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Frank A. Douglass Insurance Agency

Local Conservation Corps On Site With Houghton Disaster Relief

The Superior Watershed Partnership (SWP) has deployed two 4-person Great Lakes Conservation Corps (SWP) crews to assist with disaster relief in Houghton and Keweenaw counties. Both crews were on site within 24 hours of the flood event and will continue to assist for at least two weeks, possibly longer if funding allows. GLCC crews are assisting with all aspects of disaster relief including but not limited to; debris removal, erosion control, road closure projects, site assessments, stream inventories and building clean-up. GLCC crews are directly assisting families and the elderly with debris removal, home clean-up and site stabilization.

GLCC crews are also assisting Houghton County Emergency Management, Houghton County Road Commission, City of Houghton, City of Hancock and local townships. Governor Snyder declared an official state disaster declaration for the region. According to the Houghton County Emergency Manager, Chris Van Arsdale, this was a 1,000 year storm event. Braxton Hjelle, GLCC Crew Leader, commented on the scale of the devastation; “I never thought a disaster would happen like this in the UP. Our crews have worked in some challenging sites but nothing like this. The storm impacts are simply astounding!” Hjelle’s crews were on site early Monday morning; “The GLCC is a local program, the men and women of the GLCC are proud to be among the first to assist these local communities.”

Local, state and federal coordinators have requested additional assistance and the SWP is planning to send additional GLCC crews in the near future. The SWP in cooperation with Partners for Watershed Restoration (PWR) and the Ottawa National Forest are providing funding to cover current GLCC crew costs for related disaster relief. Eventually, after community and residential disaster relief priorities have been addressed the SWP and GLCC crews will also assist with comprehensive stream inventories to evaluate and prioritize future erosion control, habitat restoration and riparian buffer restoration projects.

Since 2000, GLCC crews have worked across jurisdictional boundaries in all fifteen counties of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to implement high priority hands-on conservation and restoration projects within three Great Lakes watersheds (Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Superior). GLCC crews are equipped with trucks, tools, safety equipment, and camping gear for overnight stays at remote sites if needed. All crew members wear uniforms and receive Red Cross First Aid along with other project-specific training prior to each field season.

GLCC crews are experienced in a wide range of conservation and community projects including, but not limited to, stream restoration, erosion control, habitat restoration, environmental monitoring, trail building, public access improvements and disaster relief.

The Superior Watershed Partnership (SWP), a Great Lakes non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of the rivers, watersheds, and coastal areas of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP).

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