Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

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Disappearing Forest

Logging near the VASA trail has activists concerned

Patrick Sullivan - December 19th, 2011  
Logging near the VASA trail has activists concerned

Windwalker in a section of land in East Bay Township, not far from Timber Ridge Resort. This land is marked for logging. (Photos by Patrick Sullivan)

Jenevive Windwalker in a section of land near the VASA trail that has recently been logged.

Some neighbors near the VASA trail are worried the state is stepping up timber harvests in the area and encroaching on the beloved skiing and cycling trail.

They point to a piece of land cleared near the Supply Road parking lot for the 50K loop and a compartment mark for logging between the trail and a nearby neighborhood.

“This is not a forest anymore. It won’t be a forest for the rest of my lifetime,” said Jenevive Windwalker, a neighbor who has grown concerned about logging, as she walked through a recently logged section of woods near the 50K loop parking lot.

Windwalker lives nearby, off Rasho Road, and like thousands of others, uses the state forest land near her house for mountain biking, hiking and skiing.

She’s lived there for 14 years, but she says it is logging activity in the past year or so that has caused her to take action.

Windwalker wants to stop some of the logging and she recently canvassed area neighborhoods in an effort to organize opposition to logging efforts that get too close to the VASA trail and recreation areas.

She said she recently went door-to-door in a neighborhood near Timber Ridge Resort and found that most people shared her concern about the logging.


Pat Ruppen, a Department of Natural Resources Forester, said there is no logging going on right now and the department works closely with the VASA and TART Trails to manage the adjacent forest in a way that is beneficial to recreation users.

“We have a really good relationship with the VASA,” Ruppen said. “We talk about everything. We go out on site and we work with them.”

He said residents of a neighborhood are upset about a compartment of land slated to be cut which is not adjacent to the VASA.

“I think they’re using the VASA banner to try to get attention to this subdvision issue,” he said.

Ruppen said foresters determine how to manage a particular piece of land depending on many factors. He says forests often need to be managed to regenerate tree stands or to control tree diseases like oak welt, Dutch elm, or beech bark disease.

In the case of the VASA, there are some aspen stands adjacent to the trail that need to be managed and cut because those trees have short life spans and pose a danger to the trail, Ruppen said.

He said concern about a recent escalation in logging, particularly under the Snyder administration, is misplaced. The decisions made in East Bay Township around the VASA trail were made in 2008 before Snyder took office.

“We would have done most of the work in 2009, but we spread this out,” Ruppen said. He said the work was spread out over 10 years out of consideration to the trails.


On a foot path that begins where Roselawn Drive ends, Windwalker points to the section of trees she is worried about. She said the forest is used by area residents for recreation and as a pathway to the VASA trails.

She walked out to the point where private land turns to state land and where another section of trees is slated for removal.

Property lines are marked and the trees that are supposed to remain have been marked in blue.

“Most of it, if not all of it, is marked to be cut,” she said. “I feel like we’re running out of time.”

In another part of the forest that has been recently cut, Windwallker said she believes the forest that will eventually grow back is inferior to the older growth forest that was destroyed.

“This is just scrap and the stuff that grows up is junk. They’re not leaving healthy, solid trees to mature,” Windwalker said.

She said the loss of forest land hurts her personally.

“It changes the esthetics from heavily wooded forest areas to more open savannah areas,” Tarnow said. But “the underbrush grows very quickly in open areas and after a couple of years it fills in.” ~Michael Tarnow

“For me, it’s like being in the forest is where I go to relieve my stress.”


Just as some observers are concerned about logging on state land south of TC, the Snyder administration announced plans to more aggressively target timber as a natural resource that can bolster the state’s economy.

A 10-member “timber advisory council” under the DNR is heavily weighted in favor of the timber industry, according to a recent press release. The DNR announced the council Dec. 6 and noted that of the 10 members, eight come from the industry.

Greg Reisig, chairman of the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council, said his organization is worried about the aggressive stance taken by the DNR in Michigan’s forests.

“NMEAC is also concerned about excessive cutting on state land, we have had some calls in the past on this,” Reisig said.

He said the state should do a better job of factoring the cost of losing diverse forest lands when they calculate the economic benefits of logging.

“We had heard that (DNR Director) Rodney Stokes had indicated that he wanted more cutting,” Reisig said. “We’re somewhat concerned about that, because the DNR is also supposed to be in charge of natural resource protection and we would hate to see more forest land disappear.”


Michael Tarnow, vice president of the VASA race board, said he believes the logging that has gone on near the VASA single track parking lot and the 50K race loop is finished now.

“We are told that the logging is complete and that the loggers should be out of there soon and that these trails should be left in skiable condition,” Tarnow said.

He said he doesn’t expect there to be any problems on the trail as a result of the logging that has taken place.

“It changes the esthetics from heavily wooded forest areas to more open savannah areas,” Tarnow said. But “the underbrush grows very quickly in open areas and after a couple of years it fills in.”

Julie Clark, executive director of TART trails, which manages the VASA pathway, the recreational section of the trail, said there hasn’t been any logging adjacent to that trail.

“In general, we’ve been really appreciative of how the DNR tries to respect the use of the trail, not that it’s always perfect,” Clark said. “That is such an amazing amenity out there and you don’t want to ruin it.”


Reisig said someone like Windwalker can affect state policy through activism and she might be able to save some land from loggers if she is tenacious.

“Usually, no one says anything, because these things just happen,” Reisig said.

He said perhaps if citizens speak out, they can slow down loggers.

“What we’ve found in the past is that both DEQ and the DNR do respond to citizen input,” Reisig said.

Windwalker hopes so. She believes that what grows back after a logging operation isn’t as good as what gets taken away.

Especially in areas where people like to ride mountain bikes, because once an area is logged, the loss of the canopy can mean the area is hotter in the summer.

“I need my wilderness in order to survive,” she said. Walking through an untouched part of the forest, she added: “In the summer this provides shade. It’s really dark and mysterious here.”

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