Archive for ‘Fauna’

November 18, 2017

Tundra Swan (Whistler) Migration

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November 18, 2017

The Color Was Pink

November 14, 2017

Fall Color in Minnesota

October 16, 2017

What would Sigurd say?

 

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Sigurd F Olson believed that beauty could be destroyed by a sound or a thought.  He spent his life championing protection of all wilderness, in particular the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area.  He lived in Ely, Minnesota and built a cabin on Burntside Lake where he meditated and found peace.  He knew that the appreciation of beauty was love at its essence, a profound appreciation of wilderness; and beauty, a necessity for our survival.

In northern Minnesota spans the wilderness he held so dear; and he lived his life in appreciation of wilderness through his writings and his advocacy.  He helped spare the BWCA from an onslaught of interests that would have destroyed it through the construction of roads, permits for motor boats, planes and eventual development. Would he have failed to stand up to copper mining interests?

As Minnesotans and stewards of the Arrowhead, at heart of three of the greatest river systems in North America, we are on a precipice.  What greater security is there than wilderness, clean water and air, the beauty and the silence of untouched wild areas?  International interests, determined to mine copper in the big Stoney, the great Minnesota Arrowhead, seek permission to do so.  Should we open this Pandora’s Box at any price?

Once copper sulfide mining has begun, the entire region, by precedent, will succumb to other like-mines in and surrounding the BWCAW, which lies on this prospect, that of the Duluth Gabbro Complex or the big Stoney.  There are already over a thousand prospecting holes, which have been drilled at the boundary of the BWCAW and along Kawishiwi River and Birch Lake to date.

Estimations through computer modeling have determined that 20 years of the proposed Polymet mine would destroy at minimum 912.5 acres of irreplaceable wetlands at the mining site alone, and as a consequence flora and fauna dependent on these waters, leaving a toxic environment for hundreds of years, perhaps into perpetuity.  The boundaries unknown.

Consider that the St Louis watershed consists of 3,696 square miles of mostly open wetlands and high quality habitat for plants and animals… including, as an example, the home of “100 Mile Swamp” between the two watersheds of Embarrass and Partridge rivers .  St Louis River’s headwaters are located at Seven Beavers Lake near the proposed Hoyt Lakes processing plant and a few miles south of the mining site in corporate Babbitt.  It’s headwaters flow for 179 miles before becoming a 12,000-acre freshwater estuary near Lake Superior, where it enters the body of the Great Lakes.

The mine site will be located in Babbitt, which hosts both the St Louis River watershed and the Rainy River watershed.  Can we be assured that the water in contact with waste rock there and therefore, discharge of sulfuric acid and other contaminants will not be shed into the Rainy River Basin which contains the BWCAW, Voyageurs National Park, Vermilion Lake and River, Crane Lake and others?

The processing center, also, is located in a complicated geological area of the Laurentian Divide at Hoyt Lakes.  The Embarrass River and the Partridge River on either side of this Divide will be affected.  In addition, the Vermilion River watershed is adjacent to the Embarrass River watershed on the north.  What long term effects will be seen here as well?  This is one of many unknowns.

I feel certain that Sigurd Olson would have stood up to copper mining interests.  He would have stood up to interests that threaten to destroy the wilderness of northern Minnesota.  He spoke plainly and with an understanding that the battle goes on forever and that we must all have a hand in protecting wilderness.

Through blasting, transportation corridors, energy needs like the coal fired plant in Silver Bay, water pollution, air pollution, noise pollution … what will be left of this wilderness that we now know as the north woods of Minnesota?  The smallest creatures, insects, fungus, flora, fauna will be poisoned by these mines and this will affect the larger creatures that depend upon them, like birds, deer, wolves, lynx, creatures great and small.

Polymet alone will be applying for over 20 permits.  Included in these are “water appropriation permits”, which is a benign way of saying water mining permits, dam safety permitting, permits for taking endangered species and others needed to make this mine palatable.

For our national security, for the health of this planet, big Stoney of the “mother of waters”, Lake Superior, should be considered of far greater importance than any short term gains that may be had through mining this precious and priceless natural resource.  Please let the National Forest Service, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and the Bureau of Land Management know that you do not want the St Louis River watershed and the Great Lakes to serve as a conduit for wastewater from a copper sulfide mine in the Arrowhead.

There are no guarantees but this, that water will find its way to the sea through our Great Lakes from these proposed mining operations.  Are we prepared for the consequences? The health of this planet may be determined by our will to continue the fight.

 

 

 

 

September 24, 2017

Butterfly

August 20, 2017

A copper sulfide mine in the Arrowhead of Minnesota will change the meaning of “north woods” as we know it.

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Over a century’s toll of mining iron ore in the uplands of the Laurentian Divide:

For the sake of our waters and the northern ecology of this priceless watershed, please send your comments by September 12, 2017 to:

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/polymet/permitting/water_app.html#plymtwap

August 6, 2017

The difference between “endangered” and “threatened” can make all the difference …. to a mine.

Timber wolves have long shared the wilderness with mankind and so it is in Northern Minnesota.  If Polymet builds a copper mine in the Arrowhead of Minnesota, and sets the precedent for other companies to do the same, it becomes obvious, then, why the removal of wolves and others from the “endangered species” list has been such a persistent issue.   In order to mine, the taking of endangered species becomes an added cost, since a permit must be issued for the taking.

Among the animals that have been taken from “endangered” to “threatened” are the gray wolf and the Canada lynx.  I include just one link below.

https://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/lists/minnesot-spp.html

Our water will be more than “threatened” by a mine in this wilderness, and so will the lives of all species in the area, whether “endangered”, “threatened” or not.  A rose by any other name is still a rose.

April 24, 2017

Swan and Mallards

April 19, 2017

What harm could mining do in the watershed of the BWCA and headwaters of the Mississippi River?

In light of the ongoing process to permit the Polymet to mine copper in Babbitt with a processing center in Hoyt Lakes, I am reposting my article first published in November, 2012:

A view of Northern Minnesota as the battle rages for copper, sulfide mining near the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area.

 

April 11, 2017

Captive Swan

April 11, 2017

Meleagris gallopavo over the Minnesota River Valley

March 21, 2017

Grasshopper

February 21, 2017

What does wealth mean to you?

 

I had long ago decided to be happy … but got distracted along the way by so many things that occurred to cloud the issue, the issue of living honestly and with integrity … finding joy as a child would, naturally.

One cannot be happy without this and there is no wealth without it either.  Where do you find your joy?

To be satisfied with what one has; that is wealth.  As long as one sorely needs a certain additional amount, that man isn’t rich.

Mark Twain

February 13, 2017

In the Shelter of a Tree

fall_walk_painting

One can view this house on the way to Silver Lake by bus.  The tree on its east, now gone, was a reminder of the elms that stood majestically along the boulevards in Minneapolis over 45 years ago.  These trees have been taken down in great numbers … because, it seems, it was more cost effective to lumber them than to save them.

Trees are money of course.  Never mind that they harbor and nourish wildlife, birds of all kinds and others, including humans, that require the shelter, the food, the shade, breadth and breath of an old tree.

Heart-sick watching these giants being harvested in the city of Minneapolis … to make room for more big box houses and parking lots, water parks, roads, sidewalks, and for pulp, mulch, or table tops and doors.

When will we, as a society, learn that old growth trees are essential … that we need clean air … clean water … and earth that is growing?  In this regard, trees are vital.  Money will not provide this. We will continue to see species extermination until this is learned in earnest throughout the whole of human society.

