Stay in touch with the campaign.

sign up for updates 

Understanding H.R. 3905

Monday, November 27, 2017
Posted by
Save the Boundary Waters

H.R. 3905 is a dangerous bill proposed by Tom Emmer. What follows is a short summary of the bill to help you better understand what this legislation means for Minnesota. H.R. 3905 was introduced on October 5, 2017 by Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), and if passed it would eliminate environmental laws and overturn science-based decisions that currently protect the Boundary Waters and the Superior and Chippewa National Forests.  

Effects of H.R. 3905:

  1. H.R. 3905 would automatically grant Twin Metals Minnesota LLC (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chilean copper mining company, Antofagasta) two federal mineral leases covering 5,000 acres of Superior National Forest lands. The leases would cover lands along and underneath rivers and lakes that flow into the Wilderness. Last December, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rejected a request to renew the two leases after the U.S. Forest Service withheld its consent to renewal. Peer-reviewed science published early in 2016 concluded that under ordinary operating conditions, sulfide-ore copper mining in the watershed would pollute the Boundary Waters.

  1. H.R. 3905 would undermine the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by eliminating NEPA’s requirement of environmental review before any decision is made to renew federal mineral leases in the watershed of a National Wilderness Area. Ordinarily, a federal proposal to renew a federal mineral lease is categorically excluded from NEPA’s environmental review requirement. There is an exception, however, that applies if the proposal to renew federal mineral leases might affect a federally-designated Wilderness Area. The U.S. Forest Service cited the risk to the Boundary Waters when it declined to consent to renewal of Twin Metals’ leases last year, and peer-reviewed published science makes clear that the Twin Metals leases, if renewed, pose an inherent risk of toxic pollution to the Boundary Waters. Therefore, any renewal of Twin Metals now-expired leases would have to undergo a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as required under NEPA. The passage of H.R. 3905 would grant the Twin Metals mining leases without the required EIS under NEPA and without an opportunity for public input. Instead, H.R. 3905 directs there be a 30-day environmental assessment (EA) before automatically granting lease renewals. An EA is not an EIS; 30 days is not enough time to do an environmental review; and NEPA requires environmental review to inform a later decision, meaning a foregone conclusion to grant leases regardless of the environmental review is totally contrary to NEPA.

  1. H.R. 3905 would void the U.S. Forest Service’s Record of Decision (ROD), which explains the facts, science, and public input on which the Forest Service based its decision not to give consent to renewal of Twin Metals’ mineral leases. In the ROD, the Forest Service explained that after reviewing the facts, science, and public input including meetings with elected officials around the state, it would not consent to renewal of the leases due to the inherent risk that sulfide-ore copper mining would cause serious pollution to the Boundary Waters -- pollution that could not be prevented or mitigated. The Forest Service further explained that it is obligated by the 1978 BWCA Wilderness Act to manage the Superior National Forest protect the waters of the Boundary Waters, and that that requires protecting waters that flow into the Wilderness.  

  1. H.R. 3905 would make all mineral leases issued in the Superior and Chippewa National Forests in Minnesota perpetually renewable. The bill mandates an initial 20-year lease term with automatic 10-year renewals in perpetuity. This would eliminate the consent rights of the Forest Service for lease renewals, the discretionary authority of the BLM, and NEPA’s requirement for open scientific analysis and public input.

  1. The bill would override the 1946 and 1950 laws that make clear that no federal minerals can be leased in the Superior and Chippewa National Forests without the consent of the U.S. Department of Agriculture - Forest Service. The 1950 law requiring consent applies to public domain lands (those that have been in U.S. ownership since 1854), and the 1946 mineral law applies to acquired lands. Public domain lands  constitute 90% of relevant Superior National Forest lands. Acquired lands, which were purchased for watershed and timber supply protection, make up the remainder. Both laws make clear that federal mineral leases can only be granted if the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture consents to the leasing.  The 1946 Act directs that mineral leasing on acquired lands can only occur if the Secretary of Agriculture advises the Secretary of the Interior, “that such development will not interfere with the primary purposes for which the land was acquired and only in accordance with such conditions as may be specified by the Secretary of Agriculture in order to protect such purposes.” H.R. 3905 overrides the 1946 law because it is clear that sulfide-ore copper mining would interfere with watershed protection.

