Upper Peninsula

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A state board authorized a wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula on Thursday.

The decision comes after months of passionate debate.

Carol Smith is one of many people who urged the Natural Resources Commission to reject the proposed wolf hunt in the U.P.

“I really worry about our state’s legacy if we allow wolf hunting,” Smith told the commission.

But there were also people who urged approval of the hunt.  And in the end, the commission voted six to one to authorize it.

endangeredspecieslawandpolicy.com

Governor Rick Snyder has signed Senate Bill 288. That could clear the way for a wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula.

His signature clears the way for the state's Natural Resources Commission to vote on a recommendation to hold a limited wolf hunt this fall in three parts of the UP.

The Governor told Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith that he believes the NRC will base its decision on what he called "sound scientific principles."

"If you think about it, I think sound scientific principals are how we should decide these things, to make sure we are doing the proper environmental functions that protect whatever species we're talking about, so it's sustainable for the long term," said Snyder.

More than quarter of a million Michiganders  signed a petition asking to put a wolf hunt proposal on the November 2014 ballot. And the coalition called Keep Michigan Wolves Protected says Senate Bill 288 is a deliberate attempt by lawmakers to circumvent their petition effort.

The Governor's response?

Shawn Malone / Vimeo screen grab

The wonders of our night sky often escape us.

The rainbows of the fleeting Northern Lights or the bright streak of a comet frequently slip behind cloud cover or crowded city skylines, leaving stargazers unrewarded.

But Shawn Malone, of Lake Superior Photo, was luckier than most.

endangeredspecieslawandpolicy.com

State wildlife officials plan to recommend Thursday that Michigan hold a wolf hunt this Fall in the U.P.

Gray wolves in Michigan were until recently listed as an endangered species. There are about 700 wolves in Michigan. Farmers say the growing wolf population is a threat to livestock.

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission will receive a recommendation to kill 47 wolves, as part of a hunt, focused in three parts of the Upper Peninsula. The commission may vote next month to set the dates for a wolf hunt.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

People fighting a proposed wolf hunt in Michigan are celebrating a milestone today.

They delivered a quarter million petition signatures to the Secretary of State’s office this morning.   The petition calls for a statewide vote on the law authorizing the wolf hunt.

Jill Fritz is the director of the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected campaign.    She’s optimistic that state officials will validate enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot.

http://yooperbars.com

Anybody who lives in Michigan would not be shocked to hear that there is a lot of good beer, and a lot of good bars to support it.

The problem is finding where exactly are all of the good bars and drinks.

That mystery has been left to word of mouth, hearsay, and luck - until now.

Recently a father-son duo have helped in providing a solution to that problem by doing the kind of research that many dream about. 

On a month long road trip they searched every corner of the Upper Peninsula to find exactly where good bars,  good drinks, and good times can be found. 

The results of their bar hopping excursion were thoroughly documented in a travel guide, entitled Yooper Bars.

In their guide, they break down the history, flavor and atmosphere of over 100 bars that help make the Upper Peninsula unique.

The guide is packed full of facts, bar savvy and humor, such as each bar's specialty drink, food, staff,  celebrity sightings, and favorite jokes.

We had an opportunity to sit down father and researcher emeritus, Randy Kluck as well as his son, author and entrepreneur, Kevin Kluck. 

The two give us the details on memorable food, drink, stories, and tell us about what it takes to visit 110 out of the 300 bars that are located in the Upper Peninsula.

Listen to the full interview above.

IRONWOOD, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has tentatively approved the last major permit needed for construction of a copper and silver mine in the western Upper Peninsula.

The permit deals with protection of wetlands, inland lakes and streams. It will become final after being signed by Orvana Minerals Corp. and state officials.

beingmyself / flickr

A bill to let people hold, pet, and take pictures with bear cubs has passed the state Senate. The measure would allow an Upper Peninsula bear ranch to continue to offer the experience. It would let the public handle bears up to 36 weeks old or less than 90 pounds.

Senator Rebekah Warren voted against the bill.

She says lawmakers should put residents’ safety ahead of the financial benefit of a single business.

michigan.org

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Spotty snowfall in the Upper Midwest is making some business owners happy and hurting others.

Snow accumulation is below normal across the region for the second consecutive winter. It's picked up over the past week as temperatures have fallen dramatically. But some areas are having a feast and others a famine.

Sarah Long says bare ground caused her resort in Michigan's Upper Peninsula to lose nearly three weeks' worth of reservations. But heavy lake-effect snow in recent days has turned things around.

sierrafoothillsreport.com

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has declared a State of Energy Emergency in part of the Upper Peninsula.

There’s a shortage of propane in parts of the Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin. 

According to the governor’s state of energy emergency declaration, high demand for propane, coupled with repairs on a propane pipeline terminal has resulted in a temporary shortage.

