay Outfitters (308 Bensinger St., Big Bay MI 49808) and expect to hit the road by 12:30. Please arrive early. Participants should pack a bag lunch for a picnic at the falls, water, bring bug dope or netting, sturdy hiking shoes, a walking stick if needed, and a camera. SAVE YOUR SPOT: rsvp@savethwildup.org, or call (906) 662-9987 for more information.

Founded in 2004, Save the Wild U.P. is a grassroots environmental organization dedicated to defending wild places and clean water of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula from the dangers of sulfide mining. For more information contact info@savethewildup.org or call (906) 662-9987. Get involved with SWUP’s work at savethewildup.org or follow SWUP on Facebook at facebook.com/savethewildup or Twitter @savethewildup.

LEARN MORE

Pinnacle Falls Hike

 Pinnacle Falls: https://flic.kr/p/6VAkb1

Suggested caption:  “Save the Wild U.P. is offering a guided hike to Pinnacle Falls, one of the U.P.’s must-see waterfalls. Pinnacle Falls is located in a gorge of the wild Yellow Dog River, on land preserved by the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.”

For more info on the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, see: http://www.yellowdogwatershed.org/blog/

 

Environmentalists Applaud Dismissal of 595 Lawsuit

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MARQUETTE – Grassroots environmental groups including Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP), Concerned Citizens of Big Bay (CCBB), the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve (YDWP), and other environmental groups are hailing the decision of Federal Judge Robert Holmes Bell, who recently dismissed the Marquette County Road Commission (MCRC) lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In his dismissal, Judge Bell stated that the MCRC “doesn’t have a viable claim against the EPA.”

From the beginning environmentalists have contended that what the Road Commission wanted to build was an industrial road — a mining haul road — but serious threats to wetlands and watersheds proved insurmountable. The proposed road would have cut across 22 rivers and streams, including the Dead River and Yellow Dog River Watersheds, the Mulligan Creek headwaters, Voelker Creek, and Wildcat Canyon. It would also have damaged or destroyed numerous wetlands.

“This decision wholly validates what U.P. environmental groups have expressed all along” said Alexandra Maxwell, SWUP’s executive director. “We applaud Judge Bell for this decision, and we hope this settles the matter.”

“The EPA’s objections to the construction of this road were valid and protective of one of the world’s largest sources of freshwater,” said Maxwell.

“The 595 issue demonstrates the reason we need clear siting requirements, because there are places where Thou Shalt Not,” said Chauncey Moran, Chairman of the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve Board of Directors.

“Let’s hope Judge Bell’s dismissal stands. Big highways are destructive swathes to natural habitats and wildlife. Woods roads are good enough in the UP backcountry,” said Jon Saari

“It was a no-brainer. How much energy has the MCRC wasted on this fraudulent permit application?” asks Gene Champagne, spokesperson for Concerned Citizens of Big Bay. “Moving forward, the MCRC needs to ‘Quit Whining, Drop the Lawsuit, and Fix Our Roads.’”

“It should be clear to everyone now – the Rio Tinto “Woodland Road” proposal and MCRC’s subsequent CR-595 proposal didn’t meet even the minimum requirements under the Clean Water Act. Their efforts to subvert our laws didn’t work,” said Jeffery Loman, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community tribal member and former federal oil regulator.

According to concerned citizen Catherine Parker, “MCRC doesn’t have a case. Period. The evidence is right there in the files I received through Freedom of Information Act requests.”

“The facts never supported the Road Commission’s claims. Judge Bell made the right decision,” said Kathleen Heideman, SWUP president.

Founded in 2004, Save the Wild U.P. is a grassroots environmental organization dedicated to defending wild places and clean water of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula from the dangers of sulfide mining. For more information contact info@savethewildup.org or call (906) 662-9987. Get involved with SWUP’s work at savethewildup.org or follow SWUP on Facebook at facebook.com/savethewildup or Twitter @savethewildup.

SWUP Submits Public Comment on Mineral Leases in Ottawa National Forest

IMG_9298_geo IMG_9297_geoEnvironmentalists Object to Mineral Leases in Ottawa National Forest

MARQUETTE — Grassroots environmental organization Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP) has submitted public comment objecting to mineral lease “nominations” of over 2,640 acres of public lands in the Ottawa National Forest lands to Trans Superior Resources (TSR). TSR is a mineral exploration company, which has sought uranium and metallic minerals (ie: sulfide-type orebodies containing copper, nickel, platinum, palladium and other nonferrous metals) in the Upper Peninsula since 2008. The targeted parcels span three U.P. counties: Iron, Houghton and Ontonagon.

