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The Poetry of the Boundary Waters

Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Posted by
Grace Christenson

The Boundary Waters taught 14-year-old Grace Christenson to see beauty in the simplest things. Grace wrote Leave No Trace for her spoken word poetry unit at school. The Wilderness is something that she is very passionate about and she wanted to inform people about the risks facing the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

 


 Leave No Trace

Come with me to a place I love,
Come with me to a place I dream,
Come with me to a place I listen…

A fog over the land, 
A change in my plan,
Can’t this be everlasting?
My paddle slicing the glass.
Tornadoes swirl through
The complex waters of beauty.
Like a mother’s hug,
The water envelops me,
Taking my breath away,
Like getting out of your sleeping bag
On a crisp morning.
No boundary shall live in
The Boundary Waters.
My footsteps will leave no trace,
The weather erasing it from
The earth at peace.

Slam the door,
Lock,
And cover.
We can’t balance
Our need for our greed,
The greed of minerals,
Without our need for beauty
Travel the world,
Sense the sea,
Comprehend the tree,
Love it all for me,
And you,
And all the billions of people.

Come with me to a place and listen...
For the loon calling to her kin,
The tranquil sounds of water,
The hushed whispers of wind.
Your voice stay humble,
Not soft, though..
“Speak loudly for a quiet place”
It must be a sacred place
To those who will embrace.
The hug,
The love.
The clarity in the break of dawn.
It must be a sacred place
A powerful space,
With a soft pace.
Step back.

Will you come with me for a moment?
Leave the busyness of your day behind?

Come with me to a place and imagine...
A forest, beach, or desert.
The wind kisses your face
Like the soft breath of a baby.
Rain tickles your head.
Trees, like a summers storm, laugh
Waves rejoice in song.
The Earth loves us.

Come with me to a place and love…
The Earth is a tapestry,
I weave into it when the stars shine in the sky.
The colors are bright capturing one's mind,
You turn them over never quite understanding
That the Earth is a tapestry
That this is the only one.
And yet we disrespect,
Neglect,
And abandon the pursuit of cherishing Earths beauty.

Earth has supported us,
She’s dusted our errors,
She’s polished our achievements.
But we’ve destructed her,
Adapted our understanding of
Her changing.
You can tell me what you think,
But I've got a whole Earth
Standing behind me.


Grace Christenson is a 14-year-old from White Bear Lake, Minnesota. Grace finds that the Boundary Waters is a place for her to be herself, to let go of her worries and feel the purity of the wind on her face. With every trip that she has taken since she was four years old, she has seen her strengths grow more each year--from carrying her paddle and life jacket, to her own pack, to the food pack, and in more recent years carrying the canoe on portages.

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Dave and I are frequently asked, “How can you stand to spend so much time with your spouse?” We did manage to spend 366 days in a row in each other’s company without killing each other. In many ways, our Year in the Wilderness was good for our relationship [Pictured: Valentine's Day during Year in Wilderness]. We are now closer than we’ve ever been and, in many ways, our relationship is better when we are out in wild places. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’ll take a look back at the early days and how our love for each other is intertwined with our love for wilderness.

First of all, we met because we were both drawn to northern Minnesota. I was in graduate school in Chicago, but managed to escape every summer to guide kayaking trips on Lake Superior out of Grand Marais, Minnesota. Dave had just acquired a piece of land, eight sled dogs and office space above a kayak shop in Grand Marais. He was running this awesome educational nonprofit called the Wilderness Classroom Organization (which he still does). At that point, he had already traveled solo across the Boundary Waters in the winter, canoed the length of the Mississippi River, paddled dugout canoes in Peru and dogsledded in northern Canada. Before I actually met him, I knew I had to meet this guy.

Wedding photo by Stephan Höglund

Fate stepped in, or rather the boss—John Amren. He asked Dave to guide the occasional kayak trip that summer and so we got to know each other. Even from the beginning, we were working together—and that is how it has been ever since, as we’ve guided kayak trips, canoe trips, dogsledding trips, and then crossed South America and North America under our own power.

