The Torch Lake Area of Concern Public Action Council (TLPAC) will host the Statewide Public Advisory Council (SPAC) meeting in Houghton, Michigan on July 16 and 17, 2019 at Michigan Technological University’s Great Lakes Research Center in Room 202. Sessions are scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. both days. In addition, there will be a tour of Torch Lake on July 16 after the end of the morning session. The Office of Great Lakes (OGL) staff who assist the SPAC will be in attendance to update the Council on Michigan and federal actions which affect the progress of cleanups in the Great Lakes.
Areas of Concern (AOCs) are highly polluted sites on bodies of water that pose a danger to their communities. There were originally fourteen AOCs in Michigan. The pollution problems of AOCs are specifically identified as Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs) for each AOC. The role of a public advisory council is to identify the problems, do community outreach and develop a network of government and non-governmental groups to address the concerns of their communities. Torch Lake has recently been active in seeking solutions to the stamp sands dumped into the lake by former mining companies which have made it difficult to have healthy benthos, or aquatic life, due to the spread of sands throughout the bottom of the lake. New efforts are underway to revive Torch Lake’s benthos that could lead to a major clean up within the next decade. Along with the work being done by the state’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy Remediation Division to remove toxic chemicals along the west shore of Torch Lake, funding is being sought from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to find ways to repair the damage created by copper mining companies since the latter part of the nineteenth century.
The public is invited to the SPAC meeting on both days to hear about progress being made by the advisory councils in the entire state. The OGL and the Great Lakes Commission will update council members on state, federal and international activities. Research currently being conducted at the University of Michigan and Michigan Technological University will also inform council members of effective ways to engage their communities. The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community will have its President, Chris Swartz, explain the importance of Torch Lake to their community under their treaty rights and the work they have done to improve water quality on their reservation. SPAC meetings are an opportunity for members to network and to find out not only what concerns an AOC has, but also to see the host community and its attractions.
For information, contact Horst Schmidt, Vice-Chair of the SPAC at firstname.lastname@example.org or 906-369-3797.
by Kelley Christensen (Social Sciences)