Save the Wild U.P. sponsors auction

By Meghan Trombley

On Friday Sept. 23, Save the Wild U.P. will be having their annual fall fundraiser at the Upfront & Company.
SWUP is a nonprofit, grassroots organization that has been active since 2002.

The organization holds the fundraiser to raise the $600 a month that is necessary to keep the office open, in addition to other funds necessary to keep the organization running.

Volunteer and artist Rosa Musket said that funds go toward information, people working at SWUP, legal fees and celebrity speakers.

They also use funds to send members of the organization to present at seminars.

“Just about all vendors at the farmer’s market have donated something,” Musket said. “We have a real supportive community.”

Volunteer and office manager Kristi Mills said 50 to 100 people are expected to attend the fundraiser. The fundraiser also informs supporters how funds are spent.

“We don’t make a ton of money at these,” Mills said. “It’s a great time to let people know we’re still alive, still kicking.”

The organization’s biggest cause is the Eagle Project, to stop sulfide mining in the U.P. in order to protect its wildlife, landscape and freshwater resources.

Sulfide mining extracts metals, such as nickel or copper, from a sulfide ore body. Nickel and copper are valuable, especially for uses in cell phones and computers.

“Sulfide mining has never been successfully done anywhere without polluting the water,” Mills said.
SWUP is trying to educate people about Rio Tinto, a London-based company who invested in the company Kennecott to look for mineral deposits in the Upper Peninsula.

Kennecott located a nickel and copper deposit in Michigamme Township, 25 miles northwest of Marquette.
A new Michigan law was written in 2006 that allows Kennecott to proceed with mining: Part 632, signed by former governor Jennifer Granholm.

“The rule system under the statute is not strong,” Mills said. “It left out major parts, like where you can put a mine like this.”

Mills said that the Department of Environmental Quality’s budget has been cut, so the office is left with few people in charge of overseeing the mine.

“The downside of the project is that the DEQ pushed through from the start,” Mills said. “They permitted (Kennecott) to build the mine and admitted they don’t have enough people to watchdog it. It’s been discouraging to those of us who would look at an agency like (the DEQ) to protect us.”

SWUP works with the activist group WAVE (Water Action Vital Earth) to plan events and rallies and different campaigns to stop the mine by approaching Governor Snyder.

SWUP is more of an administrative group while WAVE is action oriented.

“We write lots of letters and try to contact people in decision-making chairs,” Mills said.

Mills uses Facebook to get the word out about SWUP’s mission, and at one point printed a newspaper called The Splash.

However, SWUP’s biggest tool for educating the community is their website.

They use their website to communicate with supporters who sign up to receive regular emails about the organization.

Ivana Busuttil, a senior public administration and early childhood double major, is a co-leader of Northern’s Students for Sustainable Living (SFSL).

She said that SFSL helps out SWUP when it can, which includes the fall fundraiser.

“Sometimes I know people don’t appreciate it, but when you come from a large area like Metro Detroit where non-profits get lost in the chaos, it’s nice to come back to Marquette and see people working together to chip away at the problems,” Busuttil said. “And then we, as college students, can take that experience and spread it to wherever we go.”

Busuttil said that it’s an easy sell to help out when the cause is to better the environment.

“We all experience the environment and share the burden of restoring and protecting it. SWUP does beautiful things in a beautiful area,” Busuttil said.

Tickets are available at the SWUP office on 417 N. Third St. The cost is $15 for the general public and $5 for students. It will be at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 23 at the Upfront.

For more information on SWUP visit