Local students start initiative to clean up after mining industry

Local students start initiative to clean up after mining industry

HOUGHTON — A group of Houghton Middle School students are concerned about the local environment, and they’re doing something about it. ABC 10’s Keweenaw Bureau Reporter Rick Allen met with these students to hear their idea.

The remnants of the copper mining industry are still with us today. In part because of the large deposits of stamp sand that continue to cause environmental concerns.

A team of Houghton Middle School students, calling themselves the Stamping Mad Gremlins are proposing an idea they say will help.

It a process called phytoremediation and these students have been learning about how it could be used to pull harmful chemicals from the soil.

Houghton Middle School 8th Grader Olivia Hohnholt said, “When it rains the chemicals and the water kind of mix together and then so we plant the bluestem and all the chemicals and the water come up and they get rid of all the chemicals in the soil.”

The team did research and experiments to narrow the best option down to bluestem grass…which can be planted in stamp sand. The team entered the project into the Scholastic Lexus Eco–Challenge and was chosen from hundreds of schools in the region to move on to the final round.

They’ll know early next year if they win, but more importantly…

Houghton Middle School 8th Grader Camille Shaw said, “We want to make sure people know about this, so then maybe they’ll actually realize this is a problem, too. Then they’ll be more willing to help it out because it’s pretty easy to just plant a plant and then it does all the work by itself. So I hope to live for a better world.”

This is the second year in a row that Houghton Middle School has had a regional winning team netting a total so far of $20,000.