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


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.


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


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.”


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


Tell the DNR: Don’t Undermine Superior Heartland


320 Acre Mineral Lease Would Undermine Environment, Historic Site

MARQUETTE – According to grassroots environmental organization Save the Wild U.P., a new mineral lease request on the Yellow Dog Plains stands to threaten both the environment and a local historical site. North American Nickel, Inc. of Canada is seeking a mineral lease from the State of Michigan for 320 acres of public land (SW1/4; N1/2 SE1/4; W1/2 NW1/4, Section 35, T51N, R29W, Michigamme Township, Marquette County). The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) published the announcement of North American Nickel’s mineral lease application on September 11th, 2015, commencing a 30-day public comment period. North American Nickel has no experience operating in the United States.  They currently have mining projects in Sudbury, Canada and in Greenland.

The targeted land lies north of Triple A road, northwest of the Eagle Mine. Ecologically, the land supports jack pine forest habitat critical to the endangered Kirtland’s Warbler. The DNR lease review acknowledges the possible presence of endangered species, and notes the presence of a site of “archaeological significance.”

Historically, the land is connected with the Nels Andersen (sometimes spelled Anderson) family homestead, home to early Danish immigrants who settled on the Yellow Dog Plains in 1902. Prior to the 1900’s, the plains were frequented via a trail between L’Anse and Big Bay, used for hunting and berry-picking, with a strong pre-European Indigenous presence. These oral histories and other stories related to the Andersen site were recorded by the late historian and storyteller, C. Fred Rydholm, in Superior Heartland: A Backwoods History.

According to the DNR’s Management Plan for the Yellow Dog Plains, this area “provides multiple benefits including forest products, dispersed recreational activities, and provides habitat for a variety of fish and wildlife species” and the DNR’s stated management priority in this area “is to continue to provide these multiple benefits while minimizing user conflicts.” The DNR’s stated priority for this land is NOT mineral exploration.

“Why does the State bother writing these land management plans?” asks Gail Griffith, emeritus professor of Chemistry at Northern Michigan University and SWUP board member. “Michigan regulators obviously believe that mineral 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.”

In their Management Plan, the DNR states that “almost all state lands are leased and extensive exploration has been conducted” but further notes “there is insufficient data to determine the glacial drift thickness” on the Yellow Dog Plains.

Northwest end of Yellow Dog Plains, site of a 320 acre mineral lease request by North American Nickel, Inc. of Canada.  Source: Google Earth map.

Northwest end of Yellow Dog Plains, site of a 320 acre mineral lease request by North American Nickel, Inc. of Canada. Source: Google Earth map.

“Unfortunately, these ‘insufficiently-understood’ glacial sands contain a pristine aquifer — groundwater water unpolluted by any industry, until it flows east toward Eagle Mine,” said SWUP board member and botanist Steve Garske. “Groundwater from the Yellow Dog Plains aquifer feeds headwaters of several rivers and coldwater trout streams, and supports unique spring-fed ponds such as Andersen Lake, which provide key habitat for mammals, migratory birds, reptiles and amphibians, insects and native plants, including threatened species.”

“Once again, we’re asked to trust that the Department of Natural Resources will act as a responsible environmental steward, and that our clean water and natural resources are in good hands,” says Kathleen Heideman, SWUP’s president. “The public is not consulted when exploratory drilling and seismic blasting surveys are done, and regulators are not out in the field, keeping an eye on day-to-day exploration work. Mineral exploration is not a democratic process – there’s no accountability, and no transparency. The public wants an open and responsible process. Why won’t the DNR listen?”

In 2014, Eagle Mine made a similar request, seeking mineral rights to a parcel of public land along the Yellow Dog River. Working collectively, Save the Wild U.P., Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve and the Michigan League of Conservation Voters called on the State of Michigan to hold a Public Hearing on the proposed lease. The groups asked the DNR to deny the mineral lease request, stating that “metallic mineral lease of this land would serve only the short-term goals of industry (…) once again, the State of Michigan seems wholly incapable of serving the public trust.” In response, the DNR simply sent out form letters, and approved the lease without notifying any of the organizations or individuals who had requested a hearing.

“It’s outrageous but true: Part 632 doesn’t restrict one square inch of Upper Michigan from sulfide mining and mineral exploration — the one mine permitted under Part 632 is a failure — continuing to lease state lands to international mining companies serves no proper purpose. We are peaceful and respectful people but we are no longer victims. We aren’t afraid of anything. I’m asking the State of Michigan to extend some respect for our treaty rights — deny this leading request,” writes Jeffery Loman, former federal oil regulator and Keweenaw Bay Indian Community tribal member.

In 2006, the Superior Watershed Partnership (SWP) recommended to “prohibit sulfide-based mining” on the Yellow Dog Plains, and they continue to stand by that recommendation. “The potential impacts to groundwater, surface water and Lake Superior are simply too great,” says Carl Lindquist, SWP’s executive director.

