UPEC Livestreams: Keeping you connected with the UP environment

Our series of livestreams, co-hosted by Board President Horst Schmidt and Vice President Evan Zimmermann, keeps you up-to-date with environmental issues facing the Upper Peninsula.

Please note: as of November 2021, you can view all archived recordings of the livestreams anytime on UPEC’s Facebook page. Earlier posts below link to UPEC’s YouTube channel, which is no longer being used for this purpose.

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Updated: Nov 20, 2021

Sara Giles, US Fish and Wildlife Service


Even seasoned Yoopers may not be familiar with one of the Upper Peninsula’s greatest natural treasures: the Huron National Wildlife Refuge. For one thing, the refuge isn’t in Lake Huron. It’s actually a series of small islands three miles north of the Huron Mountains in Lake Superior. For another, all but one of the islands are closed to the public because of their paramount importance as bird sanctuaries. The one exception, West Huron Island, is also known as Lighthouse Island — and indeed, the lighthouse there, while itself not open to entry, does draw curious visitors who venture out by private boat.


In this edition of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition Livestream Series, Sara Giles of the US Fish and Wildlife Service takes us there — virtually. Giles gives us an overview of the natural and cultural values of this little-known protected area. She is the visitor services manager at the Seney National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which is in charge of the Huron refuge. A 24-year veteran of the Service, Giles is also a Peace Corps alumna. She and her husband are raising two young children — which has sidelined, but only temporarily, her passion for photography.


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“The pandemic made it clear that yes, more people are finding the outdoors and yes, people are finding the outdoors are not equally safe and welcoming for all.” So says Brad Garmon, director of Michigan’s Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry, who will be the guest on the next virtual UPEC Livestream on October 7th at 8 PM EDT. A recent article in Bridge Magazine highlighted the challenges Black, Indigenous, and People of Color face when enjoying Michigan's outdoors. Garmon will highlight the steps the Department of Natural Resources has taken to make the outdoors more welcoming for all peoples as a matter of policy and action.


In September 2019, Brad Garmon was named director of the Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry. Though he grew up in the plains of western Kansas, Garmon has spent the last 18 years focused on improving Michigan public policy to better protect the Great Lakes and natural areas, while also forging stronger connections between resource conservation, job growth, talent attraction, and economic development.


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Dr. M. Eric Benbow, Michigan State University

When you've been in the woods and found decaying tree trunks, mushrooms growing on dead organic matter, or perhaps even a decomposing carcass, did you ever wonder how this fits into our ecosystems? And what is happening in what is unseen by us to nourish the landscape? Join us on the next UPEC livestream to hear from Dr. Eric Benbow, a leader in studying the necrobiome: a complex system where the role of decomposition and decay has an impact on animals, birds, invertebrates, fungi, and microorganisms. Dr. Benbow focuses on applied ecology of insect–microbial interactions within three systems: carrion decomposition (and forensics), aquatic ecological networks, and disease systems. Together, they make up the necrobiome: the world of death which leads to new life.

For viewers who wish further information on the necrobiome, here is the original biography Dr. Benbow sent with a fuller explanation of his work and a selected bibliography.


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