Do we own our technology, or does it own us?  Do we own our possessions, or do they own us?  Will we be happier with bigger houses and fancier cars, trips to somewhere else when we have no true investment in the places we live? Better not to grow any investment if it means destroying our base and, with it, the living legacy of our old trees.

I miss the canopy that stood over the boulevards in Minneapolis when I arrived almost 50 years ago … replaced by saplings, which are being trimmed regularly to optimize board feet when harvested. The arbor that arched over our streets cannot be replaced in an entire lifetime.  What kind of world are we making on our way to making money?

 

February 8, 2017

Bird in the Wind

bird_in_tree_3000

January 21, 2017

Gifts

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What will we do with the gifts we’ve been given?

January 19, 2017

Forest Service Reneges on its responsibility to protect our waters in lands entrusted to their care …

As of this past week the Forest Service of the United States has issued a decision agreeing to the land exchanges that Polymet will need to mine copper in lands that the USFS had been tasked to protect, at the headwaters of the Great Lakes and water ways on the border of the BWCAW.  I am including a link below to this monumental decision, which, in effect, betrays the public trust giving public lands in the exchange for the private interests of a multi-national corporation.

Forest Service’s ROD on Land Exchange

The process will require permits allowing degradation of air and water quality and another comment period.  It will also, at times, require Polymet to get a permit to take endangered species.  One reason that the  timber wolf may have been taken off of the “endangered species” list, among other equally expedient reasons.

I include links to the status of some of these required permits:

Status and submissions for Polymet’s air quality permit (NorthMet Project)

Status and submissions for Polymet’s water quality permit (NorthMet Project)

Status and submissions for Polymet’s request for 401 certification (NorthMet Project)

How did this prospect ever get a start?

January 5, 2017

Mallard

mallard_linden_hills

January 5, 2017

Longing for the Monarchs

monarch_on_Echinacea

January 5, 2017

Flying Free?

Mixed Media Photos: This snowy was taken at the Minnesota Zoo and photoshop’d into other backgrounds taken earlier.  It’s easy to see the rough outline in flight of the first.  Took more time on the second.  Fun.

Many years back, in winter, I had seen one land on a streetlight during my break. From the distance, he looked like a huge white gull; and it wasn’t until I had driven closer that I knew better.  Not a sight one sees very often around Minneapolis … and so I hadn’t been prepared.

The size at perch and in flight, so different.  Same for the bald eagle, which seems quite a bit smaller until it spreads those magnificent wings.

January 5, 2017

Walking Lake Calhoun

Seven photos taken at various times on walks around Lake Calhoun.

December 26, 2016

Puma

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December 21, 2016

Pretty Bird, the Kookaburra

Kookaburra_bird_46

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December 3, 2016

Two Birds

2-birds

November 28, 2016

Dear Ones

November 9, 2016

Migizi, gichi-manidoo

It was believed by the Native Americans that eagles served as messengers between humans and the Creator, a spiritual messenger and symbol of courage and truth and, to some, the embodiment of the Great Spirit.  To almost every Indian Nation, the eagle is sacred.

As one Indian legend tells it, a thundercloud appeared on the horizon when the Earth was created, descending upon the tree tops in thunder and lightning; and as the mists cleared , an eagle sat perched upon the highest branch. Gliding slowly from his perch, extending his talons to the ground, he became a man … and so the spiritual representation of eagles as messengers.

As Indian summer arrived this month in beautiful color along the Mississippi River bluffs, we spotted this bald eagle in a solitary old tree over the site of “wakon-teebe”, observing him for quite a while, well aware of our presence, until his descent to the ground out of our view.

November 7, 2016

On the Bluffs over Wakon-teebe

st_paul_overlook_2016

The pictured overlook stands on the bluffs above a cave that the Indians named wakon-teebe, known by various names as Dwelling of the Great Spirit or Mystery, House of Spirits  and the Spirit House.  It contains a crystal pool fed by spring water that had reported flows of 25 gallons per minute and held ancient Indian hieroglyphs, until they were destroyed by railroad construction.  A shadow of the original visited by Jonathan Carver in 1766, this cave stands on the banks of the Mississippi in the bed of what was once the great river, Warren, which discharged glacial waters from the largest lake ever known, Lake Agassiz.

What stood thousands of years took relatively little time to desecrate.  St. Paul & Chicago Railroad condemned the strip of land along its river bank, dug it down and nearly destroyed it.  Most of what was carved away held the cave’s petroglyphs.  The entrance is now sealed by a steel door following habitation during the Great Depression, curiosity seekers and landscaping for public and private use, all of which could not help to change the essence of what it was for thousands of years to the Native Americans.  The Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary is now home to this “spirit cave” and there have been improvements in the surrounding park.

The bluffs above wakon-teebe, designated Indian Mounds Park, hold sacred burial mounds many of which have been destroyed for expediency.  Only six were spared of at least 37 known in the area, to be registered as historic preservation sites.

At the overlook above the cave, garbage was strewn everywhere, the only two garbage cans, overflowing … plastic bags, pop cans, trash in abundance down the side of this bluff.  Votive candles on the stone walls below a solitary old tree testified to the still sacred nature of this place, where a vigilant bald eagle perched above the river valley.

Views from the bluffs are breathtaking and reveal the immensity of this river valley, filled now with artifacts of our “progress” — an airport, trains and tracks, barges and, among other things, Pigs Eye Waste Treatment Plant, while the Great Spirit has, evidently, been evicted and locked out, perhaps perched in the old tree above the cave.

The ironies still amaze and befuddle as mankind’s journey to full cognition remains, seemingly, elusive.

October 29, 2016

Setting Precedent / The Danger of Copper Mining at the headwaters of the Great Lakes

The state of Minnesota made a mistake in the late 1800’s by permitting a mine at the Hill of Three Waters in what is now known as the Hull Rust Mine.  By diverting the attention away from the actual fountainhead of the Mississippi so that mines could be established, and declaring the “official” head at Lake Itasca, a 2 mile square lake in the far west of the state, this made mining possible on the Iron Range; and has been a primary cause of pollution in the great Mississippi River and its wetlands at the source.  It has also set precedent for more mining in the highlands of the Laurentian Divide, the primary recharge source for three great rivers of the world, that of the Mississippi River, Rainy River and the St Louis River (extreme headwaters of the Great Lakes and the St Lawrence Seaway).  Now we stand to see another precedent set, one for copper mining.

DNR approval of the FEIS for NorthMet in March 2016, and subsequent opening for Polymet to proceed with applications for permits has opened the potential of a floodgate of pollution from copper mining in one of the most water rich and water dependent ecosystems in the North American continent, at the headwaters of three great rivers ….  There is, literally, no other place like it- because of this.

Links to information on the NorthMet Project in Northern Minnesota

If these permits are approved, allowing for a reduction in air and water quality and destruction of wetlands just south and along the border of the BWCAW, it will open the door to United States Forest Service approval of the land exchange, an exchange that Polymet cannot do without.

If the USFS approves the land exchange, this would be forfeiting its authority to mining interests over lands that were set aside for protection. The Forest Service would be trading, not only lands, but a trust that these ecosystems would be protected from exploitation for generations to come.

Polymet will be mining water resources, destroying wetlands, by their own admission; and, in effect, degrading natural resources, flora and fauna, with its lease to continuously extract metals in an open-pit mine. They will be requiring permits to do all of this, including permits to take endangered species on lands that the Forest Service was given in trust.

