Today (May 6, 2020) Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness, the leader of the Campaign To Save the Boundary Waters, nine Minnesota outdoor recreation businesses, and four conservation groups filed a new federal lawsuit. Today’s lawsuit challenges the recent actions of the federal government to facilitate the unconscionable development of a sulfide-ore copper mine on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).
As the plaintiffs, we allege that the defendants - the Departments of Interior and Agriculture and their agencies the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service - prepared a completely inadequate Environmental Assessment (EA) to renew two federal mineral leases held by Chilean mining giant, Antofagasta, through its subsidiary, Twin Metals. Federal law - the National Environmental Policy Act - requires that a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) be completed. Such an analysis would demonstrate the significant and harmful environmental, social, and economic impacts this proposed mine would have on the Boundary Waters, and the air, land, water, wildlife, and people, and clearly show that sulfide-ore copper mining is unacceptable in the watershed of the Boundary Waters. Instead, the BLM prepared a wholly inadequate short Environmental Assessment which completely ignored scores of scientific studies, including dozens of reports previously considered by the Forest Service and many additional directly relevant scientific and economic reports brought forward by the Campaign. Like the “report” prepared recently by the U.S. State Department in response to federal legislation requiring a study of impacts to Canada from a Twin Metals mine, the EA was comparable to a grade school student’s book report.
WE ARE LEADING THE WAY
Our staff led a strong working group of partners, who together developed and submitted a comprehensive set of comments and dozens of scientific documents that were submitted to the BLM during the EA comment period. Thanks to our partners The Wilderness Society, Center for Biological Diversity, Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters, National Parks Conservation Association, Earthjustice, and Voyageurs National Park Association for their contributions to the official comment letter on the EA, which laid the groundwork for our lawsuit challenging the EA. Working with our broader coalition of over 350 conservation groups, hunting and fishing groups, and businesses, our staff organized nearly 100,000 people to submit comments - a strong showing despite a comment period that ran over the year-end holidays, during a partial federal government shutdown, with periodic breakdowns of the comment submittal website, and for an unconscionably short comment period.
In April, we also appealed an unfavorable decision by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. That case challenges the interpretation of the language of the leases, and is a completely separate issue from this lawsuit.
The Trump administration has demonstrated, time and again, that it has no regard for protecting the environment. From gutting bedrock environmental regulations like the Clean Water Act (see StarTribune article here); to fast-tracking catastrophic projects like the Twin Metals mine, the administration has put corporations, including Chilean mining giant Antofagasta, in charge of our public lands and waters. We simply cannot allow that to happen.
Once again, we have outstanding legal representation by the Morrison & Foerster law firm. Two other law firms are also assisting, making this is a very high-powered legal team. Legal representation is on a pro-bono basis on our behalf. We are deeply appreciative of their help.
Even so, the legal challenges require a great deal of resources. Your donations are critical to keeping these challenges going. We are confident we will ultimately be successful, but the legal process moves very slowly. Thank you for your continued support of this precious place, and stay tuned as this case moves through the legal system.
WHAT YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW
Many have already joined our team. We want you to join our team too!
Donate ANY amount today and your dollars will be instantly doubled thanks to a generous donor match to help us further our legal efforts and stop a Twin Metals mine in its tracks.
If you want your donation dollars to go to permanently protect the Boundary Waters from sulfide-ore copper mining, click below to donate now!
My dad, Bill Rom, owned and operated Canoe Country Outfitters in Ely, Minnesota for thirty years, from 1946 to 1975. He sold the outfitting business after the canoe trip season in the fall of 1975.
Every winter my dad sent a newsletter to customers of Canoe Country Outfitters, who were about 25,000 in number. Many of the people who outfitted with Canoe Country Outfitters for Boundary Waters and Quetico canoe trips knew my dad personally and treated him as their friend. During winter months, my dad talked to customers on the phone and at sport shows about canoe trip plans for the next summer, and he greeted them before and after canoe trips during the spring/summer/fall. His newsletters were another way he communicated with his customers, and the newsletters were viewed as letters from a friend.
