Helping the Park


Helmets for Kids Project

Ski Helmets for Kids - Kurt Blake Helmet Fund
Helmet FundThe Friends encourages skiing safety by reimbursing a young person, age 18 or younger, 50% of the cost of a ski helmet, up to $50, purchased at the Winter Complex Ski Shop. Pick up and fill out a form at the Ski Shop. Over the years, we have funded the purchase of over 300 helmets for youth from the region. Kurt Blake’s family and the Friends of the Porkies established the Kurt Blake Helmet Fund in 2008 in memory of Kurt, an Ontonagon youngster who loved to ski and who died in March 2008, following a tragic skiing accident. A skier for all of his short life, Kurt played at the Porkies ski hill and worked at the Winter Complex Ski Shop. Over the years, the Portage Health foundation has sustained the Helmet Fund along with donations from people like you. To donate to the Kurt Blake Helmet Fund please send a check to:

Kurt Blake Helmet Fund
P.O. Box 221
Ontonagon, MI 49953

Or donate online and choose "Kurt Blake Helmet Fund" from the dropdown.

Pollinators Garden Project

Native Plantings & Pollinators Garden Project
Butterflies find native plants irresistible! That’s why volunteers from the Friends planted a pollinator’s garden at the Wilderness Visitor Center. Funds to purchase 96 plants and 20 native shrubs came from donations to the Friends 2016 Interpretation and Education fundraiser. The Park wanted a butterfly garden to provide an interpretive opportunity for visitors and school groups. Volunteers also planted native shrubs around the new Union Bay Campground Shower House.

We created a butterfly garden of perennials that will bring in the butterflies all summer long. Visitors will enjoy a succession of colorful blooms full of nectar as much as the butterflies and pollinators that visit. The butterfly garden includes nectar and host plants for several butterfly species. Prairie grasses are included in the garden to provide support for the flowers and for fall and winter interest and puddling rocks for the butterflies to drink water. In coming years, the volunteers from the Friends will maintain the butterfly garden and restore native vegetation.

Interested in butterflies and native plant gardening? Volunteers are welcome!

Sign Up to Volunteer

Trail Maintenance Committee

With over 42 kilometers of cross-country ski trails to maintain, the friends is recruiting for a ski trail clearing crew for the park. Every October, volunteers will clear the windfalls and brush from the trails helping the park provide great ski trails. We are looking for volunteers with chainsaw experience, swampers to remove the cut up shrubs or tree lengths, and anybody that can wield a lopper to trim back vegetation.

Trail clean-up after windstorms and ice storms has been overwhelming in the past few years. The Friends is also looking for volunteers who can help in wind falling trails after weather events. If you have experience with a chainsaw or can help move cut up tree lengths, we are recruiting to create a list of trail helpers that can be contacted for emergency help. Volunteer today for future needs.

Sign Up to Volunteer

Special Programs

Supporting the Park Naturalist Programs

Over the years, the Friends has supported the Park’s interpretive program by funding wayside on the Union River Trail, purchasing a Blu-Ray projector for the visitor center and every year we fund the printing of 30,000 copies of the park newspaper “The Visitor”. But did you know the Friends also writes grants so the park can address other interpretive program needs? In early 2015, using funds received from a Portage Health Foundation grant, the Friends purchased 12 kerosene lanterns for the lantern lit ski and snowshoe hikes held on Saturday evenings and 6 adjustable snowshoe poles for the "Snowshoe Hike with a Ranger" outings held on Sunday afternoons. Helping the Park provide high quality interpretation is an important goal of the Friends.

Conservation Film Series

Future plans to be decided upon and arranged for 2024. Keep an eye out for other classes and events in the spring as well. They will be posted here and on social media.

Special Days

The Friend’s Porcupine Mountain Folk School celebrates the Summer Solstice every June 21st with a traditional Scandinavian fire ceremony, local musicians perform around the campfire, and each year a new traditional cultural performance is the highlight of the evening. This event is free and includes refreshments around the campfire. Details for this year’s Solstice can be found on the events calendar and at Friends of the Porkies on Facebook.

The Friends of the Porkies celebrates Lake Superior Day, the third Sunday in July, with a weekend of events. The Folk School offers a Saturday workshop tailored to Lake Superior, on Saturday night we sponsor a Lake Superior concert at the Ontonagon Theater for the Performing Arts, and on Sunday there are special programs in the afternoon at the visitor center. Details about Lake Superior Day events can be found on the events calendar and at Friends of the Porkies on Facebook.