Save the Wild U.P. has maintained their opposition to indiscriminate mineral leasing of public lands throughout the Upper Peninsula, focusing on the need for preservation and conservation of delicate watershed habitats.

“Michigan regulators obviously believe that mining exploration is always the most desirable land use — in every situation, no matter how it undermines or jeopardizes our public land, water, forestry, wildlife and fisheries!” said Gail Griffith, emeritus professor of Chemistry at Northern Michigan University and SWUP board member.

In the parcels where TSR has requested mineral leases, SWUP has documented that “…nearly the entire area is laced with headwater wetlands, seeps, embedded sedge meadows, swamp forest, and ephemeral and permanent streams. The general flow of water is into the North Branch of the Paint River, a designated National Wild and Scenic River. The river flows east and south to the Menominee River, which eventually reaches Lake Michigan. These parcels obviously contain highly sensitive hydrological features, and mineral exploration within them could negatively impact multiple rivers including Trout Creek, the Jumbo River, Dead Man Creek and the Paint River.”

SWUP board and advisory board members, Steve Garske and Rich Sloat walked many of the parcels on foot, in order to fully appreciate the hydrological and ecological features of the region. Sloat and Garske observed raptors and the goshawk, a state-recognized, “species of concern”. The presence of unique hydrological features and species of concern will only result in development restrictions in certain parcels, not a full-out ban on development or exploration, as SWUP director, Alexandra Maxwell demands there should be, “Save the Wild U.P. asks the Department of Natural Resources to unequivocally deny these lease requests and to instead, thoughtfully and carefully manage these National Forest lands with conservation as the agency’s primary goal.”

Leasing National Forest lands for mineral exploration presents other obstacles for TSR, especially lands within the Ottawa National Forest, which was created by the Weeks Act. The Weeks Act contains specific, protective language for headwaters of navigable streams and restrictive language regarding development.

“It’s outrageous but true: Part 632 doesn’t restrict one square inch of Upper Michigan from sulfide mining and mineral exploration — including your backyard garden, the headwaters of rivers, or the park where your children play,” says Jeffery Loman, former federal oil regulator and Keweenaw Bay Tribal member.

“Michigan’s rampant, indiscriminate mineral leasing of Public Lands poses a direct threat to the public trust, public access to land, clean water, and treaty-protected natural resources. Specifically, the lands targeted by these mineral lease requests include sensitive wetlands and fragile streams. Wetlands are not compatible with sulfide mining, and mineral exploration activities such as drilling in wetlands should be severely prohibited under the 2016 Clean Water Rule.” said Kathleen Heideman, SWUP president.

Founded in 2004, Save the Wild U.P. is a grassroots environmental organization dedicated to preserving the Upper Peninsula of Michigan’s unique cultural and environmental resources. For more information contact info@savethewildup.org or call (906) 662-9987. Get involved with SWUP’s work on Facebook at facebook.com/savethewildup or on Twitter @savethewildup.

Read SWUP’s full public comment here: http://bit.ly/PubComOttawa

United Tribes of Michigan Pass Anti-Back Forty Resolution

On May 5th, 2016, The United Tribes of Michigan (UTM), which consists of 12 federally recognized tribes in the state, passed a resolution pledging unified tribal opposition to the Aquila Resources Back-Forty mining proposal. If approved by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) the mining permit would allow an open-pit sulfide mine on the banks the Upper Michigan’s largest watershed, The Menominee River. The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, whose ancestral home is the mouth of the river also contends the mine would destroy significant cultural resources in the Sixty Islands region of the river. Archaeologists have documented and published works on the presence of ancient garden mounds and burial mounds.

The UTM are in steadfast opposition to this mining project and will continue to support the efforts of the Menominee.

Download Full UTM and Menominee Tribe Resolutions:http://bit.ly/UTMMenoResolution

Action Alert – citizens oppose Aquila Back Forty sulfide mine!

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Citizen opposition to the Aquila Back Forty project is growing – ADD YOUR VOICE!

Please take a moment to let Michigan’s elected officials know that you oppose the Back Forty open pit sulfide mine, proposed for the bank of the Menominee River. First, click to READ THE LETTER OF OPPOSITION. Feel free to add your own specific concerns to the letter. When you’re ready, click SIGN AND SEND NOW – it’s that simple!