“It’s no surprise that another Canadian mining company is seeking to lease minerals,” says attorney Michelle Halley. “Save the Wild U.P., the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, and others have known that Eagle Mine was just the beginning of a regional mining development strategy. In the long term, the public will pay a high price for mining projects performed without adequate permitting, monitoring and enforcement.”

 “The Upper Peninsula is under attack, due to poorly-unregulated incremental industrial expansion. It’s a feeding-frenzy. Mineral leasing decisions are being made behind closed doors, regardless of their environmental or cultural impacts, and the comments of concerned citizens are ignored,” says Alexandra Maxwell, SWUP’s executive director. “The public perceives that the DNR is acting as a land broker for industry, and approval of this lease will only reinforce that perception. We urge the public to join us in asking the DNR to DENY this mineral lease request from North American Nickel.” 

Public comment is due by October 12th. Comments can be submitted by email to Karen Maidlow, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, at maidlowk@michigan.gov, or mailed directly to Karen Maidlow, Property Analyst, Minerals Management, DNR, P.O. Box 30452, Lansing, MI 48909.


To raise awareness about the land threatened by this mineral lease request, Save the Wild U.P. will lead a hike to the site on Saturday, October 24th. Participants will visit Andersen homestead ruins and Andersen Lake, and hear a social history of the Yellow Dog Plains as recollected in the stories of Superior Heartland: A Backwoods History, by C. Fred Rydholm. Those interested in joining the hike can learn the details on SWUP’s facebook page, or by contacting rsvp@savethewildup.org. Our meet-up site will be Big Bay Outfitters at 12 pm. Tickets for this special hike are $10; all proceeds benefit Save the Wild U.P.’s work.


Download event information: http://bit.ly/1WO2GNv

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.

Editors: the following map is available for use with this press release —

“Mineral Lease Request – Andersen Homestead”
(Google Map, interactive)

“Mineral Lease Request – Andersen Homestead”
(Google Earth map, static)

North American Nickel, Inc, is seeking a new mineral lease for 320 acres of Public Land on the Yellow Dog Plains. Grassroots environmental group Save the Wild U.P. is urging the Michigan DNR to reject the mineral lease application, stating that it threatens to undermine critical habitat for the Kirtland’s Warbler, and a site of historical significance. The history of the area was well-documented by local historian C. Fred Rydholm, in Superior Heartland: A Backwoods History. The land is part of the Escanaba River State Forest and the Cedar Creek watershed.


Native Plants and Creeping Industrialization — What’s at Stake?


Threatened! Native Plant Hike Offered in the Michigamme Highlands

MARQUETTE —Grassroots environmental group Save the Wild U.P. invites concerned citizens and native plant enthusiasts to join them for a rare on-the-ground event on Saturday August 1, in the unpaved heart of Marquette County. Participants will learn about threatened and endangered native plants, and their reliance upon clean water and wild places.

Native plants and creeping industrialization — what’s at stake? Search for the answers, and plants, on this unique botanical hike in the Michigamme Highlands, led by botanist Steve Garske, along with Kathleen Heideman, SWUP president, and Alexandra Maxwell, SWUP’s interim director.

Hikers will explore two remote sites threatened by the route of the twice-defeated but still controversial County Road 595: public land located near the Yellow Dog River floodplain, and wetlands of the Mulligan Creek, deep in the Michigamme Highlands.

“We’ll visit two key sites along the proposed mining haul road, traversing an amazing variety of natural habitats, from open rock outcrops and northern hardwood forest to upland white pine and cedar. We’ll see a stand of old-growth hemlock, red oak and white pine, jack pine plains identified as Kirtland’s warbler habitat, and riparian wetlands. This area is the heart of Michigan’s moose range,” says Garske. “Along with great views and surprising botanical diversity, we’ll get a taste of what the timber and mining industries are planning for this still-isolated and wild area.”


Mulligan Creek, deep in the unpaved Michigamme Highlands.

At the Yellow Dog River site, the State recently leased the mineral rights to Eagle Mine. “Mining-related activity on this land poses a direct threat to the Yellow Dog River: land disturbance, groundwater impairment, surface water pollution, you name it. Given the river’s proximity, this land is absolutely too sensitive to allow mining development,” says Cynthia Pryor, watershed resident and dedicated environmental watchdog.

Both the Yellow Dog River site and the Mulligan Creek site would be directly impacted by the controversial 595 road project, which threatens to rip open the wild heart of Marquette County, pushing another paved ‘’county road project’ through 22 miles of remote wild lands, stream and river crossings, wetlands, wildlife corridors, etc. The Marquette County Road Commission’s lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was filed July 10th, 2015, based on the EPA’s decision to protect Marquette County’s vital watersheds and wetlands from destruction.