  1. The bill would amend the 1906 Antiquities Act by mandating Congressional approval for any national monument designations in the Superior and Chippewa National Forests. The Antiquities Act of 1906 gives the President of the United States the power to establish National Monuments, a power that has been used by Democratic and Republican presidents alike over the past 110 years. H.R. 3905 strips the President’s authority so that it no longer applies to Minnesota. This is a very dangerous precedent, that, if passed, would place Minnesota beneath all other states, would weaken the Presidency, and could lead to the state-by-state gutting of the Antiquities Act.

  1. The bill would amend the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) by mandating Congressional approval for mineral withdrawals in the Superior and Chippewa National Forests. The Forest Service, in consultation with the BLM, is in the process of conducting a two-year study on a possible federal mineral “withdrawal.” The withdrawal would put 234,328 acres of federal land located on the Superior National Forest and within the Boundary Waters watershed, off-limits to new mineral leasing and exploration permits for up to 20 years. Current law, in FLPMA, empowers the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior to order a withdrawal of federal land for up to 20 years. H.R. 3905 would strip the Secretary of his power to order a federal withdrawal in Minnesota.  Instead, any proposed withdrawal by the Secretary of Interior on federal lands in Minnesota would also require Congressional approval.

  1. H.R. 3905 would bar the Forest Service from complying with the 1978 Boundary Waters Wilderness Act. Congress directed the Forest Service to maintain the high water quality of the Boundary Waters and a Mining Protection Area within the Superior National Forest. The Forest Service concluded that consenting to mineral lease requests by Twin Metals would be “contrary to Congress’ determination that it is necessary to ‘protect the special qualities of the [BWCAW] as a natural forest-lakeland wilderness ecosystem of major esthetic, scientific, recreational and educational value to the Nation.”

  1. This bill puts the fate of the Boundary Waters in the hands of a Chilean mining conglomerate, Antofagasta, which owns Twin Metals Minnesota LLC. Antofagasta has a devastating record of environmental pollution at its South American copper mines,including a $23 million fine for water pollution at its flagship copper mine in Chile’s Atacama desert (one of the driest locations on Earth).  Antofagasta also has a history of labor strife, and of taking more water than permitted. Andronico Luksic - the head of Chile’s wealthiest family and owner of the Luksic Group, which controls Antofagasta - has a documented history of doing big-money favors for Presidential family members in Chile and the U.S. Neither Antofagasta nor its subsidiaries has ever operated a copper mine in a water-rich place such as the Superior National Forest. The mines that Antofagasta/Twin Metals wants to build would be in the headwaters of the Boundary Waters, the only significant lakeland Wilderness Area and the most visited Wilderness in America.

We hope this summary has provided more insight into the negative impacts of H.R. 3905. To read this bill in its entirety check out:

Call your representative today and tell them to VOTE NO on H.R. 3905! We need your voice: 202-224-3121

It’s November, 2017, a day before Thanksgiving, and we are squarely in the middle of the fight to save the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from the threat of sulfide-ore copper mining next to and upstream from the Wilderness. This is a good time to recall that the Superior National Forest, and the Boundary Waters within it, exist today only due to an unbroken chain of preservation efforts, beginning with Minnesota’s first Forestry Commissioner Civil War veteran, General Christopher C. Andrews.

For some of us, the current fight to prevent sulfide-ore copper mining in the watershed of the Boundary Waters is all we know of the 115-year-long episodic contest between those who would protect the Boundary Waters for all time, and others willing to break, consume and risk its pollution to extract an immediate, limited and narrowly-shared cash benefit. We are on the right and selfless side of this contest, and thank goodness for the seasoned advocates alongside us who also fought and helped win earlier battles. Specifically, the years-long efforts that led to passage of the 1978 BWCA Wilderness Act, and before that, the 1964 Wilderness Act itself. We owe them our thanks.

