Completed Challenges

Challenge #1

Challenge #1 - $500 (Ten $50 Increments)

"As a Portage Township resident for nearly 25 years, I have greatly enjoyed the beauty and peacefulness of the Pilgrim River Watershed, and have come to understand the importance of protecting this exceptional natural resource. Towards that end, I am putting up my $500 in hopes of encouraging ten $50 contributions that it will be used to match. I am issuing this challenge in the memory of two very much loved former Portage Township residents, Leonard and Sally Ollila."

- Sean Clancey

Challenge #2

Challenge #2 - $500 (Five $100 Increments)

"I have given John Ollila a $500 check for the Pilgrim River Watershed Project. It is in memory of his parents Leonard and Sally Ollila. It might be nice to use it for five $100 challenges."

- Terry Warrington

Challenge #3

Challenge #3 - $250 (Ten $25 Increments)

"Every summer when I was a child, I visited my grandparents Sally and Leonard Ollila by the Superior Road Bridge of the Pilgrim River, and now as an adult I live there and am raising my own children on the farm. I am contributing $50 to Sean Clancey’s challenge and will commit to putting up $250 to match an additional ten $25 contributions. This conservation project will never come to pass unless those with humble incomes and lots of bills begin squeezing out small donations on a regular basis. I resolved last fall to set aside $25 a month to accumulate a contribution, and I encourage other ordinary folk to attempt to budget an occasional bit to help out the Pilgrim River Watershed Project."

- Linda Scherbring

Challenge #4

Challenge #4 - $500 (Five $100 Increments)

Jimmy Rettig on 1946 Farmall Tractor"I will contribute $500 to match five $100 donations in memory of the Sutinen Family and all other families who have their roots in the Pilgrim River Valley."

- Jim Rettig

Challenge #5

Challenge #5 - $1000 (Ten $100 Increments)

"This challenge is in memory of my grandparents, from whom I acquired an appreciation of and dedication to the natural world as a fundamental part of all existence."

- Bill Leder

Challenge #6

Challenge #6 - $500 (Five $100 Increments)

"As a child I frequently enjoyed time traipsing over the countryside on the Ollila and what is now the Hovel properties. Spending time hiking up and downstream with my family are some of my fondest memories of growing up in the Copper Country. Though I now am able to make it home a few times a year, I'd like my children to have the same opportunities to enjoy the unspoiled valley that I did. That is why I'm making a $500 challenge in memory of Sally and Leonard Ollila to match five additional $100 donations. I encourage others who have had the fortune to grow up in such a beautiful area to make a contribution as well so we can preserve one of our area's best natural resources."

- Jen Rashleigh-Houser

Challenge #7

Challenge #7 - $500 (Two $250 Increments)

"I will match two $250 contributions made to the Pilgrim River Watershed Project in Nov. and Dec. 2010, making my match in Jan. 2011. Please look at a Houghton County Plat book and note that there is no accessible state (public) land in the Houghton area. Those of us who have grown up in the Copper Country have always hiked, hunted, and fished on private company lands which are every year becoming more fragmented, developed, and posted. Times may be tight, but I encourage everyone to consider the long term benefits of securing perpetual public access on the Pilgrim valley lands while we have a willing, supportive landowner. And finally, thank you to the many individuals who have made donations and challenges to the Pilgrim Project in my parents' memory."

- John Ollila

Challenge #8

Challenge #8 - $2000 (Eighty $25 Increments)

"In Loving Memory of Stan 'The Steelhead' Frantila. This challenge is in memory of my Grandfather, Stan Frantila. He loved everything outdoors and hardly anybody could challenge him fishing ... he knew all the local hot spots. He was a devoted volunteer with the Copper Country Trout Unlimited Chapter where he was honored with the 2008 Volunteer of the Year award and helped enhance the local rivers and fisheries, including the Pilgrim River. Dave, Kae and Brandon Rosgen with Wildland Hydrology (the company I work for) will graciously match all donations up to $1000. Helping conserve the Pilgrim River Watershed is something we know my Grandfather would be proud of, and with this challenge he can continue preserving a river he loved."

Click here for more photos of Stan.

- Darcie (Frantila) Geenen and an anonymous donor who will also match $1000

Challenge #9

Challenge #9 - $500 (Ten $50 Increments)

"It's Christmas time and I have to start thinking about what to get my kids. Well, let me re-phrase that. I don't HAVE to, but I want to. I don't think I spoil my kids, but it is fun to get them a new toy sometimes and see their smile. But toys serve such a temporary purpose – they outgrow them. However, there are gifts that can't be outgrown – a walk in the woods, feeling the tug of a brook trout on a fly rod, the rush of adrenaline when you hear that buck crunching through the fall leaves. Those gifts are only made possible by land – accessible land. So for this Christmas, I'm buying my kids some land - a gift that I hope will last a lifetime. I am donating $500 to the Pilgrim River Watershed Project and challenge a match of ten $50 donations."