The executive order suspends regulations restricting how many hours a day propane truck drivers can operate.    Drivers must travel longer distances to get to where propane is available.

www.isleroyalewolf.org

An animal welfare group has the green light to start collecting signatures in its attempt to stop a new law opening Michigan to a wolf hunt.

On Thursday, a state board approved petitions drafted by the group Keep Michigan Wolves Protected.

Michael Hodge is their attorney. He said there is no evidence that wolves are a problem in the Upper Peninsula.

“So it’s a hunting season for trophy hunters who want to kill an animal that just basically reappeared in the state of Michigan in recent years,” said Hodge.

user metassus / Flickr

A ballot campaign will launch this week to overturn a new law that allows the state to establish wolf hunting seasons in the Upper Peninsula.

The campaign Keep Michigan Wolves Protected will appear before a state elections board on Thursday to get its petition approved for circulation.

Jill Fritz is the Michigan director for the Humane Society and the leader of the petition drive. She said the gray wolf was only recently removed from the endangered species list.

beingmyself / flickr

Bills to ease restrictions on owning and breeding large carnivores in Michigan are likely to come up again in 2013.

Governor Rick Snyder recently vetoed the legislation because of language he said would compromise public safety.       

Republican state Senator Joe Hune said the measure has attracted unfair criticism. He said many opponents cite an incident in Ohio a year ago, when a man deliberately freed a number of dangerous exotic animals he owned.

user metassus / Flickr

Legislation that could allow a limited wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula cleared the state House Wednesday, and is on its way to Governor Rick Snyder.

The grey wolf was recently removed from the federal endangered species list.

State Representative Jeff Irwin is a Democrat from Ann Arbor. He was one of the “no” votes.

“This is an animal that just came off the endangered species list. The populations are not even healthy or even abundant, and I don’t think it’s the right time to talk about shooting wolves in northern Michigan,” Irwin said.

michigan.gov

The company Orvana Resources is one step closer to getting the approval it needs to build a new mine. The Copperwood Mine is proposed for a site north of the town of Wakefield in the western U.P. The state is reviewing the company’s final environmental permit.

The Department of Environmental Quality has already given the company mining, wastewater and air permits.

State Senate passes bill that could lead to gray wolf hunting season

Nov 30, 2012
USFWS

A controversial piece of legislation that would make the gray wolf a game species has passed the Michigan Senate.

The bill, introduced by Escanaba Republican Tom Casperson, paves the way for a possible hunting and trapping seasons for wolves.

If the bill becomes law, the state’s Natural Resources Commission would be allowed to determine if a hunt were needed.

There are nearly 700 wolves in Michigan today, up from under 300 just a decade ago. The wolves, removed from the endangered species list this past January, are concentrated in the western Upper Peninsula.

Kennecott Eagle Minerals

The Eagle Mine near Marquette is under construction. It will be mining mostly nickel and copper along with smaller amounts of other metals.

The company Rio Tinto owns the mine.  They’ve received their state and federal permits, but those permits are being challenged in court.  The mine has been divisive in the community.  A lot of people want the mining jobs, and many others are worried about the impacts the mine could have on Lake Superior and nearby rivers.

Dan Blondeau is a spokesperson for Rio Tinto.  He says the company will be spending about a million dollars on environmental monitoring that’s required by their permits.  But he says residents have been telling them that wasn’t enough.

“For the last several years, community members have told us they’d have more trust in environmental monitoring if it was done independently.”

Rio TInto Eagle Mine, Oct. 2010
Rio Tinto Eagle Mine

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Holmes Bell has refused to halt construction of a nickel and copper mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

In an order signed today, Bell rejected a request by the Huron Mountain Club, a private sportsmen's group, to stop work on the mine while the club's lawsuit works its way to trial.

The exclusive club owns about 19,000 acres of forest land in the Upper Peninsula's Marquette County, including an 11-mile stretch of the Salmon Trout River, according to the AP.

NEWBERRY, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says it's making good progress battling an Upper Peninsula wildfire as some people return to their homes.

NEWBERRY, Mich. (AP) - Rain is lending a hand to crew members who are battling a wildfire that has consumed 31.6 square miles of forest in the eastern port of Michigan's sparsely populated Upper Peninsula.

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Governor Rick Snyder has declared a state of disaster in the Upper Peninsula counties of Luce and Schoolcraft, where wildfires already have consumed more than 20,000 acres.

Snyder's declaration Friday means all state resources will be made available to protect public health and safety in the ongoing efforts to fight the wildfires.

Kennecott Eagle Minerals

The boom and bust nature of the mining industry is nothing new to residents of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. And while recent decades have seen the region's once-prosperous iron and copper mines falling further and further into "bust" territory, the last few years have seen a resurgence of interest from companies hoping to pull valuable ore from this remote part of the state.

