Recent Westwood High School grad recognized for efforts
MARQUETTE — Meg Harmon, a recent Westwood High School graduate, has been awarded an “Environmental Excellence” certificate and a $500 award for her student volunteer work with Citizens for a Safe & Clean Lake Superior, a local nonprofit that opposes the plan for an industrial rocket launch site near Thoney Point in Powell Township.
CSCLS began the award program this spring to recognize local high school and college students for helping to protect Lake Superior’s coastal habitat from industrialization.
Harmon, 17, who plans to attend Tulane University, submitted an essay on the issue, noting that she has yet to live outside the Upper Peninsula.
“When looking back at this, I feel nothing but gratitude for my much-loved home and my backyard’s acres on the Carp River,” Harmon wrote. “How could I not be proud to say that I learned to cast a lure on Deer Lake, that I broke in my hiking boots on Sugarloaf Mountain and took my senior pictures on the Lake Superior lakeshore!
“I cannot imagine a world where I can’t show my future children these same sites — where I can’t introduce them to the best sandy beaches, to the prime fishing spots, to the open skies for stargazing.”
Harmon said that in her junior year, she began a recycling program at her school, collecting each class’s paper products every Friday.
That, she noted, left her wanting to learn more about her environmental contribution. So, she began an internship with the Superior Watershed Partnership for which she gathered information on plant nurseries and ecosystem types, Lake Superior landmarks and conservation career paths.
During this time, Harmon began volunteering for CSCLS.
In her essay, she noted that this project, headed by the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association, not only threatens the environment she loves, but it threatens to divide the community in which she grew up and the people she considers family: “the hardworking and proud Yoopers.”
“It is especially worrying to consider the extensive damage that this rocket launch plan will cause to one of our greatest shared resources — our beautiful and valuable lakeshore,” Harmon wrote. “Granot Loma is the host of thriving wildlife, nestled between nature trails and recreation areas. Protecting Granot Loma is protecting the trout of the Little Garlic River and the kayak path of the Hiawatha Water Trail. It is protecting the habitat of the Eagles Nest Coastal Community Forest and the unmatchable view of the Harlow Lake overlook.
“The effects of a rocket launch would be devastating: extensive clear cutting, evacuation of at least six local residences and disturbance of groundwater tables, to name a few. These damages — permanent damages — jeopardize this shared resource and this shared future we have long depended on.”
Harmon also wrote that in her 17 years, she has watched “the cycle of industry.”
“Power plants run, then sit, then get auctioned for demolition,” she said. “Politicians enter and exit authority; technologies are developed and then abandoned. In the Upper Peninsula, with Lake Superior at an arm’s reach, we have an incredible ability to seek out ‘forevers.’ Our effects on the environment will outlast us, and it should be in all of our hopes to create air clean to breathe in, and a world safe to live in.
“The quest for jobs and personal security must also coincide with a quest for a sustainable environment. Building an industrial rocket launch site on the shore of the world’s largest surface area freshwater lake cannot truly satisfy either component.”
MAMA announced Granot Loma as the proposed site on July 23, 2020. It also announced that Chippewa County was chosen as the site for its autonomous vehicle proving grounds. The two locations will become part of MAMA’s Michigan Launch Initiative, which also includes the Wurtsmith Airport site near downstate Oscoda.
Harmon received her check and award on Thursday.
“It’s really good to see support for this cause and for the work that we’ve done,” Harmon said.
CSCLS President Dennis Ferraro expressed his gratitude about Harmon and her work.
“I’m very encouraged because we’re trying to protect the environment for generations to come, and to see a young person oppose this industrial launch site is quite encouraging,” Ferraro said. “She’s really been an excellent volunteer and inspiring for all of us.”
Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.