- Jeremy Shannon, Vice-President, Copper Country Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Challenge #10

Challenge #10 - $500 (Five $100 Increments)

"The Pilgrim River and its watershed holds so many wonderful memories for me – friendship, fishing, plants, and nature – that I am especially proud to help support the preservation of this beautiful area so others can find and enjoy what I have found so wonderful about the area. I expect others of you also have had wonderful adventures in this area too. Are you willing to help support the preservation of this area? I am. I am pledging up to $500.00 to match 5 - $100 donations by others for the Pilgrim River Watershed Project. I hope you participate."

Please read Fred's full story.

- Fred and Pam Erbisch, East Lansing, MI

Challenge #11

Challenge #11 - $500 (Ten $50 Increments)

"We are contributing $500 to the Pilgrim River Watershed Project to encourage $25 and $50 matching donations to total $500 in memory of Leonard and Sally Ollila, who lived in and enjoyed the Pilgrim River Valley for many years. Leonard and Sally were faithful members of Grace Lutheran Church in South Range who shared their property with us and our church members in many ways. Leonard brought Christmas Trees from the property to beautify the sanctuary in our church for years, and many of the congregation members were invited to come and find a tree on the property. The pond that Leonard and Sally had dug was the site of a number of choir parties, strawberries were an annual donation from the Ollilas for fellowship after a Sunday service, and Sally spent many hours in her living room cutting material and preparing for the creation of many warm quilts which were distributed to Lutheran World Relief. It is an honor to have known them and loved them."

- Karl and Carolyn Rundman, Houghton, MI

Challenge #12

Challenge #12 - $1000 (Twenty $50 Increments)

"A local landowner with a strong conservation motive has challenged the community to secure perpetual public access and conservation status for a significant portion of the Pilgrim River Watershed. Northwood Alliance, Incorporated is proud to be a partner in this exciting project, which has the potential to secure lasting benefits to a wide array of outdoor interests. This project is particularly timely, as the Pilgrim watershed lies in an area certain to otherwise face fragmentation in the very near future. As we were informed in the fall of 2009 by a supporter: 'The very opportunity of securing a permanent Conservation Easement with public access on this quantity of acreage, with this quality river frontage and feeder streams, and this close to the city of Houghton and a university the stature of Michigan Tech, is a big deal!'

The Northwood Alliance, with this generous challenge grant of $1000, further challenges the community to make the 'big deal' a done deal. The path of our collective opportunity is mapped out. The facts are very clear. We are in tough economic times, and even giving money to things we believe in can be difficult. But if we do not grasp this opportunity, the project is sure to become more costly as land values rebound, or, even worse, the opportunity may fade away.

Let us, together, accomplish an everlasting legacy in the Pilgrim Valley!"

- Northwood Alliance Inc., Conover, WI

Challenge #13

Challenge #13 - $5000 (2-for-1 match of $100 & $200 donations)

Bill Leder and Jerri Gray Challenge: For a $100 donation, we will donate $200, up to a maximum of $5,000. We are making this challenge in memory of Herman Leder, our father, who died on December 4, 2010 at age 94. Although he grew up on the Lower East Side of New York City, as a young man our dad developed a keen interest in fly fishing, which he passed on to me. As well, he was passionate about grass-roots community efforts. So this Challenge is a perfect way for us to honor him.

- Bill Leder and Jerri Gray

Challenge #14

Challenge #14 - up to $20,000 by December 31

Recognizing the value of the Pilgrim River Watershed, The J.A Woollam Foundation of Lincoln, Nebraska has challenged us to progress toward our goal by pledging up to $20,000 to the Pilgrim River Project on a dollar-for-dollar matching basis.

Here is how this very generous offer can multiply the power of your donation and help us collectively achieve our goal.

  • Never made a donation to the Project? The full amount of your donation made before the end of 2011 will be matched.
  • Donated in 2009 and/or 2010 but not yet in 2011? The full amount of your donation made before the end of 2011 will be matched.
  • Donated in 2010 and already in 2011? If you make another donation before the end of 2011 that brings your total for 2011 to an amount greater than your total for 2010, the increase will be matched.

The J. A. Woollam Foundation has funded charitable activities since January, 2000. 80% of the foundation’s work is land conservation in Michigan, Ohio, Nebraska, the Caribbean and Canada. The remainder is for scholarships and local needs. J. A. Woollam Foundation partners with land conservancies in protecting the shorelines of the Great Lakes, inland lakes, rivers and streams for the public to enjoy. John A. Woollam, Trustee attributes his passion for protecting natural land from development to spending more than 40 years in the wild areas of northern Michigan with his family.

In many situations, J. A. Woollam Foundation supports dollar-for-dollar matching grants. "There is incredible power in matching grants,” John says. “I love offering a grant and seeing how much a community can do to make the project happen."

John is a university professor who started his own enterprise, the J. A. Woollam Company, now a worldwide leader is spectroscopic ellipsometry. Ellipsometers are used to measure thickness and properties of thin films, with applications ranging from space shuttles to telecommunications equipment.

