Department of the Interior Issues Public Land Order Protecting the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from sulfide-ore mining

Jan 26, 2023
Libby London


Contact: Libby London (612) 227-8407
January 26, 2023

Department of the Interior Issues Public Land Order Protecting the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from sulfide-ore mining

The order, called a mineral withdrawal, bans mining on public land next to the Wilderness. Minnesotans overwhelmingly support protection for the Boundary Waters and reject the false choice between "critical" minerals and protecting America's most visited Wilderness

(Ely, MN)-- Today Interior Secretary Deb Haaland signed a Public Land Order (PLO) protecting the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW or Wilderness), Voyageurs National Park (VNP), and 1854 Treaty Area from sulfide-ore copper mining. The PLO, called a mineral withdrawal, bans toxic mining on 225,504 acres of Superior National Forest land in the watershed of the BWCAW and upstream of the Wilderness. The PLO comes after the Forest Service published a comprehensive scientific review finding that sulfide-ore copper mining would pollute the Boundary Waters in ways that could not be fixed or mitigated. The PLO and the final Environmental Assessment (EA) are expected to be released tomorrow.

"Today's science-based decision is a massive win for Boundary Waters protection," said Becky Rom, National Chair of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters. "You don't allow America's most toxic industry next to America’s most popular Wilderness. The Boundary Waters is a paradise of woods and water. It is an ecological marvel, a world-class outdoor destination, and an economic engine for hundreds of businesses and many thousands of people. This decision moves America ever closer to permanently protecting this beloved Wilderness."

The draft EA explains that the purpose of the proposed 20-year mining ban is to protect and preserve the natural and cultural resources in the watershed, including the Boundary Waters, the adjoining Mining Protection Area, and the 1854 Ceded Territory, from the known and potentially adverse environmental impacts arising from the exploration and development of federally owned minerals. In particular, the ban was deemed necessary to protect and preserve the unique water quality, scenic integrity, important wildlife corridors, and high-quality recreation values found in the watershed. The draft EA further elaborates on how the Boundary Waters’ complex and interconnected ecosystem offers recreational opportunities and other uses, which make it an irreplaceable national treasure that would be at severe risk from sulfide-ore copper mining without the mineral withdrawal.

In January 2022, the federal mineral leases for Chilean mining giant Antofagasta's Twin Metals project were revoked by the Department of Interior (DOI). DOI concluded that the leases had been unlawfully renewed by the Trump administration. There are currently no active mineral leases on federal land in the withdrawal area. Under the PLO announced today, none can be issued for twenty years. 

The state of Minnesota is currently conducting its own review of whether sulfide-ore copper mining should be allowed in the Rainy River Headwaters. Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness (NMW) sued the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) alleging the state's current rules were inadequate to protect the BWCAW as is legally required. The DNR is currently evaluating these rules, and a decision is expected before May 31, 2023. If the DNR finds the rules to be inadequate, then an administrative process will be conducted to amend the rules so that they adequately protect the Boundary Waters. There is also pending legislation to permanently protect the BWCAW at the state level.

Nearly 70 percent of Minnesotans support permanent protection for this priceless Wilderness area, and a vast collection of peer-reviewed science shows that if a Twin Metals mine was built along the rivers and streams flowing into the Wilderness, pollution and environmental degradation would be certain. A peer-reviewed independent study from Harvard University shows that protecting  the Boundary Waters from proposed sulfide-ore mining would result in dramatically more jobs and more income over a 20-year period. 

A 2017 report by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency describes the waters within the mineral withdrawal area as “immaculate." The Report concludes that "the majority of the waterbodies within this watershed had exceptional biological, chemical, and physical characteristics that are worthy of additional protection."



Mark Dayton, former Minnesota Governor and US Senator 
“We inherited this pristine wilderness from previous generations of Minnesotans, who bequeathed it to us to benefit not only ourselves, but also our children, our grandchildren, and their children and grandchildren. Now it is our responsibility to protect this fragile ecosystem from those who would exploit it for their own selfish purposes….The BWCA is not a 20-year wilderness; the only acceptable goal is permanent protection from copper mining near the Boundary Waters.”