In addition, this would help establish precedent that could facilitate more land exchanges of this type. By trading these lands, USFS would, essentially, be demonstrating a lack of will in exercising its authority and create a barter system that conflicts with the role as steward.  It would allow exploitation and cannot be reconciled with this public trust … water being their most sacred trust.

The entire state and beyond would pay the price.

Status and submissions for Polymet’s air quality permit (NorthMet Project)

Status and submissions for Polymet’s water quality permit (NorthMet Project)

Status and submissions for Polymet’s request for 401 certification (NorthMet Project)

Highlights of second quarter 2016 as reported by September 15, 2016

May sanity prevail.

October 24, 2016

Fruits of Fossil Fuel

We can all agree that the advent of fossil fuel extraction and use has changed our world.  What does this mean?

Benzene is found in the air from burning coal and oil, at gasoline service stations, and in motor vehicle exhaust.  Some effects from short term inhalation are impaired driving from dizziness and sleepiness, and unconsciousness (at high levels).  It is known to cause irritation to eye, skin, and respiratory tract as well as creating changes in the composition of red blood cells, increased incidence of leukemia, risks to the fetus in pregnancy among other toxic risks.  It is known by the EPA as a known human carcinogen for all routes of exposure.

Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) and Nitrogen Oxides (NOX) are known to cause acid rain which affects our waterways and forests, destroying these natural environments ability to sustain life.

http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/acid-rain-overview/

Petroleum Coke (Pet Coke): abundant toxins in heavy dust from bitumen: chromium, vanadium, sulfur, selenium … being used now in coal-fired power plants and emits 5-10 times more CO2 than coal.  Even so, it is excluded from most assessments of climate impact because it is considered a refinery byproduct.

Formaldehyde (from natural gas) a carcinogen with known links to leukemia and nasopharyngeal cancers, a potent allergen and DNA alterative, also contributes to ground-level ozone.  It is commonly used in fracking for which the industry does not report details of its use.

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) an entire class of toxic chemicals which are known as carcinogens and genetic mutagens are endemic in the production of oil and gas. We can already see the effects on wildlife after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mercury, largest single source of airborne mercury emissions in the U.S is from coal-fired plants from and is known as a dangerous neurotoxin.   It will affect the brain development of a child, delaying walking and conversation, attention span … high doses in the womb and in infants can cause mental retardation, cerebral palsy, deafness and blindness.  In adults it is known to affect a person’s ability to reproduce, can cause memory loss, numbness in the extremities ….

Silica Dust or crystalline silica (frac sand) is a carcinogen and breathing silica dust can lead to silicosis, which is a form of lung disease with no cure. Commonly used during fracking operations, each stage of the process requires hundreds of thousands of pounds of silica quartz–containing sand. Millions of pounds may be used for a single well.

Radon used is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas which though it comes from a variety of natural sources, the fracking industry represents a significant new and increased source of radon exposure to millions of citizens. Radon is released into local groundwater and air during fracking operations. It also travels through pipelines to the point of use—be it a power plant or a home.

Hydrofluoric Acid (HF) / Hydrogen Fluoride from oil and gas production is one of the most dangerous acids known and can damage lungs, moving into deep tissue, including bone, where it causes cellular damage.  It can be fatal if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

These are only 10 of the toxins attributed to the fossil fuel industry but there are other far reaching effects of oil, gas and coal production.

Greenhouse gas-induced climate change

Massive highway systems and traffic jams

War and increased Military, being one of the biggest consumers of fossil fuels

Loss of Wilderness

Pollution of the aquifers and air

Mountain-top removal

Earthquakes from fracking

Mining of water reserves

Species extinctions …

 

The automobile:  Could Henry Ford have imagined the long term results of widespread personal automobile use, the massive highway systems, the infrastructure to supply oil, pipelines through aquifers, offshore drilling and spills in marine ecosystems to supply an insatiable thirst for energy and wealth from its production, the danger to our air, water, foods and our health … the health of not only our species, but all others on Earth at stake?

Ford was a pacifist and believed that mass production of inexpensive goods coupled with high wages for workers would make life better for all. He believed that consumerism was a key to peace.  Has it been the answer?  Is money and access to all manner of disposable goods the panacea for what ails the human race? Are we all richer for having this kind of access?  The more money we have the more is spent … better yet to provide a life worth living to all in a fair and equitable world where money does not rule. Has material accumulation made us richer and created a peaceful world?  The results are obvious.

There is no end to this kind of consumption, because it never truly satisfies. While the renegade fossil fuel industry destroys sacred lands in North Dakota, the news media turns a blind eye and consumers head to the gas station to fill their tanks.

October 6, 2016

In the Como Conservatory …

Como_conservatory_sculpture

September 20, 2016

Meadow Lark

meadow_lark_drawing

September 17, 2016

Black Rhino – In Memoriam?

Black Rhino

Black Rhino

August 29, 2016

Green Heron on Bass Lake

green_heron_bass_lake

August 28, 2016

A Day for Monarchs

It was beautiful today.  Monarch butterflies were gathering around the blooms on my walk, and particularly in the gardens surrounding the fountains at Lake Harriet Rose Gardens (a shame I didn’t have my camera).

There was a mild breeze in the sunshine that blanketed us all.  It was a day of sailing and soaring.  One made in heaven.

coneflower_monarch

August 19, 2016

Morning Fawn

autumn_fawn_painting

July 15, 2016

Red Squirrel in a Mulberry Tree

July 5, 2016

Saplings, a canopy do not make.

In forest ecology, a canopy defined by the upper layer of all forests is a habitat zone formed by mature crowns of trees and containing a diverse system of organisms in a healthy ecosystem. It is a cover, and an environment so different than one without.

In terms of many urban areas, this canopy is quickly being destroyed in the name of “healthy forest” initiatives and for urban development, while saplings are given the impossible task of “replacing” what they cannot replace.

  • Faced with higher temperatures annually, middle-aged trees, as well as saplings are dying from drought. With less tree cover and more concrete, more heat, a vicious cycle of deforestation ensues and escalates.  Our canopy in Minneapolis, at less than 32 percent, continues to diminish.
  • Much wood is being used for energy purposes and for other commercial interests; so, through short-sighted practices and views, these mature trees become worth more dead than alive.
  • Rather than divert a road, create a sustainable alternative, short term development projects, new over-sized homes and housing developments  apply expediency over sanity.  It takes time to treat a pattern, to water a tree and keep it free from disease and pests.  It costs money too, sometimes.
  • Suffice to say, with less water and higher temperatures, a tree has no stamina to fight disease and infestations.  It certainly cannot survive a chain saw aimed at its destruction.  Witness the wholesale destruction of mature ash trees along one boulevard after another in Minneapolis.
  • Public policies that prioritize cutting down healthy trees from fear of infestation or disease, rather than watering and wise tree care, replace our canopy with saplings that have even less prospect of survival.

A canopy of mature trees, some that have stood for one hundred or more years cannot be replaced by saplings, no matter how many we plant.  Management practices  need to change to a holistic approach, understanding that all things, even emerald ash borer, has its place in this system.  Insecticides and removal should be emergency management options only.  Wouldn’t it be better to maintain a healthy forest, one that is managed long term to retain its canopy, with an urban forest management system that has teeth?

Elms that were cared for survived Dutch Elm disease.

Elms that were cared for survived Dutch Elm disease.