The Pilgrim River Watershed Project is very grateful to the Woollam Foundation for confidence in our community. By working together to achieve our shared vision of protecting a natural wonder in the Pilgrim River Valley, we will leave a legacy for future generations to experience a natural resource that is so inspiring to us today. Please express your appreciation to Mr. Woollam and demonstrate your continued support by writing a check today to the Pilgrim River Watershed Project. Your donation is tax deductible.

- J.A. Woollam Foundation, Lincoln, Nebraska

Challenge #15

Challenge #15 - $5500 (220 $25 increments)

The Keweenaw Trails Alliance (KTA) is a partnership of trail groups and users in the Keweenaw that is working to enhance non-motorized trail opportunities throughout the region. The Pilgrim River Watershed Conservation Project is a once in a lifetime opportunity to further trail efforts in the area, providing additional public access for hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing, skiing or just to take a walk in the woods. To date, a 3-1/2 mile single-track trail has been constructed by Keweenaw Trails Alliance members, with approval for another 2-1/2 miles and plans for an additional 3 to 5 miles winding through the planned conservation easement property.

With funds raised by the Keweenaw Chain Drive Festival and Run the Keweenaw events, KTA will match donations on a dollar-for-dollar basis (up to $5,500 in total) to help preserve this important natural resource. For example, KTA will match a $50 donation with $50, or a $100 donation with $100. Funds will be 100% applied toward the purchase of conservation easements for 1,382 acres along the Pilgrim River.

We are honored to be a partner in the Pilgrim River Watershed Conservation Project, and we hope others will join in the effort to protect this area for watershed protection, public recreation, education, and sustainable forestry.

- Keweenaw Trails Alliance

Challenge #16

Challenge #16 - $1000 (40 $25 increments)

The Dave Bach Tree Hugger Challenge - It is easy to live in the Copper Country and think that natural areas will always be out our back door. There is nature in abundance almost everywhere we look. The conservation easements and land acquisitions in the Pilgrim River Watershed are an excellent opportunity to make sure that back yard trips to explore and enjoy the wonders of nature remain for all generations to come.

This challenge is in tribute to every Copper Country resident past and present who values nature, especially those people who have and will continue to actively participate in land conservation and protection efforts to insure that nature is always part of our everyday living. This challenge is a small contribution to this end. Please join me to double its value. This beautiful section of the Pilgrim River should be open to all who love nature…… forever.

- Dave Bach, Houghton, MI

Challenge #17

Challenge #17 - $5000

The Fishing Partner Challenge - Terry and I began fishing the Pilgrim River together in 1968 and have been supportive of the Pilgrim River Watershed Project since its inception. Since fishing success requires being indifferent to the outcome, we have landed countless trout through the years. More importantly, however, we also always had quiet hikes, berry picking and mushroom hunting, and seasonal birds and wildflowers.

The river has changed over the years; in fact, some sites we fished in the past are now 100 feet from the current channel. There are now extensive grassy banks due to the loss of American Elm trees and the spread of invasive canary reed grass. But on a positive note, there is no longer any municipal sewage entering the river from South Range, Baltic, Trimountain, or Painesdale. The river remains a thriving cold water fishery set in a wooded, quiet, scenic valley only four miles from Houghton and Michigan Tech.

Since many project supporters like to make an end of tax year contribution, Terry and I have pledged to match up to a total of $5,000 in donations. Please continue to support this very local, conservation/quiet recreation effort.

- Thank you, Terrell Warrington & John Ollila

Challenge #18

Challenge #18 - $2000

The John Ollila and Bill Leder Challenge - We have supported the Pilgrim River Watershed Project since December 17, 2009, when CCCTU began fundraising. In addition to working on the Project, we enjoy the high quality fishing and solitude the Pilgrim River and surrounding woods provide.

In that spirit, we have jointly pledged to match up to a total of $2,000 in donations.

- Thank you, John Ollila & Bill Leder

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Guided Canoe Trip on the Pilgrim (suggested $150 non-deductible donation)

Experience the Pilgrim River in a new and interesting way. Join Viki and Ray Weglarz for a guided canoe trip on the Pilgrim River. The journey will begin at the main forks of the Pilgrim on John Ollila’s farm above the Superior Road and continue for over five miles to the river’s mouth where it flows into the Portage Canal. The upper river is small and swift and requires much maneuvering as one encounters beaver dams and alder tunnels and small chutes. The forest in the project area is beautifully mixed hardwoods and conifers and can be seen and appreciated while gliding through the valley floor of the river. Liverworts, lichens and ferns are seen along the banks and a new perspective and appreciation of the special nature of the project area can be gained canoeing the river. Ray and Viki have been canoeing the Pilgrim for 35 years and would love to share their knowledge and experience canoeing the Pilgrim River with a supporter of the Pilgrim River Watershed Project. All needed canoe related gear and shuttle service will be provided by Ray and Viki. The trip timing is dependant on the water level of the river and can be done after a heavy summer or fall rain or in springtime. Options are available to either tandem paddle in a larger canoe or solo paddle the river with coaching in a small solo river canoe. For more information contact Ray at 337-2136 or