Upper Peninsula

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This is shaping up to be a disappointing season for firearm deer hunters in the Upper Peninsula.

An early-season storm and lake effect combined to dump more than three feet of snow in parts of the U.P. last week. 

Russ Mason is the chief of the Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division. He says the deep snow is preventing hunters from reaching deer in the U.P.

“You would need a four-wheeler with tracks or a snow machine, and guys just aren’t prepared for that,” says Mason. “I expect the U.P. numbers are going to be way down this year.”

Early snowfall and cold temperatures are causing a hold up on dog sled training in the Upper Peninsula.
User Frank Kovalchek / flickr.com

Though seemingly counterintuitive, early snowfall and cold temperatures are causing a hold up on dog sled training in the Upper Peninsula.

The dogs at Team Evergreen Kennel in Skandia Township were excited when the first snow fell, as Tim Wood, Lead Handler, explained to Jennifer Perez from WLUC-TV:

You will let [the dogs] out into the backyard that first snow fall and they just tear around like demons because they know what this time of year means and they get really excited.

Last week, a several-day storm brought up to 42.5 inches of snow to parts of the Upper Peninsula. The dog teams need packed snow to travel on, so they rely on groomed trails for training. Musher Lisa Dietzen explains why trails haven't been groomed yet:

"Some of the trails that we have to use are opened from the snowmobile trail and our snowmobile trail won't open until after gun season, which is another two weeks. So, some of those trails that we rely on to be groomed out aren't going to be groomed out any time soon."

The mushers at Team Evergreen say they're limited as to where they can run their dogs without these groomed trails. For right now, they're running them on a small track on their property.

Michigan's big dog sled race, The UP 200, is scheduled to take place from February 12 - 16.

-Ari Sandberg, Michigan Radio Newsroom

user: adamshoop / Flicker

The cost of electricity could jump dramatically next month in the Upper Peninsula.

Residents there might have to start paying to keep a coal plant open that isn't entirely needed anymore. The increase will be a harsh blow to a region that struggles economically.

Brimley is a little town at the end of the road on Lake Superior’s south shore. There’s a bar, a casino and a couple motels. Brimley State Park draws campers here in the summer and into Ron Holden’s IGA grocery store.

"Basically the six weeks of summer pay for the rest of the year’s bills, " he says. On the wall of the IGA are deer heads, a black bear rug, and a flag that says, ‘American by choice, Yooper by da grace of God.’

But being a Yooper might cost more starting December 1. Holden expects his store’s electric bill will be $700 a month higher and he has no idea where he’ll get that money.

The snowstorm hitting the UP on radar.
NWS

Winter is upon us and we barely had time to dig our mittens out of that box in the basement.

Our compatriots in the Northwoods are being hammered by an early snowstorm.

Officials from the National Weather Service say at least a foot of snow has fallen on parts of the Upper Peninsula and another foot or two could accumulate in some areas before the front passes through the region tomorrow.

Northern Michigan University in Marquette has closed.

More from the Associated Press:

Flickr user Davichi

Throughout the week on Stateside, you've been hearing stories from writers in the Upper Peninsula. 

Today, we explore a story about a kayak adventure from Susan Rasch. 

Rash is a farmer and writer who lives in the Pte. Abbay peninsula, just east of the Keweenaw. 

The story is read by Sheila Bauer.

* Listen to the full story above.

=Paul / Flickr

This week we're exploring stories from writers in the Upper Peninsula. Today we have a poem from Marquette resident Russell Thornburn, the first Upper Peninsula poet laureate.

This poem is from a series called "Burden of Place," about surviving the cold UP winters.

This poem is called, "When One Tugs at a Single Thing in Nature, He Finds It Attached to the Rest of the World." It's about a man who is stuck in the cold after his car breaks down.  

Grocery cart
user mytvdinner / Flickr

When we talk in Michigan about "food insecurity" and "food deserts", it's usually about Detroit, Flint and cities battling poverty.

But there is another region where access to healthy, fresh food is a constant challenge: the Upper Peninsula.

Take Alger County. It has been classified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a "low income, low access community." That means people have to drive at least ten miles to get to a fully stocked grocery store.

User: Ashley Perkins / Flickr

 

Writer Beverly McBride tells a story about cultural identity among the Native American population. 

The story is from the first chapter in her latest book in the series "One Foot in Two Canoes." In the book description, McBride explained what that saying means:

There is a saying that it is possible for a Native American to travel down the smooth river of life with one foot in each of two canoes, one canoe representing tribal heritage and way of life, and the other "western" thinking and living, committing fully to neither, as long as the river is smooth without rocks, challenges or bends. But when adversity strikes or a proverbial bend in the river appears, a person must then jump into one philosophical canoe or the other, embracing their own culture or denying their heritage. The alternative to making a choice is to float, swim or sink, drowning in the river of life.

Beverly McBride lives in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. The story is read by Jackson Knight Pierce.

* Listen to the full story above.

Marquette, Michigan
User: Rachel Kramer / Flickr

 

Today on Stateside, Upper Peninsula writer John Smolens tells his story "Where Art Thou, Marquette?" 

Smolens recently retired from Northern Michigan University's English department. He now writes full-time in Marquette.

