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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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.”

IMG_2828

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.

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