First on the list of those to whom we owe thanks is General C. C. Andrews, who took the first decisive steps to protect what is now the Superior National Forest and the Boundary Waters. A Civil War veteran who enlisted at the start of the war as a private in the Third Minnesota Infantry, C. C. Andrews rose quickly through the ranks and was honorably discharged in 1866 a Brevet Major-General. Born in New Hampshire, Andrews studied law at Harvard, passed the bar, moved to Kansas Territory and then to Minnesota, where he opened a law practice, operated a newspaper and won a seat in the Minnesota Senate. Upon his discharge from the Army, he briefly returned to his law practice in St. Cloud, served two stints as a diplomat (U.S. Minister to Sweden and Norway from 1869-1877; Consul General in Rio de Janeiro from 1882-1885) and upon returning to Minnesota, was appointed Minnesota’s first Forestry Commissioner.

As Forestry Commissioner from 1895 to 1911, General C. C. Andrews advocated scientific forest management and responsible logging at a time when unsustainable and chaotic private commercial logging was liquidating vast acreages of towering virgin white and red pine at breathtaking speed. After clearcutting their lands, the companies abandoned them without paying land taxes, moving on always to acquire, log, and abandon new tracts, a practice termed “cut and run.” A favorite tool of timber barons ravenous for fresh timberland was the fraudulent conveyance of homesteaded lands, a practice that by the late 1890s was diverting hundreds of thousands of acres every year through the hands of the timber companies.

Alarmed by what he saw, General C. C. Andrews petitioned the U.S. General Land Office (GLO) to withdraw some of the remaining areas of far Northeastern Minnesota from homesteading. In 1902 the GLO acted on the petition and set aside 500,000 acres of United States land in the Quetico-Superior area as off-limits to homesteading. Later, after he returned from a canoe trip in the Lac La Croix area and petitioned for the withdrawal of additional federal lands from homesteading, the GLO granted two more land withdrawals (in 1905 and 1908), which together protected 659,700 additional acres of U.S. public domain forest lands, lakes and islands – all in an area Andrews considered to be one of the most important and beautiful in Minnesota.[1]

The 1,159,700 acres assembled by the 1902, 1905, and 1908 federal land withdrawals provided the foundation for President Theodore Roosevelt’s establishment of the Superior National Forest in February 1909 – which he did largely at the urging of General C. C. Andrews and others. That act influenced Ontario’s provincial government, which was dealing with similarly unsustainable practices, to follow suit in April 1909 by establishing a forest reserve just to the north of the SNF. Four years later that Ontario forest reserve became the Quetico Provincial Park.[2]

After his time as Forestry Commissioner, General C. C. Andrews served on Minnesota’s Civil War monuments commission, authoring the commission’s report recommending state monuments in national military cemeteries in Arkansas, Tennessee and Georgia. Brevet Major-General Christopher C. Andrews is buried under an unassuming gravestone at Oakland Cemetery in St. Paul, roughly a mile north of the State Capitol Building.

[1] Searle, R. Newell. 1977. Saving Quetico-Superior: A Land Set Apart.  Minnesota Historical Society Press. 289 pp.

[2] Heinselman, Miron (Bud). 1996. The Boundary Waters Wilderness Ecosystem.  University of Minnesota Press. 334 pp.   

Thomas Lake

Monday, November 20, 2017
Posted by
Meg Emory

Acres: 1485.4
Campsites: 17
Portages: 5 possible
Fish: Bluegill, Northern Pike, Rock Bass, Walleye, White Sucker, Yellow Perch

Thomas Lake is located at the center of the Boundary Waters Wilderness. It has rock islands scattered throughout its waters, which is uncommon in the Boundary Waters. These geological formations were left by glaciers and serve as perches for seagulls. As you head towards Alice Lake, you’ll notice some sandy beaches towards the south end of Thomas. It’s a favorable stop between Kekekabic Lake and Alice Lake, especially if you plan to complete the 250 rod portage to Cacabic Lake to reach Alice. On the north side of an island campsite there is a short trail with views of the lake at the end of the hike, perfect for pictures. (Photo Credit: Nathan Windschill)

