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.

Poets of the Wild U.P. – April 1, 2016 Reading

Banner-for-wordpress-poetryReadingMARQUETTE — Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP) invites the public to celebrate “Poets of the Wild U.P.” with a poetry reading featuring Milton Bates, Lynn M. Domina, Janeen Pergrin Rastall, Kathleen M. Heideman and Russell Thorburn. SWUP’s special literary event is scheduled for Friday, April 1 from 6-8 pm at the Marquette Federated Women’s Clubhouse.

“We’re lending a uniquely environmental vibe to National Poetry Month, balancing the celebration of beautiful, wild and protected places with a clear-eyed understanding of urgent environmental issues threatening the Upper Michigan. Poetry gives the wild a voice that can be heard above the din of progress. We have grown deaf to the natural world. Poetry opens our eyes and our ears to the beauty of wild places. All we have to do is stop and listen,” said Chip Truscon, SWUP board member.

“In sponsoring this reading, we’re highlighting the special connection between Yoopers and their environment, through the work of five local authors who draw inspiration from Lake Superior, U.P. environmental issues, and the natural beauty of Upper Michigan’s wild places,” said Alexandra Maxwell, SWUP’s director. SWUP’s poetry reading is free and open to the public.

The U.P.’s environment figures differently in the work of each poet: back-country trails, roadless areas, backyards, wild animals, shorelines, or winter cabin-fever. “There’s a strong spirit of place, an identification with wildness and struggle, at the heart of our stories,” said Jon Saari, emeritus professor of History at Northern Michigan University, and SWUP’s vice president.

“If you’re inspired by the wild lands of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, you’re also aware of the wounded places – tailing basins, mine pits, caving grounds, clearcuts. To some degree or another, we all struggle to remain optimistic in the face of serious environmental issues. But poetry is a fundamentally hopeful act,” said Kathleen Heideman, SWUP’s president.

“Poets of the Wild U.P.” will be the fourth literary event hosted by SWUP. Last year’s “Poets of the Wild U.P.” poetry reading attracted a standing-room-only audience. National Poetry Month, founded by the Academy of American Poets, is the world’s largest literary celebration, involving millions of readers, teachers, students, librarians and authors and celebrating the role of poetry in our lives every April.

POETS OF THE WILD U.P. – BIOS:

Milton Bates taught English literature for thirty-five years at Williams College and Marquette University. During that time he was a Guggenheim Fellow and a Fulbright lecturer in China and Spain. He has published a half-dozen books on subjects such as the poet Wallace Stevens, the literature and film of the Vietnam War, and the Bark River Valley in Wisconsin. On retirement he and his wife moved to the Upper Peninsula, which serves as the setting for many of his poems.

Lynn Domina is the author of two collections of poetry, Corporal Works and Framed in Silence, and the editor of a collection of essays, Poets on the Psalms. Her work has appeared in The Southern Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Massachusetts Review, and many other periodicals. A Michigan native, she has also lived in Alabama, Illinois, and New York. She moved to the U.P. in 2015, where she lives in Marquette with her family and serves as Head of the English Department at Northern Michigan University.

Kathleen M. Heideman received the Marquette Arts and Culture Center’s 2015 Outstanding Writer Award. She’s completed artist residencies with watersheds, forests, the National Science Foundation, and the National Park Service — including Isle Royale and Sleeping Bear Dunes. Informed by environmental concerns, her work has been recognized by the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition, the Wurlitzer Foundation, the Bush Foundation, and others. She’s a curious woman.

Janeen Pergrin Rastall lives in Gordon, MI (population 2). She is the author of In the Yellowed House (dancing girl press 2014) and co-author of Heart Radicals (ELJ Publications, 2016). Her chapbook, Objects May Appear Closer won the 2015 Celery City Chapbook Contest. She is Managing Editor at ELJ Publications when she isn’t looking out at Lake Superior waves.

Russell Thorburn served as the U.P. Poet Laureate from 2013-2015. He lives in Marquette, Michigan, with his son and wife. A manuscript consultant for poets, he takes orphan poems that don’t fit together, and arranges the pieces in a way that not only makes sense, but makes beauty. He is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Salt and Blood, an experimental noir, is forthcoming from Marick Press who also published his third book of poetry, Father, Tell Me I Have Not Aged.