This newsletter was written in the winter of 1975 before the summer canoe season. It was the last newsletter he wrote as owner of Canoe Country Outfitters.
We are in a particularly tough moment in time. Our global community is facing new challenges, in more ways than one, during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are all trying to manage financial pressures, adjust to our home environments and responsibilities, and are experiencing new normals. We continue to take care of and worry about our friends, families, and neighbors the best that we know how. Among these tribulations, we are looking for stability, familiarity and direction in order to survive. We don’t have many answers to our difficult questions and issues. We look for moments of respite in between the uncertainty.
To help soothe some pangs of cabin fever, I have been able to take in the writings of Sigurd Olson, an American author and environmentalist who lived near and loved the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. I have a copy of his classic book, The Singing Wilderness, that has been sitting on my bookshelf for a while. Reading these essays has transported me to the places I enjoy being in most: Minnesota’s natural world. I wholeheartedly know that walks in my local park are one of the main reasons I am mentally, emotionally and physically surviving. In this time spent outside, I can find a stable foundation, as I always have throughout my life. I am able to bear witness to the beautiful and grounding fact that nature is continuing on its course, despite our human challenges. It is there for us to take care of, quietly observe and take solace in. It has been calming to be able to both read about and see the changes that are occurring outside here in Minnesota--winter is giving way to spring, a refreshing time of regeneration, aliveness, and growth. These seasonal processes remind me that we are still connected through nature, and that we will adapt through our challenges, similar to the wildflowers that give rise after the snow melts.
I am looking forward to the day where I can again be in one of my favorite special places that always grounds me, as it did for Sigurd: The Boundary Waters. In the meantime, I can live vicariously through his words, and experience the changing of the seasons in my own backyard, and I can envision the same natural changes that are surely happening in the BWCA as well. I enjoyed his essays on Spring (and I must admit I dabbled in his Summer essays as well, as I am dreaming of the days of again safely paddling in Canoe Country with my family while wearing shorts).
"…The grouse was drumming on its log and the frogs were tuning up in the little pond. The killdeer were quiet now and the blackbirds had gone to sleep, but I heard the song of the hermit thrush, the clear villain notes that in a little while would make every valley alive with music. Spring in the Northeastern was worth waiting for and dreaming about for half the year." -The Singing Wilderness, The Winds of March essay
"Of all the resinous odors in my experience, balsam seems to have the power of awakening the most vivid memories...I never walk through a stand of it without rubbing some of the needles in the palm of my hand so I can breathe in a concentrated dose. That heady smell brings memories of camps all over the wilderness lake country, of balsam beds on hundreds of little islands and rocky points." -The Singing Wilderness, Smell of the Morning essay
"I had seen the stars very close, had heard the song of the coyotes and listened for the first full breathing of the lake. I had made medicine with the chickadees and the whisky-jacks, had played a game of hide-and-seek with the ravens, had caught a trout and seen its ghostly flash in the blue-black depths of the lake. I had spent some days as leisurely as a bear coming out of its den, soaking up the warmth of spring." -The Singing Wilderness, No Place Between essay
"That night it was still, and in the moonlight the loons began as I had heard them before, first the wild, excited calling of a group of birds dashing across the water, then answers from other groups until the entire expanse of the lake was full of their music. We sat around until long after dark and listened, but instead of becoming quiet as the moon went high, the calling increased and there again was the wild harmony, the music that comes only once a year, when it is spring on Lac La Croix." -The Singing Wilderness, The Loons of Lac La Croix essay
"There is magic in the feel of a paddle and the movement of a canoe, a magic compounded of distance, adventure, solitude, and peace. The way of a canoe is the way of the wilderness, and of a freedom almost forgotten. It is an antidote to insecurity, the open door to waterways of ages past and a way of life with profound and abiding satisfactions. When a man is part of his canoe, he is part of all that canoes have ever known." -The Singing Wilderness, The Way of a Canoe essay
Give at home to #SavetheBWCA. Join us for a special week of generosity and unity for the Boundary Waters from May 1 - 8, 2020.