More information at:

Give to the Max Day 2017: Stories of Support

Thursday, November 16, 2017
Posted by
Save the Boundary Waters

Today is Give to the Max Day, Minnesota's biggest day of giving. Last year, hundreds of you showed support for the protection of the Boundary Waters on Give to the Max Day and we're so grateful. Please give again today and support our efforts to protect this beloved Wilderness for future generations. Give to the Max Day offers an exciting opportunity for those far and wide to give to support the Campaign. Here are stories from longtime supporters to help inspire you.

Walter Mondale
Vice President, 1977-1981

The commitment of Minnesotans to protect the land and waters that are now part of our Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness began in 1902. Every generation of Minnesotans since has been called to this area’s defense. Today’s threat dwarfs them all.

Beginning in 2013, business owners, sportsmen and women, and other citizens presented federal agencies with overwhelming evidence of the harm that would be done to the Boundary Waters if sulfide-ore copper mining were allowed in its watershed.

So will we  allow the destruction of many thousands of acres of these beloved public lands, upstream from the Boundary Waters, by permitting a single-use industrial hard-rock mining district, with the inevitable acid mine drainage that would seriously harm aquatic ecosystems downstream? The watershed of the Boundary Waters is simply the wrong place for this kind of mining.

I hope you’ll join me in this fight by making a donation to the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters today.

Paul and Sue Schurke
Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge & Wintergreen Northernwear

For 30 years, we have owned and operated Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge and Wintergreen Northern Wear. We offer guided dogsled vacations and camping adventures to more than 500 people each year. People come from all over the world to experience the Boundary Waters as a place "untrammeled by humans."

Our lodge is just five miles downstream from Twin Metals’ proposed mine sites. It is heartbreaking to think that if metal sulfide mining pollutes the Kawishiwi watershed as it has 40 percent of the watersheds in the western U.S., it will devastate our community and damage the Boundary Waters, our nation’s most popular and beloved wilderness area.

With every step and stroke into the Boundary Waters, you can experience the beauty and grandeur of this amazing winter wonderland with the solitude and quiet that you can only truly find in wilderness. Let’s keep it that way.

Your donation today will make a difference for this grassroots campaign.

Steve and Nancy Piragis
Piragis Northwoods Company

In 1979, as newlyweds, we founded a little wilderness shop on the main street in Ely, Minnesota. We needed a lightweight canoe to navigate our first trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, so we began the company by purchasing two canoes, one for us and one to sell.

We’ve spent days in the Boundary Waters without seeing another human being. When we’re away, we dream about the pristine beauty and solitude that has become our home.

Not only is canoe country our home, it is our livelihood. The Ely Chamber of Commerce calls our town "The Last Great Pure Experience." The continued success of our community depends on the Boundary Waters remaining pristine.

We worry often about new sulfide-ore copper mines harvesting minerals that are far more toxic to the ecosystem than the iron ores of the past century. If the Kawishiwi is turned into a mining district, our visitors will likely seek a more pristine paddling experience elsewhere. If this happens, Ely's vaunted main street of outfitters, mukluk shops and gourmet restaurants could start to look a bit more like the mining towns of the past.

Join us in the movement to protect the Boundary Waters; by donating today you’ll double your gift to protect the Boundary Waters.

Jimmy Chin
Photographer, Filmmaker, and Mountain Sports Athlete

My passion for exploration and photography has taken me on some incredible expeditions around the world, from the first ascent of the Shark’s Fin in Meru, India to the first American ski descent of Mt. Everest.

But wherever I go, the Boundary Waters will always hold a special place in my heart. The beauty of the place is in its subtleties; the call of a loon, splash of waves against the shore or the rustle of leaves on a moonlit night. The Boundary Waters is truly a national treasure and one of the most pristine Wilderness Areas in our country.

