An Opportunity to Protect Acres of Pristine Water and Unspoiled Woodlands

Story and Photos Contributed by Save the Boundary Waters

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness contains 1.1 million acres of pristine water and unspoiled woodlands, including more than 1,175 lakes and more than a thousand miles of rivers and streams. It is easily accessible to people and four-legged friends from all backgrounds — indeed it is one of America’s most visited Wilderness areas. This world-class canoeing and fishing destination is threatened by sulfide-ore copper mining proposed in its watershed.

credit Brian O'Keefe
Photo: Brian O’Keefe

The Campaign to Save The Boundary Waters is leading the efforts to protect the Boundary Waters Wilderness from sulfide-ore copper mining. The Campaign was organized by local residents in and around Ely, Minnesota, who are dedicated to creating a national movement to protect the clean water, clean air and forest landscape of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and its watershed from toxic pollution caused by mining copper, nickel and other metals from sulfide-bearing ore.

This toxic mining practice has never before been allowed in Minnesota. Pollution from these mines will flow directly into the heart of the Boundary Waters. Even conservative models of pollution show that waterways would carry contaminants into the Wilderness. America’s most toxic industry would harm productive habitats that support fish and game and the thousands of jobs sustained by this popular wilderness.

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Photo: Dave Freeman

The future of the Boundary Waters depends on those willing to speak up for this “quiet wilderness.” That’s why on February 23, Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters and the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters launched the Boundary Water Business Coalition.

Comprised of more than 265 Minnesotan and national businesses, these small businesses, outfitters, manufacturing companies, hunting and fishing businesses and others rely on and support the world-class Boundary Waters Wilderness for employment and quality of life. We are proud to have Ruffwear as a member of this coalition.

Photo: Dave Freeman

Federal agencies are currently considering a 20-year ban on sulfide-ore copper mining in the watershed. Members of the public are encouraged to weigh in by August 17th. Submit a comment to the U.S. Forest Service.

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Photo: Dave Freeman
credit Dave Freeman
Photo: Dave Freeman

Despite the momentum to protect the Boundary Waters, the threat of sulfide-ore copper mining in the watershed remains. Just recently Minnesota Congressman Tom Emmer introduced an unprecedented bill that would eliminate a proven environmental review process that has been in place for nearly 50 years. Instead of following the established process and allowing citizens and scientists to decide the future of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, this bill allows outstate politicians and foreign mining interests to dictate the path forward for our state’s most valuable natural resource. This bill would remove the opportunity for public input and give a foreign mining conglomerate the green light to destroy America’s most visited Wilderness area.

Federal agencies are conducting an environmental review of the Boundary Waters watershed — a review meant to identify what makes the Boundary Waters so unique, so clean, and so sensitive to pollution. The review will ultimately help determine whether the watershed of the Boundary Waters is the wrong place for America’s most toxic industry: sulfide-ore copper mining.

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Photo: Dave Freeman

On September 23, 2015, Dave and Amy Freeman embarked on a yearlong adventure in the Boundary Waters in support of the Campaign’s efforts to protect the Boundary Waters from proposed sulfide-ore copper mining on the Wilderness edge. On September 23, 2016, they returned after 366 days. During this Year in the Wilderness, they traveled more than 2,000 miles by foot, ski, canoeing, snowshoeing and dogsledding. For many, the Boundary Waters winters’ and dogsledding go hand-in-hand. The Freemans had three sled dogs with them throughout the winter season, and once spring arrived, they kept sled dog Tank with them for the remainder of the year. Tank quickly learned how to ride in a canoe, and he even helped out by carrying his own food in a pack on his back. Experiencing the beauty and fun of a Boundary Waters trip with a dog companion is an unmatched experience for both humans and their four-legged friends.

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Photo: Dave Freeman

Help us protect this amazing place by submitting your comment before August 17 to let the U.S. Forest Service know that the Boundary Waters should be protected, and what they should study during the environmental review of the Boundary Waters watershed. Speak up today!

Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @savethebwca, and check out our Dogs for the Boundary Waters Instagram page: @bwcadogs!

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Photo: Olivia Ridge

4 thoughts

  1. I live in AZ, but so appreciate local voices and collaboration to defeat this terrible short sighted bill and to continue to speak for and advocate for protection of the Boundary Waters. Looks like a magical and beautiful place. We must all speak out against these horrible bills and policies that are trying to gut our forests, land and water.

  2. The Boundary waters of Minnesota are intimately attached to Quetico in Ontario, Canada. A national environmental disaster could easily change into an international one.

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