Keweenaw Sustainable Tourism Series

Sustainable tourism prioritizes strategies that preserve and enhance a destination’s cultural and natural environments while ensuring tourism benefits local communities for generations to come. Increasingly, travelers are mindful of the effects of their own travel and are seeking destinations that offer experiences which allow them to explore and enjoy the destination while preserving its beauty and communities.

The Keweenaw Sustainable Tourism Series (KSTS) connects local businesses and community leaders with relevant subject matter experts (SME) to discuss the principles, latest developments, and opportunities of sustainable travel. The recurring series focuses on a range of topics with a goal of identifying practical opportunities to implement local strategies so that the Keweenaw becomes a leader in sustainable tourism. 

John Mueller gives sustainable tourism presentation about Keweenaw dark skies and light pollution.
John Mueller from the Keweenaw Dark Sky Park during a presentation on Fostering the Keweenaw's Dark Skies.

Previous Events

Understanding Visitor Spending Impacts in the Western UP

Date: April 17th, 2024

Presentation Slides


  • 7:30 AM - Bonfire at the Continental Fire Co., 408 E Montezuma Ave, Houghton, MI 49931
  • 4:00 PM - Eagle Harbor Township Office, 321 Center Street, Eagle Harbor, MI 49950

Program Description

The tourism industry has long been a pillar in the Upper Peninsula's regional economy. However, its impacts are difficult to assess given the fluidity of traveler behavior. Join researchers from the University of Michigan's Economic Growth Institute (EGI) for a presentation on a year-long economic impact study of the Western Upper Peninsula's visitor economy. Beginning in January 2023, EGI researchers have collected visitor spending and activity data in the six counties of the Western Upper Peninsula. The presentation will share their findings on how the tourism industry impacts the region's economy and digs into seasonal differences in spending, activities, visitor satisfaction, and more. The presentation will be informative for all audiences, but particularly local officials, economic development organizations, area businesses, and organizations who provide services and programs to visitors. 

Enhancing Accessible Tourism

Date: March 26th, 2024 @ Noon

Location: Keweenaw Community Foundation, 236 Quincy St, Hancock, MI 49930

Presentation Slides

Program Description

The Keweenaw attracts community members and visitors who love nature, small towns, and the Copper Country's rich history. Access to these amenities is an important way of life for those who live and visit here. Preserving access to special places as our community members age-in-place is critical to preserving the local way of life for many. Join representatives from the Accessible Keweenaw Initiative (AKI) as they update the community on their efforts to enhance the accessibility of the region’s collection of recreation and cultural amenities. A facilitated panel discussion will cover topics such as the need for local accessibility investments, available resources for community planning, and the group’s progress over the past year.

AKI is a coalition of community members, organizations, and subject matter experts. The coalition is responsible for identifying priority sites, assisting with pursuing funding for site improvements, and sharing information with the broader community about places residents and visitors can go that are barrier-free.


Sustainability in Stages: A Practice in Continuous Improvement

Date: January 5th, 2024 @ Noon

Location: Keweenaw Community Foundation, 236 Quincy St, Hancock, MI 49930

Program Description

The Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts, nestled in the vibrant Keweenaw region, stands as a unique hub for artistic expression, showcasing talents from across the Midwest and beyond. It plays a pivotal role in bringing live music, theatre and diverse performances to both locals and visitors, fostering a sense of community through its gatherings, meetings, celebrations and festivals. This grand venue, designed to host large audiences and intricate performances, undoubtedly contributes to the cultural richness of the area.

Recognizing the need for a sustainable approach, Rozsa Center Director Mary Jennings takes a bold and delightfully human approach to continuous improvement in sustainable business practices. Join Jennings for a presentation on sustainability strategies and programs implemented at the Upper Peninsula's largest performing arts venue to move toward a more sustainable future.

Presentation Files

Sustainability in Stages: A Practice in Continuous Improvement


Mary Jennings | Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts: Mary Jennings is an arts presenter and rural arts advocate. Through her work at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan she has earned a reputation for championing community-centered collaborations and finding creative ways to engage rural audiences with the performing arts. She is an Association for Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) Leadership Fellow, and has presented on rural arts leadership and community engagement at Arts Midwest and APAP conferences. As a founding member of the Upper Peninsula Arts and Culture Alliance, Mary works to foster connections that support a more visible, valued, and sustainable arts industry throughout the U.P. region. Mary studied classical ballet at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet under the direction of Marcia Dale Weary. She holds a BA in Dance from Point Park University's Conservatory of Performing Arts, and an MBA from Michigan Technological University's School of Business and Economics. She currently serves at Vice President for the Michigan Presenters Network and participates in national Presenters Leadership Consortium meetings. 

Fostering the Keweenaw's Dark Skies

Date: November 10th, 2023 @ Noon

Location: Keweenaw Community Foundation, 236 Quincy St, Hancock, MI 49930

Program Description

The Keweenaw is home to some of the darkest skies in the Midwest. This provides visitors and residents access to incredible stargazing opportunities and even the chance to experience the Northern Lights. Join us for a discussion on ways to ensure the Keweenaw's dark skies are preserved for future generations and the science behind light pollution prevention. We'll touch on actions taken to establish the Keweenaw Dark Sky Park in Copper Harbor and why preserving dark skies are important to the region.  

Presentation Files

Keweenaw Dark Sky Park Designation & Lighting Management Practices - John Mueller

Conserving the Wilderness of the Night Sky - John Barentine


John Mueller | Keweenaw Mountain Lodge & Keweenaw Dark Sky Park: John is the chief lead at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge, where he is heavily involved with the staff as it relates to culture, operations, and strategy of the resort. He purchased the WPA-era lodge at the top of the Keweenaw in 2018, and has transitioned the rustic and historic cabins to be supported by outdoor activities, rustic worldly food, and education year-round.

Previously, John was a professor at St. Edward’s University, focusing on entrepreneurship and innovation. Before his time at St. Edward’s, he was a faculty member at Fresno State and Western Michigan University. He finished his PhD in Entrepreneurship at the University of Louisville, and has an MBA from the University of Illinois and a BBA from Southern Methodist University. He is a native of Austin, Texas, and has lived in many cool places around the world which has helped shape his perspective on life.

John Barentine | Dark Sky Consulting, LLC: John is an Arizona native and comes from the “dark side” of science — professional astronomy. He grew up in Phoenix and was involved in amateur astronomy there from grade school. Later, he attended the University of Arizona, beginning research in jobs at the National Optical Astronomy Observatories and National Solar Observatory headquarters in Tucson. From 2001-06 he was on the staff of Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico, serving first as an observing specialist on the Astrophysical Research Consortium 3.5-meter telescope and then as an observer for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. John is the author of three books on the history of astronomy, The Lost ConstellationsUncharted Constellations, and Mystery of the Ashen Light of Venus. The asteroid (14505) Barentine is named in his honor. ​

He obtained a master’s degree in physics at Colorado State University and a master’s and Ph.D. in astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin. John has contributed to science in fields ranging from solar physics to galaxy evolution while helping develop hardware for ground-based and aircraft-borne astronomy. Throughout his career, he has been involved in education and outreach efforts to help increase the public understanding of science.

John formerly served as the International Dark Sky Places Program Manager, Director of Public Policy and Director of Conservation for the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) in Tucson, Arizona.


Leave No Trace

Learn about the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace, how to apply them when visiting the Keweenaw, and…