Lucy Soderstrom is a Minnesota native who took her love of the Boundary Waters with her all the way to Tacoma, Washington. She’s a Save the Boundary Waters Volunteer Ambassador who leads a group of volunteers in the Tacoma/Seattle area. She started her team in the summer of 2019.
At monthly meetings, Lucy and her team write letters to editors of local newspapers and try to spread the word about the organization’s mission. The team tables mainly at the University of Puget Sound, where Lucy is a student, but also at local coffee shops. Soon, they’ll be setting up a table in Patagonia in Seattle. Lucy also spends a lot of time connecting with local groups like the Sunrise Movement, a group of young people looking to make fighting climate change a priority across the United States. They’re currently working on collaborating on a crowd-sponsored event.
Lucy spends as much time as she can in her family’s cabin in Ely, Minnesota, at the edge of the BWCA. As a kid, she went to Camp Widjiwagan, a YMCA summer camp for canoeing and backpacking in the Boundary Waters, for 7 years as a camper, and 2 as a counselor. She says she “loved being able to invite kids to explore the boundary waters, learn about themselves through that space, and watch them grow in confidence in themselves and love of nature.”
One of her favorite memories from the Boundary Waters comes from Camp Widjiwagan. As a counselor, she led a trip with four 13- and 14-year-old girls “and it was like 29 hours of rain, straight rain, no pauses, and it was difficult to stay positive during that. And then the next morning, the sun came out and we were all so excited. We got out, we all just ran into the lake and went swimming because it was really nice.”
Lucy became interested in Boundary Waters activism in the 10th grade when she wrote a research paper about the PolyMet mine project. Soon afterward, she began volunteering for Save the Boundary Waters. After moving to Washington for college, she kept up to date on what was going on in the Campaign. After some reflection, she says, “there were a lot of people that I knew who care about the Boundary Waters, and I knew we could harness that energy. . . I realized that this is a perfect spot for a regional team,” she said. She loves hearing stories about people’s unexpected connections to the Boundary Waters.
After moving to Washington, being an ambassador for Save the Boundary Waters has connected Lucy to her former home. “I just love feeling like I can do something, and that I’m involved, and I’m seeing tangible accomplishments being made, because out here in Washington, it feels far away, and I miss the Boundary Waters,” she said. “It feels good to still be having an impact on the places I care about most.”
Learn more about our Volunteer Ambassador program here!
On October 9, 2019 the Campaign held the second annual Boundary Waters Gala. Thank you to everyone who joined us to celebrate America's most visited Wilderness. We raised over $250,000 to protect the Boundary Waters from sulfide-ore copper mining.
Over 450 guests joined us, including former Governor Mark Dayton, Vice President Walter Mondale, Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak, partner organizations such as The Wilderness Society, Voyageur Outward Bound School, and National Wildlife Federation, Crow River Trail Guards, and partner businesses such as Northstar, Wenonah, Hungry Jack Outfitters, Wintergreen, Women's Wilderness Discovery, Piragis Northwoods, Ely Outfitting Co., and more!
Every season offers a new experience in the Boundary Waters, but fall is always a favorite. With a changing palette of colors surrounding your visit, there's more than one reason to visit the Wilderness this fall. Not only will campsites be yours for the choosing, but seldom-seen wildlife literally come out of the woodwork, prepping for the cold months ahead.
Here are a few reasons you should fall for the Boundary Waters this fall:
1. Fall Colors: While the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters is fighting to stop copper mining on the edge of the Wilderness, we fully support taking in the beauty of the copper-colored leaves and foliage that add to the beauty of this one-of-a-kind Lakeland Wilderness.
2. Moose are in rut: Through late September, early October, Minnesota's arguably favorite mammal is slightly easier to spot as the moose are in rut, which means the bulls (males) are fighting each other for the chance to mate with a cow (female).
3. Bear sightings increase: As these majestic creatures prepare for winter hibernation, bears become a more frequent sight in the Boundary Waters as they scavenge for food.
4. Claim any campsite: With crisper nights and greyer days, many of the summer tourists have come and gone which means not only is it easier to get a permit in September to your favorite lake, you most likely will get your choice of scenic campsites.
Rising Sun yawned and crawled across tops of tall pines standing at attention. Sky had just cast off its predawn blanket revealing a deep bronze tinged blue, and looked at itself mirrored in Vermilion’s still waters. Canoe was eager for us to slide in, paddles laying along side her Ash gunnels. Shoving off, she moved her way toward a sliver of land and a tree holding a high plush branch pointing off to the northwest. Out of nowhere three eagles appeared, gliding toward that branch. One veered off while the others slowed together, like two ballet dancers landing softly as one on a gently swaying cushion of dew glistening green. They turned their majestic white heads and embraced rising Sun, as we glided below in awe.
