Upper Peninsula

 

Today on Stateside, Samuel Stanley Jr. officially took his place as Michigan State University's 21st president earlier this month. We talk to Stanley about his goals and plans for his first year in office. Plus, we talk about the ways climate change is already impacting human health in Michigan. 

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

A cougar was spotted in Gogebic County last month by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, making it the 39th cougar sighting in Michigan by the DNR since 2008.

Nearly all of those spottings have been in the Upper Peninsula.

The DNR says it's unlikely that there's a significant breeding population of cougars, otherwise known as moutain lions, in the U.P.

They say the animals likely emigrated to Michigan from South Dakota, Wyoming and northwest Nebraska.

Taylor Wizner

More and more school work is being done online, but some students across the country are falling behind their peers because they don’t have internet at home.

A river flows through a wooded landscape. The banks are lined with hemlock trees and half-melted piles of snow.
Kaye LaFond / Interlochen Public Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency is currently seeking public comment on an application for the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) to set their own water quality standards. The KBIC is based out of L'Anse Township in the Upper Peninsula.

Stephanie Cree, water resources specialist for the tribe, says they would be the first one in Michigan to have that authority.

“It's gonna allow us to set our own water quality standards for the waters here on the reservation, where right now we follow the standards of state and federal guidelines," she says.

GREGORY VARNUM

Electrical cables in the Straits of Mackinac were severed when an anchor struck them last year. More than 400 gallons of mineral oil, acting as a coolant, leaked out.

The Line 5 oil pipelines were damaged during the same incident.

A proposed tunnel would house Line 5 and the electrical cables to avoid more damage, an idea Enbridge Energy supports and Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she is open to.

But in a letter, Vice President of American Transmission Company Tom Finco says that plan could be dangerous.

GREGORY VARNUM

The Line 5 oil pipelines in the straits of Mackinac were struck by an anchor last April. Then at a hearing held by U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) in August, Enbridge Energy Vice President David Bryson pledged to release information on the strike.

Wikimedia Commons

Judges say Michigan’s 1st Congressional District was gerrymandered and needs to be redrawn. It was part of a federal court ruling announced Thursday.

Michigan's 1st Congressional District streches over most of northern Michigan and the entire Upper Peninsula. In their decision, the judges said the district was drawn to benefit Republican candidates.

Kaye LaFond / Interlochen Public Radio

A controversial plan for a wind farm in the Upper Peninsula has been cancelled. Renewable Energy Systems was behind the project which aimed to put 49 wind turbines across 28,000 acres in L’Anse Township.

In a statement, RES said the project was no longer financially or logistically viable.

Wikimedia Commons

 

Northern Michigan University is holding workshops for Upper Peninsula communities on how to practice sustainable tourism.

Outdoor destination travel is growing in northern Michigan, with Marquette County bringing in about $75 million each year.

But NMU Assistant Professor Scott Jordan says some rural communities feel exploited.

"One way to address that is to involve community members in making decisions about the tourism economy. That gives them a sense of power," he says.

Kaye LaFond / Interlochen Public Radio

This week on Points North, a renewable energy company wants to build a wind farm in a forested part of the Upper Peninsula, but there’s resistance. Plus, the last coal plant providing electricity in the U.P. shuts down.


From the top of a mountain, a snowy landscape with trees reveals a view of Lake Superior in the distance.
Kaye LaFond / Interlochen Public Radio

Most wind energy projects in Michigan are on farmland in the southern part of the state. They are often controversial even there, but one company wants to put a wind farm in an Upper Peninsula forest. Many community members don’t feel that’s the right place either.

NMU brings high-speed internet to more of the U.P.

Mar 29, 2019
Educational Access Network/NMU

 

High-speed internet access is reaching even more communities in the Upper Peninsula.

Northern Michigan University plans to double the number of communities its Educational Access Network serves over the next few years.

Ten years ago, NMU received a waiver from the Federal Communications Commission to use public broadband airwaves. Before that, some students who lived off campus couldn’t complete their online homework because they didn’t have high-speed internet. 