Seney wildfire
USFWS

SENEY, Mich. (AP) - Officials say a wildfire believed to have been triggered by lightning has expanded to at least 3,200 acres of a wildlife refuge in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says crews are working Thursday to control the fire at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. High winds and dry conditions have hampered firefighting efforts.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says the blaze that was estimated at 2,500 acres Wednesday had spread to at least 3,200 acres Thursday.

So far, no injuries or building damage have been reported.

Michigan Highway 28 remains open as aerial control efforts succeed in limiting the spread south of the highway.

The fire started Sunday. The refuge covers 95,000 acres in northern Schoolcraft County, about 85 miles west of Sault Ste. Marie.

SENEY, Mich. (AP) - Officials say a wildfire in Michigan's Upper Peninsula has burned at least 600 acres of a wildlife refuge.

The Mining Journal of Marquette and WLUC-TV report the fire at Seney National Wildlife Refuge in Schoolcraft County is believed to have been started Sunday by a lightning strike. It grew Monday and continued to burn on Tuesday. Officials say dry conditions contributed to its spread.

A message seeking updated information about the fire was left Wednesday morning by The Associated Press with an official at the refuge.

No injuries or damage to buildings was reported. The refuge plans to evaluate whether to close trails in the area for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

Huron Mountain Club files federal lawsuit against Upper Peninsula mine

May 8, 2012

A private club in the Upper Peninsula has filed suit to stop the construction of a new mine in Marquette County.  It’s the first federal lawsuit to attempt to stop the project. 

The nickel and copper mine, owned by Kennecott Eagle Minerals, has received permits from the state.  But the Huron Mountain Club says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needs to sign off too.

The club owns nearly 20,000 acres of forest downstream from the mine on the Salmon Trout River.

The lawsuit says sulfuric acid produced by sulfide mining could pollute the river, and the club is "horror-struck" by the prospect of the watershed collapsing because part of the mine will be dug directly underneath it.

The lawsuit also says the federal government needs to consider the potential for damage to Eagle Rock, a site near the entrance to the mine that is sacred to American Indians.

The mine has been under construction since 2010.

Attorney for the Huron Mountain Club Rick Addison expects Kennecott will argue that it is too late to bring up this issue, but he says it was the company’s decision to build the mine without the necessary permits.

"The lateness argument has no resonance to me, it’s simply the last refuge of the environmental scoundrel," said Addison.

In a written statement, Kennecott says the mine has been extensively reviewed and already survived multiple legal challenges.

WLUC-TV / YouTube

I remember making little chains out of Starburst wrappers when I was a kid, but building an entire garment with them?

That's what Diane McNease of Ishpeming High School has done.

WLUC-TV produced a short piece on McNease and her dress. Here it is (I like the host's reaction to the lead of the story):

McNease definitely has some artistic flair. She said she strung wrappers in the dress below the corset to "give the illusion that the dress is, kind of like, falling apart."

She said friends donated around 18,000 wrappers for the corset, matching hair bands, and purse. It took her around 5 months to make.

More evidence that young kids today are far from slackers. We stopped after stringing 10 Starburst wrappers together.

Kennecott Eagle Minerals

A Central Upper Peninsula Indian tribe is asking the United Nations to help curb sulfide mining in the Upper Great Lakes.

The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) recently sent the United Nations a document outlining how governments are locating and planning mines on Indian land without getting input from tribes.

Tribal officials say that infringes on their treaty rights. 

KBIC member and document co-author Jessica Koski said the tribe needs to have a seat at the table.

“This is our traditional territory.  This is where we hunt, we fish, we gather, and those are rights that are maintained in treaties,” said Koski.

Koski said the mines create the equivalent of battery acid, which drains into nearby watersheds.

“That is a huge problem. There is no example in the entire world of a sulfide mine that hasn’t polluted water resources. And this is an issue that would last for generations and centuries in the Great Lakes region,” said Koski.

Mining company Kennecott Minerals said its design contains safety components that will keep Lake Superior from being polluted.

Supporters of the mine say the area badly needs the jobs.

But Koski said the mine currently being built in Marquette County is slated to last only five years, and the U.P. needs economic opportunities that are long-term.

“And that could be tourism, recreation, agriculture—local sustainable economies where we can thrive into the future and not have this ‘boom and bust,’ which is a very well-known phenomenon with the mining industry, which is why the U.P. is so desperate for another gasp of another mining boom,” said Koski.

Koski also said a sacred site near the nickel and copper mine has been fenced off and degraded. Mining company Kennecott Minerals says the tribe still has access to Eagle Rock.

Koski said their U.N. document aims to educate the public about state and federal governments approving mines on Native land without consulting tribes.

It comes on the heels of the U.N.’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

The U.S. approved the multi-nation “Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People” two years ago.  But a U.N. human rights official who visited the U.S. last week said more needs to be done to heal historic wounds, including a return of Native American lands to tribes.