POETS OF THE WILD U.P. READING

Friday April 1, 6-8 pm
Federated Women’s Clubhouse
104 West Ridge Street, Marquette, Mich. 49855
Free and open to the public

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

POETS OF THE WILD U.P. POSTERS

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Charlie Parr & John Davey Perform “For The Love Of Land!” at Ore Dock Brewing Company

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MARQUETTE – Local environmental nonprofit Save the Wild U.P.(SWUP) will host another “For the Love of Land” concert on Sunday, March 20, from 6:00- 9:00 at the Ore Dock Brewing Company. The event will feature local musician, John Davey and Minnesota-based musical legend Charlie Parr. Tickets for the event are $10 and are on sale now at the Ore Dock Brewing Company; a portion of the proceeds will benefit SWUP’s work.

This concert, combining John Davey’s “… songs about heartbreaks and towns, people, places, and things” and Charlie Parr’s “blistering finger-picking and gritty, soulful vocals” will help support Save the Wild U.P.’s grassroots efforts to fight an open-pit sulfide mine proposed for the banks of the Menominee River.

This is the first event that Davey and Parr have played for SWUP. Davey is a songwriter from West Lafayette, Indiana who has been touring since 2007, playing hundreds of shows on dozens of tours, regionally and nationally. His lyrically substantive pop folk songs reflect his time on the road, and are often ruminations on the toll that traveling takes and the high cost of relationships.

Charlie Parr has been traveling around and singing his songs ever since leaving Austin Minnesota in the 1980′s. Parr has put out 13 studio recordings and plays over 250 shows a year featuring his distinctive resonator-fueled folk songs. Parr’s newest album, Stumpjumper (Red House Records), is receiving stellar reviews for its “deep blues” approach to American roots music.

“I’m excited to have such talented musicians share their work with our supporters,” said Alexandra Maxwell, SWUP’s executive director. “These two fellas have very different styles, but it just goes to show there is an endless supply of creative inspiration in the Lake Superior region, and countless reasons to come together to protect our environment.”

Save the Wild U.P. hosts concerts, film screenings and literary events throughout the year in order to highlight the connection between artistic inspiration, northwoods culture, the U.P.’s wild places, and environmental threats.

Save the Wild U.P. will have an informational table at the concert, with volunteers and board members on hand to inform concerned citizens about the proposed sulfide mine and other environmental issues, and promote SWUP’s upcoming spring and summer events.

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

Related Links
Charlie Parr’s Official Website: http://www.charlieparr.com/
SWUP’s event page: http://bit.ly/CharlieparrODBC

“Save the Michigamme Highlands” Public Forum

MARQUETTE – Local environmental groups Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP) and the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC) will co-host “Save the Michigamme Highlands,” an informational forum concerning threats to Marquette County’s last stretch of wild lands. The forum takes place on Tuesday, March 1st in the Community Room of the Peter White Public Library, from 6pm- 8pm. The event is free and open to the public.

The primary threat to this region remains the twice-defeated County Road 595 (CR-595) proposal, which is the subject of ongoing lawsuit brought by the Marquette County Road Commission (MCRC) against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The contentious CR-595 plan would have torn open the wild heart of Marquette County, pushing a paved mining haul road disguised as a “county road project” through 22 miles of remote wild lands, fragile wetlands and critical wildlife corridors, and necessitating stream and river crossings of the Dead River, Escanaba River, Mulligan Creek, Voekler Creek and Wildcat Canyon, Yellow Dog River, and many more.

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Aerial photograph, Wildcat Canyon Creek wetlands and the proposed 595 route (2015).

Tuesday’s forum will offer an overview of the Michigamme Highlands and discuss federal objections to wetlands destruction along the CR-595 route, the lawsuit brought by the Marquette County Road Commission, the role of “dark money” in funding this lawsuit, recent road work that has taken place along the route, and other emerging threats.

