Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Minnesota’s Canoe Country Needs Your Help!

Written by Rachel Garwin, Policy Director of Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters

Photo by Dave Freeman
Paddlers know Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness as some of the best lakeland paddling in the world. People from across the country and across the world care about the Boundary Waters, especially since it is so accessible to people of a range of abilities, ages, and backgrounds. We routinely hear stories from people we meet all across the country how their first meaningful canoeing trip, their first extended wilderness trip, or the first time they went camping with their family happened in the Boundary Waters. 

The 1.1-million-acre Boundary Waters adjoins with Canada’s 1.2-million-acre Quetico Provincial Park to provide a stunning example of a large, intact ecosystem laced with canoe and kayak routes. It supports iconic wildlife like black bear, wolves, moose, bald eagles, and loons. The wilderness also supports people, whether they only visit once or have lived alongside the wilderness for years. Generations have visited the Boundary Waters and other wilderness areas in search of healing, self-knowledge, challenge and personal development.

It can be somewhat shocking, then, to consider the environmental, recreational, and economic impacts of building sulfide-ore copper mines on the edge of the wilderness. Even worse, these proposed mines would be located directly upstream from the Boundary Waters and Quetico. This type of mining has a longstanding track record of water pollution, and routine spills of toxic materials, chemicals and industrial wastewater are common at these types of mines, even in the United States. In addition to potential water pollution, the proposed underground mine would harm the surrounding landscape through infrastructure footprints, wildlife corridor disruptions, traffic, noise, dust and light. These are only a few of the impacts that the Boundary Waters and the people it supports would experience, of course.

Photo by Piragis Northwoods Company
In the face of these threats, the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters is committed to raising the voices of people who believe the Boundary Waters is too important to risk to sulfide-ore copper mining. Through adventure advocacy efforts like the Paddle to DC, Bike Tour to Save the Boundary Waters, and the ongoing Year in the Wilderness, people who depend on the wilderness have engaged with thousands of people. To date, over 100,000 people have taken at least one action demanding permanent protection of the Boundary Waters.

2016 will be a big year for the Boundary Waters and Quetico. We hope that the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management collect robust science and public input about whether sulfide-ore copper mining is an appropriate activity adjacent to the nation’s most popular wilderness. Guided by the principles that the Boundary Waters and Quetico are special and beloved places, that sulfide-ore copper mining is a toxic and risky industry, and that future generations deserve to inherit a wilderness as healthy and life-giving as it is today, we will push tirelessly for its permanent protection. We hope you will join the cause by signing this petition to federal decisionmakers.


  1. So few wild areas for people and animals! We are very privileged to have such an area in Minnesota as the Boundary Waters!Let's cheish this!

  2. So few wild areas for people and animals! We are very privileged to have such an area in Minnesota as the Boundary Waters!Let's cheish this!