According to Heideman, “A majority of local residents have never visited this area, and may not appreciate the beauty of Marquette County’s interior. We need to share the beauty of our wildest places and fragile wetlands, frequented by moose and eagles and wolves — and threatened by incremental industrialism, resource extraction and reckless development. We invite folks to experience these ecosystems first-hand, and learn what could be lost if the CR-595 highway was ever allowed to go through,” says Heideman.

This unique event is jointly sponsored by Save the Wild U.P, Northwoods Native Plant Society and the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve. The meetup site is Big Bay Outfitters, located at 308 Bensinger in Big Bay. Participants are urged to arrive early to carpool and consolidate vehicles; the group will leave Big Bay promptly at 12:30pm.

Note: the botanical hike will require some bushwhacking. Wear footwear suitable for wetlands, or pack extra socks and shoes. Pack plenty of water, bug dope, a bag lunch and snacks, and dress appropriately for a good long hike on a U.P. summer day. Optional: rain gear (depending on weather), camera, binoculars, hand lens, or field guides. Following the event, there will be an optional campfire on the Yellow Dog Plains — bring extra food (supper) if you plan to stay for the evening’s social hour.

To take part in this hike, contact rsvp@savethwildup.org, or call (906) 662-9987, or see the facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/846059348799069/

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

Threatened (legally protected) with a status of "imperiled" in Michigan.

Linear-leaf gentian is threatened (legally protected) with a status of “imperiled” in Michigan.

Join SWUP’s Wild Summer Events!



Save the Wild U.P. Announces Calendar of Wild Summer Events

Marquette — Grassroots environmental group Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP) has announced a series of “wild events” for the coming summer. Save the Wild U.P.’s guided outdoor programs are perfect for nature-lovers, concerned citizens, history buffs, hikers, artists and budding environmental activists.

“These are awe-inspiring experiences, intended to lead folks off the beaten track, and out into the Wild U.P.,” said Alexandra Maxwell, SWUP’s interim director. “With each event, we’re highlighting the intrinsic value of wild and scenic places, clean rivers, and undisturbed wetlands. Folks can check Save the Wild U.P.’s facebook page to learn about about additional events, including summer speakers and concerts.”

Save the Wild U.P.’s 2015 Summer Events Calendar
Available in PDF format: http://bit.ly/1IQp2tz

2nd Annual Grassroots Organizing Bootcamp — Marquette
May 23 and May 24, 9:30am – 5:30pm each day
Become an environmental advocate for your community! This year’s 2-day Bootcamp agenda is packed with engaging information — 9 special guest speakers covering 13 critical topics, including wolves, local geology, the hydrology of the Salmon Trout watershed, indigenous environmental movements, and the regional fight to protect Lake Superior from the dangers of sulfide mining. Weekend wraps up with a guided geology hike around Presque Isle. Lunches are provided, but space is limited. ENLIST NOW: rsvp@savethewildup.org, or call (906) 662-9987.

Guided Hike in the Caving Grounds — Negaunee
May 28, 6pm
Join SWUP for a guided walking tour of the “Caving Grounds” of Negaunee’s Old Town district. Experience ghostly neighborhoods and sunken streets, learn about early iron mining methods, hear stories recorded by Negaunee residents, and see first-hand the social cost of mining: undermined homes and struggling economies. Meet at 6pm Old Town Park in Negaunee. RSVP appreciated: rsvp@savethewildup.org.

Guided Hike to Pinnacle Falls — Yellow Dog Plains
June 24, 12:30pm
Enjoy a guided hike to Pinnacle Falls on the Yellow Dog River, truly one of the wild gems of Marquette County. Your guides Cynthia Pryor and Kathleen Heideman will share stories of ecology, geology and local history. Learn how the Yellow Dog River was named, and threats from sulfide mining just upstream. Pack a bag lunch for a group picnic at the falls, bring bug spray or netting, hiking shoes and a camera. Meet at Big Bay Outfitters (Big Bay). Plan to arrive early — group will leave at 12:30pm. SAVE YOUR SPOT: rsvp@savethwildup.org, or call (906) 662-9987.

Attention ARTISTS and HIKERS!
Wildcat Canyon Creek Hike — Michigamme Highlands
July 15, full-day outing
Get off the map – start seeing wild places! Save the Wild U.P. and Painters on the Loose will guide a caravan of visual artists, hikers and environmental activists deep into the rugged, unpaved heart of Marquette County. Our special destination will be Wildcat Canyon Creek, which lies in the path of the defeated but still-controversial 595 road proposal. Artists will set up their easels, while others enjoy a rugged group hike along the Wildcat, which includes delicate waterfalls. To join this special event, please contact rsvp@savethewildup.org by July 12, so carpooling and caravan arrangements can be made in advance.

