Freshwater Weekly: September 19, 2019

Posted on September 24, 2019 by

September 19, 2019

This week:  Menominee Tribal Chair Requests Michigan Governor to Revisit Permits for Risky Mine + Two Mining Permits Suspended in MN Court of Appeals + Cold Water Fish Habitat Decreases as a Result of Climate Change + More

Menominee Tribal Chair Requests Michigan Governor to Revisit Permits for Risky Mine

Douglas Cox, Tribal Chair for the Menominee Indian Nation requested Michigan Governor Whitmer to “revisit whether permits were improperly issued” in a letter to the editor.  Several permits for the mine were granted despite documents showing concerns from state and federal regulators.  

Gathering wild rice and harvesting lake sturgeon from the Menominee River are important to the tribe’s culture, yet the location of the proposed open-pit mine, as close as 100 feet from the river, threatens the river, wild rice and lake sturgeon through toxic sulfide drainage generated from the mining process.  

Over $6 million in federal funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and other sources has been invested in restoring the habitat for lake sturgeon in the Menominee River.  Just this week the first lake sturgeon fish ladder was completed.  Freshwater Future believes that utilizing these restoration dollars while allowing potential new harm to the region does not make good fiscal sense.

Two Mining Permits Suspended in MN Court of Appeals

Last January, a dam failure at a Brazilian tailings pond at an ore mine killed over 250 people.  The Minnesota Court of Appeals ordered a temporary stay for a mining permit and a dam safety permit for the proposed PolyMet mine until the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources advises the court in regards to an evaluation of the dam failure in Brazil and the new majority shareholder of the company (Glencore). 

Cold Water Fish Habitat Decreases as a Result of Climate Change

Warmer air temperatures mean warmer water in our lakes and rivers. Water temperature influences the amount of oxygen in water and what species of fish can live there.  Fisheries managers in the Great Lakes region are planning how to manage fish populations due to warmer temperatures in certain lakes. Walleye and cisco are two fish species particularly vulnerable to warming water; however, habitat for bass is increasing. 

Sinkholes Found to Add Water in Lake Huron

Scientists are studying large sinkholes in Lake Huron using remotely operated vehicles (ROV) to determine how much additional water they are adding to the lake.  The large sinkholes discovered about 18-years ago, are 300 feet across and 60 feet deep.  Knowing more about the sinkholes will be valuable in understanding the impacts on lake levels.

Donate to Freshwater Future’s Walk, Paddle and Roll fundraiser

Friends of Freshwater Future are walking, paddling, biking, and swimming around the Great Lakes region this summer with a goal to raise $7,500 to support the people working tirelessly to protect and restore our waters from source to tap.

With YOUR support, Freshwater Future is making sure that community groups across the Great Lakes have the tools and resources they need to make sure their water is safe for drinking and recreation. With your gift, we will:

  • Test water in homes and schools for lead contamination

  • Educate and engage youth around clean drinking water, building tomorrow’s leaders for environmental justice

  • Identify waters contaminated with toxic PFAS chemicals and educate people about this dangerous pollutant

  • Push for policy solutions that reduce pollution contributing to harmful algal blooms

  • And much more!


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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.