Another legal lap ahead in horse pulling doping dispute?

By BEN MUIR

Capital News Service

LANSING — It has taken five years, four judges and three rounds in a lawsuit to decide a doping scandal between a state horse pulling association and one of its members.

And it’s still not over. A fourth round is possible.

Many thought it was over after a three-judge Michigan Court of Appeals panel ruled in favor of a Chippewa County man accused of breaking competition rules.

The case started in 2012 when a horse owned by David Esslin of Goetzville, then a member of the Bear Lake-based Michigan Horse Pulling Association, tested positive for an illegal substance. Esslin was fined and suspended from the association.

Esslin fought the drugging allegations by suing the association, successfully, for thousands of dollars.

The association banned Esslin after the lawsuit. Esslin wanted back in, so he took the group to court, where a Clare County Circuit Court judge ordered his reinstatement. The group appealed the reinstatement but lost that battle as well, according to court documents. Continue reading

Porcupine Mountains drilling raises environmental concern

By NATASHA BLAKELY

Capital News Service

LANSING — Fierce public reaction greeted the news that a copper company had a use permit to drill at the west edge of one of Michigan’s most remote state parks.

Orvana Resources U.S. Corp.—a subsidiary of Highland Copper—is doing exploratory drilling near Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the western Upper Peninsula. It’s not producing copper, but many members of the public aren’t happy with what it may mean.

“It’s a wild state park to begin with, and having industrial activity there is a shame,” said Steve Garske, a board member of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition Mining Action Group. “It seems like mining companies keep targeting areas that are important to the state.” Continue reading

Behind that romantic stand of pines, a history of abuse

By ERIC FREEDMAN

Capital News Service

LANSING — Long before “Pure Michigan” lured tourists and vacationers Up North, images of pristine forests and sparkling streams were doing the same thing — even if what tourists would see was neither pure nor pristine.

While the state’s slick tourism campaigns of the recent decades are familiar, people might not know that they hark back to post-Civil War advertising that romanticized the state’s nature “and gave it the transcendent qualities that remain in tourists’ imaginations today,” according to a recent study.

The study by Camden Burd, who grew up in Grand Rapids and spent summer vacations on Green Lake in Interlochen, dates the current “Pure Michigan” theme to a 2008 rebranding of the state’s tourism industry. Continue reading

Judge rejects challenge to Leelanau trail

By ERIC FREEDMAN

Capital News Service

LANSING — Opponents of a segment of the 27-mile non-motorized Leelanau Scenic Heritage Route Trailway have lost a court challenge to the planned route.

U.S. District Judge Gordon Quist rejected a suit by the Little Traverse Lake Property Owners Association, which claimed the National Park Service failed to fully disclose and analyze environmental impacts of the segment along the north side of Traverse Lake Road in Cleveland and Centerville townships.

The challengers, who own land on the south side of the road, also claim the National Park Service didn’t adequately analyze alternative routes and used incomplete or misleading data. Continue reading

Winter camping — in the cold and snow — more popular every year

By CARL STODDARD

Capital News Service

LANSING — On any given weekend this winter, a half dozen hearty souls will venture into the backcountry of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore near Munising, pitch a tent and go camping.

They are joining an increasing number of winter campers at state, national and private campgrounds around Michigan. Some go off the grid in small backpacking tents while others brave the elements in fully equipped RVs plugged into the internet and cable TV.

Winter camping has “taken a while to gain some traction,” said Jason Fleming, chief of resource protection and promotion for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Parks and Recreation Division. Continue reading

Winter brings new opportunities for recreation in Michigan

The 4-H group takes an annual ski trip to Shanty Creek of about 40 kids to ski Schuss Mountain. Image: Theresa Whitenight

This 4-H group takes an annual ski trip to Shanty Creek of about 40 kids to ski Schuss Mountain. Image: Theresa Whitenight

By BECKY WILDT

Capital News Service

LANSING — The long Michigan winters don’t stop outdoor groups from getting children outdoors and learning new skills

Ski Girls Rock at Mount Brighton is a program where female ski instructors teach girls to improve technique while inspiring confidence and team building. The program was designed for intermediate skiers by Lindsey Vonn, the 2010 Olympic Gold Medalist and World Cup Champion for alpine skiing. Continue reading

Ancient mounds show how people lived before Columbus

By CARIN TUNNEY

Capital News Service

LANSING — Down a narrow rural road in southwestern Michigan, an empty corner has neatly mowed grass and two tiny rolling hills.

The mounds would likely go unnoticed if not for a small historical marker that most drivers pass without slowing.

But hidden beneath the unremarkable ground lie answers to Michigan’s ancient past.

This and similar earthworks sites tell us how ancient hunters and gatherers interacted with their environment in a time before written language documented how they lived. Unlike the majority of mounds across Michigan, these survived development, agriculture and human curiosity.

The Sumnerville Mounds in Cass County’s Pokagon Township, a short distance north
of the Indiana border, date to sometime between the first and fourth century, according to archaeologists. Continue reading

Craft beer fuels Michigan hops binge

By JOSH BENDER

Capital News Service

LANSING — Michigan’s hop industry has exploded into the nation’s fourth-largest, according to a Michigan State University study.

Renewed hop production in the state began in response to a crop shortage elsewhere between 2007 and 2008 and to the growing popularity of Michigan’s craft beer, said Rob Sirrine, a MSU Extension expert.

detroitriverfront

Credit MSU Extension

Michigan is home to between 60 and 90 commercial hop farms, Sirrine said.
Continue reading

Want to buy a Great Lakes lighthouse?

By JOSH BENDER

Capital News Service

LANSING — If you’re in the market for some truly unique property, four Lake Michigan lighthouses are up for auction by the federal Government Services Administration.

For sale: The North Manitou Offshore Lighthouse near the Manitou Islands, the Minneapolis Shoal Lighthouse at the entrance to Little Bay de Noc in the Upper Peninsula and the White Shoals and Grays Reef lighthouses, both between Emmet County and Beaver Island.

detroitriverfront

Lake Michigan’s Grays Reef Lighthouse near Beaver Island. Credit: U.S. General Services Administration.

The North Manitou Offshore Lighthouse began operating in 1935. It was one of the last lighthouses run by an actual crew until it became automated in 1980, according to Great Lakes lighthouse historian Kraig Anderson’s Lighthouse Friends database.
Continue reading

Hunt for virtual wildlife leads to real nature encounters

By EAMON DEVLIN

Capital News Service

LANSING — If you want to see wildlife you go outside.

The same is true for the critters in Pokémon Go.

So while people chase the virtual wildlife in that popular new game, they’re getting a taste of real nature.
One group of Pokémon hunters even pooled their money to rent a boat to chase after the creatures on Lake Michigan, said Maia Turek, a recreation programmer with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Continue reading