Threatened & Endangered: Native Plant Hike — Michigamme Highlands
August 1, 12:30pm
Native plants and creeping industrialization — what’s at stake? Search for the answers on this unique botanical hike in the Michigamme Highlands, led by botanist Steve Garske. We’ll explore two remote sites threatened by the route of proposed CR-595: lands near the Yellow Dog River and Mulligan Creek. Sponsored by the North Woods Native Plant Society, Save the Wild U.P. and the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve. Meet-up at Big Bay Outfitters (Big Bay). Plan to arrive early — group will leave at 12:30pm. FULL DETAILS: rsvp@savethwildup.org, or call (906) 662-9987.

Explore Marquette’s lost “Great Swamp” — Marquette
August 22, 3pm
What happened to Marquette’s “Great Swamp”? Join historian Jon Saari for a slideshow explaining how the city’s historic wetlands were drained, filled and lost to residential and industrial development. After the lecture, we’ll follow Jim Koski and Jon Saari on a colorful walking tour to see evidence of the lost swamp! Sponsored by Save the Wild U.P. and the Marquette Regional History Center. Special location: event starts at 3pm in the Wildcat Room of the Superior Dome. RESERVE YOUR PLACE: rsvp@savethwildup.org, or call (906) 662-9987. Suggested donation of $5 for Marquette Regional History Center.


Summer events are offered in conjunction with Save the Wild U.P.’s Summer Fellows program, a dynamic, on-the-ground initiative designed to educate a new generation of environmental leaders. SWUP’s unique, interdisciplinary fellowship  program educates students on U.P. mining history, the hazards and risks associated with sulfide mining, industrial threats to wild places, and practical and effective ways for citizens to “be the change” they wish to see in the world.

Save the Wild U.P.’s 2015 Summer Fellows program is focussed on critical issues related to the controversial County Road 595 proposal. The program begins with an intensive two-day forum on sulfide mining, geology, Upper Peninsula mining history, mining legislation, wolves, hydrology and environmental advocacy, and other topics. Throughout the summer, fellows will learn from experts in their fields, while advocating for environmental justice and transparency in corporate and government relations. Students participate in hikes, lectures and community education on the most pressing issues facing the Upper Peninsula’s wild places.

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 or follow SWUP on Facebook at facebook.com/savethewildup or Twitter @savethewildup.


Poets of the Wild U.P.!



MARQUETTE, MICH— Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP) invites the public to celebrate “Poets of the Wild U.P.” with a poetry reading featuring Milton Bates, Janeen Pergrin Rastall, Kathleen M. Heideman and Russell Thorburn. SWUP’s literary event, scheduled for Thursday, April 2 from 7-9pm at the Peter White Public Library’s Shiras Room, will lend a uniquely environmental emphasis to National Poetry Month. The reading is free and open to the public.

“Our goal in sponsoring this reading is to highlight the special connection between yoopers and the environment, through the work of four 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 interim director.

The U.P.’s environment figures differently in the work of each poet.

“There’s a strong spirit of place, an identification with wildness and struggle, at the heart of our stories,” says Jon Saari, emeritus professor of History at Northern Michigan University. Saari, whose wife Christine is a poet and artist, serves as Save the Wild U.P.’s vice president.

“For me, ‘Saving the Wild U.P.’ means naming, cherishing, and protecting what makes the Upper Peninsula of Michigan such an incredible place, our creative culture, our clean water, and our wild lands,” says Kathleen Heideman, SWUP’s president. “When I consider the beautiful work of our local artists creating pottery, landscape painting, woodworking, etc., their material connection to place is obvious at a glance. Poets are really doing the same thing — using woods, water and rocks to create our work.”

“Poets of the Wild U.P.” will be the third literary event hosted by SWUP. Last year’s “Putting the Wild into Words” poetry competition drew submissions from across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Last April’s poetry reading in Marquette, which featured Russell Thorburn along with the winning poets, attracted a standing-room-only audience.

National Poetry Month, founded by Academy of American Poets, is the world’s largest literary celebration, involving millions of readers, teachers, students, librarians and authors and celebrating the critical role of poetry in our lives each April.

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 Save the Wild U.P.’s work atsavethewildup.org or follow SWUP on Facebook at facebook.com/savethewildup or Twitter @savethewildup

Biographical info for POETS OF THE WILD U.P. participants:

Milton Bates was the winner of Save the Wild U.P.’s “Putting the Wild into Words” 2014 poetry contest. He taught English literature for thirty-five years at Williams College and Marquette University. During that time he was also a Guggenheim Fellow and a Fulbright lecturer in China and Spain. He has published half a dozen books on subjects such as the poet Wallace Stevens, the literature and film of the Vietnam War, and the natural and human history of the Bark River Valley in Wisconsin. On retirement he and his wife moved to the Upper Peninsula, which provides material for many of his poems.

Kathleen M. Heideman will receive the City of 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 landscape and environmental concerns, her work has garnered recognition from the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition, the Wurlitzer Foundation, and the Bush Foundation. She’s a curious woman.

