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Stinky Skunks, Shiny Pennies and Pretty Winona

Local Environmental News Briefs


By Craig Minowa

For more information about area environmental organizations, issues and events, go to or call the EAGLE office at 726-1828.


Diary of an Environmentalist Gone Mad 6/10/2002

I live alone in the Minnesota woods. Have left the city.

I’m mourning my departed son.

Wife seeks a fresh face far away from me (and the pain that I remind).

I am of the dirt. Toes embalmed to roots. Eyes to berries. Skin blown to sand.

I have not gone mad. Rather, the madness has gone.

When there are no billboards, radio, tv,

you can finally hear the ancient thoughts of the birds.

Empowered by the wilderness I now live in my Walden.

A skunk, the wasps and I make peaceful plans for a Revolution.


And now the news…


Spirit Mountain: National Leader Speaks To Duluth City Council

Winona LaDuke, Ralph Nader’s running mate in the 2000 Presidential election, spoke to Duluth’s City Council about the Native American spiritual history of Spirit Mountain last Monday night. LaDuke is a Harvard graduate and a long-time environmental/indigenous/women’s rights activist. In 1994 LaDuke was named in Time Magazine as one of America’s 50 most promising future leaders.

Several days before LaDuke’s speech, City Council members Jim Stauber and Rob Stenberg (golf course advocates) threatened to restrict her speaking time to three minutes. Of course, that made quite a few local citizens rather pissy, so the said time constraint never actually came to pass.

On Monday night, LaDuke spoke eloquently about the Anishinabe history in this area and the importance of preserving Spirit Mountain because of its ecological and cultural significance. At least that’s what I hear…to be honest, I wasn’t actually there. I spent the night standing in the rain and talking to leaves and bats in a prairie a few miles outside of Hinckley. If that makes you doubt my credibility, let me add that I have a number of other sources to back me up on this story---the leaves and bats say they think her speech was probably pretty good, too. Thank-you, Ms.LaDuke, I’m sorry I couldn’t be there. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you.


Great Lakes States and Texas Are Worst Polluters

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) recently released a report revealing that the Great Lakes states and Texas are the worst industrial polluters on the continent. That’s pretty disturbing, considering the Great Lakes hold 90% of the U.S. surface freshwater supply. The report says 16 of the top 50 worst polluting facilities are located in the Great Lakes basin. On the bright side, Minnesota and Wisconsin release less pollution than any of the other Great Lakes states/provinces. I suppose if you’re a purebred anti-environmentalist, you could argue that we’re all going to die sooner or later anyway. Whatever tickles yer fancy. I’m just here to give you the facts. (Believe me, I’d NEVER throw in my personal opinion.)


Eco-Fact of the Week

Americans throw away 44 million newspapers everyday. That's the same as dumping half a million trees into landfills every week.


Protecting the Birds

            You may remember the local chapter of the Izaac Walton League conducting a citizen’s plant survey on Spirit Mountain last summer. The survey led to the discovery of four rare plant species in a plot of old growth forest in Duluth where the Doty Administration has been pushing to build a golf course and hotel.

This summer local environmentalists will continue to offer focus to Spirit Mountain, in hopes of ultimately protecting this unique old growth forest. The Duluth Audubon Society (DAS) has received a grant to conduct a bird survey on Spirit Mountain this summer. The $3,000 grant will allow ornithologists to clearly document the incredible avian diversity of this sacred Anishinabe land. For more info, contact DAS at 525-9226.


Related Eco-Fact

One hundred and eighty two bird species are critically endangered and 321 bird species are endangered (IUCN, 2000).



Earth laughs in flowers to see her boastful boys
Earth-proud, proud of the earth which is not theirs;
Who steer the plough, but can not steer their feet clear of the grave.

  Ralph Waldo Emerson


Local Environmental Group Causes National Stir
            Last weekend the Little Marais based Organic Consumers Association (OCA) kicked off a national campaign with Greenpeace. Thousands of protestors around the U.S. put the heat on large supermarket chains to voice their concerns about genetically engineered (GE) foods.

"The American people have spoken,” said Simon Harris of the Organic Consumers Association. “They don't want to eat GE foods." Recent national polls have shown that upwards of 90 percent of U.S. consumers want GE foods labeled so that they can avoid them. Despite these polls, over 70% of nonorganic supermarket foods contain GE ingredients.

            Scientists warn that GE foods may set off allergies, increase cancer risks, produce antibiotic-resistant pathogens, damage food quality, and produce dangerous toxins. Environmental hazards of genetically engineered crops include: increased use of toxic pesticides, damage to soil fertility, genetic pollution of adjoining farmlands, harm to Monarch butterflies and beneficial insects such as ladybugs, and the creation of "superpests, "superweeds," and virulent new plant viruses.

            OCA will continue to assist concerned consumers with leafleting at supermarket chains, such as Duluth’s Cub Foods. For more info, call the OCA office: (218) 226-4164.


A Mountain of Pennies

Students at Duluth’s Edison Kenwood school recently presented Hartley Nature Center with over $700. The school’s Student Council started a “Pennies for Hartley Nature Center” campaign several weeks ago in appreciation of Hartley Park, directly across the street from the school. Four hundred students pooled together their resources and came up with 72,852 pennies. To put that number into perspective, if you lined up all of those pennies end to end, they would stretch a super-duper long way.


Community Earth Farm

            Two UMD graduates have officially kicked off a fresh local project entitled “Community Earth Farm”.  The inner city “farm” recently held a ground-breaking/ planting gathering to celebrate grant funding it has received for research and development over the next nine months. Located just across the street from the Emerson Tenants Co-op on 3rd St. W., the project aims to demonstrate sustainable living via organic farming, community involvement and energy efficiency.

The ground-breaking party included a meal of “Story Soup”, which consisted of a single ingredient donated by each attending guest. According to Jacob Voit, cofounder of the Community Earth Farm (CEF), the soup symbolized “the coming together of the stories and meanings of the people that make the CEF possible”.


Skyline Planning and Preservation Alliance Food-o-rama

(From SPPA) To welcome the arrival of summer and to enjoy one of Duluth's loveliest Skyline parks, the Skyline Planning and Preservation Alliance (SPPA) is hosting a potluck picnic on Tuesday evening, June 18 (6-8:30pm), at the Enger Park pavilion. The evening will begin with a presentation by local anthropologist/archeologist Betty Dahl who will discuss the cultural resources of the Duluth area. Open to everyone. Bring food to share, and bring friends! More info? Call 728-1002.



This information is posted for nonprofit educational purposes, in accordance with U.S. Code Title 17, Chapter 1,Sec. 107 copyright laws.

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