Right now the Boundary Waters is at risk from sulfide-ore copper mining proposed on the edge of the Wilderness. This type of mining would seriously harm our canoe country and the outdoor recreation economy that depends on it.

Join me in helping to protect the Boundary Waters from sulfide-ore copper mining by making a donation today.

Mike Cichanowski
Wenonah Canoe

I was born to paddle. I grew up on the banks of the Mississippi River where I cultivated my love for the water and an insatiable curiosity to explore it. I started exploring with my father’s canoe. Later, I used wood-strip canoes and fiberglass models I built as a teenager in my family’s garage.

Fifty years ago I founded Wenonah Canoe, and we’ve become the first choice for many people heading into the Boundary Waters Wilderness, one of the world’s premier canoeing destinations.

The Boundary Waters is one of the reasons we’ve chosen to keep our business in Winona, MN where we employ 100 people. We’ve grown into one of the world’s largest canoe manufacturers. We still convene shareholder meetings at the kitchen table and we visit the Boundary Waters as often as we can. Paddling has been a philosophy and way of life at Wenonah for 50 years, and we plan to keep it that way.

Join me in helping to protect the Boundary Waters from sulfide-ore copper mining with a donation today.

Amy and Dave Freeman

We’ve spent the last couple months traveling across the country to promote our new book and share stories about A Year in the Wilderness. From talking with decision-makers in Washington, D.C. to Girl Scouts in Nebraska to our neighbors in Ely, it is incredibly inspiring to see so many people rally around protecting the Boundary Waters.
While we were in Washington, D.C. a couple weeks ago, we met with Senator Al Franken and many other decision-makers to advocate for our nation's most popular Wilderness. Although we continue to have many allies in our nation’s capitol, we also have strong opposition from the hard-rock mining industry and their allies in Congress. That’s why it is so critical that we all continue to fight for our beloved canoe country.
Join us in taking a stand for the Boundary Waters by donating today. Your gift will help us continue our advocacy for the Wilderness. If you donate $500 or more, the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters will send you a copy of our new book, A Year in the Wilderness!

Thank you to everyone who have given to support the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters. Please consider giving today!

We cannot afford to get this wrong - Walter Mondale

Thursday, November 16, 2017
Posted by
Vice President Walter Mondale

The commitment of Minnesotans to protect the land and waters that are now part of our Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness began in 1902. Every generation of Minnesotans since has been called to this area’s defense. Today’s threat dwarfs them all. 

Beginning in 2013, business owners, sportsmen and women and other citizens presented federal agencies with overwhelming evidence of the harm to the Boundary Waters if sulfide-ore copper mining were allowed in its watershed.
Minnesotans understand that we cannot afford to get this wrong. Will we continue Minnesota’s commitment that began more than a century ago and take steps to ensure that the Superior remains a healthy multiuse National Forest?
Or will we allow the destruction of thousands of acres of these beloved public lands, just upstream from the Boundary Waters, by permitting a single-use industrial hard-rock mining district, with the inevitable acid mine drainage that would seriously harm aquatic ecosystems downstream? The watershed of the Boundary Waters is simply the wrong place for this kind of mining.
We must do what Minnesotans before us have done: defend the wilderness.
We must be true to the Boundary Waters and the people who depend on it.
Vice President Walter Mondale

Paulson Lake

Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Posted by
Matthew McIntosh

Acres: 125.5
Campsites: 2
Portages: 3 possible
Fish: Lake Trout

Situated just south of Seagull Lake, the southern portages leading to Paulson Lake from mostly go uphill between wetland lakes and rivers like the Chub River and Bingshick Lake. There are no hills visible beyond the immediate shoreline when paddling on it. Paulson feels suspended above the rest of the Quetico-Superior region, even more isolated than the rest of the Boundary Waters. There are two campsites, the most sought after being an island campsite on an eruption of rock, brush and pine. Trips to Paulson are often with a specific portage in mind -- the 515 rods to Seagull Lake through wetlands and swamps all situated above the rest of the lakes and rivers surrounding it. Paulson is a final stop to gather confidence and calm in the wilds before making the arduous trek over the Canadian Shield to Seagull, often the end of a trip. It is a special place -- difficult to get to and from, stunning for its intimacy rather than largesse.