“Save the Michigamme Highlands” will also feature mini-presentations addressing rare plants in the path of CR-595, basic elements of the MCRC lawsuit, the importance of interconnected “Wild Lands,” the EPA’s 2015 Clean Water Rule, the beauty of remote wetlands as seen through the eyes of artists who visited Wildcat Canyon Creek in 2015, and more. Speakers include Jon Saari, Northern Michigan University professor emeritus of history and vice president of Save the Wild U.P.; Catherine Parker, concerned citizen and environmental advocate; Gene Champagne, spokesman for the Concerned Citizens of Big Bay; Michelle Halley, local attorney; Steve Garske, botanist and SWUP board member; Kathleen Heideman, SWUP’s president; and Alexandra Maxwell, SWUP’s executive director.

SWUP Summer Fellows at the Dead River crossing (2015).

SWUP Summer Fellows at the Dead River crossing (2015).

In 2015, Save the Wild U.P. focused their outdoor summer programming on the multiple threats posed by the CR- 595 proposal, leading concerned citizens on several well-attended hikes at remote locations ranging from Pinnacle Falls to the Mulligan Creek wetlands.

“This stretch of wild land is irreplaceable. The Michigamme Highlands are ideal habitat for moose and other wide-roaming mammals, rich with creeks, rivers and wetlands, and home to the narrow-leaved gentian, a threatened native species found only in three U.P. counties,” said Maxwell.

“In addition to the enormous environmental impacts, there’s the very real issue of regulatory capture. Why is our Road Commission so dedicated to building a road-to-nowhere – for the benefit of one sulfide mine? We don’t even have enough money to fill potholes in Marquette County, much less fix our old bridges. Who is the Road Commission serving, if not taxpayers?” asked Maxwell.

In 2014, SWUP, along with regional environmental allies Yellow Dog Watershed and UPEC, alerted citizens to illegal construction along snowmobile Trail #5, which served as the only functional trail through much of this isolated region.

Marquette County Trail #5, 2014, before road widening.

Marquette County Trail #5 before road widening (2014).  

Marquette County Trail #5, 2014, after road work by Plum Creek (to "upgrade snowmobile bridge")

Marquette County Trail #5, after road work by Plum Creek “upgrade snowmobile bridge” (2014).

“The EPA’s position was clear: no CR-595 route may be constructed without permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” said Kathleen Heideman, SWUP’s president.

“Any road construction in this environmentally sensitive area must be seen as part of a network of actions related to CR-595, and the cumulative impacts must be calculated. We need to be ever-vigilant to stop creeping incrementalism – a new bridge here, a gravel mine there, and lots of wetland destruction all along the way. The CR-595 proposal remains a bad deal for taxpayers and the environment,” said Alexandra Maxwell, SWUP executive director.

“Our organizations remain outspoken opponents of the CR-595. The damage would be too great, period,” said Heideman. “The Michigamme Highlands are part of an incredible stretch of wild lands. This forum is an opportunity for folks to understand why, beyond its aesthetic value, this area needs to be protected. Places like this serve a real purpose in maintaining clean water and increasing quality of life for all Yoopers.”

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 at savethewildup.org on Facebook at facebook.com/savethewildup or on Twitter @savethewildup.

Links and Photographs

“Save the Michigamme Highlands” Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/975909212462706/

Don’t Undermine the Menominee: Forum on Aquila’s Back Forty Mine Proposal

MARQUETTE — Local environmental group Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP) is collaborating with the Menominee River Front 40 group, regional environmentalists, Menominee tribal leaders, archaeologists and mining experts to hold an informational forum on Aquila Resources’ Back Forty mine permit application. The forum will be held in the Shiras Room of the Peter White Public Library in Marquette on Wednesday, February 17th from 6pm – 8pm. The event is free and open to the public.

Aquila Resources has applied to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for a mine permit. Aquila plans to develop a large open pit sulfide mine on the Menominee River northwest of Stephenson, extracting rock, processing ore – containing lead, zinc, copper, gold and other heavy metals using flotation, cyanide and smelting – and dumping their waste on the banks of Upper Michigan’s largest watershed.

“Sulfide mines are known to pollute indefinitely. This mine doesn’t belong on the Menominee River,” said Alexandra Maxwell, SWUP’s executive director.

