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Wintering in the Wilderness

Tuesday, December 29, 2020
Posted by
Amy Freeman

Giving a Zoom presentation about Wintering in the Wilderness on the shortest day of the year and the first day of winter felt quite appropriate to me. I had the opportunity to reflect on the year that my husband, Dave, and I spent a whole year in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in an effort to help the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters call attention to the threat posed by sulfide-ore copper mining being proposed upstream from the BWCAW. That's 366 days (it was a leap year) of camping and traveling under our own power in the 1.1 million acre Wilderness Area. During that year, we traveled roughly 2,000 miles by canoe and ski with three amazing sled dogs, visiting about 500 lakes, rivers, and streams throughout the year. Although it was 5 years ago, I still find myself regularly comparing the present moment to what we were doing on the same day or time of year back then.

As the fall season progressed into winter, we learned to slow down. For all of our previous expeditions, we had to keep moving because we had a destination in mind. A Year in the Wilderness was different— it was about bearing witness to this place we were trying to save and sharing it with as many people as possible by posting photos on social media, writing blog posts, recording a podcast, making a short documentary film, etc. So, the point was not to get somewhere as quickly as we were physically able, but instead to truly experience the BWCAW.

Waiting for freeze-up tried our patience. The holidays highlighted for us the fact that there were no material things that we missed from the outside world. Instead, what we sorely missed were family and friends. Acknowledging certain holidays helped us reconnect. Even though we were physically apart, just knowing we were cooking the same sort of meal and upholding some traditions made us feel as if we were home, celebrating with family and friends.

We added three canine teammates shortly after New Years. Our friend, Frank Moe, dogsledded in to drop off Acorn, Tina, and Tank. Traveling and camping with them added much variety and joy to our days. The new year also brought with it a flood of visitors who trekked in to say hi and drop off some tasty treats. People arrived by foot, snowshoe, ski, and dogsled, helping to make the rest of the winter fly by.

One lesson that I actually didn’t share during the Zoom (but wished I had) was the way in which people have come together to share their unique talents to support this cause. That is, in a nutshell, what Dave and I did— we knew how to paddle, camp, dogsled, and document a journey, so we did just that during A Year in the Wilderness. There are so many who have contributed by using their talents for this cause— writing songs, running for the BWCAW, biking for the BWCAW, writing letters to the editor, you name it, people are doing it. Please keep it up and consider lending your talent, whatever it may be, to this cause.

The light is now returning, both literally and in terms of our efforts to protect the BWCAW. With the change of administration comes a chance for real progress in gaining permanent protection for the Boundary Waters from sulfide-ore copper mining.

Watch Amy Freeman's Zoom Presentation from December 21, 2020 plus the live Q&A about the Freemans' Year in the Wilderness expedition.

What's next for the Boundary Waters in 2021?

Monday, December 28, 2020
Posted by
Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is America’s most visited Wilderness. A sulfide-ore copper mine at the edge of the Wilderness threatens the purity and ecosystem integrity of the Boundary Waters. This type of mining is a form of hardrock mining; the EPA lists hardrock mining as the industry that generates the largest source of toxins in the nation. This type of mining does not belong next to the Boundary Waters. Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness (NMW), the parent organization of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters, is leading the effort to ensure permanent protection for the water, air, plants and animals of the Boundary Waters Wilderness for future generations.

The Boundary Waters is located on lands that were and are the homeland of the Anishinaabe peoples (also known as Ojibwe or Chippewa).


The Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters is strategic in its efforts to protect America’s most visited Wilderness by implementing a multi-pronged protection approach. 

  • POLITICAL ADVOCACY: We educate elected officials and bring awareness to the dangers of sulfide-ore copper mining on the edge of the Wilderness. We also lobby and meet with lawmakers on both the state and national levels to encourage them to protect the Boundary Waters. 

  • SCIENCE & LITIGATION: We spend time and money to conduct and assemble scientific research and studies, and engage in litigation when necessary. 