Your letter will be sent to Representative Ed McBroom, Representative John Kivela, Representative Scott Dianda, Senator Tom Casperson, Governor Rick Snyder, Senator Debbie Stabenow, and Congressman Dan Benishek. It will also be sent to Director Bill Moritz (Michigan DNR), Director Keith Creagh (Michigan DEQ), and Joe Maki (DEQ). Additional info is available on the DEQ’s website: http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,4561,7-135-3311_18442—,00.html

Letter to elected officials, opposing Aquila Back Forty mine application

Dear elected officials and environmental regulators of Michigan,

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134 signatures

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Latest Signatures
134Matthew CampbellWI
133Elaine BaribeauMi
132Tara RichelMI
131Joseph CorteseILLINOIS
130Barry CoddensMI
129Greg SchickWI
128James WeltzienIllinois
127Myron BezdicekMI
126Mark LoVerdeIL
125Elias AnoszkoMN
124Roger ClausenWI
123Michael RenishWisconsin
122Chris Van ererWisconsin
121Laura MacFarland Wisconsin
120Michael KuhrWisconsin
119Forrest GrulkeWisconsin
118John StelzerWisconsin
117Robert ZimmermanWISCONSIN (WI)
116David HigleyMI
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103justin DJUPSTROMMichigan
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101rich mcelligottIllinois
100Dave PinczkowskiWisconsin
99john patersonIL
98Robert HarrisonWI
97Jon SaariMichigan
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95Gregory ProsenIllinois
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90Lanning HochhauserIllinois
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88Lyn DickinsonIllinois
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83HERBERT SCHLATTERILLINOIS
82John BlohmWisconsin
81James BorstMI
80Nancy NyquistMichigan
79Michael BlohmMI 49893
78Iarflaith O'MalleyMichigan
77Barbara PrattMichigan
76thomas wienschWisconsin
75Denise VictorWisconsin
74Jen GallagherFl
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7Nathan FrischkornMI
6Janeen RastallMichigan
5Monica MurzanskiMichigan
4Paticia DunstanMichigan
3Alexandra MaxwellMichigan
2Lauren YellenMi
1Kathleen HeidemanMI

Concerned Citizen Questions DEQ on Aquila Back Forty Project

Mining Question: Who is in charge of permitting, and then monitoring a mine within only a few feet of the Menominee River that will create massive amounts of toxic waste? That will, over its lifespan use 360,000 lbs. of cyanide? That will dump wastewater into the Menominee River? In an aquifer that provides water for Marinette and Menominee Counties?

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is in charge.
The same people that:

  • “…repeatedly gave assurances that water from the Flint River was safe, when in reality it had dangerous levels of lead.” -Governor Rick Snyder
  • “A state investigation has “uncovered systemic failures at the Michigan DEQ, “The fact is, bureaucrats created a culture that valued technical compliance over common sense – and the result was that lead was leaching into residents’ water.” – Governor Rick Snyder
  • Governor Rick Snyder states: “the Federal EPA also made mistakes. Top officials silenced an EPA water expert who tried to raise alarms about Flint’s water.”
  • Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the oversight panel investigating the Flint water issue states, “…officials need to understand how the system failed the residents of Flint so badly.”

Michigan’s Governor, Rick Snyder states the DEQ operates under a system where “Bureaucrats created a culture that valued technical compliance over common sense.” Isn’t that happening here in the U.P.? Common sense dictates that you don’t permit mining of an acid generating ore, which will liberate heavy metals, create pollution and is within feet of the Menominee River and in the aquifer that provides water for Marinette and Menominee Counties. Shouldn’t the DEQ take what the governor said, and add a common sense factor to what they openly admit doesn’t exist as part of the permitting process today?

Rep. Jason Chaffetz states: “Officials need to understand how the system failed the residents so badly.” Common sense says; any EXTREMELY HIGH RISK project where the DEQ is involved should be put on hold until common sense is made a criteria rather than: “did they just fill in all the blanks on a permit application – even with garbage information just to have the blank filled in?” The DEQ says when they declare a permit application to be “administratively complete” the DEQ doesn’t decide if the information is true or even valid; just that all the blanks are filled in.