Marty Achatz poses with a Sasquatch statue
Marty Achatz/Facebook

 

Marty Achatz was more than a little surprised to be nominated as the Upper Peninsula Poet Laureate for a second time.

"I was absolutely flabbergasted," he says. "Stunned for a couple days."

 

Regardless of what Achatz says, the Ishpeming native is a fan favorite for a reason. Reading his poems you can feel the pangs of heartache and moments of joy in equal measure.

Taylor Wizner

This week on Points North, a community prepares to be stranded on an island in the middle of winter. Plus, a furrier transforms animal pelts into expensive clothes. 


Upper Peninsula
Wikimedia Commons

 

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office says it will do whatever it can to block a proposed price increase on electricity in the Upper Peninsula.

The Upper Peninsula Power Company (UPPCO) hopes to raise their rates, which would bring in almost $10 million. If approved, it would mean customers' bills will increase by 10 percent.

Assistant Attorney General Michael Moody says the power company is asking for too much.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration has given western Upper Peninsula counties a grant to rebuild flood-damaged roads.

USER: ADAMSHOOP / FLICKER

Researchers at Michigan Technological University will pump water down mine shafts in the Upper Peninsula, spinning hydroelectric turbines along the way.

Roman Sidortsov, professor of Energy Policy at Michigan Tech, says that could generate renewable energy. Sidortsov says the UP relies on importing electricity that comes from fossil fuels, but this research could provide a homegrown alternative for the region.

"You can basically start developing your own energy," Sidortsov says. "[These] kinds of installations do generate quite a bit of economic activity."

Lee Erck smokes his pipe in the basement of his home just outside Marquette.
Dan Wanschura

Just off U.S. Highway 41 outside of Marquette, there’s an old man who lives alone in a small, one-bedroom house. Most days he's upstairs sitting at his desk or downstairs in his workshop. There he makes some of the best tobacco pipes in the world.

 


Morgan Springer

 

The percentage of Americans who fish is in decline and that decline has had an impact on conservation projects, because hunting and fishing licenses help fund everything from habitat restoration to clean water programs.

Federal Communications Commission

Thousands more people could soon have broadband internet access in the Upper Peninsula. 

Software giant Microsoft Corp. has announced it’s partnering with Packerland Brodband, a small internet service provider based in Iron Mountain. 

Well... it's not an absolute "no."

It's more of a "probably not," given what we've learned about the Huron Mountain Club in reporting this story.

We'll get to the downright practical ways you might get into the club below. In the meantime, we'll just say it doesn't hurt your chances if you’re Channing Tatum, or related to Henry Ford (and even Ford had trouble getting in).

It’s been a pretty rotten year for the farmers who grow timothy hay, a Michigan crop that's not very familiar to most.

Timothy hay is an important feed for horses, cattle and small animals, like pet bunnies and guinea pigs, among others.

Some of the best timothy hay comes from the eastern Upper Peninsula, but farmers there are enduring a season that will go into the record books for all the wrong reasons.

There is no better reminder of what a diverse state we live in than contemplating the differences between the Upper Peninsula and the Lower Peninsula.

Wil Rankinen​ is an associate professor of communication sciences and disorders at Grand Valley State. He's also a born and raised "Yooper." Rankinen is spending his summer exploring the way Yoopers talk by criss-crossing the UP to record long-time residents.

It's the heart of winter, and there you are in the heart of the Upper Peninsula, wanting to raise some money for the community.

If you're the Rotary Club of Iron Mountain-Kingsford, you embrace the winter and come up with a pretty unique fundraiser: the Car Plunge Contest.

Jayna Huotari, secretary of the Iron Mountain-Kingsford Rotary Club, joined Stateside to talk about the third annual contest, including how placing bets on when a 1998 Saturn will fall through the ice became a fun, and successful, fundraiser.

ENBRIDGE

An environmental group from Traverse City is challenging the claim that Line 5 is needed to keep residents of the Upper Peninsula warm.

FLOW released a report this week about the oil and gas line that runs under the Straits of Mackinac. The group says the line is an "immanent hazard" to the Great Lakes and the report says Enbridge exaggerates the number of homes heated with propane pumped in on Line 5.

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