Article Updates – Straits of Mackinac Pipeline & Isle Royal Wolves

Enbridge Pipeline Update

In February of this year, we wrote about the growing concerns associated with the two, 61 year -old pipelines which lie at the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac. It has now been made public that a meeting was held in April between State of Michigan officials and representatives of Canada’s Enbridge Inc. The meeting was held in response to a letter written by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant which sought extensive documentation regarding the known condition, monitoring and maintenance practices pertaining to the two, 20″ diameter lines.

According to an Associated Press report, Larry Springer of Enbridge indicated that company officials had met in Lansing on April 10 and provided “much of the information” sought in the letter.

MI Public Radio/NWF Photo

MI Public Radio/NWF Photo

It is encouraging that calls for information and transparency have increasingly become a bi-partisan effort. In addition to the letter issued by Republican Schuette and Republican-appointee Wyant, a separate letter of concern about pipeline condition and safety was written to the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration by Michigan’s U.S. Senators Levin and Stabenow (both Democrats) in December on 2013.

Since regulatory jurisdiction for the pipeline rests with the Federal government for what many seem to see as a local issue, we can only hope that separate letters are soon replaced with a singular, bi-partisan demand for a fully-disclosed pipeline management plan – one which includes a time-line for its replacement and not a plan which is centered around rapid-response clean-up initiatives.

Isle Royale Wolves Update

Back in November, we wrote about the public comment process which had been initiated by the National Parks Service concerning the decline and potential management decisions associated with the Isle Royale wolf population. Among the possibilities considered would have been to bring new wolves to the island through human-assisted measures.

It was recently announced by Phyllis Green, Isle Royale Park Superintendent, that a decision had been reached not to intervene as long as a breeding population of wolves exist. It was made clear, however, that supplementing the Isle Royale wolf population through such artificial means remains an option. In the meantime, a new study is to be conducted on the island moose population’s impact on the forest bio-community, in addition to their historic relationship with wolves.

Photo courtesy of Minnesota Public Radio

Photo courtesy of Minnesota Public Radio

At the risk of restating the points which were raised in our November post, it would also seem appropriate to expand the study to include the option of a limited moose hunt, not only as a moose population management tool, but as an additional source of operational revenue for the park.

It may be recalled that it was not long ago that some in Washington were using the Isle Royale Park as an example of National Park “pork-barrel” funding which needed to be terminated. In Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn’s report entitled “Parked – How Congress’ Misplaced Priorities Are Trashing Our National Treasures,” Isle Royale National Park is cited as an example of the Park system’s misplaced priorities.

“This rarely visited park now costs federal taxpayers more than $4 million per year. Those travelers that do plan a trip to Isle Royale National Park must pay $120 for a round-trip ferry ticket. This is on top of the average cost to the federal government of $273 per visitor. Michigan residents yearning to protect this remote island in Lake Superior from resource development may have been a noble cause, but doing so through its inclusion in the National Park System carried a steep price for taxpayers. (Page 138)”

Finding innovative funding solutions which at the same time expand the base of support for such remote and wild places needs to be done proactively. Waiting until the inevitable legislative axe falls before making promises to explore such measures will likely be too late. This would also be a far superior alternative to the commercialized use or potential sale of island lands in order to assure its survival.


About Northern Michigan Conservation Network

The mission of the Northern Michigan Conservation Network is to "connect conservation-minded hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts to those issues affecting Michigan's forests, waters, and wildlife."

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