Al Franken, former US Senator, Minnesota
“I've been going to the Boundary Waters since I was a teenager and have returned throughout my life to experience its beauty, serenity, and walleyes. As a Senator, I was privileged to hear all sides of issues of importance to Minnesotans. I understand the desire and need for more economic activity on the Iron Range. But I have come to the conclusion that copper-nickel mining does not belong anywhere near this unbelievably precious wilderness area that is visited by almost a quarter million people a year. It is a treasure and one of the economic drivers of Northern Minnesota."

Sally Jewell, former U.S. Secretary of the Interior
“Since time immemorial, the Boundary Waters have been an irreplaceable, life sustaining treasure. I am grateful to Secretary Haaland and President Biden for withdrawing these lands from development, recognizing that the risk is too great to mine in these watersheds, and I encourage Congress to make this withdrawal permanent.”” 

Tom Tidwell, former Chief of the United States Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture
“The Boundary Waters is one of the most valuable natural landscapes on earth. It has sparkling clean water and attracts hundreds of thousands of wilderness travelers and tourists. The Boundary Waters is also a bedrock of sustainable economic support for hundreds of local businesses and thousands of employees. But an industrial mining district in the Boundary Waters watershed would forever change the landscape, undercut the wilderness character of the Boundary Waters, and continuously produce pollution that would flow directly into the Wilderness. There are much less risky places to mine, but there is only one Boundary Waters. This is why we need a permanent ban on mining in the headwaters.”

Former St. Louis County Commissioner Frank Jewell
"As local elected officials, we know the importance citizens place on the wild north woods of Minnesota. It is why many of them tell [us] they live in northeastern Minnesota and why others say they have recently moved here. The Boundary Waters and Voyageurs are national treasures. Sulfide-ore copper mining has a record of pollution and environmental degradation in the United States and elsewhere in the world. Allowing this type of mining at the edge of the Boundary Waters and upstream of Voyageurs, a unique and fragile ecosystem, would be a recipe for disaster."

Brenda Halter, former Supervisor, Superior National Forest, MN
“The proposed Twin Metals mine is neither ecologically nor economically sustainable. Once the mine fails, there is simply no way to contain it without sacrificing the wilderness and the long-term economic sustainability that it supports. All of the science and all of our experience tell us that in this extremely valuable, water-rich and highly interconnected place, you simply cannot have both.”

Theodore Roosevelt IV
“It is irresponsible to jeopardize an irreplaceable resource for something readily available elsewhere. President Theodore Roosevelt, who created Superior National Forest in 1909, implored Americans to “cherish” the nation’s “natural wonders” as a “sacred heritage for your children and your children’s children.” By acting now, we will fulfill our generation's responsibilities to protect Minnesota's outdoor heritage of the Boundary Waters for the sake of all Americans today and tomorrow. Let's heed the call of the wilderness.”

John Anzalone, IMPACT Research
“Minnesotans understand mining and are, in general, not anti-mining. They also understand the role of certain metals, such as cobalt and nickel, in national security and for a clean energy transition. However, Minnesotans reject as a false choice the claim that sulfide-ore copper mining in the Boundary Waters watershed is needed or even relevant. Minnesotans overwhelmingly oppose sulfide-ore copper mining in the watershed of the Boundary Waters, where it would pose a danger to the Boundary Waters. Opposition to sulfide-ore copper mining in the Boundary Waters watershed cuts across demographic, geographic, and ideological lines, making protection of the watershed a clear winner in Minnesota.”



Steve, Nancy and Elli Piragis, Owners of Piragis Northwoods Company in Ely, MN
“What we need to do is think about what are the long-term implications of hard rock mining near the Boundary Waters. We’re not going to be able to bring it back so we have to be very careful about what kind of industries we allow in wilderness edge communities like Ely. Industrialization will change this place, change this town, change our wilderness and we have a chance to save this. This is a big deal. It's a big deal for our business and for our customers. It saves the wilderness for 20 years while we work relentlessly for permanent protection through legislation.” 