Janeen Pergrin Rastall lives in Gordon, Mich, population 2. She is the author of the chapbook “In The Yellowed House” (dancing girl press, 2014). Her poetry has appeared in several publications, including The Midwest Quarterly, Midwestern Gothic, Border Crossing, The Michigan Poet, and Dunes Review. She has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes.

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.”

Thursday April 2, 7-9pm
Peter White Public Library, Shiras Room
217 N Front St, Marquette, Mich. 49855
Free and open to the public



Concerns raised about proposed discharge permit for Eagle Mine’s Humboldt Mill


Concerned citizens from across the U.P., residents of Humboldt township, members of the grassroots organization Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP), members of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC), and others gathered at the Westwood High School in Ishpeming on Tuesday night, to discuss a draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit for Eagle Mine’s Humboldt Mill.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) held the Public Hearing to discuss a proposed “reissuance” of an expired NPDES Permit, which originally authorized Eagle Mine’s Humboldt Mill to discharge wastewater into a wetland located between the Humboldt Pit and US-41.

During the hearing, residents raised serious questions and provided critical feedback to the MDEQ. Many believe that draft permit will degrade water quality in the Escanaba River. Unresolved environmental issues plague Humboldt Mill. Tailings produced by Eagle will be deposited into an existing pit, adding to legacy contamination. There is an ongoing investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the mill’s status as a Superfund site. An additional outflow pipe was recently built between the tailings pit and wetlands of the Escanaba River without permits or public involvement.  Residents are especially alarmed by increased discharges— 2.8 million gallons per day (MGD), compared with 0.82 MGD in the first permit. The new discharge pipe (“Outfall 002”) will handle 50% of that discharge.

“As we learned at the State hearing Tuesday night, in addition to problems like flooding the private property of nearby residents, MDEQ’s proposed NPDES permit for discharges at the Humboldt Mill is inconsistent with federal law and it fails to protect the Escanaba River Watershed that once was cherished fishing ground,” said former federal offshore oil regulator and KBIC tribal member Jeffery Loman. “I intend to hold the EPA accountable for these failures. The EPA is responsible for overseeing the Clean Water Act and they are the trustee for treaty-protected tribal resources at stake here.”

During the hearing, Steve Casey, MDEQ’s District Supervisor of Water Resources, seemed uncertain as to why baseline environmental assessment were needed for a wetland receiving NPDES discharges, or why “additive impacts” (such as legacy pollution of wetlands and sediment scouring) must be calculated before a NPDES permit is granted. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “Agencies have an obligation to evaluate waters in terms of how they interrelate and function as ecosystems rather than as individual units, especially in the context of complex ecosystems where their integrity may be compromised by environmental harms that individually may not be measurably large but collectively are significant.”

“The MDEQ was obviously unprepared for the level of precision shown in the commentary at this public hearing. But our community has been tirelessly committed to protecting our land and water from mining interests for more than ten years now. We know that regulators aren’t enforcing the rules and are instead relaxing them to benefit multinational mining companies — threatening our clean water as well as our democratic process,” said Alexandra Maxwell, SWUP’s Interim Director.

Residents voiced concerns over numerous changes (deemed “Insignificant Changes” by MDEQ staff) which have allowed Eagle Mine to radically change plans for Eagle Mine and Humboldt Mill, violating Michigan’s Nonferrous Mining Regulations. Under Part 632, Eagle’s permits require amendment. There was no public input or environmental impacts assessment for construction of a pipeline terminating at the newly-constructed “Outfall 002” — this significant structure and related wetland impacts were deemed “insignificant” — yet the draft NPDES permit will authorize use of the outfall, a clear violation of due process. The public was not notified when the location of Humboldt’s Water Treatment Plant (WTP) was switched, and the draft permit fails to mention the WTP’s treatment capacity, 1.44 MGD.  Given the WTP’s design flaws, up to 50% of Humboldt’s wastewater discharges may bypass the treatment plant, sending the mill’s tailings water directly into the environment. “Environmental concerns and due process concerns are one and the same,” said attorney Jana Mathieu.

Richard Sloat was angered by the permit’s failure to require stream monitoring or discharge monitoring.  “Water temperature data is not being recorded for the Escanaba River. This pipe will discharge ‘treated or untreated’ waste into that river. There is only one instance of a recorded temperature at the water treatment plant, documented because of a contamination leak in September, when the wastewater temperature reached 78.1 degrees — they want to discharge warm water into the Escanaba River, a cold-water fishery, in September?!”

“I find it outrageous that MDEQ and Eagle Mine failed to consider the environmental impacts of increased discharges — 240% more! — authorized by this permit!” said Kathleen Heideman, SWUP president. “No baseline information was provided, either for the wetland or the Middle Branch of the Escanaba River. Eagle Mine’s original permit failed to evaluate these sites, and now they want to dump wastewater into unassessed ecosystems! No wetland hydrology or biology data was included in the draft permit, so there’s no way to calculate the risks, and the certain degradation that will result.”


