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PIPINGPLOVERS: A new predator has emerged for critically endangered piping plovers. Snowy owls were recently seen eating plovers in several locations along the Great Lakes, including Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan and Vermilion Point in the Upper Peninsula.
Mackinac Island bustles nowadays with 850,000 to a million visitors each year. But for British and American soldiers stationed there, the strategic but remote outpost could be a place of loneliness, spectacular beauty, harsh discipline, even death. Of course, the island’s history far predates the arrival of European fur traders and military occupation. Archeologists have discovered prehistoric fishing camps, and Native American legends tell how the Great Spirit, Git-chi Man-i-tou, created the island. In 1695, French explorer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac wrote to a government minister about his ability to defend what New France called Michilimackinac Island: “It is important that you be informed in case you are not, that this village is one of the strongest that there is in all of Canada.
By ERIC FREEDMAN
Capital News Service
LANSING — Archaeological excavations at four Upper Peninsula sites are shedding new light on historic maple sugaring operations and the people – mostly Native Americans and French-Canadians – who ran them. The research also sheds light on the “racialization of sugar” based on the race of those who produced it. Producers used the sites in the Mackinac County section of the Hiawatha National Forest at different periods between the late 1700s and late 1800s when “fur-trade era maple sugar production in northern Michigan was part of the global expansion of industrial capitalism and increases in per capita sugar consumption,” according to a recent study. “During this period, many residents of the Mackinac Straits spoke both French and Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe or Ottawa) and would have referred to sugar camps as both ‘sucreries’ and ‘ziizbaakdokaanan,’” the study said. The study published in the journal “Historical Archaeology” noted how Anglo-American and British writers of the time described sugar-making in racial terms by, for example, saying that maple sugar produced by Native Americans was less “clean” or “fine” than that made by the French.
LANSING — Larry Stowitts said his mood was dreary during his first few days on an offshore lighthouse in 1959. He’d imagined a lawn to keep tidy and neighbors nearby. Instead White Shoal Lighthouse offered a 72-square-foot concrete base and miles of open water. Stowitts sometimes heard cars rumble across the distant Mackinac Bridge, but dry land was nowhere in sight. He remembers the moment his mood finally shifted:
“There was a front porch on White Shoal, and the officer in charge came around, and he had a bucket and a brush in his hand and I thought, ‘Oh crap, I’m in trouble,’” Stowitts said.
LANSING — Renovation started this summer on a multi-year and multi-million dollar project to restore a Great Lakes icon and, for the first time, open its doors to the public. White Shoal Lighthouse is offshore 20 miles west of the Mackinac Bridge. It’s not visible from land and is a rare sight for boaters, but its red and white, barber pole stripes make it a popular memorabilia item throughout the Great Lakes. Michigan even featured the light on fundraising license plates until private owners purchased the lightstation for $110,000 in 2016. The sale was finalized in June.
LANSING — A new predator has emerged for piping plovers in the Great Lakes. Snowy owls were recently seen eating plovers in several locations along the Great Lakes, including Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in northwest Lower Michigan and Vermilion Point in the Upper Peninsula. Piping plover are a critically endangered species. There were only 11 nesting pairs reported back in the mid-1980s. They have since expanded to 76 pairs, located all over the Great Lakes region.
Northern Michigan’s endangered songbird may soon be off the federal list of threatened and endangered species because of a remarkable conservation comeback. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is seeking public comments on its proposal to delist the species.
A new U.S. Forest Service study finds that tree cover in urban and community areas of Michigan and most other Great Lakes states on the decline. Reasons include climate change, extreme weather, invasive species, disease and development.