Jason Zabokrtsky, Owner, Ely Outfitting Company in Ely, MN
The Boundary Waters is an economic engine that supports wilderness edge communities. Protecting this national treasure from risky sulfide ore copper mining is vital to the local communities and regional economies that depend on clean water, healthy forests and a pristine Boundary Waters Wilderness.” 

Peta Barrett, Owner/Operator, Women’s Wilderness Discovery, Ely, MN
“Kudos to Secretary Deb Haaland for her wisdom and foresight concerning the urgent need to protect this irreplaceable national treasure – The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Toxic sulfide-ore copper mining must never be allowed to pollute our public lands and waters near America’s most-visited wilderness. To destroy this pristine watershed would be devastating for all of us who live and work in the path of pollution, from NE Minnesota to Hudson Bay and beyond. My wilderness outfitting business depends on a healthy ecosystem and clean water to survive, thrive, and grow. Water is truly our most precious resource. My sincere thanks to Secretary Haaland for the 20 year mineral lease withdrawal.”

Jack Lee, Executive Director, Voyageur Outward Bound School, near Ely, MN
"Voyageur Outward Bound School’s mission is critically tied to the health of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Since 1964, the Boundary Waters has been our classroom and where we serve our students. Any pollution that could threaten these waterways or land threaten our mission to change lives by using the wilderness to provide unparalleled opportunities for personal growth, self-reliance, confidence, teamwork and compassion"

Dan O'Brien, Executive Director of YMCA Camp Northern Lights, Babbitt, MN
"The mission of YMCA Camp Northern Lights is to nurture our need for belonging and connection, to each other and to the outdoors. Any pollution created from sulfide mines directly threatens our ability to successfully carry out the mission of our organization. Banning mining activities in the region’s cherished Boundary Waters will protect the broader ecosystem now and for years to come."

Matt Poppleton, Executive Director of YMCA Camp Widjiwagan, Ely, MN "The mission of YMCA Camp Widjiwagan is to develop respect for one's self, others and the environment through wilderness adventures and environmental education. The wilderness character of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Superior National Forest has been a foundational element of Widjiwagan experiences for decades. Protecting the Boundary Waters is vital to ensuring Widjiwagan’s mission and that future generations have the same opportunity to experience the wilderness."

Jeanna Nesbitt, Executive Director of YMCA Camp Warren, Eveleth, MN "For nearly a century, YMCA Camp Warren has maintained the philosophy that transformative experiences take place outdoors, in spaces like the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Any pollution from sulfide-ore copper mining directly threatens programs that inspire collaboration, perseverance, and self-assurance in our youth. Protecting the Boundary Waters is vital to ensuring that Camp Warren campers have opportunities to return year after year, growing and learning through hands-on experience."

Andrew Sinykin, Executive Director, YMCA Camp Du Nord, Ely, MN "Since 1960 YMCA Camp du Nord has provided individuals and families the opportunity for growth and connection. The wilderness setting, and the nearby Boundary Waters has served an integral role in supporting our mission "to support families by providing opportunities for individual and family growth, enhance environmental awareness, and support spiritual development." Protection of the Boundary Waters and public lands everywhere supports our continued efforts to provide all families impactful and transformative experiences."

Meghan Cosgrove, Executive Director of YMCA Camp Menogyn, Grand Marais, MN
"For over 100 years, Menogyn campers have traveled the pristine waters of the area we now call the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Simply put, any sulfide-ore copper mining in the Boundary Waters watershed would threaten the foundation of our programming. We applaud the 20-year mineral lease withdrawal and advocate for permanent protection of the BWCAW. This action would allow future generations of campers to experience the same life-changing adventures we know and love today." 

Dave and Nancy Seaton, Hungry Jack Outfitters, Gunflint Trail, MN
“Clean water is more valuable than copper.  Healthy forests are more valuable than nickel.  Accessible wilderness is more valuable to the world's citizens than corporate profit. Last I checked, they aren't making any more wilderness.”