 

 

June 7, 2016

Man as Nature and Acceptance as a Path

interstate_park_fall

Indigenous cultures understood that man was part of nature.  How far we have wandered from that understanding … to evolve into a creature that deems, or dreams, himself outside the constructs of the natural world, in effect, defining himself as somehow superior to all other creatures and capable of framing his world in any terms he chooses.  The problem lies in man’s failure to understand and accept that he is inextricably linked to nature and he too, like all things, is subject to its laws.  Like the elements, all life and man, Nature is a process and God lies in the wisdom of this process.  Man has yet to fully accept the process.

All creatures survive by procreation and predation.  In life’s quest for itself, we are often pawns of biological rhythms and instincts; and so, mankind envisions himself capable of rising above this all too ‘sordid’ affair.  In this effort, he fails to acknowledge and accept essential qualities of life and, as a consequence, loses sight of vital solutions.

Chance and change, movement, the nature of life.  There is no life without death or night without day.  We rush foolishly to our own destruction when we deny the very truths of existence.  In fear of our own mortality and searching for eternity, man has wandered from the natural world and lost himself.

I am.  In these two words, a world, a universe.  Acceptance is everything, and life is born of this first step.  Judgments tend to separate us, categorize and catalog us, negate qualities in some and elevate those in others, in the end doing us all injustice.  In our unreasonable search for perfection, we often fail to see the beauty before our eyes, in our fellow man and miss countless opportunities.

Nature seeks balance and evolves perpetually based on outcomes.  Watch an otter whose catch has been taken by a coyote.  He complains and fights, as long as there is a chance he might prevail.  In the end, he accepts the outcome and begins another hunt, no wailing that life is unfair or questioning his very existence.  He is simply accepting the facts and the flow of life.  Man is the only creature that perpetually refuses to accept natural outcomes, including himself.  He builds dams in an effort to control the river and succeeds in destroying its essence.

Mankind’s egoism and lack of understanding perpetuate greed and destruction, like an allergic reaction attacking the body as if it were the enemy instead of a wellspring.  He searches for the ideal beyond existence while the real prize unfolds before him every day, every moment.  In this quest driven by fear, he misses the only perfection that life holds.  Is he afraid that in a moment of clarity he may discover his true self, that he, after all, is no better or worse than any other animal, a wave on the shore, or the moon in its perpetual cycle?

A friend once asked, rhetorically: “Why was anything forbidden in Eden if God had created a perfect world?’  A world in utter completeness and balance, the “perfect” world does not exist.  As soon as any balance has been achieved, life requires its undoing and in the end, we are unable to appreciate, in essence, the rose.  We remain fixed on an idea of beauty as if it were a finite definable everlasting thing.  Melancholy sits beside us while we contemplate how fleeting beauty and impossible the dream.  In our sorrow and our unwillingness to accept Nature, we miss the symphony.

Man falls into a trap on this path.  He cannot accept failure in his search for Eden, and cannot accept that this search is based on a false premise.  Seeking balance is a natural phenomenon but it becomes a problem when the search focuses on perfection as a static, narrowly defined commodity.  Man cannot own the dream and so he becomes contemptuous of himself for this perceived failure.  Where he might instill love and promote cooperation, acceptance, he fosters doubt, hate and fear, continuing a cycle of violence with dismal futures for the planet.  Mankind spirals down a path of destruction and self-hate, missing true potentials in his brothers and sisters since he is loath to see these same potentials in himself.

How do we define success in life?  Is it based on some narrow precept, or has it been fitted with tolerance and love, with the knowledge that not all is perfect, least of all Mankind?  Does it come with acceptance that the dance is a product of imbalance and imperfection, an understanding that at any moment, to be aware, to be alive is success itself?  In our search for something outside of reality, we miss all that truly matters!

In our determination to make distinctions, we judge ourselves superior to the natural world and surmise that “improvements” to all things can be made through man’s inventions.  We can never create anything outside of nature; and since no positive change is possible without truth, self-awareness is crucial.  The belief that our species trumps all others and rises above the forces of nature, that we can circumvent these forces defies all logic.  Simply observe.  For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Within this framework, life is movement from one state of being to another; and man’s machinations are subject to no less.  If we fail to respect our true selves, the natural instincts that created man and the imperfections implicit in all life, the world created from our ignorance will not be fit for life.

Man alters natural codes that took millennia to evolve.  He splits atoms and leaves the waste to pollute the earth.  He destroys mountaintops and calls the product “clean coal”, pollutes our seas with oil, our air and earth with its derivatives and calls it necessary.  In a rush to glean the resources of this planet, he makes choices based on profit rather than sanity and sustainability.  Man, in his renegade actions, refuses to practice common sense and beats a path of environmental ruin.  He is a hurricane with the potential to change course through self-awareness and respect, perhaps; but, we may never know, without the recognition that we are all part and parcel of this natural world.

Our life’s safari involves a hunt for more than food and shelter.  Like all living things, we reach for light and that light is in us all.  All Nature moves beyond the mundane in this dimension.  Birds sing at dawn.  Squirrels collect articles that have no practical use – like items in a child’s pocket.  All creatures appreciate beauty, and, like the otter, recognize truth.  For what is truth but a natural outcome, and beauty the same?  Our fate may very well be determined by our relationship to this process and our respect for truth.

In our quest to define a world in defiance of natural laws, mankind is racing down an incline blindfolded, without brakes and fully loaded.  Venturing into abstraction, we stretch the bounds of reality by searching for meaning beyond existence and perverting a basic instinct for beauty into a dogged search for perfection and for immortality, without understanding or respect for the nature of all things.  While we strive to realize our dreams, it would be wise to keep a watchful eye on the road, do proper maintenance, and obey the laws of physics, at least.

Inseparable from the natural world, man finds his dawn in beauty, but beauty is not a static ideal.  It is the well from which all life drinks, ever-changing, dynamic, boundless and perfect in its imperfection, an essential quality of life.  Acceptance, born of tolerance and truth, synchronizes with immutable forces that create and sustain life, in essence, the only Eden possible.

 

June 1, 2016

Wolf Tracks

wolf_tracksalong the banks of a river in Alberta, Canada

The front print was the size of a human hand.

February 23, 2016

Hawk Owl

Hawk_Owl_drwg

February 1, 2016

African Lion

African_Lion_drawing

December 10, 2015

Cardinal Inquiry

What's up?

What’s up?

November 9, 2015

Genus Panthera

Genus Panthera

November 9, 2015

Siberian Tiger

Siberian Tiger

September 24, 2015

Perrot State Park

The river bluffs in Perrot State Park overlooking the Mississippi River and spotting a Turkey Vulture overhead.

September 11, 2015

Looking into the Mississippi River Valley from Perrot State Park

Perrot_State_Park

July 13, 2015

Tree Hugger

tree hugger / photo

June 17, 2015

Mining v Tourism / Making the necessary changes to insure our base …

Loon on a Lake in the Arrowhead / photo

As Minnesotans we stand as stewards at the source of one of the world’s greatest resources for fresh water.  What precious metal or mineral can trump the importance of protecting these waters or maintaining the balance developed over millions of years upon a foundation created billions of years ago in the Pre-Cambrian rock below? Mining operations will eventually cease, subject to supply and fickleness of markets. What will Minnesota and the world have in return for a few years of jobs and cash if we fail to act as responsible stewards?  There are no reassurances or supplemental short term bills that can sustain a failing industry or cover the devastation wrought by mining.  Wilderness tourism will be one of the victims.

