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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.


Updated: Nov 20, 2021

Peter Sinclair, Videographer and Publisher of

Large-scale wind energy is a hot topic in Houghton County these days with the Scotia Wind project proposed in Adams Township. Those of us who are concerned about climate change welcome the transition to renewable energy, but many have questions about the efficacy and impact on our landscape of large wind turbines. The controversy over the Scotia Wind project, which echoes the arguments that were made in the abortive Summit Lake project in Baraga County, shows that issues around large-scale wind power in the U.P. are complex and contentious. The next UPEC livestream will tackle this issue with the help of Peter Sinclair, a Midland-based videographer who specializes in environment and renewable energy issues. For a decade, Mr. Sinclair has produced a monthly video series for the Yale University School of Environment, and has interviewed hundreds of the world’s leading scientists and engineers. His videos are recognized by experts internationally, and have established Mr. Sinclair as a frequent presenter on climate, renewable energy, and science communication. In 2017, the National Center for Science Education recognized Mr. Sinclair as a “Friend of the Planet."

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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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