Rob Coughlin, Granite Gear Partner and GM, Two Harbors, MN
“The magic of the The Boundary Waters Canoe Area is almost indescribable to those who have not visited. The network of pristine lakes, streams, trails, and surrounding forest teem with wildlife. The land tells stories of the past and the Indigenous Peoples who have called this area home for generations. The threat of sulfide-ore copper mining on the edge of this wilderness is unimaginable. This toxic mining method’s history speaks for itself. It’s not simply a possibility that the byproducts produced by sulfide-ore copper will leach into the water supply. It’s guaranteed. If we don’t keep fighting to protect this unmatched and irreplaceable national treasure, we will have failed our past and future generations. At Granite Gear, we feel President Biden and Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland’s proposal for a 20 year protection is another giant step forward in protecting the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.”

Mike Cichanowski, Wenonah Canoe, Winona, MN
This decision is a big deal for the Paddlesports industry. We all depend on a healthy Boundary Waters in our business. Copper is not in short supply so why even consider risking the world’s best canoe country. Most of the canoes we make end up at some point in the Boundary Waters.  We need it clean for us to prosper here in Winona.”

Ted Bell, Founder of Northstar Canoes, Princeton, MN
“Minnesota is the land of sky blue waters and 10,000 lakes. The lakes of the BWCA epitomize Minnesota. They are the state’s identity. The state bird, fish, flower, tree, and grain all thrive in the BWCA. When Minnesota markets itself as a tourist destination the BWCA is always prominently featured. The BWCA is Minnesota’s most wonderful and valuable asset. It must remain pure and pristine for future generations to love.”

Todd Randall, Owner/Craftsman, Sanborn Canoe Co., Winona, MN
“Trips to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness have played a pivotal role in my life. Apart from the BWCA, Sanborn Canoe doesn't exist. Sanborn was born out of long days on the water in a canoe (or a hammock) and fireside chats reaching deep into the night. Time slows in the wilderness, creating space for big dreams and the inspiration for the next adventure. Every time I return to the BWCA, I find a deeper connection to the woods and the waters and to myself and the life that surrounds us. This connection is lost in the constant hurry of modern life. It would be unforgivable to destroy yet another sacred place to simply earn another buck. We appreciate all the work that's being done to keep the wild in wilderness and can't express how overjoyed we are at this recent decision."

CJ Goulding, Executive Director, Boyz N The Wood
"In our extractive society, we continue to pull fossil fuels and nonrenewable resources from the earth and give nothing in return. We (Boyz N The Wood) have taken men into the Boundary Waters to have their energy filled by the snow, trees, and wilderness, and in turn have them pour energy into protecting and appreciating their community and this land. Places like the Boundary Waters deserve to be protected as a source of this vital human renewable energy."

Ann McNally, Girl Scouts Minnesota and Wisconsin Lakes and Pines, near Ely, MN
"The Boundary Waters is a perfect example of an accessible wilderness that allows Girl Scouts to discover the power of teamwork and their own strength. Girl Scouts finish canoe trips with a swagger to their step, an ability to creatively solve problems with people from different backgrounds, and  an ambition to tackle emerging challenges in our world. Protecting the Boundary Waters is vital to ensuring that future generations of Girl Scouts have the same formative opportunities."

Fred Sproat, National Program Director - Big City Mountaineers
“Big City Mountaineers is elated to hear that Secretary Haaland has withdrawn these federal public lands from the mineral leasing program. Developing and maintaining a connection to nature is one of our organization's core values and we support decisions and actions that advance responsible outdoor recreation and stewardship at all levels. This decision is not only in line with our own values but helps ensure the young people who experience the Boundary Waters for the first time on one of our programs can return with their families and communities for years to come.”

Michel C. Tigan Vice President of Y Adventure
"At the YMCA of the North, we have a deep belief in protecting our land and water for generations to come. With a focus on youth and families, our program outcomes are built with protecting our wild places in mind as our outcomes rely on the land and water to make our programs possible. We stand with the decision to protect these public lands to allow future generations of Y participants with the same life changing adventures we know and love today."