Many wolf hunt opponents complain state lawmakers are circumventing November's two referendums.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

People for and against a wolf hunt in Michigan are at the state Capitol today.

Orange-wearing hunters are mixing with people waving signs calling for protecting Michigan’s wolves.

The state House is poised to vote on the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. The act would open the door once again to wolf hunting. The state Senate has already voted in favor of the act.  

USFWS

Michigan hunters could find wolves in their crosshairs again later this year, if the state House approves legislation on Wednesday.

Last year, hunters killed 22 wolves in a state-sanctioned hunt in the Upper Peninsula.

Plans for another wolf hunt this fall were shelved after opponents collected enough signatures to put the issue on the November ballot. They did so again when state lawmakers passed another law to authorize a wolf hunt.

Emily Fox

Native American culture has been struggling to survive for more than a century. For a Potawatomi tribe in the Upper Peninsula, tribal culture almost vanished around the 1940s. But for the past four decades, there have been efforts to bring tribal culture back.


Lavender being grown in Michigan.
User: Deb Nystrom / Flickr

When we think of "typical" Michigan-grown crops, it's easy to think cherries, blueberries, or corn.

But there's one corner of Michigan that is perfect for growing this: lavender.

Linda Longworth owns Lavender Hill Farms in Boyne City. It's the biggest commercial lavender farm in Michigan.

Longworth says they have about 13,000 lavender plants on her farm, and they are now right in the middle of the harvest season.

Longworth also works with local craftsmen and outside companies, so that her lavender can be turned into various products such as soap, lavender shortbread cookies, lavender vodka and beer.

*Listen to the interview with Longworth above.

Lundin Mining

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - The Michigan Court of Appeals has upheld a decision by state environmental regulators to allow construction of a nickel and copper mine in the Upper Peninsula.

A three-judge panel unanimously sided with the Department of Environmental Quality, which issued mining and groundwater discharge permits to Kennecott Eagle Minerals Co. The Marquette County mine is now owned by Lundin Mining Corp.

DEQ officials approved a mining permit for the project in 2007, drawing legal challenges from environmentalists and the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. A DEQ administrative law judge and a circuit court judge affirmed the department's decisions, and opponents took the case to the Court of Appeals.

The mine has been constructed and is scheduled to begin producing minerals this fall.

USFWS

The State Senate may vote this week on a proposal that could once again open the door to wolf hunting in Michigan.

Hunting groups collected enough petition signatures on a proposed law giving state wildlife officials total control on which animals will be hunted in Michigan.

Drew YoungeDyke is with Michigan United Conservation Clubs. He insists the hunting groups are not trying to outflank groups opposed to hunting wolves in Michigan.

Areas in question for the land deal in Michigan's UP.
rexton.graymontmicrosite.com

Picture this: You live in a corner of the Upper Peninsula that is full of natural beauty. But the population in your town is shrinking and aging, even to the point where it's hard to find police officers and firefighters because everyone's just getting older.

And there's little in the way of economic opportunity.

Now here comes a huge Canadian company that wants to buy 10,000 acres of state-managed forest land to build a massive limestone mining operation. There's the prospect of massive amounts of money and the hope of jobs.

And there's the fear of losing the natural beauty of your corner of the UP.

What to do?

That's the real-life dilemma happening in the Rexton area of the Upper Peninsula.

Keith Matheny is a writer with the Detroit Free Press and he's been following this story. Keith joined us today.

*Listen to the interview above.

USFWS Midwest

There are fewer wolves living in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

State wildlife biologists report a slight dip in the wolf population following last fall’s controversial hunt.

The Department of Natural Resources has just completed a census of wolves in the Upper Peninsula. The DNR admits the count is more of an estimate than an accurate head count.

Shawn Malone / UP Second Wave

With its rocky soil, thick forests and painfully short growing season, the Upper Peninsula is never going to look like Iowa or Kansas – and that's okay. For more than a century, a hardy batch of growers and livestock farmers have managed to survive and prosper in these less-than-ideal conditions. Thanks to new technologies and some decidedly low-tech solutions, the U.P.'s latest generation of ag workers are more productive than ever. Ultimately, the fruits of their labor may be felt – and tasted – far beyond the region's borders.

Age-Old Limitations
If you're a U.P. native, you don't need an advanced degree to understand why agriculture is challenging here. But Alger County MSU Extension Director Jim Isleib has one, so people tend to listen to his thoughts on this issue. "Poor soils and a short growing season – that about sums it up," he says. 

One of the aerial images near Munising, MI capture from the video.
Roam, Inc. / YouTube

Spring in Michigan's Upper Peninsula means watching the layers of snow melt. Thomas Dolaskie of Roam, Inc. in the UP put together this video of a spring weekend in Munising, Michigan. He writes:

Filmed the first weekend of April, 2014 – we got in the last snowshoe and frozen lake roaming of the year, and watched the waterfalls start to flow. Relax, it's spring. 

Here's the video:

Kennecott Eagle Minerals

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take a case trying to stop the development of a new copper and nickel mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

The high court let stand a lower court's rejection of the Huron Mountain Club's arguments that the mine needs federal permits.

The Club owns a 19,000-acre wildlife and nature preserve that includes an 11-mile stretch of the Salmon Trout River.

The Eagle Mine is located a few miles upstream, and some mining will take place under the river.

Pages