Doug Wallace, August, 2019
A lot has happened since our last update. Here is a breakdown of recent developments and some insight into what's coming up.
As you can see, it has been a busy few months, and things will continue that way. Your support is greatly appreciated and critical to our success. Look for a lot more activity as we approach the winter, and, as always, let us know if you have any questions!
Bernie Wire Photography
We had another wonderful time at the Minnesota State Fair this year! It truly was a “Great Minnesota Get-Together,” with the Fair setting a record attendance for visitors this year, near-perfect weather most of the time, and as always, delicious fried foods.
We had fun in our booth in the Dairy Building for the 5th year in a row, and more than 10,000 people signed our petition telling their elected officials to work for permanent protection of the Boundary Waters from sulfide-ore copper mining. What a success! Thanks to all of you who came by the booth and signed the petition, and if you did not get a chance to sign - you still can!
Bernie Wire Photography
We also had an exciting new opportunity to sell Save the Boundary Waters merch, and to partner with True North Maps Co who worked with us on creating a new large map in our booth and designed awesome commemorative map bandanas. Take a look at their maps here.
Thank you for signing petitions and buying our new merch, and of course, thank you to all who volunteered at the Fair! Our volunteers are critical to our mission of permanent protection of the Boundary Waters. Learn more about volunteer opportunities and get involved here.
Thank you for speaking loudly for this quiet place,
The Team at Save the Boundary Waters.
Thanks to all of you who came out and supported the Wild Waters music fest on Friday, August 16! In addition to our Wild Waters sponsors above, we'd like to thank Northern Coffeeworks for helping us thank the performers. Thanks to all the supporters, collaborators, volunteers and attendees, it was a wonderful event -- and we raised funds and awareness to Save the Boundary Waters!
View more photos from the event here.
Heading to Wild Waters Music Festival on Friday, August 16?
To reduce our impact, we've teamed up with r.Cup! Their mission is to reduce the environmental impact of live events by disrupting one of the most visible and widespread waste issues in the industry: the single-use disposable plastic cup.
r.Cup is looking for like-minded volunteers to join them at Wild Waters Music Festival. Help reduce single-use plastic waste + enjoy event access too! Volunteers educate fans on how r.Cup works, assist with r.Cup returns and are friendly representatives that answer fan questions.
HOW IT WORKS
1. Grab your first drink & make a $3 deposit for use of the r.Cup
2. Bring the cup back throughout the day for more drinks
3. At the end of the day, return it to the r.Cup stands to get your $3 back
OR take the cup home as a souvenir!
r.Cup on Social:
3:30 PM Doors Open
4:30 PM War Bonnet
5:05 PM The Lioness
5:40 PM deM atlaS
6:15 PM jeremy messersmith
7:05 PM Low
8:00 PM Cloud Cult
8:40 PM DJ Keezy
8:55 PM Doomtree
9:55 PM Atmosphere
All times subject to change pending weather and/or delays.
Twin Metals Minnesota's proposed processing facility and tailings basin site.
If one of the world’s largest foreign mining companies shakes your hand and says it wants to do you a huge favor, you’d better count your fingers.
On July 18, 2019 Antofagasta’s Twin Metals, which proposes to build a sulfide-ore copper mine next to the Boundary Waters – put out a press release. Let’s be clear about what Twin Metals’ announcement really is: a huge admission and a massive set-back for the proposed mine project.
Twin Metals just admitted it wants to store 2.6 billion tons of its toxic sulfide-ore copper mine waste 16 miles closer to the Boundary Waters --- in the Boundary Waters watershed, in a landscape of lakes and rivers that flows into the Wilderness.
1. It’s not really news.
Dry-stacking was the original method of tailings storage that was proposed in the October 6, 2014 preliminary feasibility study, for the Twin Metals project.
Why would it make a show of announcing this method of tailings storage? It had another aim in mind.
2. In its press release, Twin Metals intentionally buries the lede.
The lede is not about how it would handle its tailings, it's about where Twin Metals wants to store them. Twin Metals just admitted (see its press release, paragraph #2) that it wants to move the proposed location of its mining waste 16 miles north to a location within a few miles of the Boundary Waters, to an area of lakes and rivers that drain into the Wilderness.