Jamie Williams, President of The Wilderness Society
The Wilderness Society is thrilled to celebrate this victory for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the people who love this special place. The Interior Department’s decision to finalize a 20-year mining moratorium recognizes the importance of safeguarding the Boundary Waters from pollution associated with extractive development, mitigating the extinction crisis, and helping to achieve the Biden administration’s America The Beautiful conservation goals. The movement to protect the Boundary Waters is truly a locally led initiative, and we are grateful for the thousands of Minnesotans who made their voices heard and said ‘no way’ to toxic-mining at the doorstep of this national treasure.” 

Lukas Leaf, Executive Director of Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters
Across the country, the significance of the historic decision by the Biden Administration to implement 20-year protection for the Boundary Waters is being celebrated. Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters would like to express our deepest gratitude to this Administration for its leadership in protecting the BWCA from sulfide-ore copper mining. Not only is this announcement a milestone in the history of the BWCA, but it also affirms the immeasurable value of the Boundary Waters to Minnesota's outdoor economy, its unparalleled recreational opportunities, and its contribution to the legacy of our nation's public lands and waters. Thank you to all who have stood shoulder to shoulder with us for years in defense of the Boundary Waters. Because of you, future generations of hunters, anglers, and Wilderness paddlers will be able to fish for lake trout, chase grouse, and share a campfire under the stars in America's most visited wilderness.”

Athan Manuel, Sierra Club, Director, Lands Protection Program
"Boundary Waters is a unique piece of our nation’s natural legacy, and we thank Secretary Haaland for her decision today to protect this iconic wilderness area from toxic pollution caused by sulfide-ore copper mining. As the climate crisis threatens our water, lands, and wildlife for the next generation, we must prioritize conserving natural places and resources that our communities rely on for a sustainable future."

Piper and Lola Jensen, ages 11 & 13, Kids for the Boundary Waters
"We are so grateful to Secretary Haaland for protecting the Boundary Waters. It is a remarkable wilderness that harbors so much peace, serenity and amazing experiences. It's so important that we preserve the Boundary Waters for this generation and for all future generations. This is an important step forward! Your support of this cause inspires me. It proves that the voices of kids like me can be heard by important people like you. I love the Boundary Waters because it is so beautiful and so pristine. You can experience the best of all seasons and all weather in the Boundary Waters. Each day is a new adventure with new paths. Thank you again for recognizing the importance of the Boundary Waters. What you have done is awesome and I appreciate it so much."

Christina Hausman Rhode, Executive Director, Voyageurs Conservancy
We thank Secretary Haaland for protecting the BWCAW and Voyageurs National Park, a region that epitomizes the unique outdoor heritage of Minnesota. Voyageurs encompasses a vast system of interconnected waterways first traveled by the Ojibwe and other Indigenous peoples, and then European Voyageurs, and today is enjoyed every year by over 240,000 anglers, kayakers, houseboaters and more. This decision recognizes the importance of protecting these habitats and the outdoor recreation economy they support.”

Christine Goepfert, Campaign Director for the National Parks Conservation Association “Toxic copper mining has no place within the Voyageurs National Park watershed. Secretary Haaland’s leadership and action today reinforces the importance of this place and the very reason the park was protected. This decision solidifies the work NPCA and so many park advocates have put in for years to protect Voyageurs National Park and the surrounding lands and waters. Acid pollution from sulfide mines as far away as 100 miles threaten the park’s waters and all who visit. Even small amounts of this pollution is detrimental to public health and the world-class fishing, recreation and wildlife Voyageurs is known for. Banning mining activities in the region’s prized Boundary Waters will protect the broader park ecosystem now and for years to come.”

Blaine Miller-McFeeley, Earthjustice Senior Legislative Representative
“We are ecstatic that Secretary Haaland and the Biden administration has just taken the country’s last big lakeland wilderness off the table for profit-hungry mining companies and their toxic pollution. As the clock ticks on the climate crisis, we will need to protect all our communities and life-giving natural resources from irresponsible mining, and that can only be done by reforming the extremely outdated mining laws and regulations.”