Signed,
Tom Boerner, concerned citizen

Save the Menominee River Speaking Tour

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In upcoming weeks, Save the Wild U.P. will participate in Save the Menominee River Speaking Tour, a series of informational forums organized to educate the public regarding Aquila Resources’ Back Forty project, a risky open pit sulfide mine proposed for the bank of the Menominee River (near Stephenson, MI). Grassroots opposition to Aquila’s proposed metallic sulfide mine brought together a coalition of concerned local citizens, the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, and other environmental groups in both Michigan and Wisconsin.

Save the Menominee River forums are designed to educate the public about the cultural, environmental and economic impacts of the proposed mine. “This mine is not a done deal, “ said Ron Henriksen, spokesperson for the Menominee River Front 40 environmental group. The Michigan DEQ is currently reviewing Aquila’s mining permit application.

Speakers from a broad coalition of groups, including the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, Save the Wild U.P., the River Alliance of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council, the Menominee River Front 40Cedar Tree Institute, Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, sport-fishing groups, and others will present information about mining impacts from diverse perspectives.

The public will have an opportunity to ask questions and express their concerns about the Aquila’s proposed open pit mine, which includes milling operations, with cyanide processing of ore and the storage of waste rock and tailings, and an 800 foot deep pit, only 100 feet from the Menominee River. All forums are free and open to the public.

“Aquila Resources has presented a very rosy picture of how great this mine will be for the local community, but it is not necessarily an accurate and complete picture, “ said Guy Reiter, a member of the Menominee Conservation Commission and a tribal member. “This speaking tour will raise questions and concerns that have not been part of the public conversation about this project to date. This conversation needs to happen before any decisions are made about permitting this mine,” said Reiter.

Save the Menominee River Speaking Tour will take place on the following dates, in the following venues:

  • Monday May 9th, at 6:30 pm CDT
    University of Wisconsin-Marinette, 750 West Bay Shore St.
    Marinette, Wisconsin
  • Tuesday May 17th, at 6:30 pm CDT
    Menominee VFW Hall, 3937 10th St.
    Menominee, Michigan
  • Wednesday May 25th, at 10 am CDT
    MSU Extension Annex (S904 Hwy 41 (“the Stephenson Annex”)
    Stephenson, Michigan

An additional informational forum, featuring speakers Al Gedicks of the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council, and Guy Reiter discussing the recent Menominee River Water Walk, and the Menominee Tribe’s opposition to the Back Forty Mine, has been scheduled for Saturday May 21, from 12:30 pm to 5 pm, at the McMillan Memorial Library, 490 E. Grand Avenue in Wisconsin Rapids, WI. The forum begins with a potluck. For more information, contact Barb at 262-408-7958.

FOLK tells DEQ to “stop dragging its feet” on air pollution in L’Anse

UPDATE: EPA TO HOLD “PUBLIC INFORMATION SESSION” IN L’ANSE
May 9th, 2016, 6:30-8:30pm
L’Anse High School Cafetorium

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will host a May 9 informational session to discuss the status of its air quality investigation at the L’Anse Warden Electric Company, L’Anse, Mich. EPA’s session will take place Monday, May 9, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., at L’Anse Area Schools, 201 N. 4th St. EPA will be joined by representatives from the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Residents of L’Anse have reported odors and dust coming from the power plant. Under a state permit, L’Anse Warden Electric Company is allowed to burn tires and railroad ties treated with creosote and pentachlorophenol. EPA is working closely with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to investigate residents’ concerns, address potential health risks and determine compliance with environmental regulations.”

More information on the EPA’s Clean Air Act Investigation at L’Anse Warden Power Plant:
https://www.epa.gov/mi/lanse-warden-power-plant

————————–
PRESS RELEASE via Friends of the Land Keweenaw (FOLK)
April 25, 2016

For more info, contact Catherine Andrews, FOLK: 906 ­524­-6863 or 906­ 231­-2063

Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK) asserts that the Traxys owned L’Anse Warden Electric Company (LWEC), located on the shore of Lake Superior in the Village of L’Anse, is not a biomass facility as classified by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). It is clearly a Commercial and Industrial Solid Waste Incinerator. The facility burns a non­-homogeneous mix of wood chips, wood processing waste, chemically treated railroad ties, tire chips and natural gas.

“We are demanding that the DEQ stop dragging its feet and respond to comments we and others submitted on September 9, 2015 as part of a public comment period on LWEC’s 2015 Renewable Operating Permit.”

