A monarch mission

Peninsula Point monarchs subject of new app

“Monarchs of Peninsula Point is a free mobile game that allows people to explore the Peninsula Point Lighthouse and day-use area near Rapid River. Users are guided through challenges to learn about the local environment. (Image courtesy of Agents of Discovery)


Journal Staff Writer

RAPID RIVER– The mobile gaming application “Agents of Discovery” recently launched a new mobile “mission” that offers a new way for visitors to explore Hiawatha National Forest’s Peninsula Point Lighthouse and day-use area near Rapid River.

The new AoD mission, “Monarchs of Peninsula Point,” is a free mobile game application that allows users to unlock hidden geo-challenges with their tablets or smart phones.

Players, or agents, are given a mission that is individual to each site — in this case, Peninsula Point — and, using the geo-location on their phones, are guided through a series of challenges, questions and learning activities that reveal what’s special about the environment around them.

The game is designed for ages 6 to 12 years and for families looking for fun activities they can do together.

The U.S. Forest Service, American Recreation Coalition and Agents of Discovery have partnered since 2016 to bring educational, movement-based interactive gaming opportunities to national forest sites across the country.

“Using game-based learning, agents will discover what it takes to survive the 1,900-mile migration of the monarch butterfly, and hopefully they will have a bit of fun while they’re at it,” said Sean O’Donnell, Hiawatha National Forest Lighthouse Program specialist.

Since there is no Wi-Fi at the lighthouse, using the mobile game requires a little pre-planning. The mobile game will be available to visitors who download the AoD app and the “Monarchs of Peninsula Point” mission at home or somewhere with Wi-Fi before heading to the lighthouse.

A visitor might be able to download the mission on site at Peninsula Point, but that requires data. An internet connection is not needed to play the downloaded game.

The “Agent Beacon” on the app issues this warning: “Before we go I have to warn you, being an Agent can be challenging so make sure you are always looking around and watching where you are going.”

The Monarchs of Peninsula Point mission is available for download now on the App Store or Google Play. For updates, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/HiawathaLighthouses.

For more details about recreation opportunities and lighthouses in Hiawatha National Forest, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/hiawatha.

Peninsula Point, at the end of the Stonington Peninsula in Delta County, offers spectacular views of Lake Michigan from atop its lighthouse, hiking trails and excellent birdwatching for species such as the Baltimore oriole, scarlet tanager and indigo bunting.

The lighthouse, which was built in 1865 and once guided ships carrying iron ore and other products, is on the National Register of Historic Places, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

However, its connection with the monarch butterfly has garnered Peninsula Point a lot of attention.

“Just as the Peninsula Point lighthouse guided ships on Lake Michigan, the Stonington Peninsula guides monarch butterflies as they begin their 1,900-mile migration south to their wintering grounds in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico,” reads a sign that greets visitors. “In the fall, thousands of monarchs can be seen here, waiting for favorable conditions before they cross Lake Michigan.”

Because the site is so unique, it has been the location of much monarch research. That includes the Peninsula Point Monitoring Project, a program that began in 1996 to census monarchs as they stop over at the site.

The USFS has been busy in another part of the Upper Peninsula.

Several USFS employees recently took time away from their regular work to clean up three dump sites near Shingleton in Hiawatha National Forest. The garbage included a couch, 56 relatively new tires and a heap of household trash.

“We’ve recently found several more loads of tires in the same area, and there are numerous other dumpsites, so the work is ongoing,” said Tiffany Jastrzemski, a USFS forestry technician, in a news release.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.