Our first trip together was spent kayaking around Lake Superior in the fall of 2006. This came about from our time spent talking while paddling and sailing after work. Lake Superior is like an ocean—from Grand Marais, you can’t see across the lake. That horizon line where the water meets the sky was calling. Every day I paddled up and down familiar stretches of shoreline and I wanted to know what was around the next point. I wanted to get to know the lake and the best way to do that would be to kayak around the whole thing. I had zero expedition experience, my longest trip prior to that having been a week in the Boundary Waters, but Dave apparently liked me, and Lake Superior, enough to give it a try. I drew strength from his confidence and know-how. We took off from the pebbly beach in the east bay of Grand Marais on the last day of August and returned a few days before Halloween. Our friends had taken bets, determining that after the trip we would either be together for the long haul or we would immediately break up.

Fast forward through biking and paddling across South America, years of guiding canoe and kayak trips—we were still together. We returned to northern Minnesota to guide canoe and kayak trips in the summer and dogsledding trips in the winter. We both attribute our love of wild places to our early experiences in the Boundary Waters. And so we came to see the wilderness-edge communities of Grand Marais and Ely as our home base.

Wedding photo by Stephan Höglund

So when we finally decided to get married, we had a dogsledding wedding (The honeymoon suite? Not for this couple, Pioneer Press). Friends and family from the Twin Cities, Chicago, North Carolina, Kansas, Florida and Texas hiked, dogsledded, skied and skated out to our wedding reception on White Iron Lake (directly downstream from the proposed Twin Metals mine). It was the spring equinox of 2010 and the sun was out in full force. We stood under the towering red pines, the dog teams lined up out on the lake. Our dear friend and co-founder of the Wilderness Classroom, Eric Frost, married us and Paul Schurke shared the words of literary and wilderness conservation hero, Sigurd Olson. As the reception ended, all the dogs howled in unison and we hopped on a dogsled.

It was a day I’ll never forget—and it wasn’t just because I married my best friend and expedition teammate. It was because we successfully introduced a hundred of our relatives and closest friends to the north woods. That was the real motivation behind our dogsledding wedding. Memories of that day warm my heart because it was filled with love—love for each other and love of the wilderness.

This Valentine's Day, join us in sharing love for the Boundary Waters. Submit a comment to the Forest Service supporting the evironmental review of the watershed and share far and wide your love of this wild place.


Dave and Amy Freeman, 2014 National Geographic Adventurers of the Year, are dedicated to protecting the Boundary Waters from sulfide-ore copper mining proposed on its wilderness edge. In 2014, they paddled and sailed 101 days and 2,000 miles from Ely, MN, to Washington, DC, on the Paddle to DC. From September 23, 2015 to September 23, 2016, the Freemans spent A Year in the Wilderness, camping at approximately 120 different sites, exploring 500 lakes, rivers and streams, and traveling more than 2,000 miles by canoe, foot, ski, snowshoe and dog team. They documented their year and will continue to share their stories on social media (@FreemanExplore, #WildernessYear) and in blog posts. A documentary about their journey, Bear Witness, premiered fall 2016. A book about their year will be published by Milkweed Editions in fall 2017.

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From the Freemans: Speak Up for the Boundary Waters

Monday, February 6, 2017
Posted by
Dave Freeman

During our Year in the Wilderness, we often focused on the tranquil times, the silence, sunsets and countless beautiful moments that one encounters when they are immersed in Wilderness. Wilderness has many moods: blizzards that chill you to the bone, drenching rains that fill the canoe and leave you soggy, wondering if you will ever see the sun again. Then there are bugs, blisters and giant portage packs that send you wobbling down the portage trail. These uncontrollable factors are often the fuel for our most memorable and transformational Wilderness experiences.

