Category: Uncategorized

Baeten, Langston, and Lafreniere Publish Article: “A Spatial Evaluation of Historic Iron Mining Impacts on Current Impaired Waters in Lake Superior’s Mesabi Range”

AmbioJohn Baeten, Nancy Langston and Don Lafreniere published the article, “A spatial evaluation of historic iron mining impacts on current impaired waters in Lake Superior’s Mesabi Range,” in the international journal, Ambio: A Journal of the Human Environment. The article compares historic mining intensity in Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range with current impaired waters data to show the utility of historical datasets to understand current environmental challenges at landscape scales. The authors present a novel spatial approach that lands managers and policy makers can apply to other landscapes to assess the effects of past mining activity on watershed health.
You can read the article at the following link:

Langston Interviewed on “Copper Country Today” Radio Program

Nancy Langston

Latika Gupta (SBE) and Nancy Langston (SS) discussed the Standing Rock Sioux and the Dakota Access Pipeline protests on Copper Country Today. The interview aired on Dec. 18 on WOLV FM, WHKB FM, and WCCY AM/FM.

Langston focused on sovereignty and environmental justice issues and Gupta provided an economic perspective. The entire interview can be found on the Copper Country Today website.

A Geospatial Approach to Uncovering the Hidden Waste Footprint of Lake Superior’s Mesabi Iron Range

Jextractive industries and societyohn Baeten, Nancy Langston, and Don Lafreniere recently published an article titled: “A Geospatial Approach to Uncovering the Hidden Waste Footprint of Lake Superior’s Mesabi Iron Range” published in The Extractive Industries and Society.

The article is available for download until January 26, 2017 at the following link:,oMyQ5uEu

Article Abstract: “For decades, the Lake Superior Iron District produced a significant majority of the world’s iron used in steel production. Chief among these was the Mesabi Range of northern Minnesota, a vast deposit of hematite and magnetic taconite ores stretching for over 100 miles in length. Iron ore mining in the Mesabi Range involved three major phases: direct shipping ores (1893–1970s), washable ores (1907– 1980s), and taconite (1947–current). Each phase of iron mining used different technologies to extract and process ore. Producing all of this iron yielded a vast landscape of mine waste. This paper uses a historical GIS to illuminate the spatial extent of mining across the Lake Superior Iron District, to locate where low- grade ore processing took place, and to identify how and where waste was produced. Our analysis shows that the technological shift to low-grade ore mining placed new demands on the environment, primarily around processing plants. Direct shipping ore mines produced less mine waste than low-grade ore mines, and this waste was confined to the immediate vicinity of mines themselves. Low-grade ore processing, in contrast, created more dispersed waste landscapes as tailings mobilized from the mines themselves into waterbodies and human communities.”

Funding Received for “Archaeological and Historical Studies at Pullman Nation Monument”

Clocktower building.

Timothy Scarlett is the principal investigator on a research and development project that has received $149,564 from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service.

Steve Walton, Don Lafreniere, Sarah Fayen Scarlett, Melissa Baird, Laura Rouleau, Samuel Sweitz, and LouAnn Wurst are co-PIs on the project, “Archaeological and Historical Studies at Pullman National Monument.”

This is a three-year project.


Wellstead Publishes on Forest Policy-Making and Climate Change Adaptation

untitledAdam Wellstead  co-authored an article, “Assisted Tree Migration in North America: Policy Legacies, Enhanced Forest Policy Integration and Climate Change Adaptation,” in the Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research.  The article discusses how forest policy-making can effectively address climate change if the policy-making process shifts to a more integrated approach and the challenges associated with the shift.

Read the abstract here.

Michigan Technological University sponsors US Forest Service Passport in Time Site

MTU-Professor,-Dr.-LouAnn-Wurst-instructs-members-of-the-PIT-crewIn August 2016, the Hiawatha National Forest partnered with Michigan Technological University sponsored a Passport In Time (PIT) project at the former logging settlement of Coalwood. The site was occupied by Finnish Immigrant families who cut cordwood for the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company between 1900 and 1912.  One goal of the project was to assess the damage caused by recent looting activities.

In an image provided by PIT, Professor LouAnn Wurst instructs members of the PIT Crew.

G.R.A.C.E Project Featured in National GIS Publication

TimetravelerKeweenaw Time Traveler and National Park Service received media attention for their NSF-ITEST GRACE Project collaboration in Directions Magazine, a national GIS periodical.  The article, G.R.A.C.E Project team creates ‘time machine’ with GIS, outlines some of the detail of the summer career education program that brought local high school students to work with the KHNP and the Keweenaw Time Traveler team as paid interns.



Department Employment Opportunities

Positions currently available in the Department of Social Sciences at Michigan Tech:

Assistant Professor of Environmental/Energy Justice – Tenure Track  –    The Department of Social Sciences at Michigan Technological University invites applications for an Assistant Professor to join an interdisciplinary social sciences faculty. We seek a scholar specializing in environmental and/or energy justice. Candidates with strengths in policy analysis and/or spatial methodologies are especially encouraged to apply.   Assistant Professor Environment_Energy Justic

Post Doctoral Position in Bioenergy Development and Sustainability     The Department of Social Sciences at Michigan Technological University invites applications for a one-and-a-half year Post–Doctoral Fellowship, beginning on or about January 1, 2017, focused on the socioecological impacts of sustainable bioenergy development across the Americas.  MTU PIRE SE Post-Doc