Public Education to Protect A Fragile Peninsula

Public Education to Protect A Fragile Peninsula

By Friends of the Land of Keweenaw

Development pressures, especially on shorelines, have greatly increased over the last few years on the Keweenaw Peninsula in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, home to spectacular scenery and many rare plants and natural communities. The Friends of the Land of Keweenaw have attempted to educate and activate the public about the dangers to aquatic habitats caused by unplanned development through activism and public education regarding good land use planning practices.

What do you consider the keys to your success?

(1) Our community was already predisposed to our message.

(2) We used existing research on the ecology of the Keweenaw Peninsula

(3) We received financial support from GLAHNF

(4) We had volunteers willing to donate lots of time and

(5) We used capable subcontractors.

How would you outline the steps in organizing your project to advise another group on a similar project?

Educate the public, find professional help, reach out to the community, be non-confrontational and forward-looking.

What have been the effects of this effort on your organization’s work?

It substantially raised public awareness about our organization.

How has the project affected your community?

People are more aware that this is a critical time for action. Activism has greatly increased.

What particular stumbling blocks, challenges, or defeats did you encounter?

The success of our project mostly depended, in the end, on the cooperation of the major landowner in the Keweenaw International Paper. They are a new owner to the area and are a huge, hard-to-reach multinational corporation.

How many people were involved?

Less than 10 people did most of the organizing. About 50-100 folks have contacted us to become more active, and approximately 300 people hours were devoted to the project.

How was public involvement motivated and facilitated?

Through the use of two websites and holding a public meeting on the issue that was attended by 225 people. Contacts to become more active were facilitated through an interactive page on the website, letters to organizations and individuals, and a sign-up form at the meeting.

How was public education a component of your program?

This was the major goal of our effort. We felt that the public had to be educated to be activated.

What was the primary means of communication?

Websites and a public meeting. We also were very active in reaching out to the media and got very good coverage.

What resources were available/acquired/tapped into?

We had two related projects, two websites and a public meeting. The public meeting effort was supported by three other environmental organizations. Total project costs were about $4,500. About one-half of that amount was covered by the grant from GLAHNF; the rest by donations and $700 from FOLK.

What level of media exposure were you able to obtain and how did it affect your efforts?

Our media exposure was very good and included television, press, and radio. Media exposure was very essential to our overall goal of public education.

FOLK [Friends of the Land of Keweenaw]
Greg Kudray
RR 1, Box 492 Chassell, MI 49916

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