Water quality will clearly be undermined by this permit, a violation of the Clean Water Act, but Eagle Mine is seeking an exemption in its Antidegradation Demonstration, stating that the lowering of water quality is necessary for “important social and economic development in the area” — however the Humboldt Township Board announced during Tuesday night’s hearing that they were unanimously opposed to the permit. Concerned citizens and representatives of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) raised objections to Eagle’s Antidegradation Demonstration, collectively requesting updated and comprehensive proof of the social and economic benefits.

Residents are concerned about the enormous increase in discharge — from 0.82 to 2.8 million gallons per day (MGD). Both mass limits and concentration limits for pollutants have been increased, allowing more pollution of wetlands, and the Escanaba River. The first NPDES permit allowed discharge from only a single pipe (“Outfall 001”).

Pollutant limits are substantially increased for multiple parameters, according to the draft NPDES permit. Below are two tables showing increased limits for quantity (Figure 1) and increased limits for concentration (Figure 2):


Attorney Michelle Halley, who has worked extensively on Eagle Mine issues, said, “This NPDES permit allows discharges  to the Escanaba River that do not protect the fishery. Because of that, it violates the Clean Water Act.”

“It is important to remember that ore being processed at the Humboldt Mill comes from Eagle Mine, containing valuable copper and nickel — along with dangerous sulfides, salts, and a long list of toxic metals,” said Maxwell. Water monitoring at Eagle Mine has documented more than 100 exceedances of groundwater discharge limits since the permit was issued in 2007, including serious exceedances of arsenic, copper, lead, molybdenum, silver, and vanadium —  and uranium levels in water at the Eagle Mine facility have risen to 103 ug/L, more than 3 times higher than the EPA’s Maximum Concentration Level.  Since uranium monitoring was not included in Eagle Mine’s permit, the mine claims that no permit violation has occurred.

To protect aquatic life, conservative water quality standards should be calculated for all potential contaminants. The draft NPDES permit fails to list limits for many contaminants, including: Aluminum, Antimony, Barium, Boron, Calcium, Chromium, Fluoride, Iron, Lithium, Magnesium, Molybdenum, Potassium, Silver, Sodium, Thallium, Tin, Titanium, Strontium, Sulfate, Vanadium, and Uranium.

“The problem really boils down to a regulatory process focused on permitting rather than preventing pollution,” said Steve Garske, SWUP Board member and western U.P. resident. If contaminants are present in the ore from Eagle Mine, it is reasonable to expect they will also be present in Humboldt Mill’s tailings. It is unclear why discharge limits at the mill do not reflect known contaminants from the mine, and all legacy contaminants previously found in testing of the Humboldt site.

At the hearing, MDEQ’s Steve Casey provided a brief update on Eagle Mine’s Groundwater Discharge Permit, which was considered deeply flawed by concerned citizens.  Casey acknowledged Eagle’s ongoing vanadium exceedances, shared some theories as to why contaminant levels might be increasing in the groundwater — and confirmed that MDEQ has still not approved Eagle Mine’s Groundwater Discharge Permit, which expired two years ago. “You cannot understand the impacts of this endeavor until you understand the water,” said Cynthia Pryor, watershed resident and longtime community watchdog. “Neither the mining company nor MDEQ understand how hydrogeology functions at the Eagle Mine and at the Humboldt Mill.”


View Save the Wild U.P.’s written comments re: Proposed NPDES Permit, MI-0058649submitted to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency on January 16, 2015 (PDF)


Ore truck accident raises environmental concerns

Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP) was notified early Saturday morning (December 13th, 2014) by a concerned citizen that one of Eagle Mine’s ore trucks had overturned. The truck, hauling double trailers and fully loaded, was heading southbound on County Road 550 near Wetmore Landing.

Eagle Mine spokesman Dan Blondeau sent out a reassuring email on Saturday morning, in which he stated, “The load was contained and the truck was out of the way of traffic.” But Alexandra Maxwell, SWUP’s Interim Director, observed that “ore had spilled from the overturned truck, and the tarp of the second trailer was torn open.” Photographs from Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve document the spilled ore. Maxwell watched as crews working with heavy equipment and wreckers tried to raise the second trailer of the damaged ore truck. Their efforts closed CR 550 to traffic in both directions for more than an hour; later visits by Save the Wild U.P. confirmed that the road was closed most of the afternoon, blocking traffic until at least 5pm.

Eagle Mine stated, “Any potential impacts to the environment are being mitigated by Trimedia.” According to Maxwell, however, workers on the scene “were occasionally stooping over to pick up rocks from the ditch by hand, and tossing them into a container. Was that their mitigation plan? One worker was carrying a shovel, others were standing around two closed cardboard boxes, presumably containing environmental mitigation supplies. No plastic barriers were placed in the ditches — although snow was melting.”