The forum will include a slideshow, and experts offering brief overviews of the proposed mining activities, the environmental impacts from those mining activities, the potential loss of archaeological and cultural resources of the Menominee Nation and the significant regulatory steps taken by Menominee and Lake township residents to protect their citizens from the dangers of sulfide mining.

Wednesday’s “Don’t Undermine the Menominee” forum features a panel of experts from Michigan and Wisconsin, including: Gary Besaw, Menominee Indian Tribal Chairman; Denny Caneff, the executive director of the River Alliance of Wisconsin; Ron Henriksen, who joined the Front 40 Environmental Group to oppose the open pit metallic sulfide mine along the banks of the Menominee River; Dr. David Overstreet, a professor of archaeology at the College of the Menominee Nation; Doug Cox, the environmental program coordinator for the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin; Guy M. Reiter, an environmental advocate and a member of the Menominee Conservation Commission; and Chuck Brumleve, an environmental mining specialist and geologist.

“We’re truly honored to host such a knowledgeable and passionate panel of experts. The future of the Menominee River is at stake,” said Kathleen Heideman, SWUP’s president.

The Back Forty mine permit application – over 37,500 pages, including environmental impact assessment – is currently under review by the Michigan’s DEQ. Concerned citizens, regional environmental organizations, and the Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin are also scrutinizing the permit. “The Back Forty mine application raises more red flags than I can count – critical oak savannas, sturgeon fisheries, treaty-protected natural resources, and indigenous archaeological sites will be threatened or destroyed by this mining operation,” said Maxwell.

“Almost all of the rock Aquila plans to extract will be highly reactive, so acid mine drainage is going to be a serious issue here,” said Heideman.

“The DEQ has done almost nothing to educate the public about Aquila’s mining plans. This forum is long overdue. Yoopers have been hearing big promises from this company for over a decade. Everyone needs to be aware of the threats posed by this project,” said Maxwell. “This is a great opportunity for all of us to learn what’s really at stake — Michigan’s clean water, as usual, and the health and well-being of our communities. The U.P. is tired of being a long-term sacrifice zone for short-term profits.”

The public comment deadline for the Aquila application is Tuesday, February 16th at 5pm. Concerned citizens are urged to send comments and concerns to: MDEQ Back Forty Mine Comments, Office of Oil, Gas, and Minerals, 1504 West Washington Street, Marquette, Michigan, 49855; or by email to Joe Maki: makij3@michigan.gov

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 at savethewildup.org on Facebook at facebook.com/savethewildup or on Twitter @savethewildup.

MEDIA LINKS

“Don’t Undermine the Menominee” Event Page: http://bit.ly/MQTMenomineeForum

GUEST SPEAKER BIOS + PHOTOS

Gary Besaw is the Tribal Chairman of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin.
photo: http://bit.ly/BesawImage

Chuck Brumleve is an environmental mining specialist and geologist.
photo: http://bit.ly/CBrumleveImage

Denny Caneff is the Executive Director of the River Alliance of Wisconsin.
photo: http://bit.ly/DCaneffImage

Doug Cox is the Environmental Program Director for the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin.
photo: http://bit.ly/DCoxImage

Ron Henriksen is the spokesman for the group Menominee River Front 40.
photo: http://bit.ly/RHenriksenImage

Guy M. Reiter is a traditional Menominee Indian, an environmental advocate and a member of the Menominee Conservation Commission.
photo: http://bit.ly/GReiterImage

David Overstreet is the Principal Investigator at Center for Cultural Research, and professor at the College of the Menominee Nation.
photo: http://bit.ly/DOverstreetImage

Songs and Stories of Cycling Lake Superior: Surrounding Water

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MARQUETTE — Local environmental nonprofit Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP) will host an evening of song and storytelling featuring singer-songwriter and clean water advocate Ben Weaver. The event takes place Friday, February 12th, and starts at 6pm at the Marquette Women’s Federated Clubhouse.