Twin Metals tried everything to keep from having to move its tailings basin into the Boundary Waters watershed. Since at least 2014, Twin Metals’ key messaging strategy has been its intention to keep its mining waste out of the Boundary Waters watershed and far away from Minnesota's crown jewel and America's most-visited Wilderness area.
Now Twin Metals admitted to breaking that promise. Twin Metals' original plan to pump its tailings into the Lake Superior watershed will not work or be allowed. This is bad news for Twin Metals and it knows it, but now it has to admit it will be dumping mountains of mine waste in the Boundary Waters watershed.
With no other options, the company’s PR team used smoke and mirrors to distract, just as a magician would, from what it is actually planning to do: permanently dump billions of tons of sulfide-ore copper mining waste in the headwaters of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Voyageurs National Park.
3. No technology in existence now or on the horizon – including dry-stacking – can prevent a sulfide-ore copper mine in this location from polluting surrounding groundwater and surface water, including the Boundary Waters.
A 2014 study conducted by geophysicist Dr. David Chambers warns “[i]t is not feasible, given today’s or tomorrow’s technology, to reduce the risk of impacting waters downstream from a copper/nickel mine in a sulfide ore body to zero.” The study showed that no tailings storage facility seepage collection system is perfect; “all liners leak.” This is a big deal considering the downstream waters receiving the would-be pollution are protected under the highest “zero degradation” standard under the federal Clean Water Act.
Peer-reviewed and published research in the Journal of Hydrology shows that pollution from a sulfide-ore copper mine in this location will flow into the Boundary Waters. The models demonstrated that under the course of normal operations, proposed mines near the Boundary Waters could cause significant damage to rivers and the Boundary Waters due to leaks to surface waters or substantial groundwater contamination. Still more peer-reviewed science by Earthworks examined the sulfide-ore copper mining industry track record and documents the fact that all modern sulfide-ore copper mines experienced spills, pipeline ruptures, and other releases of mining pollutants.
The science corroborates the conclusion of former Forest Service Chief, Tom Tidwell, in the 2016 US Forest Service decision letter to the Bureau of Land Management denying the renewal of Twin Metals’ mineral leases:
I find unacceptable the inherent potential risk that development of a regionally-untested copper-nickel sulfide ore mine within the same watershed as the [Boundary Waters] might cause serious and irreplaceable harm to this unique, iconic, and irreplaceable wilderness area.
4. Dry-stacking Twin Metals’ tailings will not eliminate the risk of perpetual mining pollution flowing to the Boundary Waters.
Dry-stacking mining waste is not a panacea. In dry-stacking, a company reduces water content of the tailings to around 15%, and dumps them onto a liner. Then the mining company compacts the tailings in the hopes of inhibiting rainwater and snowmelt from soaking in and re-hydrating the tailings. Dry tailings degrade air quality with fugitive dust, which the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has said may contain heavy metals, sulfur, and fine particulates. There are also other risks, as well.
First, there will be toxic seepage from the tailings. Twin Metals would have to build a perpetual seepage collection and treatment system, which means pipes, pumps, valves, and holding tanks, all of which eventually break, leak, rust-through, freeze and burst, or fail in other ways.
Second, all liners, even the best ones, eventually leak,, and Twin Metals can only treat the pollution it catches. Tailings leachate that escapes the liner will go untreated and make its way through groundwater to surface waters.
Third, a dry tailings facility can fail if it is re-saturated. The Boundary Waters watershed receives 30 inches and more of rain and snowmelt each year, and severe rain events are increasingly frequent. This wet environment poses a high risk that Twin Metals’ tailings pile will re-hydrate. Minnesota regulators warn of serious pollution consequences if that happens. This risk is heightened in Twin Metals’ case because the mining company proposes to use topsoil, rather than a plastic or other waterproof liner, to cover its tailings. Topsoil will allow rain and snowmelt to infiltrate the tailings pile. Twin Metals’ own website (e.g., saying that its “tailings can safely be exposed to air and water”) suggests that it understands the risk of its tailings re-hydrating.
Fourth, Twin Metals says that it won’t build a tailings dam to hold back its tailings, saying it’s not necessary. If and when the tailings pile re-hydrates, however, there will be no dam to stop the tailings pile from failing catastrophically – in an area of lakes, streams and rivers that flow into the Boundary Waters.
Finally, the air above the Boundary Waters is a protected Class I airshed. The lakes and rivers of the Boundary Waters are designated the highest level “Outstanding Resource Value Waters.” Pollution from a Twin Metals mine, not only but especially from its tailings, would degrade the Boundary Waters’ air and water quality contrary to law.