Save the Wild U.P. has long raised concerns about Eagle Mine’s lack of a transportation plan, as required by Michigan’s Nonferrous Metallic Mineral Mining Regulations, Part 632. Under Rule 103, “Mining Activity” clearly includes transportation of ore, and Rule 203 states: “The mining, reclamation, and environmental protection plan (…) shall include, at a minimum, (xviii) roads, railroads, docks, piers, and other transportation infrastructure, and provisions to prevent release of contaminants to the environment from ore or waste rock during transportation.”

According to attorney Michelle Halley, “This accident demonstrates why it is important for the State of Michigan to require Lundin to assess the environmental impacts of all mining activities including hauling ore on the designated transportation route. That analysis is required under Part 632, but to this day the State has failed to apply or enforce it.”

Alexandra Maxwell agrees. “Throughout the process, we’ve seen Eagle Mine ignoring environmental impact assessments while burying infrastructure, building bridges, and funding a paved haul road. It’s an accident waiting to happen.”

For Cynthia Pryor, Big Bay resident and longtime environmental advocate, Saturday morning’s accident raises serious safety concerns. “We should reexamine Eagle Mine’s hauling operations. First, vehicles are traveling at excessive speeds. Lundin needs to self-limit these heavily loaded, top-heavy trucks to 45 miles per hour, from Eagle Mine to the Humboldt Mill. Second, why are they hauling double trailer loads in winter? Workers at Tilden Mine say they never transport the second pup (trailer) in winter, due to safety concerns.”

Pryor notes that “Eagle Mine’s permit stated the ore would be contained by a hard cover, but they asked the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for a permit amendment, stating it was easier to load and unload with soft covers. The canvas cover was torn in this accident, and sulfide ore was released into the environment. Finally, how many loads had this driver already hauled? The trucks are running multiple round-trips per day, 24/7. The accident happened at 3:00 am on clear roads. Was the driver properly rested?”

Peter Sheret, a nearby resident, has observed ore trucks and other mine vehicles exceeding the speed limits on a regular basis. “Last Saturday night, as I was heading toward Eagles Nest Road, I met one of these ore trucks just coming down from ‘Passing Lane Hill’. He whizzed past me at the fastest speed I have seen yet. It’s clearly risky.”

SWUP board member Chip Truscon fears such incidents will be repeated. “This isn’t simply metallic ore, it is massive and semi-massive sulfide ore, which turns into sulfuric acid when it hits air and water. And what if Eagle Mine is moving radioactive rock? How do we protect our water?”

Pryor asks, “Why are these trucks not marked clearly ‘Eagle Mine’? All trucks carrying sulfide ore in our community should be clearly marked. We have a right to know that a truck passing our home, business or school is carrying sulfide ore — emergency responders need this information, too.”

SWUP president Kathleen Heideman is outraged. “There’s no way that Eagle Mine could have fixed the problem if that ore truck had overturned on the other side of the road — it would have ended up in Lake Superior! Where’s the emergency plan for that?”

Save the Wild U.P. was formed in 2004 to protect the U.P.’s unique communities, lakes, and lands from the hazards of sulfide mining, which threatens to contaminate the Lake Superior Watershed with acid mine drainage.

Photo Contest Winners and Winter Bash

Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP) is pleased to announce the winners of its Intern Corps-led Photography contest: A Sense of Place: Nature, Industry and Culture in the Upper Peninsula. The contest was open to all residents of the Upper Peninsula and highlighted the unique blend of natural beauty and industrial history of the Upper Peninsula. The contest ran for five weeks and SWUP received submissions from all across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

The photo contest called upon the U.P.’s most talented photographers and they will be featured in our 2015 Calendar. Calendars will be available for purchase Monday, December 8th, exclusively at Dead River Coffee Roasters in downtown Marquette.

The winners, in no rank, are as follows:

  • Danielle Adams, “Out of the Fog”
  • Glen Perrow, “Reflections”
  • Corey Kelly, “Kiln Magnum Rd #3″
  • Paul Nelson, “Moonlit Presque”
  • Colton Wesolosk, “Old Reliable”
  • Lindsay Bean, “Red Mud”
  • Chris Canchola, “Untitled # 3″
  • Seija Kenn, “Untitled # 5″
  • Slyssa Peterson, “Sticky Icky Snow”
  • Alex Maier, “Roundabout to the light”

Save the Wild U.P. will be at the Ore Dock Brewing Company to celebrate the winning photographs from our first ever photo contest and ring in the new year with a Winter Bash fundraiser!  Join us Wednesday, January 21st from 7-9 pm in the upstairs community space of the Ore Dock. Local bluegrass band, Sparrow Tree will be taking the stage and the one and only Dia De Los Tacos will be slinging tacos over by the fireplace. $10 Suggested donation at  the door. We can’t wait to see ya, eh!