SWUP hosted Ben Weaver in July of 2015 as he circumnavigated Lake Superior on his bicycle, raising awareness about the environmental stewardship of Lake Superior. Weaver, a Minnesota- based musician, has toured extensively in Europe and North America, with critically acclaimed recordings and a “hillbilly Leonard Cohen” stage presence. Weaver visited communities around Lake Superior — working with local parks and environmental groups to help raise awareness and tell new stories about how we can take better care of our freshwater resources.

Weaver is returning to tell stories from his trip, sharing songs, poems and videos from all around Lake Superior. “We are happy to offer a wild alternative to the corporate-sponsored events in town,” said SWUP director, Alexandra Maxwell. “Ben is an incredible talent and we are so happy to welcome him back and hear all the inspiration he gathered. I think his project really resonates with folks —advocating for the protection of Lake Superior while getting out there and really experiencing the landscape first-hand.”

“This past July, I circled Lake Superior on a bicycle in 16 days. Along the way, I performed for audiences in small towns, on behalf of Provincial Parks, the Great Lakes Commons, Save the Wild U.P., Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, F.O.L.K., and other environmental groups, in order to raise awareness about clean water and Lake Superior,” said Weaver. “I’ve been riding bikes around the country for several years now, preferring to do my performances outdoors or in alternative spaces, using music and bikes to offer new ideas about how we can live more fulfilled, satisfying lives with healthier connections to our land and ecosystems.”

“Ben brings together so many facets of Save the Wild U.P.’s work. Insight is gained from time spent in nature, it can inform the way we interact with the world at large, and Ben will be sharing his insights with fellow concerned citizens. Ben Weaver wants us all to ‘become better ancestors’ — I love that idea,” said Kathleen Heideman, SWUP president.

The event is $10 at the door with proceeds benefitting the work of Save the Wild U.P. and Ben Weaver’s advocacy on behalf of the Great Lakes Commons. For more information on the event, check out SWUP’s facebook page: http://bit.ly/BWFBEvent

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

Related Links:

Promotional Image of Ben Weaver: http://bit.ly/BenWeaverIMG
Image of Ben on bike: http://bit.ly/BenWeaverBike
Save the Wild U.P. Event Page: http://bit.ly/BWFBEvent
Explore Ben Weaver’s Music: http://bit.ly/BWRatherBeABuffalo

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SWUP to Screen “Winona: A Copper Mining Ghost Town” by Michael Loukinen

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MARQUETTE— Grassroots environmental group Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP) will host a special screening of Michael Loukinen’s documentary Winona: A Copper Mining Ghost Town. The film will be shown on Thursday, January 7, from 6 to 8 p.m., in the Baraga Conference Room located at 129 W. Baraga Street, Marquette. Note: $5 cover for the film screening.

Michael Loukinen, who serves on Save the Wild U.P.’s Advisory Board, has also made copies of the film for sale at the screening, with proceeds to benefit Save the Wild U.P.’s work.

“You can dig out the heart of a community, but you can’t kill its spirit,” said Chip Truscon, SWUP board member.

“I really look forward to seeing our supporters at this screening of Winona,” said Alexandra Maxwell, SWUP executive director and contributing photographer to the project. “There’s a poignant human story here, but the film also acknowledges a dirty little secret – when the mining boom ends, the U.P. is always left with struggling communities and collapsed economies, in addition to a polluted environment.”

ABOUT THE FILM: Winona, Michigan, a former copper mining town 33 miles south of Houghton is fast becoming a “ghost town.” The town’s population has shrunk from an estimated 1,000+ in 1920 to perhaps 13 residents today. Noted documentary filmmaker and sociologist, Dr. Michael Loukinen has created this beautiful, fascinating and elegiac film documenting the community’s history and demise. More info: http://www.upnorthfilms.com/HOME.html

ABOUT THE FILMMAKER: Michael Loukinen is an emeritus professor of sociology at Northern Michigan University. He started by trying to teach using 35mm slide presentations. Gradually, he learned 16mm filmmaking, working with experienced filmmakers such as Tom Davenport, Debora Dickson, Kathleen Laughlin and especially Miroslav Janek (Czech Republic). Recently he has teamed up with digital cinema artist, Grant Guston. Most of his films are about the traditional cultures of the Lake Superior Region: Finnish Americans, Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) and wilderness workers (loggers, trappers, and fishers). He has also made three sociological intervention films concerning at-risk youth in alternative schools, adults with disabilities who are fighting for independent lifestyles, and the prevention of vehicular homicide. His films have won both academic and artistic awards. His films have won numerous awards and have been featured at film festivals across the country.