The fight must go on to permanently protect the Boundary Waters. #GiveatHomeMN is a special week of giving to raise awareness and funds during these unprecedented times, and every dollar matters. Plus, as a special gift to nonprofits like us, there are no transaction fees when you donate through Give at Home MN during this time.
How do I create my own fundraiser for #GiveatHomeMN?
You can also follow along in the video below:
On Earth Day, well over 200 supporters joined the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters to show support for the permanent protection of the Boundary Waters from proposed sulfide-ore copper mining by participating in a social distance compliant drive-in rally. We encouraged supporters to strap a canoe on their car, make homemade signs, and to stay in their cars while showing support for the beautiful Boundary Waters that we are all dreaming of during these times of social distancing. The line of cars stretched over 1 mile long as it drove from the Minnesota State Capitol to the Governor's mansion. The purpose of the rally was to remind everyone that despite the current pandemic, the Trump Administration is still continuing its assault on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
While a Drive-in Rally on Earth Day was not our first choice, the current global pandemic called for some creative shifts both online and through social distancing, while continuing to raise awareness of the importance of permanently protecting the Boundary Waters from the threat of sulfide-ore copper mining. To accommodate this change, and in the spirit of Earth Day, we purchased 22,500 lbs of carbon offsets for the event from carbonfund.org to offset the impact of driving from the MN Capitol to the Governor’s mansion.
Another purpose of the Rally was to thank Governor Walz for his continued support of protecting the Boundary Waters, and ask him to keep fighting for it. Didn’t get a chance to thank the Governor?
Call now! 651-201-3400
Here are some quotes from Rally participants:
Thank you to all of our wonderful supporters who were able to come out and join us on this beautiful Earth Day!
It's times like this, during Covid 19 crisis that many of us reflect on a simple question: How did this happen or how did we get here? As a small local business, we are frequently asked, how did we get to where we are today?
Every founder has a story. It usually stems from a particular passion or finding a solution to a problem. I originally created Kakookies for my daughter when she was a collegiate cyclist because I didn't feel good about her and her teammates stopping at Dunkin' Donuts before or after their races. My solution to that problem was, send them cookies (everybody loves cookies right?) that would satisfy their hunger and sustain energy. An oatmeal cookie recipe (power packed with nuts and chia seeds) was born and a business soon followed.
After we launched our business with 3 flavors, I was soon challenged to develop a nut-free cookie. As a food maker, I find inspiration from past experiences. I had recently spoken with my college friend from Alaska and we reminisced about our 3 week trip to the BWCA. More specifically, the group of men from Georgia that we "rescued" and fed after they swamped their canoes their first day out. We had just pulled a pot of oats from the fire when we heard the un-mistakable sound of aluminum clashing against rock and the voices of distress. With everything soaked, we invited this motley crew into our camp to warm up and put some food in their bellies. To extend our pot of porridge for sharing, we added freshly picked wild blueberries, home dehydrated apples and a handful of sunflower seeds. A pot of goodness that nourished these poor souls, gave us girls stories to talk about for many years, and... the inspiration for Kakookies nut free flavor - Boundary Waters Blueberry (BWB for short)
I've been proud of BWB - with blueberry muffin like flavor, it brings smiles to children with allergies and is a popular after-school snack. It is filled with antioxidant rich blueberries, apples, nutrient rich sunflower seeds to help fuel your outdoor adventures and is a convenient hand held breakfast for those mornings when you need to break camp quickly. We even have customers share their BWCA adventures with us!
If you're reading this story, I trust you've probably spent time in this beautiful wilderness area; a magical place where it is easy to learn new skills, discover our strengths and find inspiration. Inspiration to create new things, get involved, and lead better lives! If you have a BWCA experience that inspired you to create something or make change, I'd love to hear your story.
