Monday, June 28, 2021
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Save the Boundary Waters

Wilderness-edge communities such as Grand Marais rely on the Boundary Waters

One of the gateways to the Boundary Waters is the artsy and outdoorsy community of Grand Marais in Cook County. This is an adventurer’s dream with some of the most breathtaking views of Lake Superior and only minutes away from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The BWCA has a substantial economic impact on the regional economy and Minnesota’s tourism economy, which generates $969 million in revenue per year and sustains more than 17,000 jobs that local families and businesses rely on. (Explore MN

Communities such as Grand Marais in Northeastern Minnesota rely on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness for its amenities-based economy. Sulfide-ore copper mining on the edge of the Boundary Waters would harm the regional economy; a ban on copper mining in the watershed of the BWCA would result in more jobs and more income for the region over the next twenty years than would be generated by copper mining.  The inevitable degradation of the landscape and ecosystem, water and air pollution, and industrialization of the wilderness edge would make the area unattractive to visitors and residents, resulting, for example, in property value losses of over $500 million. While the current proposed Twin Metals mine is west of Grand Marais and near Ely, pollution from the mine would impact all businesses in the Arrowhead region that rely on the Boundary Waters. In 2016 the U.S. Forest Service concluded that copper mining posed an unacceptable risk of harm to the Boundary Waters and that damage from this type of mining to the BWCA could not be remediated, fixed, or mitigated.

Nationally, over the past two decades, outdoor recreation and recreation amenities, especially Wilderness amenities, have been the basis for economic growth in rural areas. Many local economies have moved away from traditional extractive industries and manufacturing into services and recreation as the primary engines of economic development. A diversified economy built on the region’s natural assets – clean air, clean water, scenic beauty, and recreational opportunities – is deeply embedded in the fabric of life near the Boundary Waters. 

Research finds that protecting the Boundary Waters will generate jobs, boost personal income in the region, and provide long-term support to the local economy. Over the next 20 years, 4,500 more jobs and up to $900 million in additional revenue would be generated if the Boundary Waters watershed were protected, compared to if sulfide-ore copper mining is introduced on the edge of the Wilderness. (Harvard University Department of Economics)

The Boundary Waters is the prime natural amenity in the Arrowhead region’s diversified and growing economy. The wilderness-edge lifestyle this region offers creates the foundation for a stable and sustainable economy. These natural amenities attract entrepreneurs, tourists, trades workers, retirees, businesses, nonprofits and others to Boundary Waters gateway communities while retaining residents who might consider moving elsewhere. (Boundary Waters Business Coalition)

I draw inspiration from the rare beauty of the [Gunflint] Trail and the opportunity of living near the shores of Lake Superior.” - Katie Mumm, Wildlife Photographer on the Gunflint Trail. 

There are many great businesses and inspiring individuals that live in the region. Be sure to check out some of the Boundary Waters Business Coalition members near Grand Marais including Hungry Jack Outfitter, Rockwood Lodge, Birchwood Wilderness Camp, Bearskin Lodge, Wilderness Canoe Base, Sydney’s Frozen Custard and Wood Fired Pizza, Lake Superior Trading Post, Angry Trout Cafe, and more.

Want to hear more stories of the incredible people living on the Wilderness-edge along the Gunflint? Read Ashley Bredemus’ blog here and Wildlife Photographer on the Gunflint Trail Katie Mumm’s recent blog,

Plus, join us for an upcoming Save the Boundary Waters Update in Grand Marais with National Campaign Chair, Becky Rom, on Wednesday, June 30th, at 5:30 pm in the Cook County Community Center. We'll be covering all of the major developments in our effort to protect the Boundary Waters. RSVP here.  

“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.” - Dave and Nancy Seaton, Hungry Jack Outfitters, Gunflint Trail