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

 

Environmentalists Criticize Open Pit Sulfide Mine Planned for Menominee River

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MARQUETTE – In November, Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP) learned that Aquila Resources (Aquila) submitted a mine permit application to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) for their “Back Forty Project” (“Back 40” in some sources, including MDEQ’s website). Aquila describes the proposed mine as “gold- and zinc-rich” but their investor materials list several other “metals of primary interest” including lead, copper and silver. The Back Forty, a volcanogenic massive sulfide deposit, also contains additional toxic metals, arsenic, corrosive sulfosalts, and radioactive elements including uranium. Aquila’s mine permit application has been deemed “administratively complete” by the MDEQ.

Several grassroots environmental organizations, including Save the Wild U.P. and the Front 40, with local property owners, have been deeply critical of the Back Forty proposal for years, contending that an open pit sulfide mine, with on-site processing and tailings, will pollute the adjacent Menominee River. Tribal natural resources, including archeological sites, are also threatened by any mining operation on the Menominee River, the largest watershed drainage system in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. According to the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, “our origin or creation begins at the mouth of the Menominee River.”

“With a watershed of over 4,000 square miles (4,070 square miles with 2,618 square miles located in Michigan and 1,452 square miles located in Wisconsin, according to the Environmental Protection Agency) and more than 100 tributaries, the Menominee is the U.P.’s largest river system. It supports large populations of smallmouth bass, walleye and northern pike, and provides spawning habitat for sturgeon. Nearby Shakey Lakes Savanna is one of the few intact savanna ecosystems left in the Upper Midwest, and supports rare prairie plants and abundant wildlife. Mounds, garden beds, and other remnants of an ancient Native American village are also clearly evident. Aquila Resources couldn’t have chosen a worse place for a mine,” said Steve Garske, biologist and Save the Wild U.P. board member.

“I question the wisdom of digging an open pit mine on the edge of a river,” said Alexandra Maxwell, SWUP’s executive director. “These metals are wrapped in an enormous amount of sulfides, so the risks to the U.P.’s clean water are real, unavoidable, and numerous.”

“In describing the Back Forty project, Aquila doesn’t mention the sulfides and pyrites in their rock. With a sulfide mine on a riverbank, acid mine drainage is a real threat. Aquila has no experience dealing with acid mine drainage. Back Forty would be their very first project, anywhere,” said Maxwell.

According to Ron Henriksen, spokesman for the Menominee River Front 40 environmental group, “This is not a done deal. Even though Aquila’s permit was deemed ‘administratively complete’ by the MDEQ, the company must comply with Lake Township’s ‘Mineral Extraction Ordinance’ and ‘Land Usage Approval.’ Front 40 will continue to do what is necessary to ensure that a metallic sulfide mine is not allowed to impact our rivers, lakes, groundwater and lands.”

“As a long-time Lake Township landowner and taxpayer, I am concerned that a foreign company can come in and dictate, through, what appears to be a flawed permit process, what will happen to the area,” said Marla Tuinstra of Lake Township.

In opposing this sulfide mine proposal, Save the Wild U.P. cites numerous threats to the Menominee River watershed. “Aquila’s press release never mentioned the Menominee River. That’s a very bad sign. This project would literally undermine the Menominee River – first with an open pit mine, and later with an underground mine, with milling and tailings proposed for the site as well. Furthermore, cyanide will be used in the processing, exponentially increasing the risks. I applaud all of the citizens who are fighting the Back Forty project, and defending Michigan’s clean water,” said Kathleen Heideman, SWUP president.

“We still have the opportunity to help make “Pure Michigan” a reality, rather than just a catchy slogan,” said Jim Voss, a resident of Lake Township.