Simply because man can do something, does not necessarily mean that he should. Because nature has no boundaries, man does have a responsibility to consider the consequences of his actions. We need to take into account the over-reaching consequences of our actions in this land, a geological and biological ecosystem that is Northern Minnesota, the source of three of the greatest river systems in the North America, essentially sourced along the Mesabi Range. The fate of lands, air, and water in and around the Mesabi Range is linked by a unique geography that has no precedent, and for this reason, is impossible to map or predict with certainty.  What can be seen through experience is enough to forbid the already known hazards of mining in an area of priceless, vital water resources.

Downstream from the proposed Northmet project, where all mining water, sediment and dissolved particulates from this plant will eventually go, Jay Cook State park is home to 181 species of nesting and feeding fowl. There are bear, deer, wolves, and coyote among 46 animal species in the park. Sax-Zim Bog in the St Louis River estuary is world famous wintering grounds for great gray, boreal, hawk owls and other boreal forest birds. Over 60,000 raptors migrate over Hawks Ridge National Preserve in the St Louis River estuary each year.

There are other points of interest. The Laurentian Divide is home to 155 nesting birds and 40 wildlife species. In Embarrass, just north of the LTV site, there are birding and nature trails, river canoeing and fishing opportunities. At Babbitt, lies beautiful Birch Lake south of the BWCAW, both part of the Rainy River Watershed. The Superior National Forest Scenic Byway tour begins in Two Harbors and goes through Silver Bay to Aurora through Hoyt Lakes over 145 miles of untouched wilderness with relatively few roads. There are wolves here and Canadian Lynx, only a few of the animals that are attracted to this area. Wolves are of concern in particular now with one breeding pair on Isle Royal after three years of hunting in the Arrowhead.  Natural ice bridges have occurred in the past and so they have these past few years to the island.  Could it be that the gene pool has already been depleted by hunting in the area, possibly in preparation for the proposed mine?  The Canadian Lynx is also very sensitive to changes in the environment.

The Laurentian uplands, where mining is proposed, rise to 1700 feet above sea level in the transportation corridor, over Partridge River waterways like 100 Mile Swamp, and Stubble Creek.  Trains with mining supplies and byproducts traverse open wetland networks in Northern Minnesota  linked to Dunka River, North River, Ridgepole Creek , Seven Beaver Lake (the source of the St Louis River and therefore the extreme source of the St Lawrence River and seaway), Swamp Lake, Big Lake, and Yelp Creek, among a only a few.

There are 318 species of birds, 200 regular in the Superior National Forest of which 36 are uncommon, 30 rare and 61 very rare, among these the Pie billed Grebe and the Red breasted Merganser. With 155 nesting species, the SNF has the greatest number of breeding birds in any national forest. The BWCAW is of incalculable value biologically, ecologically and a popular wilderness area with over 200,000 visitors annually, with 1500 miles of canoe routes and 2200 campsites.

Do we truly believe that mining so close to the entry points of the BWCA Wilderness do not have significant effects on these resources and the essence of this kind of experience? Do we think that a few hundred jobs can pay for the loss of an ecosystem of this value? Some things cannot be measured and this is one.

The Arrowhead region is one of the crowning ecological jewels of this world and people will pay to enjoy wilderness.  The health of our communities all over this planet depends upon respect for vital resources.  In northern Minnesota, renowned for its beauty and natural resources, especially water, what will we have gained in the balance if we lose an area like this, due to environmental degradation?

The mining industry in Minnesota is failing due to global trade agreements that are detrimental to home interests.  As we lose jobs and markets to these policies and others, would it serve us better to accept the decline of mining, countering with infrastructure jobs, businesses in the tourist industry and begin to advertise, in earnest, the natural amenities and treasures … to build on real assets and long term, life affirming choices?

There is no interest on any level that could trump water where taconite and copper, among other ores, are best left in the ground.  There is no question that mining is a bad idea at the source of three of the greatest rivers in the North American Continent and the extreme headwaters of the Great Lakes and St Lawrence River and Seaway.

Entrusted to us, will we fail to shield this wilderness from exploitation, or will we protect our base by preserving this planet’s most vital resource, starting with “the mother of waters” in the Lake Superior Basin, the Mississippi River (“father of waters”) and the Rainy River which leads to Hudson Bay … not just for the sake of Minnesotans, but the interests of all who love beauty and understand that water, above all, is our most precious resource.

April 25, 2015

Leasing of Public Lands to the Fossil Fuel Industry … a letter to President Obama

April 25, 2015

Dear President Obama,

Concerning the offshore oil leases and the leasing of public lands to the fossil fuel industry, my father was an engineer, a (geophysics) engineer, who was asked to comment on an earlier oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico over 40 years ago. He noted, at that time, that the smallest of organisms were affected by that particular spill in the 70’s. He was a sincere and intelligent man who gave his best, and logical sense about what was going on.

Many years earlier when I was living in Louisiana with my parents, in New Orleans, we visited Lake Pontchartrain for a meal. Even as a child I couldn’t help but notice the effects that drilling for oil in the Gulf was having on the waters of that area, as a wave sprayed us on the dock of the restaurant with bits of tar in the mix. BP found a dangerous alternative to this, by adding dispersant to the spill from Deepwater Horizon, so that much of these “bits of evidence” were hidden from view and now lie well under the surface of the Gulf, where they will most definitely affect the ecosystem from there, sight unseen.

How much more damage is being done out of sight by the fossil fuel industry as we lease our priceless public lands and waters to voracious and destructive corporations who dispose of toxic waste, fracking and drilling vital substructures and formations, very likely causing an increase in earthquakes, poisoning our waters and air, and literally stealing the most precious resource we have, our water, in a time of history when water is quickly becoming a commodity that we cannot afford to waste.

When I voted for you, it was on the promise that you were devoted to alternative sources of energy. By a great many estimates, we have no time to lose. I see the many things your administration has done to contribute to this kind of clean energy, but your support of fossil fuel and consequent increase in oil production has served to offset these positive contributions greatly.

You have such a great opportunity to change our direction, President Obama. Please say no to the use of public lands and substructures by the fossil fuel industry, in effect, trading our most valuable resources to the greed and profit of a few who have lost the foresight to see that they, too, will eventually lose by doing so.

Respectfully,

Anita Tillemans

February 23, 2015

Minnesota Timber Wolf

Minnesota Timber Wolf

This was the final version … though I much prefer the original with more vibrant sky.

January 29, 2015

Snow Leopard South Face

Snow Leopard South Face / web / ptg

December 30, 2014

Minnesota Timber Wolf and Mining …

According to figures established by the International Wolf Center in Ely, Mn with data provided by USDA – Wildlife Services, the wolf population in Minnesota was estimated at 2921 in 2008. After one hunting season, this figure was 2211 in 2013 the latest count.

Minnesota wolves that were taken in the hunting and trapping seasons of 2012, 2013, and 2014 (reported to the DNR) were 413, 237, and 148 respectively. In addition, the tentative numbers taken through depredation in those same years were 275, 127, and unknown; while numbers taken through illegal hunting, natural causes, auto accidents … is also unknown.  The 1200 that we know were taken, then, is a fraction of those acutally lost since 2012.