A public meeting scheduled for October 29, 2015 was postponed indefinitely when LWEC reported a stack test failure to DEQ. The stack test revealed a hydrogen chloride level of 5.19 pounds per hour, more than double the 2.17 pounds per hour limit.

Citizen complaints regarding massive fugitive dust releases were finally addressed when the EPA ordered DEQ to collect its own samples 5 months after videos and samples of the dust releases were sent to DEQ. The test results proved elevated levels of pentachlorophenol, metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. A separate snow sample taken at the BHK Child Development Center was chemically analyzed and found to contain tire particulates.

The fuel yard contains thousands of chemically treated railroad ties and non­permitted utility poles lying on bare ground. Tons of tire chips are left uncovered in a pile near the boiler.

A February 3, 2016 compliance meeting between DEQ and LWEC in Lansing is still being “negotiated” after citizens were told that there would be an agreement within a week. LWEC has been operating with at least two major unresolved violations and without an operating permit since December 30, 2015. LWEC continues to blanket the community and the Lake Superior Watershed with toxic pollution.

Many residents would like to see the facility converted back to natural gas which is a much cleaner burning fuel. However, Traxys CEO Steve Walsh, says that is not an option as he is locked into a 20 year contract with Detroit Edison to provide electricity for DTE’s renewable energy mandate. Hasn’t that contract already been broken by the many egregious violations and misdeeds at LWEC?

Contact these individuals with your concerns and complaints:
Molly Smith, EPA Region V: 312­353­8773
Ed Lancaster, DEQ: 906­250­5124
Steve Walsh, Traxys, LWEC CEO: 917­572­1956

Local media coverage of this developing story:
FOLK Holds Protest on Biomass Plant (Mining Journal story)
Citizens air concerns regarding L’Anse biomass facility (UpperMichiganSource.com)
Friends of the Land of Keweenaw meet with DEQ… (UPMatters.com)
Environmentalists say DEQ isn’t doing enough (ABC10.com)

 

Cleaning Up After Sulfide Mining for Earth Day

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MARQUETTE—In recognition of Earth Day 2016, volunteers from Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP) will collect litter along the Triple A in northern Marquette County.

“Until last year, there was no pavement on the Triple A,” said Kathleen Heideman, SWUP president. “Now it’s a paved haul road leading to the gate of Eagle Mine, with giant ditches, and those ditches are accumulating litter.”

According to Gaylord Nelson, the Wisconsin politician who organized the first Earth Day in 1970, “The American people finally had a forum to express their concern about what was happening to the land, rivers, lakes, and air – and they did so with spectacular exuberance.” Earth Day became recognized worldwide in 1990.

Save the Wild U.P. works to defend the U.P. from the environmental threats posed by sulfide mining. “Generally, we raise awareness about sulfide mining’s most serious dangers, like acid mine drainage require perpetual care, surface water contamination, subsidence risk, air pollution, and so forth,” said Heideman. “But sulfide mining has definitely brought litter, too – roadside litter from increased vehicle use by mining employees and contractors, trash left behind at remote mineral exploration sites, and trash blown from the mine site.”

“Littering is part of the ‘mining camp’ vibe, unfortunately.” said Alexandra Maxwell, Save the Wild U.P.’s executive director. “Following surface and seismic mineral exploration, Lundin Mining’s contractors leave PVC pipes abandoned in forests, ravines, and swamps, and plastic ribbons fluttering from trees. Trash blows out of trucks, or gets tossed out a vehicle window. Litter inspires more litter,” said Maxwell. “Obviously, we’d like to see the mining industry take full responsibility for their environmental impacts, but that hasn’t happened yet.”

“It’s still thawing on the Yellow Dog Plains, but the forecast for Saturday looks terrific!” said Heideman

Participants should meet Save the Wild U.P. leaders at the Big Bay Outfitters at 12:30pm on Saturday. The carpool caravan will be leaving promptly at 1pm.  Folks planning to attend should wear bright colors, closed-toe shoes or boots, and should bring gloves. Snacks will be provided at the end of the day, but participants are encouraged to bring water and any other essentials they may need. For more information please send an email to info@savethewildup.org or call 906-662-9987.

Founded in 2004, Save the Wild U.P. is a grassroots environmental organization dedicated to defending wild places and clean water of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula from the dangers of sulfide mining. For more information contact info@savethewildup.org or call (906) 662-9987. Get involved with SWUP’s work at savethewildup.org or follow SWUP on Facebook at facebook.com/savethewildup or Twitter @savethewildup.