Friday, June 12, 2009

Global Warming a Threat to Northern Michigan?

When we think about the dangers of global warming, images of shrinking icecaps, starving polar bears (or penguins like this one photographed by Kris Busk), flooded coastlines and other far away perils most often come to mind. But could the next images from Al Gore's video presentation feature our local landmarks? A recent study indicates that our Northern Michigan lifestyle may be in danger.

According to an article in this month's online edition of the University of Michigan publication Michigan Today, climate change is driving Michigan mammals farther north.

Researchers at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Ohio's Miami University, in findings published in the June issue of the journal Global Change Biology, have concluded that some Michigan mammal species are rapidly expanding their ranges northward, apparently in response to climate change. In the process, these historically southern species are replacing their northern counterparts. The researchers analyzed distribution and abundance records of opossums and eight species of small forest rodents.

The Michigan Today article reports that the data shows:
Of the nine mammal species examined, four have established strongholds or increased in abundance, while five have declined. The increasing species—white-footed mice, southern flying squirrels, eastern chipmunks and common opossums—all are southern species, while the declining species—woodland deer mice, southern red-backed voles, northern flying squirrels, woodland jumping mice, and least chipmunks—are all northern species.

While many local Northern Michigan residents and disappointed visitors who have come to the area in the last few weeks expecting to put in some quality beach time and return home with tans scoff at any mention of global warming here in the Frozen North, researchers point to some evidence of a warming climate. (Stained glass sun by Michael Myers.) Michigan Today reports:
The researchers downloaded maximum and minimum daily temperatures from the National Climate Data Center for 16 weather stations in the Upper Peninsula, where changes in the small forest rodent community have been especially pronounced. They then calculated monthly averages for minimum and maximum daily temperatures for each year between 1970 and 2007 for each station and for the region as a whole. Across all 16 sites, average annual minimum daily temperatures increased significantly over the 37-year period.

I have been giving some thought to the dangers that these results may foretell for our way of life here in Northern Michigan, and in particular for our tourism and resort industry. Lets see. Southern rodents migrating to Northern Michigan. Is it possible . . .

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Celebrate the Pasty

One of the best things about Northern Michigan is all of the festivals. Every town with a history or a favorite vegetable, fungus or fish has at least one every year. (And what N Mi berg doesn't have something to brag about?) We occasionally point out some of the more notable of these events here.

This month the historic mining town of Calumet salutes the venerable miner's meal with its annual PastyFest. The pasty is, of course, one of the indigenous hallmarks of Upper Peninsula life and well deserves this honor.

As with all good Northern Michigan festivals, there will be a lot going on at PastyFest. The excitement kicks off Friday night with a community service awards ceremony. Saturday features the Pasty Parade, free horse-drawn wagon tours and a pasty bake-off in the park. There will also be most of the normal Michigan festival standards like vendors, artist, crafters, live music, kids games, food and refreshments of all sorts including the star of the show, pasties. PastyFest will be topped off by a Richie Havens concert in the Calumet Theater.

Calumet is a great town to visit. It was established in 1875 and is filled with the history of the UP's mining boom days when then town had more money for civic projects than it knew what to do with. While you are there, be sure to see the historic Calumet Theater. The Theatre opened on March 20, 1900 with a touring Broadway production of Reginald DeKoven's The Highwaymen. All the great stars of the era performed there including Madame Helena Modjeska, Lillian Russell, John Phillip Sousa, Sarah Bernhardt, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., Lon Chaney, Sr., Jason Robards, Sr., James O'Neill, William S. Hart, Frank Morgan, Wallace and Noah Beery, and Madame Schumann-Heink, to name a few. Also don't miss the Coppertown USA Mining Museum and the U.P. Fire Fighters Memorial Museum.

Take this opportunity to travel through the Upper Peninsula and celebrate the UP's famous and humble pie by relishing in its history and eating as many pasties as you can.

TRAVEL TIP: If you are going to Calumet for PastyFest, leave soon. Calumet is a long way from wherever you are and the festival takes place on June 26-27.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Karen Kubovchick Painting on Cover of the Dining Guide

We love to brag here when one of our fine Artists Market artists receives an honor or some press coverage. Watercolorist Karen Kubovchick just scored big in both of those categories. One of her watercolors was chosen for the cover of the Summer 2009 edition of the Northern Michigan Dining Guide.

The watercolor is a beautiful still life of fruits and flowers. You can pick up a copy of the Dining Guide for free all over Northern Michigan. It was just released and is available now.

Here is another example of Karen's watercolors, River Bridge, showing the Bear River and the US 31 Bridge in Petoskey. See much more of Karen's work at the Northern Michigan Artists Market in Downtown Petoskey or online.