OPPORTUNITIES TO GET INVOLVED

Public Notice – Concerned citizens are asked to review the proposed Mine Permit Application, now available by following directions on the MDEQ website: http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,4561,7-135-3311_18442—,00.html

Public Meeting – The MDEQ will hold a Public Meeting concerning Aquila’s Mine Permit Application. The meeting takes place on January 5, 2016, from 6 to 9 p.m. CST, at Stephenson High School, W526 Division Street in Stephenson, Michigan.

Public Forum – Save the Wild U.P. and Front 40 will host “Don’t Undermine the Menominee River!” an informational forum reviewing the Back Forty sulfide mine proposal, and what’s at stake. The forum will take place on Wednesday, February 17, 2016, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Shiras Room of the Peter White Public Library in Marquette.

UPDATE

Public Comment Deadline has been EXTENDED to February 16! – Concerned citizens and other interested persons are urged to submit written comments by mail or e-mail until 5:00 P.M. on Tuesday, February 16, 2016. Mail your comments to MDEQ Back Forty Mine Comments, Office of Oil, Gas, and Minerals, 1504 West Washington Street, Marquette, Michigan, 49855; or by email to Joe Maki: makij3@michigan.gov

NEW:  DEQ Information Session – MDEQ staff have been asked to hold an additional educational session for the public, concerning Aquila’s Back Forty Mine Permit Application. This meeting is tentatively schedule to take place on March 9th, 2016, at 7p.m. CST, at the Lake Township Hall Co. Rd. 577/G-12, Stephenson, MI 49887. For confirmation, contact Joe Maki: makij3@michigan.gov – for directions, contact Lake Township at 906-753-4385. 

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

DEQ to hold Public Meeting on “Back Forty” mine permit application

Grassroots organizations Save the Wild U.P. and the Menominee River Front 40 urge the public to attend an upcoming Public Meeting to be held by Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), regarding the Back Forty Mine proposed by Aquila Resources Inc. The proposed mine — an open-pit sulfide mine — would be located in Lake Township, Menominee County, Michigan, on the bank of the Menominee River.

According to the DEQ, “the application was submitted under the requirements of Part 632, Nonferrous Metallic Mineral Mining, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended. The MDEQ received the application on November 12, 2015, and determined it to be administratively complete on November 26, 2015. The purpose of the meeting is to provide an opportunity for interested parties to exchange information through informal discussions.”

The meeting will be held on January 5, 2016, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. CST, at Stephenson High School, W526 Division Street in Stephenson, Michigan. 

Concerned citizens and other interested persons are urged to submit written comments on Aquila’s Mine Permit Application by mail or e-mail until 5:00 P.M. Tuesday, February 2, 2016. Mail comments to DEQ Back Forty Mine Comments, Office of Oil, Gas, and Minerals, 1504 West Washington Street, Marquette, Michigan, 49855; or by email to Joe Maki:  makij3@michigan.gov

Printed copies of the proposed Back Forty mine permit application may be reviewed in person at the following locations:

MDEQ Upper Peninsula District Office
1504 West Washington Street, Marquette, MI.
Contact Tina Coluccio, 906-228-4524

MDEQ Office of Geological Survey
525 W. Allegan St., Lansing, Michigan 48933
Contact Deana Lawrence, 517-284-6823

Lake Township Hall
Co. Rd. 577/G-12, Stephenson, MI 49887
Contact 906-753-4385

Concerned citizens may also view the the proposed Back Forty mine permit application online, by following the DEQ’s detailed instructions here:
http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,4561,7-135-3311_18442—,00.html

The Menominee River’s Front 40 environmental group, founded in 2003, seeks to ensure that metallic sulfide mining operations are not allowed to adversely impact the Menominee River and surrounding lakes and streams. Save the Wild U.P., founded in 2004, is a grassroots organization dedicated to defending clean water and wild places in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula from the environmental degradations of sulfide mining.