  • ENGAGEMENT & AWARENESS: We reach a wide audience to raise awareness about the Wilderness and the threat of sulfide-ore mining to supporters around the world. We participate in public input processes and also have a robust outreach program that creates, educates and informs Wilderness ambassadors across the country. 

  • BROAD COALITION: Beginning in 2013, we prioritized building a credible, science-based campaign supported by a broad coalition of businesses, veterans, hunting and angling groups, youth, Indigenous people, students, conservation groups, Boundary Waters paddlers, and many more allies across the nation. Today, we’ve reached over 400 businesses and organizations.(Learn about the Boundary Waters Business Coalition. )

We do all of this and more in order to ensure the permanent protection of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and you make it possible. Rush a year-end gift today.


During the Obama administration, the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters worked to:

  • Elevate Boundary Waters protection from a local Minnesota priority to a national issue

  • Attack the issue from a proactive, protective posture instead of defensively

In 2016, Twin Metals Minnesota, the mining company owned by Chilean mining giant Antofagasta, had their expired mineral leases cancelled; a mineral leasing ban was proposed that would prevent new mineral leases and prospecting (exploration) permits.

After the 2016 elections, we found ourselves facing a hostile administration that did everything in its power to advance a Twin Metals mine on the edge of the Boundary Waters. Our Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters fought hard against the Trump administration to:

  • Slow down the federal leasing and review process, and incorporate science into decision making

  • Build additional political power and support

  • Elevate the issue for presidential candidates

  • Release polling by Republican and Democratic pollsters

  • Push back on political interference and untruths, and push forward science and public input

  • Engage Members of Congress to oppose the mine

Trump did everything he could to make it happen but there's still no mine.

Below is just some of the critical work we are doing at both the state and federal level, through advocacy, legal challenges, and legislation introduced by Boundary Waters champions. 




In June 2020, NMW sued the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), alleging that Minnesota’s laws are inadequate to protect the Boundary Waters because they allow a sulfide-ore copper mine to be built upstream of the Wilderness. 

This ground-breaking lawsuit was brought under the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act (MERA).

NMW and its partner The Wilderness Society are lead plaintiffs in three federal lawsuits challenging unlawful actions to advance sulfide-ore copper mining on public lands in the Superior National Forest, just upstream of the Boundary Waters.


Throughout 2020, we worked closely to build Boundary Waters champions in the Minnesota Legislature.

In October, Minnesota House Members announced that they would be introducing a state Boundary Waters Protection Bill in 2021. This bill is complementary to H.R. 5598, a bill pending in Congress.

In January 2020, Representative Betty McCollum introduced H.R. 5598, The Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act.

Through our federal advocacy and outreach program, we are generating Congressional support for this bill and working towards a Senate companion bill.

Environ. Impact Statements

And Other Reviews

Our staff of science, policy, and legal experts leads a coalition of groups and a team of two dozen scientists preparing detailed technical comments for two mine plan environmental reviews (separate state and federal reviews) scheduled to begin in 2021. 

This is the fifth federal public comment process on the Boundary Waters that our team has supported with technical comments based on high quality scientific and economic analysis.


Our outreach team is prepared to support and encourage citizens to engage in the public comment periods. More than 250,000 public comments have been submitted during past Boundary Waters comment periods.


The results of the 2020 elections made it absolutely clear that Minnesotans support protection for the Boundary Waters; they rejected politicians who would allow sulfide-ore copper mining on the edge of this Wilderness. 

President-elect Biden won the state in a contest that highlighted the Boundary Waters and northeastern Minnesota, where, according to the New York Times, “residents had broadly rebuked the Trump administration’s move toward approving a mine near the Boundary Waters.”

This doesn’t come as a surprise - our polling from July 2020 showed that 68% of Minnesotans support permanent protection of the watershed of the Boundary Waters. Mining in this place is opposed by a 39-point margin. 

With an incoming federal administration that values science, the law, and public input, we can take this fight to a new level.

The coalition behind this monumental effort is led and funded by Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness. Without your support, the fight to protect the Boundary Waters from sulfide-ore copper mining would not be where it is today. We bring together the collective voices of those who love the Boundary Waters.

We have an opportunity to protect the Boundary Waters for good. Help us continue our momentum into 2021 by donating today. 

Dogs for the BWCA

Saturday, December 26, 2020
Posted by
Dogs for the BWCA

We at Dogs for the BWCA want to help save this incredible Wilderness! Hear from some of our dog members about their favorite Boundary Waters stories below.

Tank Freeman

I got to live in the Boundary Waters for a long time when I joined Amy and Dave Freeman starting in the winter of their Year in the Wilderness. Amy and I skijored together until ice out when they decided to let me stay with them for paddle season! I’m a land lover, so every time we got to a new campsite, I’d be so excited I’d just run and run and run and run and run and run and run and then take a nap. Good times. 

Zoey Wind

I love tennis balls. But my mom said we couldn’t bring balls to the Wilderness in case they got lost. Leave No Trace (except peeing on trees to let the other dogs know I was at this campsite!!!) So instead I got by with finding sticks. Small sticks. Big sticks. Sticks that were supposed to be for the fire. Sticks buried in the lake. Sticks that wacked my mom in the back of the leg on portages, (almost causing her to drop the canoe. Hehehe) The great part about the Boundary Waters is that there were SO MANY STICKS. My favorite was having my mom throw it into the lake and then bringing it back to her. Ah boy, good times. Can't wait to go back. 

Coyha Lyons

My favorite thing about going to the Boundary Waters is how many different kinds of animal poop there are out there. I’m a big fan of finding it and then rolling in it. According to my mom, I shouldn’t be able to find human poop because humans are supposed to hide it… something about “leave no trace” ...  but sometimes they don’t and that’s a real treat for me.

Tano London

My first time in the Boundary Waters was when I was just four months old for a winter trip (my favorite season!) I enjoy running across the frozen lakes and smelling all of the animal tracks and diving into deep snow bluffs. I especially enjoy running ahead of my snowshoeing humans who are too heavy to walk on top of icy snow as I can! But, I never run too far from my humans because I don’t want to get lost in the Wilderness.

Buck and Gunnar Landwehr

One time we were in the Boundary Waters with our dad. He saw a bull moose across the lake and grunted at it. Later in the evening, it swam over to our campsite. We don’t know why dad was freaking out so much, but he climbed into a tree. Then he got mad at us for not being “watch dogs.” Sorry, we thought we were on vacation!

Jack Piragis

I. Love. Ice fishing. 

Author John Owens: One Summer Up North

Monday, December 21, 2020
Posted by
Save the Boundary Waters

Sign up for a chance to receive a free signed copy of the book "One Summer Up North" here!

We chatted with author and Save the Boundary Waters volunteer John Owens who recently published the picture book One Summer Up North (University of Minnesota Press) following a family's canoe trip in the Boundary Waters.

Q: Tell me about your personal connection to the Boundary Waters

A: Six years ago I took my first trip into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness for a half-day paddle with my wife, and some old friends from college. The next year I went along on a guided trip for a week. That was my first overnight experience in the BWCAW. Since that year, I have been back at least once, if not two or three times a year. Summer, Autumn, and Winter.  

Q: How’d you get the idea for this picture book? What was your inspiration?

A: A summer trip inspired me to illustrate what would become my picture book, “One Summer Up North.” My friend Steve and I put in at entry point #16 - Moose River North, and paddled our way up through Agnes, then over into Iron Lake. We took in Rebecca Falls and Curtain Falls ( Curtain Falls inspired a spread in the book), then paddled back across Lac La Croix visiting Warrior Hill, and the pictographs along the way. Paddling west we ended up turning south into Gebeonequet, Green, Rocky, and then Oyster Lake for our last night. This was my first trip moving daily and exploring a variety of spectacular sights in a week-long trip. I told Steve at the time, “I’m going to illustrate a book!”

Q: What was the process like to create and publish the book?

A: The illustrations took a little over three years to develop and create. They started out as small thumbnail sketches, then turned into full-size sketches that were eventually transferred to Bristol board and then finalized as drawings. I then added the color digitally. It took another year for the University of Minnesota Press process to develop into publishing the final book. If you want to check out the book, go to:

Q: What are you hoping people take from the book?

A: I’d like people who have never visited the Boundary Waters to come away with an idea of what it’s like, hopefully inspiring them to visit. I think people who have visited the Boundary Waters will recognize something about their own experience in this story and the scenes portrayed. The one thing I hope stands out is the evocative nature of the images.

Q: You volunteered with Save the Boundary Waters – say more about that, and what inspired you to get involved.

A: After my first weeklong trip, I visited Save the Boundary Waters office in Ely and found out about the fight against sulfide-ore copper mining. I did more research and that’s when I started making contributions and volunteering. I have volunteered at the State Fair booth a few times, and when the book was published I donated a percentage of my advance for this cause. I hope the book in turn becomes one more way that inspires readers to get involved with Save the Boundary Waters.

Q: Do you have any advice to others wondering what they can do to help fight for something they think is important?

A: I would encourage anyone that wants to help fight for something they think is important to simply start where they can. Whether that is time, or money, or in some other way. Any contribution whether big or small can help.

Thank you Northstar Canoes

Friday, December 4, 2020
Posted by
Save the Boundary Waters

Northstar Canoes makes beautiful lightweight canoes and canoe gear at their headquarters in Princeton (central Minnesota) guided by owner and renowned canoe builder Ted Bell.

General Manager (and avid backcountry expeditioner himself!) Bear Paulsen and the whole Northstar team have also been dedicated, generous, and collaborative partners as well as a strong paddling industry voice for Save the Boundary Waters since the early days of the Campaign. 

Northstar has sponsored and participated in many of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters events -- donating items, cash, and helping publicize the efforts - including the Pedal to DC Bike/Book Tour, and auctions and fundraisers such as our Boundary Waters Gala. We can also always count on a strong showing from their employee team themselves--always showing up in person and attending many Save the Boundary Waters events!

Northstar gives generously of their time and resources to aid the effort to protect the Boundary Waters--from designing and selling their own merch with a kickback to the Campaign, dedicating their own brand ads to the cause, and providing custom Basswood Lake pint glasses for every attendee of our gala, and donating a top-of-the-line canoe and gear package for our Boundary Waters 40th Anniversary raffle.

They also routinely donate a portion of proceeds from their boat sales at the Canoecopia expo to Save the Boundary Waters. 

Northstar has been a member of the Boundary Waters Business Coalition and advocating for protection of the Boundary Waters to decision-makers for years. In addition, they are one of the 9 business co-plaintiffs alongside Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness in our federal lawsuits challenging the reinstatement and renewals of Twin Metals’ mining leases.

Support Northstar and the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters this season: check out their Shop to Support items shirts and cups today!

THANK YOU Northstar Canoes!

Save the Boundary Waters staff Tom Landwehr and Sam Chadwick joined Northstar and friends for the 2019 Northstar Experience, and paddled the Zumbro River!

Bureau of Land Management to conduct NEPA review in Twin Metals prospect permitting case

Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Posted by
Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters


 Bureau of Land Management to conduct NEPA review in Twin Metals prospect permitting case

ELY, MN-- Earlier this week the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) volunteered to "cure the deficiencies" in its decision to extend thirteen prospecting permits for Antofagasta's Twin Metals, the Chilean mining conglomerate proposing to conduct risky sulfide-ore mining on the doorstep of America's most visited Wilderness, Minnesota's Boundary Waters. The prospecting permits were the first step toward a significant expansion of the current proposed mine which sits immediately next to lakes, rivers, and streams that flow directly into the Wilderness. The prospecting permits had been extended on May 1 without the BLM conducting legally required environmental review or consultation with the US Fish & Wildlife Service on impacts to endangered or threatened species. The legal challenge was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness (lead organization in the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters), and The Wilderness Society.

"The BLM failed to follow the law. It was required to consider environmental impacts and endangered species impacts of risky copper mining in the headwaters of the Wilderness before extending Twin Metals prospecting permits, some of which are on lands that border the Boundary Waters. Instead, the BLM did nothing except rush to grant mining approvals. This has been a hallmark of the Trump Administration's reckless push to fast track risky sulfide-ore mining next to the Boundary Waters," said Tom Landwehr, Executive Director of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters. "This is not the first time the Trump Administration has cut corners in order to permit the mine of Ivanka Trump's landlord, but hopefully it's the last."

There are currently two other federal lawsuits challenging Trump Administration actions for Twin Metals, including one challenge to the legality of reinstating expired leases and one on the sufficiency of their subsequent renewal. 

This is the second time in a week that state or federal agencies have gone back to review rules or actions related to sulfide-ore copper mining near the Boundary Waters because of actions led by Northeastern Minnesotans Wilderness (NMW)  and its Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters. Last week, Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources agreed to review Minnesota's mining rules as they relate to areas near the Wilderness. 

“We are leading the effort on multiple fronts,” said Landwehr, “to make sure sulfide-ore copper mining never happens in the watershed of the Boundary Waters. With great partners like The Wilderness Society and the Center for Biological Diversity, the Campaign has the expertise and strategic pathways to end this threat to the iconic Wilderness. A special thanks to the Center for Biological Diversity for representing NMW pro bono in this lawsuit.”

Read the full E&E article here.

Ancestral Legacy: New Album from Rock Band War Bonnet

Tuesday, November 24, 2020
Posted by
Chaz Wagner, War Bonnet

Celebrate Native American Heritage Day!

Boozhoo (Greetings) -

Our New Album "Ancestral Legacy" will be released on Friday November 27, 2020, Native American Heritage Day!

We're here to say our thoughts and feelings about the Boundary Waters. Being of Indigenous heritage, we're driven to protect the world's precious lands and waters from encroaching empires such as Twin Metals.

Mining has already proven to leave a devastating impact in our region of Northern Minnesota. It's time that all of us who live here, staunch the environmental bleeding, and support Save the Boundary Waters. Let us put an end to the damage and give our Mother Earth a chance to heal.

Our band will represent the Ojibwe Nation to speak out against any who would so much as threaten to disrupt or disrespect our traditions which Native Peoples have held on this continent for centuries.

These are our rights to hunt, fish, and gather on land we're sill fighting to protect for future generations.

We are proud to create music that speaks of and for Native Americans and the land upon which we live. We celebrate the honor, courage, and greatness of our ancestry.

Today we ask that you take time to listen to the songs being played in your own backyards. Would you want the peace and tranquility found there to be vanquished? Neither do we, which is why we must all band together to protect the Boundary Waters.

War Bonnet is a Native American rock band from the Ojibwe Reservations of Northern Minnesota.
The band performed as part of Save the Boundary Waters' Wild Waters music festival in 2019. Before the concert, the band was interviewed for the Timberjay newspaper.
Watch the music video for "Ikwe" - a song from the new album and a prayer for missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Native American Heritage Day from Save The BWCA on Vimeo.

For the love of the Boundary Waters

Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Posted by
Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters

The Boundary Waters is America’s most popular wilderness so naturally, there are so many different people standing up to protect the Boundary Waters from sulfide-ore copper mining. 

Here are just a few of those people explaining why they love the Boundary Waters and think you should support Save the Boundary Waters on Give to the Max Day. 

Donate now to help protect the Boundary Waters!

Proud Save the Boundary Waters donor

I didn’t grow up camping. Whatever compromises my Berkeley-based parents had made in summer activities, it did not involve immersion in nature. A few years into my move to Minnesota, my parents were surprised when I invited them on a canoe camping trip in the BWCA with my spouse. I was eager to explore this place that so many Minnesotans claimed as the crown jewel of the state, worthy of repeat trips, and exhaustive itineraries. We piled in our car and made our way up the Gunflint Trail to Hungry Jack Outfitters. Despite our trepidation, they outfitted us beautifully and instructed us to take an approachable route just a few lakes away. 

While our first portages were clunky, with lots of yelling and confusion, once we settled into the land things started to change. Without our normal distractions, we were able to focus our attention on each other and on the simple tasks of the day. It was so special to see my parents transform into this new setting: my dad tackling the rain fly while my mom built up a strong fire. I appreciated seeing them in this new light and seeing how nature brought out my dad’s desire to sing over the bonfire, and my mom’s calm appreciation of a still sunset. 

This personal transformation is one of my favorite parts of the BWCA. Since that trip, every year we bring new people up and we get to watch them open up and experience this new place for the first time. One of my favorite memories was this past summer when we took our friends Jack and Anne on their first trip. Not even three hours into the trip Jack exclaims, “this is the best day of my life.” It is a treat to both see my friends transform into new people under the night stars and stunning landscape and to deepen my relationships with them with this shared experience. Nothing says relationship building like navigating a canoe in windy weather! 

I urge you to support the protection of the BWCA from dangerous sulfide-ore copper mining, so that we can continue to invite in new friends, family, and colleagues to experience this precious place. This land belongs to everyone, and deserves to be experienced and appreciated by both first-timers and BWCA veterans for generations to come. 

Make a gift today.

Passionate Campaign volunteers

Audrey Jewett

The Boundary Waters has been a source of motivation to become more politically mobilized than ever before in 2020. Places like the BWCA deserve to be protected and advocated for. 

That’s why I am asking you to help the Campaign by donating today. Every dollar counts in the fight to protect this incredible Wilderness.

I have been a volunteer with Save the Boundary Waters campaign for 6 years. Working alongside so many dedicated folks at the campaign has been inspirational over the years! I have co-lead the Chicago chapter of the campaign for about two years now. I love meeting so many fellow paddlers in the Chicagoland area, and educating one another on how to protect our public lands! 

Megan Merrit 

My name is Megan and I'm one of the Chicago ambassadors for the Campaign. My family has had a cabin in the Boundary Waters since the 1960's that I've been going to my entire life. Since the start of this crazy year, it has been a source of constancy in this ever changing, uncertain world we're currently living in. I've been able to escape to the BWCA a few times this year and it feels like one of the only places within reach, where all the noise fades away. I've been inspired by listening to the people who are so dedicated to protecting these lands and waters and it makes me hopeful for the future of all public lands. It has been my absolute pleasure volunteering and helping out where I can. 

Sydney Bockelman

In uncertain times and with our communities craving connection, I've seen more and more people turn to the outdoors for solace this year. The BWCA continues to prove that it is a place for quiet contemplation, connection with nature, and community building. And in order to continue doing so, the BWCA needs our stewardship and support! 

True Boundary Waters lovers

Mat and I have been going to the Boundary Waters every year since we’ve been together. As a good friend of ours once said, "The Boundary Waters is a true test of whether a couple can survive marriage." Well, after several trips together, I decided it would be the perfect place to ask Mat to marry me. When the time came for the wedding, it felt only right to ask our guests to make donations to the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters. We just celebrated our marriage on a mid-October trip and couldn't be happier!

Please join Mat and me in supporting the Campaign, which leads the fight to protect our favorite place, by making a contribution today.

MERA Lawsuit Update

Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Posted by
Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters

We have entered into an agreement with the DNR on a process for how to move forward with review and possible revision of state mining rules. This is a first step in the right direction. The mining rules guide how sulfide-ore copper mines are sited, and we believe there should be no such mines in the BWCA watershed. Donate now to help us continue the fight to protect the Boundary Waters

On November 18, lawyers for Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness (NMW) signed an agreement called a Stipulation for Remand with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The stipulation agreement is a result of NMW’s lawsuit challenging the state’s non-ferrous mining rules filed pursuant to the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act (MERA) on June 24, 2020. NMW alleges that the current mining rules - adopted 27 years ago - fail to protect the Boundary Waters. The current rules allow for sulfide-ore mining in the upstream half of the Rainy River Headwaters, next to and outside of the Boundary Waters. Polluted waters from sulfide-ore copper mining in the upstream half of the Rainy River Headwaters would flow directly into the Boundary Waters and also put at risk the downstream protected areas of the Quetico Provincial Park and Voyageurs National Park (see map, below). 

Donate now to help us protect the Boundary Waters in 2021!

This is the first-ever lawsuit brought under Section 10 of MERA (MS116B.10). The first step in a Section 10 MERA lawsuit provides that the plaintiff (NMW) has the burden of proving the existence of material evidence that the challenged state rules are inadequate to protect the state’s natural resources from pollution, impairment, or destruction. In other words, NMW had the burden of proving with material evidence that allowing sulfide-ore copper mining in the upstream half of the Rainy Rivers Headwaters fails to protect the Boundary Waters from pollution, impairment,or destruction. The Minnesota DNR and NMW have agreed that NMW has met this requirement of material evidence. In the stipulation agreement, the Minnesota DNR and NMW have agreed to a process to address the adequacy of the rules.

The process as provided in the stipulation agreement is as follows:

  1. The DNR will provide a public comment period concerning the adequacy of the siting provisions of Minnesota’s nonferrous mining rules to protect the Boundary Waters and the Rainy River Headwaters as natural resources. The public comment period will  likely be held in early 2021.

  2. After reviewing the public comments, scientific evidence submitted with the comments, and any additional information available to the DNR, the DNR will issue an order and findings of fact by September 30, 2021 concerning the adequacy of the siting rule.  

  3. Any party to NMW’s lawsuit - and Antofagasta’s Twin Metals has intervened in the lawsuit and thus is a party - may challenge the DNR decision and request a contested case hearing, which is a trial before an administrative law judge. Therefore, we anticipate that there will be a contested case hearing on the adequacy of the nonferrous mining regulations to protect the Boundary Waters and the Rainy River Headwaters. If the administrative law judge finds that the siting section of the Minnesota nonferrous mining rules is inadequate to protect the Boundary Waters, the DNR will commence the formal rulemaking procedure to amend state regulations. 

  4. After final rulemaking, the matter will return to district court in Ramsey County to address any challenges by any party to the lawsuit. 

The entire process for NMW’s MERA lawsuit will take several years. Success would mean that sulfide-ore mining would be prohibited in the entire Rainy River Headwaters, including and specifically the upstream half that is currently unprotected. 

Help us raise $300,000 by midnight on Nov. 19!  We have an incredible $150,000 match, courtesy of the Manitou Fund ($50,000), as well as a group of loyal supporters. Double your impact by making a Give to the Max Day gift!

Map of the Rainy River Headwaters watershed. The proposed Twin Metals mine is located nine miles southeast of Ely, in the watershed which flows directly into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Quetico Provincial Park and Voyageurs National Park.

Boundary Waters Election Update

Wednesday, November 4, 2020
Posted by
Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters

We must count every vote. 

While we await some of the remaining results of the election and make sure every eligible vote is counted we can say Minnesota’s election results are a victory for the Boundary Waters. Congratulations to all of the Boundary Waters Champions who won their election. We look forward to working with the candidates who were elected this cycle to protect America’s most visited Wilderness for all generations to come.

Nearly 70% of Minnesotans favor permanently protecting the Boundary Waters. The proposed Twin Metals sulfide-ore copper mine on the edge of the Boundary Waters represents a threat to Minnesota’s environment, economy, and way of life. Minnesota voters clearly rejected the anti-Boundary Waters agenda of Donald Trump and Senate candidate Jason Lewis. The voters of Minnesota have sent a clear message: protect the Boundary Waters for now and forever.

For Senator Tina Smith, who was re-elected, a clear next step is to follow the lead of Minnesota's Representatives in the U.S. House by introducing a companion bill Rep. Betty McCollum’s Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act (HR5598) in the U.S. Senate. This bi-partisan House legislation now has 47 co-sponsors and would provide permanent protection to the watershed of the Boundary Waters.

Make an impact by donating to Save the Boundary Waters now for Give to the Max Day. We must continue the fight to save this one-of-a-kind-Wilderness. Give today. 

Look for more communications from the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters and Boundary Waters Action Fund regarding the remaining results of the election.