John Rust, Minnesota Division President of the Izaak Walton League of America
Scott Kovarovics, Executive Director Izaak Walton League of America
“The Izaak Walton League fully supports Secretary Haaland's decision to order a 20 year mineral withdrawal to protect the Boundary Waters from the threat of copper-nickel mining. The Izaak Walton League has worked to protect this treasured resource since the 1920s. We’ve long known that the present resource use (Wilderness) is the highest and best use of these fragile public lands and waters. With its action today, the Department of the Interior is fulfilling its responsibilities as trustee of these resources so vital to protecting fish and wildlife, clean water and the outdoor recreation economy in this unique “canoe country” wilderness.”

Marc Fink, Duluth-based attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity
“This is wonderful news for the Boundary Waters and everyone who loves this spectacular wilderness. Now Congress needs to permanently protect this national treasure so future generations can experience the peace and beauty of these remote waters. We won’t rest until this entire watershed is permanently protected.”

Bobby McEnaney, Natural Resources Defense Council
“This smart move will benefit generations to come by helping to protect America’s most visited wilderness area from the unnecessary expansion of new mining in the Boundary Waters.  Secretary Haaland recognizes that we simply can’t allow this kind of unacceptable threat to the natural beauty and integrity of this ecosystem and the viability of the area’s outdoor economy.”

Amy Kober, Vice President for Communications, American Rivers
"We have named the Kawishiwi River and the Boundary Waters among America’s Most Endangered Rivers for multiple years because mining poses an unacceptable threat. Clean water is essential to life and the future of this national treasure. It's time to protect the Boundary Waters from mining, and take it off the 'Most Endangered' list once and for all." 

Adam Cramer, Outdoor Alliance CEO
"We are thrilled to see Secretary Haaland's decision to withdraw the Boundary Waters region from mining for the next 20 years. The Boundary Waters is one of the country's crown jewels for outdoor recreation, with famed flatwater paddling, hiking, and fishing. These protections are a big step, both for the Boundary Waters itself, and for building momentum for natural climate solutions, more outdoor access, and broader protections for biodiversity."

Sara Husby, Executive Director, Great Old Broads for Wilderness
“Broads applauds Sec. Haaland’s action to withdraw these lands from the Mineral Leasing program for 20 years. However, it is critical to extend permanent protection to the region’s watershed to definitively close the door on future attempts toward toxic sulfide-ore mining. The Boundary Waters must be held safe from immeasurable harm to water quality, wildlife, and public health.”

Paul Austin, Executive Director, Conservation Minnesota
“This is great news for the Boundary Waters and for all Minnesotans who cherish it. It only makes sense to protect our nation’s most visited wilderness similar to other national treasures like Yellowstone National Park and The Grand Canyon.”


Hans Cole, Head of Environmental Grants, Campaigns, and Activism, Patagonia
"Bottom line, sulfide ore copper mining proposed on the edge of the Boundary Waters presents a deadly threat to everything that makes this area unique: it’s a wild place with world-class qualities, a beloved destination for fishing, hunting, camping, paddling and hiking, and a thriving local and regional outdoor recreation economy that relies on a pristine wilderness. The only way to ensure that our kids and future generations have the opportunities to experience what so many of us have enjoyed is this:  we must work together to protect the clean water, lakes and interconnected waterways of the Boundary Waters, forever." 

Nicole Rom, Executive Director, The Conservation Alliance
“Protecting the Boundary Waters’ recreational opportunities and wild nature has been a top priority for our 270 member companies at The Conservation Alliance. As a life-long Boundary Waters enthusiast, I've grown up experiencing the wilderness character unique to this special place, from paddling the waters in the BWCA to skiing its frozen lakes. My family has called the region home for several generations and I have witnessed first-hand over the past 30 years distinct changes to seasonal weather patterns, snowfall, increased fires and the arrival of deciduous trees into the boreal forest ecosystem as a result of climate change. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is vital to providing climate stability, biodiversity and outdoor recreation and deserves permanent protection."