Be well. Keep calm. Eat Kakookies! ~Sue firstname.lastname@example.org
As a former YMCA camp counselor, Sue credits her cooking skills to the summers of cooking over an open campfire and finding creative ways to make trail food more exciting. She is a two-time Pillsbury Bake-Off finalist and founder of Kakookies; a MN local business that produces plant-based grab-n-go cookies to help fuel busy and active lifestyles. To learn more, visit https://www.kakookies.com/
The Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters is collaborating with Kakookies for a giveaway! Enter to win a Save the Boundary Waters Tote Bag and a dozen Boundary Waters Blueberry cookies! Enter the Giveaway here.
On Friday, April 17, 2020, a group of partners led by Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness, the lead organization in the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters, filed an appeal to a recent court decision. The March 17, 2020, decision by Washington, D.C. U.S. District Court Judge Trevor McFadden denied our challenge to the reinstatement of two federal mineral leases (see our March 18, 2020, blog). The lawsuit alleges that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) unlawfully reinstated mineral leases that had been terminated in 2016. In May of 2018, the Trump Administration resurrected these leases from the grave and unlawfully ignored fifty years of lease interpretation and practice in order to reinstate these leases for Chilean-based mining giant Antofagasta.
Despite the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19, the Trump Administration is continuing its assault on the Boundary Waters, and we are continuing to fight back. You can help protect this Wilderness and keep the momentum going by rushing a critical gift to the Campaign today.
The appeal, which was filed with the Washington, D.C., U.S. Court of Appeals, restates our position that the reinstatement was unlawful. The leases were originally granted in 1966 and twice renewed at the discretion of the U.S. Forest Service and the BLM without any environmental review of impacts to the Boundary Waters. The termination of leases in 2016 was the result of a careful and scientifically-based two-year analysis conducted by the U.S. Forest Service that found the proposed sulfide-ore mine would create unacceptable risks of harm to the Boundary Waters and to the Superior National Forest. The Appeals Court will take a fresh look at the facts and the law and, we believe, substantiate our position that the reinstatement is unlawful and the leases were lawfully terminated in 2016.
Court cases take time - one or two years, for sure - so we will keep you updated as developments happen. Thanks for your patience and ongoing support - the Boundary Waters deserves no less! Please give today.
In this challenging time, the team at Save the Boundary Waters hopes you and yours are safe and healthy. Just like so many people around the globe, our lives have been turned upside down by the pandemic and its continued fallout. Times like these remind us how critical good health is. It is also a reminder of how important the Boundary Waters is to our physical and emotional health, and we all long to get back there soon.
As we work to maintain our personal and community health, we are also working to maintain the health of America’s favorite wilderness. The federal government and Antofagasta are working overtime to get this mine approved; we cannot slow down our work.
We are so grateful for you, our passionate and dedicated supporters, and we know that our work to protect the Boundary Waters can and must go on. Campaign staff are working remotely from their homes as we continue our scientific, legal, advocacy, outreach and organizing work to protect the Wilderness from sulfide-ore copper mining.
Here are a few ways you can stay connected to this Wilderness, its surrounding communities, and the fight to protect it for generations to come.
Supporting the Boundary Waters Community
Small businesses and our wilderness-edge communities need your support right now. Here are some ways you can help:
Trip planning questions
We all want to go to the Boundary Waters and are looking forward to paddling season. But you might be asking - can I go on my trip?
We hope you are staying safe during these unprecedented times.
In this time of “social distancing” many people are spending more time than usual indoors. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t daydream and prep for a future paddling trip in the Boundary Waters.
Since we all need to #optinside and stay close to home right now to slow the spread of COVID-19, so many people are safely exploring the beauty of nature close to home in your yards and neighborhoods.
You may be eager to plan for your future Boundary Waters adventures, and if you’ve never undertaken a canoe trip to the Boundary Waters, we’re here to help and share some of the best resources and trip planning options.
Most of the businesses featured below are independent Minnesota businesses that rely on your support.
We hope you are staying safe during these challenging times.
For overnight trips into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness between May 1 and September 30, you’ll need to reserve a permit for a designated entry point and date. Head to Recreation.gov to secure permits. Many outfitting companies will assist you in planning your trip and selecting the best entry points and routes, so you can also reach out that way.