At this moment a year ago we found ourselves engulfed in one of those challenges as we made our way from Gun Lake to Tin Can Mike Lake. Traveling into a steady headwind, constantly scrapping frozen slush from our skis and toboggans and setting up camp by headlamp. We were tired when we zipped up our sleeping bags around midnight, but it's the hard days that stay with us long after we leave the Wilderness. Overnight calm weather and near perfect travel conditions had turned into a blinding blizzard and some of the hardest traveling conditions we experienced all winter. When we woke up in the morning, I immediately noticed large, but subtle patches of discoloration spread across the lake’s snowy surface. These slightly darker patches made my stomach churn because I knew that water was seeping through cracks in the ice and forming giant pockets of slush under the fresh blanket of snow covering the lake.

As soon as a ski, toboggan, boot, or dog paw broke through the snow, the slush would freeze to it and halt our progress as we worked with numb fingers to bang, scrape and in the case of the sled dogs’ paws, gnaw at the ice. Looking back on that hard day, and many others like it, I understand that these challenges are at the heart of why we venture into the Wilderness. It’s the raw power of nature reminding us of our place in the world and challenging us to become more resilient as we begin to understand our true potential.

The challenges that Wilderness travel often afford are one of Wilderness's greatest (but often overlooked) assets, and are an important reason to protect Wilderness for future generations. I hope that the challenges that come with Wilderness travel will also give us the confidence and the resolve that we need when we encounter obstacles in our movement to permanently protect the Boundary Waters watershed from sulfide-ore copper mines. 

Last week, Representative Rick Nolan sent a letter to the Trump administration urging them to halt the two-year scientific review of the impacts sulfide-ore copper mining would have on the Boundary Waters watershed. This reckless action by our elected official is not only anti-Boundary Waters, but it goes against science and public input.

In Nolan’s public statements since he sent that letter, he has been trying to say that he is pro-science and would never support mining that would hurt the Boundary Waters—even though he has sided with foreign mining companies for years and is trying to undermine the current scientific process and public input period that our public land management agencies already determined to be the best path forward.  

Last Thursday, we joined about 100 people outside Rick Nolan’s office in Duluth to stand up to his reckless actions and his false pro-Boundary Waters assertions. Like us, many of the folks were from Ely, and their jobs and way of life are at risk. Copper mines like Twin Metals would destroy our way of life and the resulting industrial mining zone and pollution would damage our pristine lakes and rivers—and kill our jobs. 

When we encounter stiff headwinds in the Wilderness, we dig in and paddle harder. When we encounter hurdles that aim to roll back the tremendous progress that has been made over the last couple of years to protect the Boundary Waters, we must dig deep and take action. Few things worth fighting for are easy and I hope you will draw strength from your Wilderness experiences and use that to actively fight for the protection of this national treasure.

People have been asking us what else they can do after submitting a comment to the U.S. Forest Service. I think the best thing people can do at this moment is join our Wilderness Warriors group. It only takes a minute to sign up and each week the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters will send you easy, impactful actions you can take from wherever you are. Together we’ll make sure key leaders are hearing from us and that we stand up to attacks from anti-BWCA forces trying to undo recent progress and expedite sulfide-ore copper mining on the edge of the Boundary Waters. And don't forget to comment during the environmental review if you haven't already.


Dave and Amy Freeman, 2014 National Geographic Adventurers of the Year, are dedicated to protecting the Boundary Waters from sulfide-ore copper mining proposed on its wilderness edge. In 2014, they paddled and sailed 101 days and 2,000 miles from Ely, MN, to Washington, DC, on the Paddle to DC. From September 23, 2015 to September 23, 2016, the Freemans spent A Year in the Wilderness, camping at approximately 120 different sites, exploring 500 lakes, rivers and streams, and traveling more than 2,000 miles by canoe, foot, ski, snowshoe and dog team. They documented their year and will continue to share their stories on social media (@FreemanExplore, #WildernessYear) and in blog posts. A documentary about their journey, Bear Witness, premiered fall 2016. A book about their year will be published by Milkweed Editions in fall 2017.