Prarie Plant Systems

A Canadian company specializing in plant-based pharmaceuticals wants to turn an old copper mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula into a large-scale medical marijuana farm.

Paul Egan from the Detroit Free Press reports that Prairie Plant Systems (PPS), along with their stateside subsidiary SubTerra, purchased the White Pine Mine in 2003 and began using it for other types of plant-based research. But the company hopes to start using the facility to produce pot and tap into Michigan's market of 131,000 medical marijuana users.

According to Egan, PPS already operates a marijuana growing facility in Canada and has a lucrative contract to supply medical pot to the Canadian government. But while Michigan voters have approved medical marijuana use, the project is still a long way from becoming a reality.

Egan writes:

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, the Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder would all have to sign off, and in the case of the first two agencies, reverse direction on policy. Federal agencies consider marijuana illegal. DEA agents have not cracked down on small operations to supply licensed patients but almost certainly would view SubTerra as a major bust opportunity.

Legal hurdles aside, why use a mine to grow an underground pot crop?

Egan spoke to Brent Zettl, president and CEO of PPS:

Growing marijuana hundreds of feet underground - the same way the company started its Canadian operations in 2001 - provides security, constant temperature, controlled light and humidity, and protects the plants from bugs and diseases, eliminating the need for harmful pesticides and herbicides, Zettl said. He said any medical marijuana sold in Michigan should be subject to the same regular and rigorous testing as is found in Canada.

However, according to Egan, PPS's regulated growing techniques have caused some Canadian users to complain about the quality and taste of the company's product.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

flickr - caninest

In the last few years, illegal wolf kills in the Upper Peninsula have been going up as more sportsman become convinced that wolves are harming the deer population.

The antipathy toward wolves might change now that the species is no longer federally protected, but it also might change as more research is done on other predators in the UP.

Howard Meyerson of the Grand Rapid Press, reports on deer predation research being conducted in Michigan's Upper Peninsula by Mississippi State University students.

So far, the research is showing a somewhat surprising result: that coyotes are a top predator of fawns in parts of the western UP.

From the Grand Rapids Press:

...what researchers found this past winter, the third year of a western U.P. deer mortality study, is that coyotes were the No. 1 predator followed by bobcats. Wolves came in fourth after a three-way tie among hunters, unknown predators and undetermined causes.

“I was somewhat surprised to see coyotes play as large a role in fawn predation as they did...,” said Jerry Belant, an associate professor of Wildlife Ecology and Management at Mississippi State University.

user brother o'mara / Flickr

Michigan-based bank among those to fail stress test

Ally Financial, headquartered in Detroit, made the Federal Reserve's list of major banks that failed to show they have enough capital to survive another serious downturn.

From the Associated Press:

The Federal Reserve says 15 of the 19 major banks stress-tested passed. The Fed noted that all 19 banks are in a much stronger position than immediately after the 2008 financial crisis. Still, SunTrust, Ally Financial and MetLife joined Citi in failing to meet the test's minimum capital requirements.

Ally Financial released a statement saying the Fed's analysis "dramatically overstates potential contingent mortgage risk, especially with respect to newer vintages of loans."

The Fed reviewed the bank balance sheets to determine whether they could withstand a crisis that sends unemployment to 13 percent, causes stock prices to be cut in half and lowers home prices 21 percent from today's levels.

Mixed reactions to Gov. Snyder's consent agreement plan for Detroit rescue

Yesterday, Detroit City Council saw a proposed consent agreement put forward by Gov. Rick Snyder and state treasurer Andy Dillon. The agreement proposes a financial advisory board, among other things, to help right Detroit's financial problems.

The initial reaction from many on city council and Mayor Dave Bing was negative - with several saying the plan takes too much power away from the city's elected leaders.

The Detroit Free Press gathered reaction from Detroit residents, which they say, was mixed. Here's one example:

Sherina Sharpe, 31, a lifelong Detroit resident who teaches writing, said she doesn't know what the best course of action is, but she wants to see the city flourish and isn't ready to shoot down proposed solutions.

"I'm open to solutions as long as they actually benefit the people who live here," she said.

You can read the agreement and weigh-in with your thoughts here.

Broadband deal reaches across Big Mac and into the Upper Peninsula

The Mackinac Bridge won't just transport people and goods, it will also transport large packets of information under a new deal announced yesterday. From the Associated Press:

Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday announced a deal between the nonprofit Merit Network Inc. and the Mackinac Bridge Authority. It allows Merit Network to purchase strands of cable crossing the 5-mile-long Mackinac Bridge for use in a fiber-optic broadband project called REACH-3MC.

The project is part of an effort to expand broadband access in Michigan. Snyder says it will help "serve job creators and the Upper Peninsula."

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