More details on the contest:

Photo contest judges Melissa Matuscak, Christine Hinz-Lenzen, and Shawn Malone are celebrated cultural leaders in the Upper Peninsula. Melissa Matuscak is the curator and director of the DeVos Art Museum at  Northern Michigan University (NMU). Christine Hinz-Lenzen is an Assistant Professor at NMU, and her work has been shown across the country and in Nova Scotia. Shawn Malone runs a photography gallery of her work, Lake Superior Photo in downtown Marquette, and her work has appeared on NBC, CBS, PBS and FOX.

Save the Wild U.P.’s Intern Corps has worked on the details and behind-the-scenes aspects of the photo contest since the beginning of this semester. SWUP’s Internship program aims to empower tomorrow’s grassroots leaders. NMU students design and implement unique projects dedicated to engaging community members as concerned citizens and advocates for economic security and environmental stewardship. A Sense of Place: Nature, History and Industry of the Upper Peninsula is led and organized by interns dedicated  to creating community engagement through creative outreach.





Join us in L’Anse Feb. 22nd!

We’re delighted to host an informational (and free!) Open House at Java by the Bay in L’Anse, Michigan on Saturday, February 22nd 4-6 pm.

Please come on out to meet SWUP President Kathleen Heideman, SWUP Adviser (and former federal oil regulator) Jeffery Loman, and SWUP Executive Director Alexandra Thebert. They’ll be answering your questions, talking about our plans to protect our lakes, lands, and communities in 2014 — and how you can get involved!

Visit our Facebook event page for more information!

Economist presents results of copper mining study

The Daily Mining Gazette | November 6, 2013
By Garrett Neese  - DMG writer (gneese@mininggazette.com)

HOUGHTON – Despite the economic benefits of mining, the instability and other drawbacks mean the western Upper Peninsula is better off looking elsewhere for prosperity.

That conclusion was reached by Thomas Power, who presented the results of a recent study on the economic impact of copper mining Tuesday night in the Upper Peninsula. Power, a research professor and former economics department chair at the University of Montana, prepared the report for Friends of the Land of Keweenaw, an environmental advocacy organization.

Power appeared at Michigan Technological University Tuesday as part of its Green Lecture Series.

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Thomas Power, a research professor and former economics department chair at the University of Montana, delivers his talk “The Economic Anomaly of Mining: Treasure and Tears” at Michigan Technological University Tuesday night.

In his report, he argues the western U.P. should concentrate on “economic gardening” – supporting start-up and existing businesses – and protecting and enhancing environmental amenities and other “quality of life” assets.

Power said he doesn’t have any animosity toward mining. He came from a metal mining family, and spent the first 18 years of his life falling asleep to the “soft thump” of the Bay View Rolling Mill in Milwaukee. But in many cases, the drawbacks of mining outweigh the positives.

Mining grew popular because of some very real economic benefits: the ability to extract valuable minerals, the high wages for workers – at times, averaging 40 percent higher the average working wage – and the tax revenues for municipalities.

However, any positive impact is tempered by instability, Power said – not just the familiar boom-bust trajectory, but the “flicker.” That occurs as prices in the international metal markets fluctuate, affecting the mine’s profitability. In turn, the mines compensate by reducing the labor force.

“It’s one thing to talk about high wages, but if the high wages are unreliable, the impact of those high wages on the local economy is going to be different than wages people think that they can count on,” Power said.

Technological advances have made mineral extraction more feasible in spots. But the increase in productivity has also reduced the number of employees neede. From 22 workers in 1970, the number needed to produce a thousand megatons dropped to six in 2004, rebounding slightly for unknown reasons to 10 now.

Because the mining job paid better than most of the alternatives laid-off miners are likely to find, they’re more likely to stay around the area and hope to be rehired, Power said.

“They hang on, hoping to be rehired,” he said. “Instead, what they see is more people being laid off.”

The economic benefits to mining are often least felt in the immediate area. Because of their high wages, miners can afford to live in more upscale areas. Often, they don’t want to live near the mine, where environmental degradation or the end of the mine can hurt property values. That potential for instability also discourages investment in local infrastructure, such as schools.

Power didn’t call for an end to mining, but said residents should apply the same kind of cost-benefit thinking mining companies use when they approach projects.

“We have to make choices, and we have to make choices because there are costs as well as benefits,” he said. “What citizens have to do, from a public interest point of view, is to weigh the clear economic benefits associated with mining, but also recognize the potential cost to the community, then make their decision and urge their representatives in government to do the same thing.”

William Keith of Houghton said he hadn’t known miners would commute so far for work.

“I thought it was an engaging presentation,” he said.

Permalink: http://www.mininggazette.com/page/content.detail/id/531850/Economist-presents-results-of-copper-mining-study.html?nav=5006

Full report available at http://www.folkminingeducation.info/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Minings-Economic-Impact-on-Western-UP1.pdf