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Rallying Together to Speak up for Science & Public Opinion

Friday, February 3, 2017
Posted by
Sam Chadwick

This week we faced our opposition head on when Congressman Rick Nolan urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture “to reverse the agency’s decision to withdraw more than 234,000 acres out of multiple-use purpose from the Superior National Forest." We did not take that news lightly and organized supporters like you in response.

His statement comes in response to the exciting news of earlier this year when the United States Forest Service officially announced a two-year pause on mining activities and initiated an environmental review of 234,328 acres of Superior National Forest in the Boundary Waters watershed. Read how this all fits into our short, medium and long term goals.

That Forest Service decision came about thanks to the more than 74,000 of you who petitioned for the denial of Twin Metals leases and asked for an environmental review of the entire watershed. Following the lease denial, the environmental review and comment period commenced in January and you can take action now to add a comment.

Rep. Nolan's action to halt this existing environmental review is anti-Boundary Waters, anti-science, and anti-citizen and benefits a Chilean mining company at the risk of permanent major damage to the Boundary Waters and at the expense of many home-grown businesses.

In response, this week we asked supporters like you to speak up, to call the congressman’s office (202-225-6211) and to show up in Duluth to speak up for the value of this environmental review and using science and public input to guide decisions about the future of the Boundary Waters. Thank you to all of you who have taken action at this critical time. If you want to know more about how you can help in moments like this or take action today, become a Wilderness Warrior.

Multiple media outlets covered our impromtu rally outside the Congressman’s office, including TV stations from Duluth like KBJR, WDIO and Fox 21 plus news outlets like MPR and the Duluth News Tribune

We’re grateful to Rep. Betty McCollum for backing up our efforts this week. The congresswoman stated, “Representative Nolan’s assault on this natural treasure is misguided. Minnesotans can count on me to stay the course and keep fighting everyday to protect our Boundary Waters from polluters, the Trump administration, and politicians who stand with it.” And for the continued support of Governor Dayton, who this week restated his support, saying, "protecting the waters of the BWCA is one of our generation's sacred responsibilities."

With so much back and forth between the representatives and Rep. Nolan’s own confusing defensive statements about protecting the Boundary Waters and supporting an environmental review, we wanted to take a minute to explain some more details about the process as it stands, Representative Nolan’s stance and why it’s important to speak up to keep this environmental review moving forward.

  1. Rep. Nolan is seeking to stop the most important environmental review - one that looks at the  Boundary Waters and the impact on the Wilderness if sulfide-ore copper mining were allowed in the watershed. This is the environmental review that is now underway, initiated by the U.S. Forest Service based on strong scientific evidence that sulfide-ore copper mining nearby will harm the Wilderness.
  2. Rep. Nolan claims that he is pro-environmental review. What he is not being clear about is that he only supports environmental review after a mining company asks for a permit. Only after the Forest Service has been forced - by raw political threats - to grant a mineral lease.
  3. Rep. Nolan wants to short-circuit the right process now underway. He would allow international copper mining companies to define environmental review the way they want. The mine-by-mine environmental review process that Rep. Nolan favors puts the cart before the horse, and is a recipe for permanent and irreversible contamination of the BWCAW.
  4. If Rep. Nolan gets what he wants then international mining companies will once again be able to apply for new mineral leases in the watershed, and they will re-start their plans to mine sulfide-ore copper... upstream from Minnesota's cleanest water and America's most-visited wilderness area. Minnesota’s Governor and the Forest Service have temporarily halted consideration of sulfide-ore copper mining in the watershed because of overwhelming scientific evidence of harm.

Join us in telling Rep. Nolan (202-225-6211) you oppose his attempt to shut down the established environmental review process, and shut Minnesotans and Americans out of the process.

Our Rally In the News:
KDAL: Interview with Becky Rom and Steve Piragis (February 2, 2017)
Fox 21: Protesters Oppose Mining in National Forest (February 2, 2017)
Duluth News Tribune: Boundary Waters supporters rally against U.S. Rep. Nolan (February 2, 2017)
WDIO: Nolan Outreach to Trump Administration on Mining Draws Fire, Protest Held in Duluth (February 2, 2017)
MPR: Debate over copper mining near Boundary Waters heats up again (February 2, 2017)
KBJR: Anti-copper-nickel mining protest targets Congressman Nolan (February 2, 2017)

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Be a Wilderness Warrior

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


We need you to help us keep our momentum going by becoming a Wilderness Warrior!

Wilderness Warriors receive weekly alerts about impactful actions they can take that help #SavetheBWCA. We will inspire you with ways to make a difference and show your love for the Boundary Waters -- from making sure your voice is heard by key leaders to speaking out on social media in support.

Anti-BWCA groups are trying to speed up the sulfide-ore copper mines proposed in the watershed of the Boundary Waters. Join our forces by becoming a Wilderness Warrior and stand up for this amazing Wilderness.

Sign up here, and make sure you've submitted your comment to the U.S. Forest Service during this environmental review of the watershed.

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Trip Tales: Importance of Wilderness

Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Posted by
John Focke

Below are excerpts a Boundary Waters trip story that John Focke shared on his blog, Tales from the Focke


If my body had a low battery light, it would have been blinking. We had just finished the unofficial first half of the WNBA season, which was condensed due to an extended Olympic break right in the middle of the season. My wedding was 12 days away, but I had a few free days to recharge before everyone descended upon the Twin Cities. 

After talking things over with my fiancee, Ali, we decided we were in a good spot regarding the wedding details and I could bounce to the Gunflint Trail.

Our family has had a cabin on Hungry Jack Lake, just off the Gunflint Trail in northern Minnesota, for many decades. Originally purchased by my great-grandpa, I have made it up there every year of my life but one (shoulder surgery knocked me out in 2000).

There are two cabins, a big cabin and a little cabin, and we are just a short paddle across Bearskin Lake to the Boundary Waters--the crown jewel of Minnesota.

There is running water and electricity, but no cell phone access, TV or internet--the perfect place to unplug and charge up. 

After unloading the car, I took the kayak down to the lake and immediately hopped in. The clouds were low and gray and no wind moved as I glided across the glassy surface of the lake. The silence wraps itself around you up there. I paddled to the far end of the lake into a bay and just drifted, leaning back I closed my eyes and felt totally at peace. I was just a small speck floating in a big lake. My mind drifting, but not thinking of anything--finally letting go.

The sun was shining the next morning as I hopped in the kayak, even though it was early I could already hear the kids down the lake splashing and paddling around. I paddled down to the first portage, one I have done a million times. Shouldering the kayak, I crossed the trail into Bearskin Lake. From there I had to cross the lake to the Daniels Portage, there was a little more chop on Bearskin Lake--as there always seems to be.

Looking to my left you could see the rocky top of Caribou Trail, to my right several canoes headed out from Camp Menogyn and others crossing the lake towards the Duncan Lake portage.

As I slid into Daniels Lake, I paddled along the bluffs on the left side. I remembered coming here as a kid and fishing off those big rocks where the water was so clear you could see down to the even bigger rocks below and the shadows of fishing swimming around. I remembered lunching on those rocks and the way the sun warmed your skin as we reclined on the rocks. Each of us finding our own little "easy-chair" to relax in.

I paddled further into the lake, debating on making the link up from here to Rose Lake but not feeling the effort of that seriously long portage.

The sun was high and not a cloud in the sky, just a deep blue with a light wind. I paused at the far end of the lake, drifting and watching the shoreline reflect on the surface of the lake. Our wedding was a little over a week away, the hay was in the barn as my brother liked to say. I was excited to welcome everyone in town and more excited to pledge my love and my life to Ali. She loved coming to this place too, and the thought of one day bringing our family to follow some of the same trails that I trod as a kid was a great vision. 

Heading back to the portage I ran into a guy and his brother, about my age with their two kids climbing into their canoe. The guy mentioned it was his kids' first trip to the Boundary Waters. He said he had been coming up for years, but finally the kids were old enough to handle the canoeing and camping so they were headed out for a few days. It was so great to see another generation of kids heading into the Wilderness, learning to love it as their parents did. That’s what this area needs--defenders of all ages, people who understand the importance of preserving it for the next generation and the one after that and so on.

Later, I paddled into the lake and let my thoughts drift over to my vows: how do you tell the woman of your dreams how much she means to you? How do you put into words how much you love and care about her? Is it possible to take all those feelings and compress them into a few sentences? The thing about Ali that I knew right from the start, was how right it felt. How comfortable I was, how I could be myself without judgement, how all I wanted to do was make her laugh and spend time with her.

As I floated thinking about all those things, I thought about this land too: how do you put into words how special this area is? How can someone who has never put a paddle in the water and floated through a crystal-clear lake understand why we shouldn’t allow a mining operation on the edge of the Wilderness?

It can be hard to put into words what this place means to people. It’s a silent place that can’t speak for itself, you need to show people what it means. This is why I thought the Freeman’s Year in the Wilderness was so important. To shine a light on this area, bring it to the public mind, help people understand we don’t have many spaces like this left and how important it is to keep it wild.

I relaxed on the dock that evening, listening to the sounds of the loons as the sky faded to black and the stars began to come out. The sound of the kids playing in the lake slowly quieted as it began to get dark and the silence was total.  It was a quick trip, but it was amazing what it did to recharge my battery and fill my soul. I closed my eyes and imagined for a moment sitting here in the future with my wife and family, soaking in the beauty of this place and hoping that it would stay as it is for that to happen. 


John Focke lives in Minneapolis, MN. John is the radio play-by-play voice of the Minnesota Lynx and the executive producer and studio host for the Minnesota Timberwolves. John has been going to the Boundary Waters for his entire life with his family--thanks to his grandpa's cabin on Hungry Jack Lake off the Gunflint Trail. It has always been a very special place to John and everyone in his family. He wants to protect the Boundary Waters so that future generations of his family get to experience it in the same way that he was able to. 

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Science Desk: Big News! But What Does It Mean for the BWCA?

Friday, January 20, 2017
Posted by
Matt Norton

Several amazing announcements at the end of last year and the beginning of this year mean big news for the Boundary Waters – specifically, Twin Metals’ request to renew its mineral leases was denied, and a watershed-wide environmental review was initiated. We're proud of our efforts and the great strides we’ve taken to protect the Boundary Waters Wilderness, and we know we couldn't have done it without you or our Campaign partners. You need to know, however, that even though one mining company lost its leases, the fight to protect the Boundary Waters is not over.

More work is ahead for us and for you. There will be critical moments when we will need you to comment on behalf of the Boundary Waters. It is very important that you take action at each opportunity. Right now is one of those times -- comment here!

First, let's back up and break down what happened in December 2016 and the beginning of this year.

What Just Happened?

What Does It Mean?
In a nutshell, it means that the Campaign has met our short-term goal and is on track to, but has not yet, achieved our medium-term and long-term goals for protecting the Boundary Waters. Let’s review the Campaign’s short, medium, and long-term goals for protection for the Boundary Waters and its watershed from sulfide-ore copper mining.

  • Short Term: Our short-term goal required that Chilean copper mining giant, Antofagasta, and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Twin Metals, be denied the renewal they requested of their expired mineral leases, which are the only federal minerals leases in the watershed of the Boundary Waters. The announcements in December mean that we have accomplished this short-term goal, though the mining companies are challenging the federal agencies’ denial of the lease renewal request. The case is in federal court, and will play out over the next year or two.
  • Medium Term: The Campaign’s medium-term goal is a 20-year administrative “withdrawal,” during which no new leases or exploration of federal minerals would occur within the Boundary Waters watershed. The process to create a 20-year withdrawal starts with a two-year pause on new federal mineral activity in the area proposed to be withdrawn, so that federal agencies can do an environmental review of the effects the proposed withdrawal would have on the environment, people, and economy. The announcements from earlier this month have triggered a two-year pause and environmental review, and started the process that should lead to our medium-term goal of a 20-year withdrawal of federal minerals in the watershed of the Boundary Waters.
  • Long Term: After the environmental review is done, it will be up to the new Secretary of the Interior Department to decide whether to announce a 20-year withdrawal for the Boundary Waters watershed. If that happens, then we’ll use those years to build support for the Campaign’s ultimate goal: passage by Congress of an act granting permanent withdrawal of federal minerals within the watershed of the Boundary Waters.

To get the best environmental review possible, your comments on this environmental review are needed now! Your engagement in the environmental review process, and your continued support for the Campaign, are critical. The environmental review process has started with a 90-day public comment period. As someone who loves the Boundary Waters, your comment should be sent in as soon as possible, and definitely before April 19. You should also consider attending and speaking up at an agency-hosted public meeting.

So yes, we’ve seen some great forward steps taken in the last several weeks, but we’re not there yet. Luckily, we have a plan for how to get from here to our long-term goal: permanent protection for the Boundary Waters and its watershed ...  And luckily, we have you. Our citizen members, volunteers, and partner organizations are essential. We have only gotten to this stage, and we will only achieve the greater victory of permanent protection, with your continued involvement and support. So please sign and share the petition to keep this momentum moving forward. Thank you!


Matt Norton is the Campaign's policy director. He previously worked as campaign director with Minnesota Environmental Partnership, and as forestry and wildlife advocate and staff attorney for the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy.

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Infographic: Take Action During Comment Period

Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Posted by
Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters

When the U.S. Forest Service announced an environmental review of the Boundary Waters Wilderness watershed last Friday, the agency also kicked off a 90-day comment period, during which time citizens like you can speak up for the Boundary Waters. This comment period is about letting the Forest Service know what you think they should study during the environmental review, like the sensitivity of the BWCA's clean water to pollution, the value of this place and its economic impact on tourism and outdoor recreation. You can make a comment here! This environmental review is a great step toward protecting the watershed of the Boundary Waters, Voyageurs National Park and Canada's Quetico Provincial Park. During this time, there will be a two-year pause on mining activities in the watershed. We know most of you have already taken some action to support protecting the Boundary Waters, but the comment period is a NEW and IMPORTANT action. So please take a minute to comment. The messages collected during this time period will impact the environmental review and show the groundswell of support for protecting this Wilderness. Thank you for your support! Feel free to share this infographic to help build support and urge others to take action during the 90-day comment period! UPDATE: comment period will conclude August 11.

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Resupply Report: Northern Lakes Canoe Base Girl Scouts

Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Posted by
Rebecca Gaida

We are the Girl Scouts from Northern Lakes Canoe Base. We enjoyed a five day trip to resupply Dave and Amy Freeman's Year in the Wilderness on Knife Lake. When we arrived at the Freeman's campsite, we were greeted by puppy kisses from Tank. The Freeman's then explained the purpose of their Year in the Wilderness and the threats of mining to the Boundary Waters. Some highlights of the trip were a day paddle to Thunder Point, measuring water clarity and oxygen levels, swimming and swamping the canoe for fun. After a day full of activities, Dave and Amy joined us at our campsite for pizza over the fire and cheesecake. We waved them off later that evening.

The weather was perfect, the company was great and the memories will last forever. What a treat to share a meal, some laughs and Girl Scout cookies (of course) with Dave, Amy and Tank!

Rebecca Gaida is from Victoria, Minnesota, and is currently attend the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. Rebecca is studying public administration with a minor in nonprofit leadership. Rebecca has spent the past six summers paddling the Boundary Waters, and the past two summers guiding for Northern Lakes Girl Scout Canoe Base.

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Save the Boundary Waters for Them

Friday, January 6, 2017
Posted by
Bobby and Maura Marko

Below are excerpts from a blog post about Bobby and Maura Marko's September Boundary Waters trip, which they shared on their We Found Adventure blog. Read the full blog.


When I entered the Wilderness for the first time as a confused and lost 19-year-old girl, I had no idea the path life would take me on. Now, 11 years later, I am a wife, a mother to a son and I am expecting a daughter. The Wilderness used to be my sanctuary. After meeting my husband, Bobby, the Wilderness became a setting of bonding and discovery. As we were starting our lives together, we entered the Wilderness and did extraordinary things. We learned about each other, we learned the importance of communication, we learned to care for one another and we learned to trust one another. We had conversations within the sanctuary of Mother Nature that would never have been able to take place in a bar, restaurant or even the comforts of our own home. When out exploring the Wilderness, a closeness and a bond is formed that nothing else can possibly duplicate.

Now it has become a classroom for our children. A place for us to take our children to help them learn life lessons, learn about ecosystems, learn about history, learn about the importance of preservation, learn Leave No Trace principles and learn to be thoughtful and caring human beings.

At the age of two, our son, Jack, has entered two wilderness areas--one of which is the Boundary Waters. During his third trip into the Boundary Waters, he was accompanied by his loving and doting grandparents.

Jack was able to be a part of a multigenerational trip into an area that has been protected since 1926. He was given a glimpse into what life was like for a voyageur traveling the area 200 years ago. These wilderness areas are truly precious and deserve our respect and protection. 

When I think of my children, I imagine all of the adventures we will have with them throughout their lives. I think of the memories made. The photographs taken. The tears shed. The laughter shared.

I imagine them setting forth on their own as a young woman and a young man seeking adventure by themselves, with friends or with families of their own. I picture them emulating trips we have done in the past. Being able to experience the same campsites. The same lakes. The same paths. When our wilderness is threatened, the opportunities for outdoor recreation of future generations are threatened.

President Lyndon B. Johnson said it beautifully when talking of the importance of protecting wilderness areas for future generations. He said, “If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them something more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.”

The Boundary Waters is a profoundly important stretch of wilderness that must be protected. This includes protection from within and without. As we--the visitors--enter the Wilderness, we must educate ourselves. We must practice and respect all Leave No Trace principles. Protecting this area from exterior threats, like disruptive and environmentally toxic mining operations, should have every one of us standing up, speaking out and working hard to protect this vital natural resource for generations to come. President Theodore Roosevelt said, “We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.”

Please, stand with us and speak out against the proposed mines. Sign the petition today, contact your local representative, educate others, or share your own personal stories. There are so many ways in which you can stand up and protect this scenic area for this generation and all those to come.


Bobby and Maura Marko live in Excelsior, Minnesota, with their two-year-old son, Jack, and newborn daughter, Rowan. Bobby works as a UX Designer for Amazon while Maura is a stay-at-home mom and writer for their blog, We Found Adventure. Both are avid outdoor enthusiasts who are passionate about protecting the wild places of our planet as well as encouraging parents to get outdoors and experience wilderness with their children. Though newbies to the Boundary Waters and canoe-camping in general, the family was hooked after their first trip in and have many more trips planned! They feel that protecting a national treasure like the Boundary Waters should be a priority for every person who believes that future generations deserve to inherit accessible and outstanding opportunities for outdoor recreation. 

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