SWUP To Host Winter Gala, Fred Rydholm Sisu Award To Be Announced

Featured

MARQUETTE— Grassroots environmental group, Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP) will hold their Winter Gala at the Steinhaus Market on Saturday, December 5th, from 6pm to 9pm. SWUP kicks off their 12th year of environmental advocacy by hosting an evening filled with locally sourced cuisine, music, keynote speaker Louis Galdieri and a Silent Auction. The Winter Gala is an opportunity for SWUP to update the community on their environmental work, while celebrating the hard work of their supporters, and members of the creative community. Tickets for the event are available at both Steinhaus locations or by calling (906) 235-9251.

During the evening filled with music, food and information, Save the Wild U.P. will announce the Fred Rydholm Sisu Award. Presenting the award will be Fred Rydholm’s son, Daniel.

The Fred Rydholm Sisu Award was previously awarded to educator and environmental activist Gail Griffith. Save the Wild U.P. established the award to recognize the dedication and perseverance of community-minded activists and environmental stewards. “We’ve created this award in honor of the late Fred Rydholm, who wholly embodied SWUP’s environmental values, as well as the yooper term sisu — perseverance, grit, resilience — a concept created by Finnish immigrants to the U.P.,” said Alexandra Maxwell, SWUP’s Executive Director.

Maxwell, who began her work with Save the Wild U.P. as a grassroots outreach coordinator, running SWUP’s Summer Fellows program, stepped into the role of Interim Director last year, and was recently named Executive Director. “I am honored to serve in this capacity, to take up a torch that so many of our community leaders have carried. Environmental issues desperately need our attention in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and I am grateful to contribute whatever I can to the community and the region that I love,” said Maxwell.

Save the Wild U.P.’s Winter Gala will feature hearty appetizers and desserts from Steinhaus Market, live music from local jazz combo Soul Pasty, a spectacular Silent Auction featuring original work by dozens of U.P. artists, artisans and small business owners, environmental solidarity and issue updates.

The evening’s keynote speaker will be Louis V. Galdieri, writer, filmmaker and co-director of the acclaimed “1913 Massacre,” a documentary film which “captures the last living witnesses of the 1913 (Italian Hall) tragedy and reconstructs Calumet’s past from individual memories, family legends and songs, tracing the legacy of the tragedy to the present day, when the town – out of work, out of money, out of luck – still struggles to come to terms with this painful episode from its past.”

Following the Winter Gala, Galidieri will present his film with a special Q & A session at the Peter White Public Library on December 7th at 7pm in the Community Room, as part of their “DocuMonday Meets the Filmmaker Series.” The event is free of charge, for more information call 226-4318.

“I really look forward to seeing our supporters at the Gala” said Kathleen Heideman, SWUP president. “Save the Wild U.P. worked hard all year, reviewing permits and mineral leases, making a federal appeal to the Environmental Protection Agency urging them to require a wastewater discharge permit for Eagle Mine that would actually protect the Salmon Trout River, engaging regulators at Public Hearings, leading well-attended hikes to remote wild places and pristine wetlands, and educating a whole new generation of environmental leaders! Critical work remains to be done, of course — but there’s much to celebrate as we enter a new year of environmental advocacy.”

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

Louis V. Galdieri and Alexandra Maxwell are available for interview. For more information or to schedule an interview call (906) 662-9987 or write info@savethewildup.org.

PUBLICITY MATERIALS

Photograph of Louis V. Galdieri: http://bit.ly/1MoWZT0

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Suggested caption: “Louis V. Galdieri will be the keynote speaker for Save the Wild U.P.’s upcoming Winter Gala on December 5th.”

Bio: Writer and filmmaker Louis V. Galdieri co-produced and co-directed 1913 Massacre, the 2012 feature-length documentary about the Italian Hall disaster and the Woody Guthrie song it inspired. He blogs regularly about the ethics of mining and the new mining around Lake Superior.

Photograph of Soul Pasty: http://bit.ly/SoulPastyImage2
Suggested caption for band photo:  “Soul Pasty will provide musical entertainment at Save the Wild U.P.’s Winter Gala at the Steinhaus Market. Left to Right, Harry South on bass, Bud Clowers on drums, Travis Swanson on guitar and Zach Ott on keys.”

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Bio and Photograph of Alexandra Maxwell, Save the Wild U.P.’s new Executive Director: http://savethewildup.org/about/board-staff/