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Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith.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...

Home · Articles · News · Region Watch · Fire in the Forest:...
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Fire in the Forest: Suspected Arsonist‘s Trial Underscores a Trend that‘s all too Human

Robert Downes - November 25th, 2004
After a number of suspicious fires were set in the Huron-Manistee National Forests over the past four years, a task force of forestry and law enforcement officials received tips from the public leading to suspected arsonist James Earl Sherwood of Mio.
Sherwood, 33, was arrested on June 2, and released on an electronic tether with a $75,000 bond. Last week, he was charged by a federal grand jury in Bay City with setting fires in the forest on a number of occasions from 2001-2004. Sherwood will face trial in U.S. District Court South on arson charges of “creating a risk of death or serious injury to others and causing damages” to the national forests.
The trial underscores the fact that most forest fires in Michigan are set by humans, either intentionally or by accident, rather than Mother Nature.
“We don’t have as many forest fires in Michigan as out west where there can be several thousand in a day from lightning starts,” says Kenneth Arbogast, public affairs officer for the Huron-Manistee National Forests. “Most of the fires in Michigan are started by people, either by burning garbage or campfires that get out of control, or in a few instances because they are set on purpose.”
By contrast, only 2% of Michigan forest fires are started by lightning, according to state records.

In Sherwood’s case, forestry officials are unable to determine exactly how many fires the suspect is alleged to have set. “There were a number of acres burned because there were multiple starts,” Arbogast says, adding that investigators received a great deal of information from the public which led to the suspect’s arrest.
Fires are taken seriously in central Northern Michigan because the region is one of the state’s tinderbox areas. More than 100 years ago, the region was cleared of virgin oak and pine during Michigan’s lumber era. Those old growth forests were replaced largely with jack pine, which is susceptible to forest fire.
Data from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reveals the northern heart of the state as a primary wildfire zone. During the period from 1981-2000, there were 351 forest fires in Kalkaska County, 519 fires in Otsego County, 698 in Crawford County and 371 in Roscommon.
On April 30, 2000, extremely dry conditions aided a wildfire near Mio which torched 5,200 acres. It took nearly 300 firefighters a week to put out the fire, which required the evacuation of 30 area residents.
A far bigger fire occurred near Grayling in May 1990. Known as the Stephan Bridge Road fire, the blaze destroyed 76 homes and 125 other buildings, 37 vehicles and boats, and 5,900 acres of the forest.
“At one point in the fire, the rate of spread was an astonishing 277 feet per minute,” claims a state emergency response manual.

The fire near Grayling was the result of a controlled burn of a brush pile and cleared timber. An initial fire was put out, but even though there was still snow on the ground, it apparently smoldered unnoticed for weeks before spreading to the surrounding forest.
With spring and fall being peak times for wildfires in Northern Michigan, Arbogast warns that it’s best to get a burn permit to help offset liability in case a blaze gets out of control.
“People need to understand that it’s pretty serious if a fire escapes your control if you’re burning without a permit,” he says. “You’re going to be responsible for damage to the forest and for what it costs to put it out, or even if private homes are destroyed.” Having a burn permit offers a shield on liability, since fire hazard conditions are assessed by forestry officials before permits are granted.
There’s no lack of forest land at risk for fire in Northern Michigan. The 481,000-acre Manistee National Forest ranges from Manistee to Cadillac and then south to White Cloud, while the Huron National Forest ranging from Mio to Lake Huron is of similar size, for a total of 964,413 acres. The Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore along with the Pere Marquette, Jordan Valley and Pigeon River state forests add to the region’s fire potential.
What happens when a wildfire kicks up? Arbogast says Michigan benefits from a National Response Agency which brings firefighters to the region to help DNR and volunteer fire departments if and when a forest fire gets out of control.
“Last year we brought some smokejumpers in from out west to help out,” he says. “The good thing in Michigan is that our fire season always happens earlier than out west. We see most of our fires in April or May, so they’re able to help out before their own fire season starts.”

Crystal Clear

$8.5 million purchase
brings peace like a river

After 18 years of one of the bitterest environmental fights in Northern Michigan‘s history, there‘s finally some closure on the purchase of 104 acres and 6,300 feet of frontage along the Crystal River for inclusion in the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore.
Price tag: $8.5 million, to be digested in bits and pieces by the National Park Service (NPS).
Last week, park superintendent Dusty Schultz announced that 22 acres of the property owned by The Homestead resort will be purchased immediately by the NPS.
Congress has already appropriated over $1 million and the NPS has allocated another $650,000 for the purchase.
An additional 23 acres is being held by The Homestead for sale to the NPS, using $22 million appropriated by Congress last week. The rest of the 104-acre parcel, 59 acres including prime frontage on the Crystal River, will be purchased immediately by the Leelanau Conservancy.
The Conservancy will borrow the $4.85 million in order to purchase the land. A three-year plan has the NPS buying the land in segments from the Conservancy as federal funds become available. The $8.5 million price for the land was established last summer by an independent appraiser hired by the NPS.
“Our role here is as an intermediary,” says Conservancy President Craig Miller. “We still have a way to go before we are bought out by the National Park Service, and we’re taking a significant risk, but we’re ecstatic that we could help put together a plan that will protect this spectacular natural treasure.”
“The resolution is a win-win for the public, for the river, and for The Homestead,” says Vik Theiss, vice president of Friends of the Crystal River.
“We’ve always felt that the best alternative to our initial plan for the use of the property was preservation, “said Robert Kuras, president of The Homestead, which had dreams of establishing a golf course on the property when the fight over the Crystal began in the 1980s. “We’re pleased to see the hard work of the Conservancy and the NPS come to a conclusion that benefits everyone in our community.”

TRUCKS KEEP A‘ ROLLIN: The latest twist in the great Canadian trash truck controversy is that there are now double the number of trucks hauling garbage over the border to Michigan compared to this time
last year.
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), whose office has generated enough press releases to fill a landfill on this subject, reports that there are now 415 Canadian trash trucks crossing the border each day to sully Michigan‘s soil, compared to an estimated 180 trucks per day last year.
Although the trash hauling issue figured in many a Michigan politician‘s campaign strategy in the recent election, the State appears powerless to stop the flow of Canadian trash and landfill cash. Canada, including the City of Toronto, sends its trash to Michigan because dump rates at the country‘s own landfills are far costlier due to more stringent environmental safeguards.
Stabenow and Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) hope to turn the matter into a Homeland Security issue. “... these trucks pose a unique homeland security risk, since by their very nature trucks full of garbage are extremely difficult for Customs agents to inspect as compared to traditional cargo,“ they wrote in a joint letter to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.

DIRTY WATER: The Friends of Boyne River are opposing the construction of a new wastewater treatment plant in Boyne City which will discharge into the river.
“We have worked very hard to help improve the river and make sure that it‘s safe for fish, fishermen and kayakers,“ says Scot Egleston, an environmental consultant in Gaylord. “Our argument is that the city is creating a point source of pollution where none had existed before. Not to mention the fact that it is wastewater effluent and studies are finding that even the treated effluent still has negative effects on fish.“
The group is appealing to the Michigan DNR and the city council with no effect thus far.
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