Since high concentrations of wolves surround the Babbitt and Ely area where copper mining has been proposed, we have only just begun to understand potential impacts of the proposed mining on lands, waters and wildlife of the Minnesota Arrowhead, how hunting of the wolf is intertwined and what actions we can take to prevent further loss of a priceless wilderness and the apex predator that stands at the forefront of it all.

http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/fish_wildlife/wildlife/wolves/2013/wolfsurvey_2013.pdf
http://www.howlingforwolves.org/sites/default/files/MinnesotaWolfBrief_2013.pdf
https://anitatillemans.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/arrowhead-aquifers-and-the-hill-of-three-waters/?preview=true&preview_id=1706&preview_nonce=05fc35bbc7&post_format=standard
http://www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2014/11/mn-trophy-hunt-wolves-111714.html
http://www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2014/12/fed-court-wolf-hunt-season-over-121914.html

 

December 30, 2014

Wilderness Tourism versus Mining in the Arrowhead

Bear Head Lake, MN

Bear Head Lake, MN

One of the most beautiful wild areas in the world, with some of the last remaining original wolves … the source of three of the greatest river systems in North America.  This is a portion of the treasure that Minnesota holds in its boundaries.

What will remain if we choose mining over this?

 

October 6, 2014

no place for mining …

Loon on a lake in the Arrowhead

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July 23, 2014

Space for a tree and time for a walk …

The difference in temperature and quality of air was noticeable standing in a grove of trees after walking under a relentless sun.  It was a beautiful walk in a prairie and the wildflowers, after months of heavy rainfall were thriving and in full color … the blackeyed susans, vervain, flowering grasses, crown vetch, bergamot … so vibrant. The sun felt good but only for a time and then it sapped the energy.

Walking up a path into a hillside filled with old white oak trees, the air changed and the temperature dropped.  Like an oasis, it revived the spirit and gave pause for reflection.  We walked down the grassy path under these trees and laughed, understanding our time is short … those times when there is time to take time.

Through the trees the blue and green of a water lily covered pond was visible; and this is where I took this picture.

Water Lilies

 

July 6, 2014

Of Love and Money

18There is no question for which love is not the answer. We are all sacrifices to love or hate. Which would you choose? Indifference is no option. There is no life in that.

My father told me that if you do what you love, the money will follow. Perhaps I rebelled at the thought because money was not my goal or my idea of happiness. I saw too many with money and hearts grown cold and indifferent.

In South America, surrounded by 9 foot fences topped with barbed wire, or with bars on the windows and doors of their homes, the rich would guard themselves while poor children with swollen bellies ran barefoot and in rags, or naked, outside gated communities and schools. I saw this from the time I was four until I left Venezuela at nine. It made an indelible impression. From bus windows I saw the old and weary eating from scraps in tin cans burning in the heat, children without a hope and no opportunity for an education.

This, I learned, was the state of many in the world outside of our middle class havens in the US, where even there, in our poorest communities, children went to bed hungry … now more than ever. If money was the answer, then why so much suffering while a few lived in luxury?

Of course, my father was much deeper than his words. He simply understood that money was a tool that made dreams possible. As time went by, though, the demands of life weighed upon him and he was, like so many, pressed into the service of money. I saw what this master did to gentle souls like his. Too many broken lives are made in the path of this, what should be no more than utilitarian.

Even so, it’s hard to understand why I refrained much of the time from my practice in art, a practice that gives me joy. Did I expect perfection and feel unworthy? I procrastinated and excused my delays. I stubbornly refused, at times, to paint even though drawn, often finding things to do, no matter how mundane, or useless, to divert and exhaust my energies. Painting from my heart is a desire for truth, to understand, to discover and this has its own rewards. I understand now that it is the process that gives me joy.

Since this realization, the practice comes easier … freed from expectations. This is a difficult thing to explain to most people; and it’s been an understanding hard won for me. Art is an expression of beauty. It comes from appreciation of things outside our selves, universal truths. We see and know. We show our appreciation, our love, through action. That action takes as many forms as there are souls.

Being a woman, as women are poorly represented in galleries and museums, I understood early that it would be a battle, most likely lost, to seek recognition and make a living at art. As a consequence, the battle raged inside as I took part-time wages for support of my love, while I raised two children.

More women artists than not have been left in obscurity by the decision-makers, the ones who decide “what is art.” Money and power working hand in hand. In fact, by this very act, words have played a role in the perversion of truth in practice of visual arts. The percentage of artists represented in museums who are women is in the single digits. How can this be if these institutions represented the variety and depth of artistic practice and appreciation truly? As we evolve, perhaps that day will come when substance will not be sacrificed to maintain the status quo and money will hold no power over people’s souls.

butterfly.1

July 5, 2014

Defenders of our Wilderness

Wolves in Minnesota stand at the forefront of our wilderness, a wilderness that is increasingly under stress from development.  That development includes unsustainable practices of mining ore and delivering crude underground in pipes through the heart of our aquifers in this state.

Wolves, in fact, create a healthier more viable world by gleaning old and diseased animals from the stock of deer, moose and other prey.  As hunters’ traps are set out, how many domestic animals will be killed again this coming hunt.

These creatures are an apex preditor and, therefore, not like any other fur-bearing animal – rabbit, fox, beaver …. and yet the Minnesota legislature decided to list them as small game, refusing, as well to stand by the promise of a five-year hunting moratorium until numbers and viability of wolf populations in this state could be determined.

Please take a look at the marvelous video at kickstarter.com projects 645287247 medicine of the wolf and link below:

http://www.howlingforwolves.org/TakeAction

Trophy hunting and the destruction of a treasure like this should be haulted and our priorities reconsidered as we all stand at a crossroads.  What will we choose?

 

June 29, 2014

War’s Monument

innocents.w

As we contemplate entering into another war ….

May 21, 2014

Along the road to Ely, Minnesota

pathtoely

April 25, 2014

Gifts …

18What’s happening in this world today is disastrous … global warming from man’s over-production, over-population, greed and corruption, worship of money and power — loss of natural resources, deforestation, pollution, fear and malice ….

It’s happening because we developed tools more rapidly than we have evolved to deal with the consequences of our advances.  We’ve developed to “survive” at all costs, while making a good life easier for some and impossible for most.  We have been fruitful and multiplied without limitations beyond war and destruction.  We believe what we want, selectively choosing those facts that suit our prejudices and discarding the facts that should give us pause.  We’ve lost a sense of justice and moderation in our dealings and for all intents and purposes destroyed an essential balance.

What we’re facing now is annihilation by those very instruments that have been propagandized as making our lives better.  Mankind has taken the brake off the train as it begins its descent.

What can we do about it?  The challenge for me has never been indifference but a sense of futility.  In these times, our direction seems decidedly toward mass destruction.  With the threat of nuclear war looming, what toll would describe the loss if this played out?  What have we wasted in human potential at this point?

What does it mean to hold a mirror up and affect change, to be open to creation as a child?  This is essentially what a creative does.  It is what it means to be an artist — perpetually investigating and challenging.

The image we hold up to the world is our experience — the more individual, more honest that image, the more meaningful.  At the point where our lives, our work intersect with universal truths, the more apt we are to connect with others.  This is what life is about … a symbiotic relationship and balance, that creates and destroys.

What each of us contribute to the fabric of life is as dear, as essential as any other.  The challenge has always been to follow your own heart within the constraints of an environment that may often be harsh and contradictory.  Moderation, the key, and truth, the answer as we pursue our individual paths.

 


From Ecclesiastes 3 in the King James version:

Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?

and

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven …

 
*************************************************************************
April 19, 2014

The Path Less Traveled

forest path

We all have choices … what will we choose?  … seemingly mundane decisions lead us to where we are today, and there are ethics in every choice, every decision, momentous or not.