More information at:


Boundary Waters Legends: The Story of Sigurd Olson

Thursday, November 9, 2017
Posted by
Paxton Alto

Sigurd Olson’s passion for preservation combined with his talent for nature writing earned him icon status from environmentalists across the world. His enthusiasm for the outdoors began in childhood and only grew stronger with age. Sigurd developed a particular fondness for the Boundary Waters and found himself moving to Ely in 1923 to be closer to its wonders. His time exploring and serving as a guide provided the foundation for his beliefs that nature can yield spiritual experiences that people of contemporary society need. The Boundary Waters served as his sanctuary, and he dedicated his life to protecting it.

His conservation work began in the 1920s when he fought the building of both dams and roads in the Quetico-Superior region. He became one of the leading figures in conservation in the 1940s when he lead the crusade against airplanes flying into the Boundary Waters. Sigurd spoke with fervor about the importance of shielding the Wilderness from anything with the potential to disrupt its natural state, and his charisma would prove a valuable asset. He continued to speak for the Boundary Waters as a wilderness ecologist for the Izaak Walton League of America, president of the National Parks Association, president of the Wilderness Society and as an adviser to the Secretary of the Interior and National Park Service.

Beyond this, Sigurd aided in creating the Wilderness Act of 1964 which led to the birth of the National Wilderness Preservation System and legally established Wilderness as “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” He was also a vital participant in the founding of Voyageurs National Park and Point Reyes National Seashore, which prompted prominent environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club, Izaak Walton League, Wilderness Society and National Wildlife Federation to each present him with their greatest awards. It is achievements such as these that set Sigurd apart as an ecological trailblazer, idolized by many environmental activists.

If these accomplishments weren’t enough, Sigurd also experienced a successful career as a writer. In total, he published nine books. His books all center around the Wilderness he so valued and include many famous quotes such as, “Joys come from simple and natural things, mists over meadows, sunlight on leaves, the path of the moon over water.” In 1974, the stunning imagery and vivid descriptions he provided eventually won him the Burroughs Medal, which is the most prominent award in nature writing. The spiritual worth of the Wilderness is reflected through his various works, and it is this philosophic approach that sets Sigurd apart from other preservation leaders.

Ultimately, Sigurd’s commitment to conservation led to long-term protection for the Boundary Waters. He inspired a movement of people over the years, including all of us. Our greatest hope is that we will be able to uphold his outstanding legacy and keep the Boundary Waters protected in its glorious, natural state. Now, I end this post with the words of Sigurd Olson that keep us believing in our mission, “Wilderness to the people of America is a spiritual necessity, an antidote to the pressure of modern life, a means of regaining serenity and equilibrium.”

Brule Lake

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Acres: 4313.3
Campsites: 30
Portages: 8 possible
Fish: Northern Pike, Smallmouth Bass, Tullibee, Walleye, White Sucker, Yellow Perch

Brule Lake is one of the largest lakes in the Boundary Waters and there are no shortage of entry points to reach it. The most popular entry point is in the Southeastern corner of the Boundary Waters, but you can also reach it from Sawbill Lake or from the Gunflint Trail, via the Poplar/Liz entry point through Winchell Lake. Brule Lake is  perfect for a weekend trip or a layover day on a longer trip. For those who enjoy watching the sunrise and sunset, the campsite on the island south of Cone Bay offers spectacular views of both. Besides its large size and spectacular views, the lake is also popular for  swimming, long paddles and great fishing.

