What is the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition?
The Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition has been in existence for nearly 40 years, yet many people do not know what it is all about. Find out more and see if you want to become involved.
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is an outdoor wonderland with numerous spectacular natural features. There is old growth timber, scenic rivers, wild lakes, three Great Lakes, large tracts of wilderness, countless wildlife species and much, much more. In addition, there are designated areas that protect many natural features such as Isle Royale, the Pictured Rocks, the Porcupine Mountains and the Sylvania Wilderness Area. Many more potential areas exist. Natural resource protection is important and the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC) is a big part of ensuring these wild and scenic places continue to be available for future generations.
UPEC cares for, protects and promotes the environment in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. UPEC’s mission is to “protect and maintain the unique environmental qualities of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan by educating the public and acting as a watchdog to industry and government.” UPEC also seeks partners who share a similar philosophy of working together to protect the Upper Peninsula’s special lands and waters.
UPEC was formed in 1976 by a group of activists who were concerned that the “ruins of the great cutover” would never happen again. There are 200-300 members and a governing board of 11 members who live throughout the Upper Peninsula. UPEC is a 501(c)(3) organization.
Throughout its history, UPEC has been involved in shaping environmental policy and events in the Upper Peninsula. Some landmark involvement includes limiting motorboat use in Sylvania Wilderness, management of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Nuclear Waste Referendum and protecting the U.P.’s special places such as Sturgeon Gorge, Boney Falls and the Bond and Au Train Reservoirs. Without these efforts, these areas could have been exploited for commercial and private development and ultimately limited to public enjoyment.
UPEC not only serves as a watchdog to industry and government. Education is a large component toward creating environmental awareness and sensitivity. Each March, UPEC hosts “Celebrate the U.P.!” which is a gathering of artists, tribal elders, botanists and just about anyone who has a concern or interest for the environment. UPEC also sponsors a mini-grant program that provides funding to schools, organizations and groups wanting to implement or enhance environmental education programs or activities.
The environmental threats to the Upper Peninsula have changed since UPEC’s inception nearly 40 years ago. However, UPEC’s mission has not. UPEC remains the oldest grassroots environmental organization in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. With one-third the land mass of Michigan, yet only 3 percent of the population, the U.P. needs a voice to stand up to protect the lands and waters that make Michigan’s Upper Peninsula special.