The pressure is to follow the crowd, to do what is expected, to do what your peer group wants, not to break the mold, not to stand out but in an acceptable way … one that is also good for “business as usual”.  No one knows how much courage it takes to follow one’s heart outside of this venue until that moment arrives.

I was walking to the post office and it dawned on me how perfectly acceptable, well-built homes, beautiful (in fact), are being outsized and outmarketed by media and money so that Minneapolis can create a higher density inner city with the coinciding taxes, amenities,  increased traffic, infrastructure, money and, inevitable in larger populated areas, crime.

We continue to drive, continue to build larger and larger houses in spite of dwindling natural resources.  As we talk of recycling our food waste in Minneapolis, we encourage tearing down homes of reasonable size, sending solid old-growth lumber, copper plumbing, wiring, cabinets, roofing, and siding … to the dump and incinerator,  so that the corresponding lots can be used by developers to build larger homes with new supplies, depleting our natural resources even further.  Where is the common sense in this?

Many people who have lived for decades in homes of this area of Linden Hills, not a majority yet … are either driven to sell, or build on to existing structures just to keep up with what is happening around them, or they sit it out, some, like myself, hoping that they can continue to live where they had planned, be able to pay the taxes and survive the influx of money.

Maybe the human species is hard-wired to destroy itself. Who but God knows? I try to understand how this massive destruction, this waste of our resources, will take us anywhere but out. Deforestation due to the demands of overpopulation and greed is nothing new.  Wilderness as well as urban forests, all over the world, suffer as the battle for resources rages on.  Maybe we should take a path less traveled?

April 12, 2014

Emerald Eyes

peachsun2She was a beauty, this peach colored cat.  One might think she had a soul as old as time itself suffering her old age with dignity.

When it came time to decide whether to let her go on suffering or to euthanize her, I took the latter.  She approached it as if it were another adventure, sitting proud and accepting, ready for whatever would come.  Of course she couldn’t have known.

I held her in my arms as the drug took effect and stayed with her far past the time life had ebbed, never forgetting her face in the moments after, that golden beauty, that love of my life.  Of course, one never forgets a thing like this … and it is even harder to forgive.

I knew that she would suffer no more.  I knew that she was peaceful and without pain in the moment of death, but the pain in my heart lingers still, for there is no closure where love is concerned.

My mother died almost two years ago in June 2012 peacefully in her sleep from lung cancer after much suffering.  She wanted her body donated to science, so that whatever remained of her in a long life would possibly be used to make another person’s life easier.

I never wanted to hear about it even though I knew that this was her choice.  The thought of this woman, my mother, in any other way but whole … playing her piano, dancing in the living room to her music, her free-spirited and realistic view of life … was unfathomable.  I prefer to think of her, as my emerald-eyed cat, observing, in spirit from afar, this troubled planet with that unforgettable look of knowing.  I will miss them both.

 

 

April 9, 2014

Tidepools

Starfish

Tidepools

Endless sea waves foam and sway
Stones to gem-like polish.
There in tide pools made a home
Beguiling to a starfish.
 
Water sighing in the waves
On rocks and sandy shore,
Filled the pools with newborn life
Treasures to behold.
 
Some in pensive mood
Beckoned by their muse,
Lingered long in passing
To understand the truth.
 
Others frenzied in a rush,
Would not pause and could not see
Crushed beneath their restless soles
Beauty.

2002/2010

March 22, 2014

Children sent comments on Bristol Bay …

EPA replies were primarily directed at technical commenters … but what a plea for change to see the youngest of us getting involved in what will definitely affect their futures, each and every one.

Read the EPA letter concerning the process of review under 404  (c).

Responses to public comments for the May 2012 and April 2013 Drafts of the assessments of Potential Mining Impacts On Salmon Ecosystems of Bristol Bay, Alaska can be found  for 2012 and 2013 at:

http://www2.epa.gov/bristolbay

http://www.epa.gov/ncea/pdfs/bristolbay/EPAs%20Response%20to%20Public%20Comments_1stERD_May2012.pdf)

http://www.epa.gov/ncea/pdfs/bristolbay/EPAs%20Response%20to%20Public%20Comments_2ndERD_Apr2013.pdf

March 20, 2014

EPA Process Continues Concerning the Waters of Bristol Bay

The consultation period with the state of Alaska and Pebble Partnership has been extended to April 29, 2014 by the EPA on the review concerning Section 404 (c) of the Clean Water Act.

You can read more at: http://www2.epa.gov/bristolbay

Other contacts for more information are:

Community Outreach: Judy Smith, smith.judy@epa.gov, 503-326-6994

Press Inquiries: Hanady Kader, kader.hanady@epa.gov, 206-553-0454

February 4, 2014

Woods and Waterways of Northern Minnesota

Over the past forty plus years I have traveled the Arrowhead of Minnesota. My first visit in the late 6o’s presented a view I had never knew existed in this world … even though I had lived in over twenty different places as I grew … from the tropical forests of South America, to the Pacific Ocean and the varied landscape of California, the swamps and bayous of Louisiana, the plains of South Dakota and the mountains of Colorado. It was not spectacular in the same way as the mountains, nor as lush as the jungles of South America, or as eerily deep and unfathomable as the ocean, or varied in climate and environment as that of California, or immense as the redwoods and sequoias. Minnesota had this quiet, livable and almost benign sense about it when I arrived in the fall of 1968. It wasn’t until I spent my first winter here and traveled the Arrowhead that I began to understand the true meaning of wilderness. Lake Superior was beyond my comprehension at the time … a sea of freshwater. Loving the ocean and familiar with the smell of salt, it was unusual to see so much freshwater cascading down the stoney embankments in Cook County especially … into this huge reservoir of the Great Lakes.  At first I missed the smell of salt, but I grew to love the implications of this treasure. Only recently, as I looked on geological and topographical maps of the area, did I begin to understand the full meaning of this environment. It struck me in such a way that I felt compelled to share some of the photos I have taken over these past 40 plus years as we face the prospect of copper mining in this priceless reserve of freshwater for the world. There are over sixty rivers, creeks and falls in the area.  One of these is Devil’s Kettle Falls on the Brule where water diverges into two streams, one flowing to Lake Superior and the other discharging underground to places unknown. Shouldn’t we understand the waterways in northeastern Minnesota better before considering further mining of any kind?

Anita Suzanne Tillemans

February 5, 2014

January 23, 2014

Copper Mining the Arrowhead?

I journeyed to International Falls last autumn to visit Lake of the Woods and Voyageurs National Park.  The colors could not have been more subtle and more beautiful.  As I traveled around the Kapetogama and Rainy Lake areas, it occurred to me that these were all linked to waters running from the Laurentian Divide and through the BWCAW.  As a consequence, the journey took me to Vermilion Falls on my return home in search of Crane Lake and the western end of that wilderness area.

As Minnesotans and stewards of the Arrowhead, which is at heart of three of the greatest river systems in North America (Rainy River, Mississippi River and St Louis River watersheds), we are on a precipice.  What greater security is there than keeping our water systems safe?  International interests, determined to mine copper in the big Stoney seek permission to do so.  Should we open this Pandora’s Box at any price?

Once copper sulfide mining has begun, the entire region, by precedent, will succumb to other like-mines in and surrounding the BWCAW, which lies on this prospect, that of the Duluth Gabbro Complex or the big Stoney.  There are already over a thousand prospecting holes, which have been drilled at the boundary of the BWCAW and along Kawishiwi River and Birch Lake to date.

Estimations through computer modeling have determined that 20 years of the proposed Polymet mine would destroy at minimum 912.5 acres of irreplaceable wetlands at the mining site alone, and as a consequence flora and fauna dependent on these waters, leaving at least 500 years of clean-up.  Affected areas outside of the mining and processing sites are essentially unknown.

Consider that the St Louis watershed consists of 3,696 square miles of mostly open wetlands and high quality habitat for plants and animals… including, as an example, the home of “100 Mile Swamp” between the two watersheds of Embarrass and Partridge rivers .  St Louis River’s headwaters are located at Seven Beavers Lake near the proposed Hoyt Lakes processing plant and a few miles south of the mining site in corporate Babbitt.  It’s headwaters flow for 179 miles before becoming a 12,000-acre freshwater estuary near Lake Superior, where it enters the body of the Great Lakes.

The mine site will be located in Babbitt, which hosts both the St Louis River watershed and the Rainy River watershed.  Can we be assured that the water in contact with waste rock there and therefore, discharge of sulfuric acid and other contaminants will not be shed into the Rainy River Basin which contains the BWCAW, Voyageurs National Park, Vermilion Lake and River ….?

The processing center, also, is located in a complicated geological area of the Laurentian Divide at Hoyt Lakes.  The Embarrass River and the Partridge River on either side of this Divide will be affected.  In addition, the Vermilion River watershed is adjacent to the Embarrass River watershed on the north.  What long term effects will be seen here as well?  This is one of many unknowns.

For our national security, for the health of this planet, big Stoney of the “mother of waters”, Lake Superior, should be considered of far greater importance than any short term gains that may be had through mining this precious and priceless natural resource.  Please let the National Forest Service, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and the Bureau of Land Management know that you do not want the St Louis River watershed, a scenic and wild river system (already of concern), to be used as a chute for wastewater and, therefore, Lake Superior as a dump, for any amount of time.  There are no guarantees but this, that water will find its way to the sea through our Great Lakes from these proposed mining operations.  Are we prepared for the consequences?

Comments are being taken until March 13, 2014 on Polymet’s proposal.  You can find more information on the SDEIS and how to comment at:

http://dnr.state.mn.us/input/environmentalreview/polymet/index.html

On the precipice above Vermilion Falls

On the precipice above Vermilion Falls

September 1, 2013

How will the city of Minneapolis protect our canopy by cutting it down?

In order to “protect” our canopy of trees from the emerald ash borer, the city of Minneapolis intends to “replace” the boulevard ash trees… some very old healthy trees with no sign of disease rather than treat. How do we protect our canopy by cutting it down? Each property owner can request this “replacement” or pay for treatment.

Why not plant new trees within a reasonable distance under the shade of these beautiful trees? They will grow better, will need less water and have a better chance at maturing. Some old healthier ash trees may live a long time yet and continue to provide our city with a beautiful, cooling canopy.

October 26, 2012

Brother Against Brother

Thoughts on the upcoming Minnesota wolf hunt November 2012

How would we treat this planet if we saw wolf as our “brother” and earth as our “mother” ? 

Sigurd F Olson believed that the wolf was an impressive influence in the wilderness and that its removal could change a situation that has been in the making for centuries.   He saw how integrated its well-being was with the well-being of all creatures, and understood that artificial management of the wolf would change the character of the wilderness.defender of the wilderness, advocate of the BWCA and Superior-Quetico

Chief Seattle believed, like Olson, that all things are connected.  He understood, like John Donne, not to ask “for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee”… for all of us.  Whatever happens to one essentially happens to all.  How can we continue to contaminate our water, our air, murder our brothers and sisters, destroy the wild places and animals under the guise of “management”, without suffering the consequences of this disrespect?

The North American Indian understood this and respected the earth as “mother”, the wolf as “brother” ….  As we propose to slaughter this creature starting in the upcoming Minnesota deer hunting season with 6000 hunting and trapping licenses for 400 pelts, how could the purpose be any clearer?   We have made the wilderness our battleground – for what?  The wolf will be gone or “managed” into a tame shadow of its true self.  Our wilderness areas will be turned into amusement parks, game farms, and vacation areas for the wealthy or sold to corporate greed for timber and precious metals.  Our children will never know the true wealth and beauty of life-affirming and pristine wilderness.  We will have arrived at the “end of living and the beginning of survival” as Chief Seattle so wisely predicted some 157 years ago.wolf_portrait_drawing

As a friend once asked, “what has become of us when we can’t tell the difference between a national park and a battlefield?”  Battlefields, historic buildings, and monuments to men’s wars are now included as National Parks alongside our park lands.  How can this be reconciled with the original intent of the National Park System to preserve the masterpieces of creation for all time and all people?

If you would like to speak up against the wolf hunt scheduled to begin this November, 2012 in Minnesota, please contact your representatives, the DNR and check out the links below.  Through your understanding and support perhaps we can move in a more rational direction and stop the taking of another priceless treasure, pitting brother against brother.

Anita Suzanne Tillemans

October 26, 2012

http://howlingforwolves.org/dnr-letter?utm_source=Full+List+9-10-12&utm_campaign=76a091a909-wolf-howl-sound&utm_medium=email

http://www.howlingforwolves.org/about-gray-wolf/#mankind

Office of the DNR Commissioner, 500 Lafayette Rd, St Paul, MN 55115 Tom.Landwehr@state.mn.us    651-296-6157

Office of the Governor, 130 State Capitol, 75  Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, St Paul, MN 55155  mark.dayton@state.mn.us   651-201-3400, 1-800-657-3717, Minnesota Relay:800-627-3529Fax: 651-797-1850

August 13, 2012

Why the rush to delist the wolf throughout this country?

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Consider that in Minnesota there have been no reliable studies to determine the numbers of wolves in the area for years.   In effect, the necessary study and a 5-year moratorium on hunting (after delisting) have been essentially bypassed to rush into a hunting season this fall before actual numbers of the timberwolf (grey wolf) have been determined.  What purpose does this serve and why? 

Consider that the designation of “endangered species” served as a roadblock to exploitation of mineral resources in Northern Minnesota and that these resources, which (among others) include vast deposits of copper, are in the cross hairs along with the wolf ….  Companies are waiting to dig for these minerals and studies have begun.

Study what copper mining, taconite mining …  have done to other wild places and weep; or better yet, save the wolf at the gate of our northern wilderness in Minnesota by protesting the wrong-headed decision to issue 6000 licenses in 2012 to hunt and trap 400 wolves before we even know how many actually remain.  Will only 400 wolves be taken by 6000 hunters?  How will the DNR ensure this?  How do we know that there are 400 wolves to take … wolves that by the taking will not endanger the entire Minnesota stock?  This is a taking for trophy pelts which will most likely affect the strongest, most beautiful animals, the alpha males who protect and defend the pack.  What does common sense tell us about this kind of hunt where almost every means on the ground will be used to take this creature down?

There is entirely too little time in the rush to hunt the wolf to determine the health of our wolf population, the numbers and the viability of a wolf hunting season this year.

In turn, to discuss the survival of the wolf exclusively without understanding the dynamics at play is shortsighted and does not address the problem … the wolf is not only an apex predator serving to maintain a balance in the wild, it is essentially an important key in the protection of our natural resources and maintenance of a healthy environment.

As it has been said so many times before: Where the wolf goes, so goes the wilderness….

Anita S Tillemans

August 13, 2012

March 28, 2012

A Cry for the Timber Wolf

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