More information at:

Boundary Waters Legends: The Extraordinary Efforts of Ernest Oberholtzer

Thursday, November 2, 2017
Posted by
Paxton Alto

Ernest Oberholtzer, nicknamed “Ober”, took his first canoe trip to the Boundary Waters in the summer of 1907. Like so many of us, all it took was one trip to the BWCAW for him to be sold. In fact, Ober was so enamored by the wonders of the Boundary Waters that he returned in 1909 to canoe 3,000 miles of the Rainy Lake watershed. His time spent exploring here proved useful as he discovered and provided travel times for a variety of canoe routes. These early experiences proved critical in shaping Ober’s future preservation efforts, but it wasn’t until 1925 that Ober’s simple love of the Wilderness evolved into a fierce passion to save it. 

It was at this time that a 41-year-old Ober heard of industrialist Edward Backus’ plan to construct seven dams and develop four central water storage areas in the BWCAW, Quetico Provincial Park, Voyageurs National Park and portions of the Superior National Forest. Upon hearing this news, Ober was instantly on the defensive. He viewed these plans as an attack on the area’s ecology, one that would lead him to assume the primary role in the national fight against Backus’ proposed plan.

In 1927, a group of Twin Cities business professionals contacted Ober and offered their support with his efforts to protect the Rainy Lake watershed. With newfound allies, Ober proceeded in his efforts to not only oppose Backus, but also actively counteract him by creating his own plan to have the Rainy Lake watershed region be controlled as its own bioregion. To do this, Ober came up with the idea to have both the United States and Canada sign a treaty marking the Quetico-Superior region an International Peace Memorial Forest in honor of all those who fought in WWI. These efforts by Ober led to the birth of the Quetico-Superior Council, which he headed, to lobby for the creation of the International Peace Memorial Forest.

The Quetico-Superior Council held its inaugural meeting in 1928 wherein Ober agreed to a six month presidency that ultimately lasted for over 30 years. It was also at this time that Ober spent much of his time in Congress tirelessly lobbying for the passage of the Shipstead-Newton Bill. Ober was persistent in his quest to make the consequences of Backus’ proposal public knowledge. This is evident as Ober wrote Backus’ plan would be, “not at private but at public expense.” He not only lobbied in Congress, but he also met with President Herbert Hoover to gain his support for the International Peace Memorial Forest. All of Ober’s work paid off in 1930 when President Herbert Hoover signed the Shipstead-Newton-Nolan Act into law. This moment was historic in that it was the first U.S. statute wherein Congress ordered land to be guarded as “wilderness,” while also eliminating the sale and homesteading of federal land in the BWCAW, preventing dams from changing natural water levels and logging from being allowed closer than 400 feet to the shore.

Ober’s fight for the conservation of this region did not go unnoticed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who, in 1934, appointed Ober as first chair of the newly formed Quetico-Superior Committee, which served the same purpose as the Quetico-Superior Council but on a federal level. Ober’s service didn’t end there as he continued to fight for wilderness preservation as a part of the Wilderness Society, which he helped found to help future generations to experience the outdoors as those before them had. In 1967, Ober received the recognition he deserved from the Department of the Interior as he was awarded the Distinguished Service Award for his preservation efforts.

Ernest Oberholtzer dedicated his life to protecting the wilderness, making countless personal sacrifices along the way. We admire Ober for relentlessly doing that which we strive to do everyday, speaking loudly for a quiet place, and for that he is forever a Boundary Waters Legend.

We're proud to have the Ernest Oberholtzer Foundation as one of our partner organizations. We are thankful for their support.

Lake of the Week: Big Moose Lake

Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Posted by
Meg Emory

Acres: 1031
Campsites: 5
Portages: 3 possible
Fish: Northern Pike, Rock Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, White Sucker, Yellow Perch

Entering Big Moose Lake is a unique experience compared to other lakes. You can paddle in from Big Moose River or portage over two miles from your car. There are many large beaver ponds around the lake with active dams, so keep your eyes out for beavers hard at work. The depth is relatively shallow compared to other lakes with the deepest area being 23 feet. Big Moose Lake has historically supported a good fish population, which is one reason it is a popular destination among anglers. Practicing and encouraging catch-and-release fishing will help preserve this great resource for  future generations.

More information at: