Stay in touch with the campaign.

sign up for updates 

On November 12-15, 40 young students from across the United States and South America gathered in Washington, D.C., to advocate for the Boundary Waters. This was the second Kids for the Boundary Waters D.C. Fly-In. The trip was a tremendous success, and powerful statements from kids were delivered in 35 meetings with members of Congress and their top staffers. Their passion was unmistakable; it was made clear that the preservation of the BWCA matters to today’s youth and future generations.

All involved on the trip returned more charged and motivated to continue guarding this special place. The Kids for the Boundary Waters has already begun planning for their next D.C. Fly-In.

If you would like to donate or learn more about the Kids for the Boundary Waters, please check out their website.

The group heads toward the U.S. Capitol building, ready to advocate for the BWCA.

Jumps are high, and enthusiasm is higher.

The kids filed into the Department of the Interior building, where they met with officials making big decisions on our lands.

In preparation for their statements, the students reviewed maps of the BWCA.

Many smiles on the night before their first big day!

BIG smiles!

The kids shared their experiences with one another, along with dreams of future BWCA canoe trips.

Kids for the Boundary Waters Board Member Henry Holocomb converses with Becky Rom about the BWCA.

The group included more than just kids! Several adult BWCA supporters joined to help the group navigate Washington, D.C.

Discussion circles formed in the halls, where the kids got to talk strategy and get to know one another better.

The trip included many first-time visitors to Washington, D.C.

They walked the halls with confidence and a message to share.

This was a family bonding experience for Alex Falconer, Erica Falconer, and their daughter, Elsie.

35 meetings in total with elected Congresspeople and their staffers!

Kids for the Boundary Waters President Joseph Goldstein with Senator Dick Durbin.

The group admired the architecture and artwork of the Capitol.

The group with Betty McCollum, U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 4th Congressional District.

Kids for the Boundary Waters Advisory Board Members pose for a photo in front of the Washington Monument.

Scootering by the Capitol in style.

At the end of their trip, the kids were proud of their work, and the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters is proud and grateful for them too! Their statements and passion made an impact, and we're all looking forward to what the Kids for the Boundary Waters will continue to accomplish in 2019.

Boundary Waters Gift Guide

Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Posted by
Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters

Support the businesses and organizations who support protecting the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Here are a few businesses doing special promotions this season to give back and help us fight against the threat of sulfide-ore copper mining along the edge of the Wilderness!



Outdoor-inspired clothing/accessory brand Seek Dry Goods is supporting the Campaign 11/25-12/1! Through their Season of Giving campaign we will receive a special donation from every purchase made through 12/1.  To participate, place an order on (includes Free Shipping on US orders) and a portion will automatically be donated to the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters.

SHOP NOW: Seek Dry Goods - 11/25 - 12/1



Gunflint Peppermint 

Now you can help protect our Wilderness with every shower! Our friends at Redbudsuds is giving our cause 50% of each Gunflint Peppermint shower bar sold.  This 4-in-1 Shower Bar is Boundary Waters safe and has everything you need to get clean in one bar: shampoo, conditioner, body soap and shaving cream. Get yours for everyone on your holiday shopping list before they sell out!

SHOP NOW: Redbudsuds - Gunflint Peppermint



Humble Apparel Co. has partnered up with the Campaign to help protect the Boundary Waters! For any BWCA hat purchased, Humble will donate 25% of the proceeds to the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters. Check out some of their awesome BWCA-inspired products!


In collaboration with Great Lakes and local artist Mark Herman, they’ve launched this hoodie as the first product under their Freshwater Initiative - an ongoing and collaborative campaign to protect our waters. For each hoodie sold they'll be donating $20 directly to the Campaign.

SHOP NOW: Great Lakes - BWCA Hoodie


As part of Storm Creek’s Embrace the Cause initiative, Storm Creek has teamed up with the Campaign to launch one of these Performance Pullovers! $20 goes directly to help save the Boundary Waters. Use coupon code BWCA10 online to save 10% when you spend $50 or more. And don't forget to check out this awesome warehouse sale!

SHOP NOW: Performance Pullover 


Through AmazonSmile, Amazon donates 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to a charity of your choice. Almost one million 501(c)(3) public charitable organizations participate in AmazonSmile, so whichever one you have on your mind is likely in its roster.

SHOP NOW: AmazonSmile

Check out the other promotions on our shop to support page!

As you shop this holiday season, keep in mind the many brands and organizations helping protect the Boundary Waters and other public lands efforts. We have over 300 businesses that have joined our Boundary Waters Business Coalition - click here to see the list!

Update from Explorers Dave and Amy Freeman

Thursday, November 15, 2018
Posted by
Amy and Dave Freeman

Dear Fellow Explorer,

Greetings from our sailboat, Discovery! Since we left Minnesota’s north shore in August, after our Year in the Wilderness book tour, we have sailed the Great Lakes, traveled through the Erie Canal and the Hudson River out to the East Coast, and are making our way south for the winter. While we travel, we are working on writing another book and we are keeping close tabs on the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters.

Dave and Amy Freeman aboard their sailboat, the Discovery. 

You may know that on September 6, the Trump administration announced an abrupt end to the study on the risks of copper mining in the area, and opened a quarter million acres of federal public land to further mineral leasing and development. This decision is a betrayal of public trust and the many thousands of people who weighed in to say the Boundary Waters watershed must be protected. Scientific and economic data also support the need to ban copper mining in order to protect the Wilderness and the sustainable economies of wilderness-edge communities we call home.


Dave and Amy Freeman paddling in front of their sailboat, the Discovery.

Today is Give to the Max Day 

and we are asking you to help the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters fight back against sulfide-ore copper mining. 
When you donate any dollar amount today, every gift is matched 100% up to $65,000. 


There is so much to be done in the fight for the Boundary Waters, and your generosity will play a crucial role in protecting this special place for generations to come. In addition to an active lawsuit against the unlawful reinstatement of the Twin Metals leases, the Campaign is preparing to challenge the dozens of potential leases that could move forward as a result of the recent decision by the Trump Administration.

Please make a gift today to ensure the protection of the Boundary Waters against these threats.

Thanks for continuing to speak loudly for this wild and beautiful place!

Signing off for now,
Dave and Amy Freeman

P.S. Give to the Max Day is a great time to give not only will your gift be matched 100% up to $65,000, but every donation will improve the Campaign’s chances to win additional $500, $1,000, and even $10,000 gifts! Please give today.

On September 23, 2016, Dave and Amy Freeman returned after 366 days in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in support of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters’ efforts to protect the Boundary Waters from proposed sulfide-ore copper mining on the Wilderness edge. During their Year in the Wilderness, Dave and Amy camped at approximately 120 different sites, explored 500 lakes, rivers and streams, and traveled more than 2,000 miles by canoe, foot, ski, snowshoe and dog team. In 2014 Dave and Amy traveled by canoe and sailboat from Ely to Washington D.C. during Paddle to DC as a first step in their efforts to protect the Wilderness. Most recently, that same journey was made via bicycle, ending in Washington D.C. in June of 2018. 

Kids for the Boundary Waters - Update from D.C.!

Thursday, November 15, 2018
Posted by
Joseph Goldstein

Dear Friend,

Today, on Give to the Max Day, I write to you from Washington, D.C. where I’m leading a contingency of 40 high school and college-aged kids, who are Wilderness Warriors from across America—including Peru—advocating to our nation's elected and appointed officials on behalf of our favorite Wilderness: The Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

It is your support that makes trips to D.C. like ours possible. Give NOW during the Power Hour to help the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters win additional Give to the Max Day funding that will take this fight even further.


Kids for the Boundary Waters meeting with Representative Betty McCollum in Washington, D.C., November 13, 2018.

Most of you know my story by now: at 13 years old I was diagnosed with leukemia and made a wish that became my mission—to protect the Boundary Waters against the threat posed by a giant, foreign mining company called Antofagasta.

Antofagasta has proposed sulfide-ore copper mining within the watershed of America’s most visited and pristine water wilderness. This type of mining is very different from Minnesota’s traditional taconite mining; sulfide ore copper mining has never been done in Minnesota, and has never been done anywhere without significant environmental damage. This foreign mining conglomerate wants to invade and endanger our wilderness in order to exploit and extract America’s resources. The result? Waters, wildlife and woods that will be forever altered and poisoned.

Please give NOW during this crucial Power Hour to help the Boundary Waters from this dangerous sulfide-ore copper mining.

Kids for the Boundary Waters in Washington, D.C., November 13, 2018.

In February I took my last dose of 3.5 years of daily chemotherapy, closed the door on cancer and decided it was time to up my game on behalf of the Boundary Waters. And so on June 19th, in front of the Washington Monument and with a small group of equally committed teenagers by my side, together we launched a new initiative: Kids For The Boundary Waters (Kids4BW). We are back in D.C. this week, working as hard as we can to save this special part of America for all of us.

Please join my team of Wilderness Warriors in protecting this special place for every generation. Right now is the Give to the Max Day Power Hour, a monumental hour that gives the organization who raises the most money during this hour of giving thousands of extra dollars to put towards their cause.

Not only will your donation help boost the Campaign’s chances of gaining thousands of dollars in additional funds, if you GIVE RIGHT NOW, you'll also be entered to win cool outdoor prizes. 

Even better news? When you donate right now, your gift will be doubled! We’ve received a generous $65,000 match, significantly increasing the impact of your donation. Please donate now to make the most impact.


Kids for the Boundary Waters, 40th Anniversary Celebration, October 22, 2018.

Living with cancer is no joke, but it is also a surprisingly good teacher. Although I’ll still be sorting lessons for years to come, the one thing I have learned for sure is that sometimes life only gives you one chance to get it done. This is it. This is our chance to save America’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

On behalf of Kids4BW Wilderness Warriors and the Save The Boundary Waters Campaign, thank you. Your support – your email, your comments, your amplification of our voices and, of course, your donation dollars, are all critically important as we work towards permanent protection of the Boundary Waters.


Paddle On!

Joseph Goldstein

Suit Up. Show Up. Repeat


40th Celebration

Thursday, October 25, 2018
Posted by
Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters

On October 21, 1978, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act was signed by Jimmy Carter, protecting the Boundary Waters.

This past week, on October 22, 2018, Boundary Waters lovers from across the country came together to celebrate the Wilderness and inspire the continued fight to keep the Boundary Waters clean and protected for future generations. 

Guests arrive early in the evening for the start of the VIP reception.

Conversations and smiles are exchanged in the outdoor tent space.

NMW Co-chair Adam Fletcher, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, and Special Guest Christy Goldfuss share stories and laughs.

Experts from the University of Minnesota Raptor Center chat with guests about these striking birds.

Guests peruse the silent auction table before placing their bids.

Beautiful scenery from the Boundary Waters Wilderness is projected over the party below.

Old friends reunite before sitting down for dinner.

Special guests Tom Vilsack, Betty McCollum, and Walter Mondale greet happily as they take their seats.

First speaker of the evening: Becky Rom, National Campaign Chair.

Second speaker of the evening: Erik Paulsen, U.S. Representative.

Third speaker of the evening: Betty McCollum, U.S. Representative.

Fourth speaker of the evening: Walter Mondale, Vice President of the United States.

Fifth speaker of the evening: Tom Vilsack, Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

Sixth speaker of the evening: Christy Goldfuss, Former Director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Joseph Goldstein, founder of Kids for the Boundary Waters, speaks after receiving the Outstanding Wilderness Warrior Award.

Four board members of Kids for the Boundary Waters.

Roger Powell stands proudly with his refurbished canoe before the live auction.

Roger Powell portages his canoe between tables during the live auction!

Guests "raise their paddles" to bid in the live auction and donation waterfall.

Every seat was filled in support of the Boundary Waters Wilderness Act.

Following the dinner and auction, Universoul brought new energy to the room with music and dancing.

Thanks to all who attended the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Boundary Waters Wilderness Act. The celebration was energizing and filled with hope for the future of this wilderness; here's to 40 more years of Boundary Waters protection!

THEY LIED — The feds ignored facts in order to sell out America’s public lands.

Thursday, October 4, 2018
Posted by
Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters

This past September, the Trump Administration officials announced that the application for a mineral withdrawal, which would have protected Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Wilderness from the threat of sulfide-ore copper mining, was cancelled. The Administration ignored science and facts, and did not complete a promised study on the social, economic and environmental harm that sulfide-ore copper mining would do to America’s most visited Wilderness. There is no indication the required environmental assessment was ever completed nor was it ever put out for public comment, which is normal practice.

Secretary Sonny Perdue’s Promise:

In May 2017, in response to Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D, MN), two senior members of the Trump Administration – Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture (USDA), and Tom Tidwell, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service – promised the U.S. House Interior Appropriations Committee that they would “absolutely” complete an all-important environmental study intended to determine whether the watershed flowing into the Boundary Waters is the right place to consider sulfide-ore copper mining.  

The study was initiated in January, 2017, when the U.S. Forest Service submitted its formal request that federal lands in the Boundary Waters watershed be put off-limits to new mineral leasing and exploration for 20 years — a type of action called a “mineral withdrawal.”   

Secretary Perdue Broke His Promise:

On September 6, 2018, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture cancelled the Forest Service’s application for a withdrawal before the environmental study was complete. In doing so, he not only broke his word, but also turned his back on the Boundary Waters and all who love it.

How do we know the environmental study was never completed?

  • The USDA’s September 6 press release never exactly said that the agency had completed it, and failed to provide a link to the study.  

  • The Secretary’s cancelation of the study happened nearly two months before the U.S. Forest Service’s estimated date for when the final environmental review document would be available (November 1, 2018).  

The U.S. Forest Service admits it did not complete the environmental study. In an email responding to our written request for a copy of the completed environmental assessment (EA), The Press Officer for the Forest Service responded: “We do not have a completed EA to send you, because we determined there was not any need to complete the process on an environmental assessment based on what we learned over the last 15 months.”

Here are some of the facts behind the decision to open up Superior National Forest to sulfide-ore copper mining:

  • 19  SCIENTIFIC STUDIES - The Trump Administration claims that after an “extensive review,” there was no new “scientific information.” However, public record shows that 19 new studies, reports, and scientific journal articles were submitted to the Forest Service on this issue.

  • 4,500 JOBS > 650 JOBS - This year, a first-of-its-kind  independent economic analysis by Harvard economists was published.  It compared the effects of the U.S. Forest Service’s proposed 20-year mining ban near the Boundary Waters, with the consequences of sulfide-ore copper mining in the Boundary Waters watershed. The authors modeled 36 employment scenarios and 72 different income scenarios comparing the proposed 20-year ban versus a Twin Metals mine. In all employment scenarios the 20-year ban produced more jobs over a 20-year period in the Boundary Waters region than the mining scenario. In the best-case scenario, Twin Metals Minnesota would only create 650 jobs versus the 4,500 jobs that will be created over 20 years if copper mining is banned and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is protected.
    Learn more about the Harvard Study.
  • $950 MILLION MORE FROM AN AMENITY-BASED ECONOMY THAN A COPPER MINE - The same Harvard study showed that a healthy Boundary Waters creates a healthy business boom for the long-haul: a 20-year mining ban would produce far greater economic benefit and diversity than the proposed Twin Metals mine with up to $900 million more personal income to the local area over 20 years if copper mining is banned. Learn more about the Harvard Study.

  • NOT ONE COPPER MINE HAS OPERATED SAFELY - In the history of sulfide-ore copper mining, no copper mine has ever operated and been closed for at least 10 years without polluting surrounding surface water or groundwater. The copper mining industry has a long and continuing history  of severe water pollution including acid drainage, heavy metals contamination, sulfates, and exceedingly high specific conductance, as well as increasingly frequent catastrophic accidents such as tailings dam failures. And even state-of-the-art mines are at risk for major infrastructure disaster. “Research shows that mines with high acid generating potential and in close proximity to surface and groundwater are at highest risk for water quality impacts.” US Copper Porphyry Mines Report, Bonnie Gestring; Earthworks.
  • 500+ YEARS OF POLLUTION - Conservative models of pollution show that waterways would carry contaminants into the Wilderness. A single mine in this watershed will continually pollute the wilderness for at least 500 years¹. Tom Meyers, Ph. D. said in one of his reports, “If the sulfide mines are developed in the Rainy Headwaters, it is not a question of whether, but when, a leak will occur that will have major impacts on the water quality of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.”
    Learn more about the scientific research pertaining to sulfide-ore copper mining near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness here.
  • WE THE PEOPLE DON’T WANT THIS MINE - Hundreds of thousands are speaking out against this mine. Polling shows that more Minnesotans than ever want to protect the Boundary Waters from the threat of copper-nickel mining. Polling results from President Trump’s chief polling firm, Fabrizio Ward, show that 70% of Minnesotans are against sulfide-ore copper mining in the areas near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

    An analysis by Key Log Economics found that of the more than 81,000 unique comment letters submitted to the Forest Service in 2017, 98.2%  supported a 20-year ban on sulfide-ore copper mining in the watershed of the Boundary Waters. In addition, the Forest Service received petitions and postcards signed by 41,971 people that support the mineral withdrawal. Altogether, 121,539 people urged the Forest Service to protect the Boundary Waters. This scoping comment period generated the most participation in an environmental review process in Minnesota history.

  • IVANKA TRUMP’S LANDLORD -It all comes down to one foreign billionaire who happens to be Ivanka Trump's landlord. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are paying $15,000 a month to rent their home in the D.C. from Andrónico Luksic, owner of foreign mining giant Antofagasta, the parent company to Twin Metals Minnesota. The Wall Street Journal reported that the Chilean billionaire bought a Washington, D.C., mansion for $5.5 million, just after the November election on December 22, 2016, and that twelve days after the purchase, Luksic’s company rented the mansion to Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner.
  • It’s clear whose interest this Administration is serving. And it’s not that of the American people.  Antofagasta, which owns several copper mines in Chile, has an environmental and social track record that should concern anyone who cares about the Boundary Waters and the surrounding communities. We must continue to speak loudly for this quiet place.

1. Scoping comment letter (part 3) of NMW et al. Northern Minnesota Federal Minerals Withdrawal EIS 8-17-2017

We’re ready to take this fight outside.

Friday, September 14, 2018
Posted by
Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters
4 things you can do right now to fight the Trump Administration’s decision to cancel the mineral withdrawal. 

September 12, 2018

Last week, Secretary Perdue went back on his word and broke his promise to each of us as American citizens by cancelling an ongoing Forest Service study. The completion of which was Perdue’s prerogative before making any decision on protecting the Boundary Waters, as he himself gave his word during congressional testimony. This study was to establish the science, economics and public opinion before making any decision. Over 180,000 Americans voiced their opinion and volumes of research were submitted proving the awaiting disaster. Without this study, we the people are now denied a reasoned and careful approach, through the silencing of sciences and our collective voices.

While there are many reasons to defend the Boundary Waters, I am personally in this fight because I want the Boundary Waters preserved for my kids and generations to come. It is my main motivation and the driver behind why I stay in this fight. 

However, no matter what your reason is for protecting the watershed of the Boundary Waters, there are four things you can do right now to fight this terrible betrayal:

  1. Sign the NEW petition and share it.
    We have an updated petition since the news from September will be automatically sent to your U.S. House member and both U.S. Senators to demand them to either stand with Trump or the American people. Then share the heck out of it—the more people the more power we have.
    Sign your name >

  1. Raise your voice or write it down.
    Do you have a lot of opinions on this and want to help? While we all needed a moment to let out our frustrations, it’s time to strike back. Post about it on social. Write a letter to the editor, no matter where in the U.S. you live. Host a house party and tell your friends and family. Ask others what they are doing to help save the Boundary Waters. There is no platform or conversation too small to make a difference.
    Like us on Facebook >
    Follow us on Twitter >
    Heart us on Instagram >

  1. Vote for the Boundary Waters.
    November 6. NOVEMBER 6!!! Remember this date, mark it on your calendar, and text your friends if they need a ride to go vote on November 6. Research candidates now and demand they protect the Boundary Waters. Tell them your vote is a Boundary Waters vote.
    Add it to your calendar >

  1. Donate. If you’ve got the money, we’ve got the time.
    I put this last because now, more than ever, we need people who can take meaningful actions. Not everyone can make a donation. If you can something as little as $3 makes a difference. Now that the Trump Administration opened up Superior National Forest to new mining prospects, we’re going to need to challenge everything the Administration throws at us.
    Donate Here >

The strength of our Campaign is that people like me and like you from across the country have banded together to protect this special place for any variety of reasons. We all know, once you have experienced the Boundary Waters, it is something that stays with you forever. It becomes a part of who you are and it is worth fighting for.

I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone for your support over the past few years. While we face challenges ahead, we are in a strong position to fight back now and into the future. Please stay with us, stay informed, stay in the fight and make your voice heard.

For the Wilderness,

Trump Administration breaks promise to protect the Boundary Waters—gives in to foreign mining interests.

Thursday, September 6, 2018
Posted by
Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters

The decision opens the path for Chilean-based Twin Metals, and any other interested party, the option to lease public lands next to the Boundary Waters for sulfide-ore copper mining.

September 6, 2018 

Today, Trump Administration officials announced that they canceled the application for a mineral withdrawal that would have protected Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Wilderness from the threat of sulfide-ore copper mining. The Administration ignored science and facts and clearly did not complete a promised study on the social, economic and environmental harm that sulfide-ore copper mining would do to America’s most popular Wilderness. There is no indication the required environmental assessment was ever completed nor was it ever put out for public comment, which is normal practice. The study had already been downgraded from an Environmental Impact Statement to a less rigorous Environmental Assessment. This comes after Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, whose office oversees the environmental assessment, told a congressional panel that they would “absolutely” finish this key study  and make no decisions until after it was concluded.

“The Trump Administration broke it’s word to us, to Congress, and to the American people when it said it would finish the environmental assessment and base decisions on facts and science,” said Alex Falconer, Executive Director of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters. “This is nothing less than a giveaway by the administration to a foreign mining conglomerate whose owner just happens to be Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s landlord.  It’s clear whose interest this Administration is really serving, and it’s not that of the American people.”

After reviewing the science and public comments from sportsmen, veterans, scientists and tribes the former Chief of the US Forest Service, Tom Tidwell, said: “I find unacceptable the inherent potential risk that development of a regionally-untested copper nickel sulfide ore mine within the same watershed as the BWCAW might cause serious and irreplaceable harm to this unique, iconic, and irreplaceable wilderness area.”

The Boundary Waters is a national icon, one of the last truly wild places on earth, and a major economic driver for Northern Minnesota. The study would have analyzed the threats and costs to the community posed by sulfide-ore copper mining on the edge of the wilderness. Earlier this year the Trump Administration unlawfully reinstated mineral leases to Twin Metals which had previously been denied by the former administration, allowing them to circumvent environmental review. That decision is being challenged in court.

Today’s decision flies in the face of strong evidence that sulfide-ore copper mining would have an overwhelmingly negative impact on the land, water and economy of Northeastern Minnesota.

It also completely disregards the voices of over 180,000 American citizens who participated in good faith in public comment periods held by the US Forest Service. During the first comment period for the study 98% of respondents urged protection of this wild and beautiful place.

Now, it's up to us to speak loudly for the Boundary Waters. 

Donate now to defend the Boundary Waters.

Business Spotlight: Surly Bikes

Tuesday, August 28, 2018
Posted by
Amy Freeman

Surly Bikes is a Voyageur sponsor of Pedal to DC

I have a confession to make: my husband, Dave Freeman, and I do not consider ourselves to be cyclists. Before embarking on a 2,000 mile, two-month journey by bicycle from Ely, MN to Washington, D.C. we had little experience distance touring by bicycle, but we didn’t let that dissuade us from our mission to use this bike tour as a way to raise awareness about the threat of a copper mine being proposed upstream from our nation’s most popular Wilderness Area and Minnesota’s crown jewel— the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. We were stoked to learn that Surly wanted to be a part of it by donating two Disc Trucker bikes to the cause.

We began pedaling from Ely, Minnesota on April 20, just a few days after one last snowstorm blanketed the northwoods in a foot of snow. Tree branches were still barren and the ice on most of the lakes was several feet thick. An entourage of a dozen people pedaled the first twelve miles with us to the South Kawishiwi River bridge.

The South Kawishiwi River is basically ground zero for the proposed Twin Metals copper mine. The water that flows under the bridge makes its way through several lakes and then into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, which means any pollution from the proposed copper mine would flow into the Wilderness Area. Dave and I have engaged in several adventure advocacy projects with the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters to raise awareness about this threat to our nation’s most popular Wilderness Area. In 2014 we paddled to Washington D.C. in a Wenonah canoe that people signed as a petition to stop the proposed mining. In the fall of 2015 we paddled into the Boundary Waters and remained there for 366 days for this same cause.

Spending a whole year in the Wilderness, bearing witness to this 1.1 million acres of lake-studded Laurentian mixed forest, inspired us to write a book. That became a reality one year after we exited the Boundary Waters: A Year in the Wilderness, published by Milkweed Editions. When the book came out we went on a traditional book tour, driving and flying around, living in hotel rooms, living in hotel rooms, eating junk food and getting zero exercise. We thought that there had to better way for us to do this, so we proposed a book tour by bicycle. Dave suggested that if we’re traveling around the country by bicycle, we might as well tow a canoe and gather signatures on it. Then, we thought, if we’re towing a petition canoe, we might as well go to Washington D.C. 2018 seemed like the right timing since this year is the 40th anniversary of the passing of the 1978 Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act.

We were on the road for 60 days and stayed in hotels for 5 nights, camped for 7 nights, and stayed with friends, family, and strangers for the remaining 48. People welcomed us into their homes and often fed us and stuffed our pockets with snacks for the next day. We tried to compensate them for their generosity with a signed copy of our book, if they don’t already have one, and stories from our travels, but I think the real gift we gave each other was just slowing down and being present in people’s lives.  

Our Disc Truckers saw us through all sorts of challenges along our route. They were always comfortable to ride. We never even got a flat tire. From the hills of Wisconsin’s Driftless Region to the muddy, rutted C&O Canal, and all sorts of trails and roads in between, we didn’t have to give much thought to our bikes because they simply performed exceptionally well in whatever situation we could throw at them.

Pedal to DC allowed us to spend time outside being active, observing the natural world, living and traveling simply, while spreading our message about the Boundary Waters. We spent two months feeling the wind, sun, and rain on our bodies. Our muscles were tired at the end of the day, and our minds bright and active from hours of quiet contemplation as we rode. The snowbanks slowly disappeared as we pedaled south. We noticed frogs calling for the first time and watched sandhill cranes migrate overhead. We felt spring gradually turn to summer and as the temperature soared into the 90s, we appreciated resting in the shade of a tree along a country road in a way we never would if we were rushing past in an air-conditioned car. Beyond this, the trip allowed us to engage with people, educating them about the Boundary Waters and encouraging them to take action by signing our canoe—and a petition that we delivered to our elected officials and decision makers when we finally reached D.C.

Thank you Surly, for the Disc Truckers and for standing behind a cause you believe in. We’re so glad that you’re playing a role in preserving the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Now, more than ever, it is critical that we let our elected officials know how important our public lands and waters are to us. Please sign the petition at You can find posts from the Pedal to DC and see what we’re up to now on Instagram and Facebook @FreemanExplore.

Keep Exploring!
Amy Freeman

The Boundary Waters Works for Minnesota

Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Posted by
Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters
A new, independent Harvard study proves that protecting a Boundary Waters-based economy creates more jobs than a Twin Metals mine.

The Boundary Waters is good for business. Northeastern Minnesota’s diverse and growing Wilderness-based economy consists  of numerous industries – including tourism and recreation, small businesses, healthcare, manufacturing, construction, services, forest products and taconite mining – which can coexist peacefully as long as sulfide-ore copper mining does not occur within the Boundary Waters watershed.

This month, a new independent Harvard study was published to show the strength of the Arrowhead economy—over 72 times—in a first-of-its-kind economic analysis that uses a twenty-year period to examine the impacts of copper mining in the withdrawal-study area versus a 20-year mineral withdrawal.

The analysis focused on how three factors would play out in the greater-Ely region of Minnesota:

  1. Employment and income generated by the Twin Metals mine

  2. Employment and income generated in the recreation industry

  3. Income associated with in-migration into the area for its natural amenity values

To do this, the independent economists modeled 72 different scenarios comparing the proposed 20-year ban versus a Twin Metals mine. In all but three of scenarios, the 20-year ban produced greater economic benefits. This means that in almost 96% of the scenarios, protecting the Boundary Waters from sulfide-ore copper mining won out, even under some of the most conservative circumstances.

To make this long-term study unbiased, the authors left out additional variables, such as the negative impact of mining on real estate values, that would have otherwise made the economic advantage of protection even more stark.

In conclusion, the study showed that a healthy Boundary Waters creates a healthy business boom for the long-haul: a 20-year mining ban would produce far greater economic benefit and diversity than the proposed Twin Metals mine with up to 4,500 more jobs and $900 million more personal income to the local area over 20 years if copper mining is banned.

Here’s just one example of the growing, local economy that was recently featured by the White House at their Made in America event last month.