Paddle Planner is a great resource that offers interactive paddling maps, campsite ratings, portage information, detailed lake and entry point information, and more. Point your web browser to Paddle Planner to scout out your next Boundary Waters trip from the comfort of your own home!
Check out our Boundary Waters Business Coalition for a list of all the wonderful businesses that have joined the fight to protect the Boundary Waters from copper mining! Please support these businesses as you are able.
Water navigation can always be a little tricky. Don’t get lost! Check out True North Map Company for wearable, durable, and functional cloth maps. A portion of all proceeds go back to the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters as well!
Plan out your next trip with a map from Voyageur Maps, a Minnesota business that makes time-tested Boundary Waters route maps to help you navigate the beautiful wilderness.
Get ready to safely paddle this season with MTI Adventurewear life jackets. MTI is a family-owned business and longtime supporter of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters. MTI is currently open online for business and offering free shipping!
Help your furry friends get ready for paddling season with Ruffwear performance dog gear! Ruffwear has all the outdoor needs for your best friend to comfortably take on the outdoors with you this Summer.
Check out Granite Gear for backpacks, dry sacks, canoe accessories, and more! They even have a shop in Two Harbors on the North Shore!
Shop the Piragis Northwoods Catalog for the best Boundary Waters gear and resources while supporting this main street Ely business!
Minnesota family-owned business Cooke Custom Sewing also makes awesome Boundary Waters canoe packs and equipment!
Been thinking about finally purchasing a beautiful canoe of your own? Consider Wenonah Canoe Manufacturers and Northstar Canoes - both are Minnesota companies and closely involved in our efforts to protect the Wilderness.
If you simply want to shop in a way that supports small businesses and gives back to the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters - check out our shop to support page for current merch and promotions.
Nine (9) people and four (4) watercraft are the maximum amount allowed gathered together in the wilderness. You may not exceed this limit at any time or anywhere.
You must enter the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) at the entry point and on the date shown on your permit.
Cans and glass bottles are not allowed.
Fires are allowed within the steel fire grates at designated campsites unless campfire restrictions are in place. Make sure your fire is completely out before you leave.
Camp only at Forest Service designated campsites that have steel fire grates and wilderness latrines.
Fireworks of any kind are illegal.
See all rules and regulations here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5127832.pdf
Always remember to practice Leave No Trace (LNT) principles and leave your campsite or lunch stop better than you found it!
Happy and healthy trails everyone!
ELY, MN--This week MinnPost published an opinion piece by Steve Piragis, a local Ely business owner, that outlined the power structure arrayed against those local Minnesotans who love the Boundary Waters. This power structure was on full display at the Feb. 5th hearing in Washington, DC on Rep. Betty McCollum’s bill that would permanently protect the Boundary Waters from the threat of sulfide-ore copper mining. In the piece he writes:
The nature of the power structure arrayed against those of us who love the Boundary Waters and whose livelihoods depend on it were on clear display in the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 5. I went to Washington with other local Ely business people, including another canoe trip outfitter, an owner of an outdoor clothing manufacturing company and winter dogsled business, and the executive director of a wilderness-focused nonprofit organization that has been taking people into the Boundary Waters for many decades. Together the payrolls for our five businesses provide over $4 million in annual income to the Ely area…..
…..Although sulfide-ore mining boosters like U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber of Minnesota’s 8th District are quick to claim that opposition to copper mining near the Boundary Waters is an “insult to local people,” the Antofagasta supporters at the Feb. 5 hearing were not local people. They were instead an Antofagasta/ Twin Metals executive, a Minnesota Power executive, the chief lobbyist for the Minnesota copper-mining industry, and an employee of a mining construction company. In fact, the real insult to locals like me and my employees, friends, and colleagues, and to the thousands of other people who live in northeastern Minnesota because of the Boundary Waters, is the determination of powerful organizations to ride roughshod over the public interest. The great majority of Minnesotans get this — poll after poll shows a strong majority of people in every part of the state opposed to copper mining near the Boundary Waters.
You can read the full piece here.