Taldi Harrison, Head of Government Affairs, REI Co-op
“The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is a national treasure and REI applauds Secretary Haaland’s recent decision to protect it from mining activities. BWCAW’s expansive network of waterways, forests and thousands of lakes provide unmatched recreational experiences for thousands of visitors who come to camp, canoe, hike, and more. The region is also essential for tribal communities connected to this special place to harvest their rice, fish, and exercise their treaty rights. At REI, we remain steadfast in our mission to connect every person to the power of the outdoors and engage them in the fight to protect it. Ensuring that every person can enjoy the Boundary Waters requires us to protect it from harmful activities and fulfill our responsibility to future generations to preserve its irreplaceable landscape.” 

Eric Raymond, Director of Advocacy, The North Face
The Boundary Waters is one of the most popular wilderness areas in the country. For people across the Midwest and beyond, the North is a treasured place to soak in the benefits of outdoor exploration. We are thankful for the Administration’s efforts to protect the Boundary Waters and the surrounding communities and ecosystems.” 

Kent Ebersole, Interim Executive Director, Outdoor Industry Association
“We are thrilled to see the Biden administration continue to champion the protection of public lands which are integral to the economic success of the $862 billion outdoor industry. Preserving outdoor spaces like the Boundary Waters – which are a cornerstone to local economies and traditions in the region – is a continuing investment in the physical, mental, and economic well-being of all Americans.”


Bob Tammen, retired mine electrician, Soudan, MN
"I started working in mines over fifty years ago. Because mining is boom and bust, I worked in several states before I retired. When my wife and I return to some of the places where I worked in mines, we do not see economic prosperity. In Palmer, Michigan, we saw grass growing under the playground swings at an elementary school that closed after a mine operating just across the highway shut down. In Silver Bow, Montana, we saw dust blowing off of unpaved streets near a silicon refining plant I helped build in the 1990’s. Northeast of Brainerd, we visited the town of Manganese, Minnesota. It is a ghost town. Only a few forlorn chimneys stand as witness to shattered dreams of prosperity. Mining promoters are good at public relations, but they are failures at creating prosperity.”

Amy and Dave Freeman, wilderness adventurers, advocates, and authors of A Year in the Wilderness: Bearing Witness in the Boundary Waters
"In the Boundary Waters the land and water speak through the call of a loon echoing across a still lake, the muffled fall of snowflakes, the metamorphosis of dragonflies, and the scent of wild rice. Thank you to the leaders who have listened to the land and the water. Today you have earned our gratitude and taken a major step towards ensuring that future generations will be able to visit the Boundary Waters we know and love, further strengthening the connection humans have with this precious place.“

James Edward Mills, outdoor writer and founder of The Joy Trip Project
“Copper/nickel mining in the communities around the Boundary Waters Canoe Area would be an ecological disaster. Damaging the surrounding land and water resources would put at risk the physical health and well being of local residents as well as the livelihood of retailers, outfitters and restaurateurs who rely on the economic engine of the most popular wilderness area in America. I am very excited to hear of Secretary Haaland’s decision and I am grateful to the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters for pressing the cause of environmental protection.“

Will Steger, climate activist & educator, polar explorer and founder of Climate Generation
“I commend Interior Secretary Deb Haaland for this decision. Clean water is the most precious commodity on the planet, and we have an abundance here in the Boundary Waters and Quetico region. Putting a sulfide-ore copper mine in the headwaters of the purest interconnected freshwater ecosystem on earth doesn't make any sense. I've documented first-hand the growing effects of climate change on our polar regions. We need preservation of our dwindling wild places now more than ever; these areas increase climate resiliency and are vital for the survival of humanity on this planet.”

Riverhorse Nakadate, Patagonia fly fishing ambassador and environmental journalistWilderness is where the parts become a whole for us as humans. The incomparable beauty of the Boundary Waters is as sacred an ecosystem as we will ever have, and this decision to protect it from irreparable harm is absolutely critical, and joyous news."