During the last several years, hunters and anglers have been fighting at both the national and state levels against legislative efforts to sell off public lands to private interests and/or prevent future acquisitions of public lands. Hunting and angling groups like my Backcountry Hunters & Anglers have been at the forefront of fighting these misguided anti-public lands bills. We know that if you take away public lands, you take away hunting and fishing.
The U.S. House recently voted on a bill that would help facilitate a proposed northern-Minnesota sulfide mining operation in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness watershed. As explained in a Nov. 29 News Tribune article ("Vote delayed on Twin Metals bill"), "The bill is aimed at Twin Metals, the Chilean-owned company that wants to build a massive underground copper mine near the Kawishiwi River southeast of Ely."
Recently, Minnesota U.S. Reps. Rick Nolan and Tom Emmer pushed a late-night amendment through the House of Representatives to help facilitate sulfide-ore copper mining in the same watershed that includes the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness ("Emmer, Nolan add amendment to defund mining study," Sept. 7).
Recently, U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, who represents the St. Cloud, Minn., area, has been working with Congressman Rick Nolan, who represents Northeastern Minnesota, to facilitate sulfide mining in northern Minnesota. In July, Congressman Emmer introduced a bill to overturn the will of some Minnesotans and clear the path for a foreign mining company looking to build a sulfide-ore copper mine in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness watershed.
In April, a mining trade group released a report touting the economic benefits of mining, including the potential benefits of proposed sulfide-ore copper mining on what are now public lands in Superior National Forest ("Study says Northland mining industry jobs are worth more than tourism," April 18). Of course, anybody can pay for a study that will say anything they want about hypothetical future impacts. But facts cannot be disputed.
One of President Theodore Roosevelt's greatest gifts to the nation was a greatly expanded national forest system. It grew by some 150 million acres during his administration. Northern Minnesota's 3.2 million-acre Superior National Forest was established by Roosevelt in 1909 and today encompasses the 1.1 million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
While growing up in northern Minnesota — hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking and canoeing — I naturally was attracted to the vast expanse of public lands found in the Superior National Forest and its Pleistocene-like Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. However, today, a foreign mining company, Twin Metals, is pushing plans for a sulfide-ore (i.e., copper-nickel) mine where the South Kawishiwi River flows into the BWCAW.
On Memorial Day, Minnesota’s hunters and anglers and other outdoors enthusiasts remembered and gave thanks for those who sacrificed so much for our nation and its great public-lands heritage. But...
It’s a long ways from northern Minnesota to eastern Oregon, but Minnesota residents should be paying attention to the dangerous, anti-government standoff taking place at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore. The dispute is actually about the future of America’s public lands legacy — from one small wildlife refuge in Oregon to Minnesota’s Boundary Waters, Yellowstone, Yosemite and the entire national forest system, as natural-resources writer Ben Long pointed out in the Hill in January.
I recently completed a seven-day Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness trip, guided by Boundary Waters Journal publisher Stu Osthoff. Joining us was another Minnesota native and avid outdoorswoman, Diane Bachman. During early October the three of us canoed through 10 lakes and on parts of four rivers, not to mention completing about 16 portages and traversing nine beaver dams. Stu and I also hunted ruffed grouse in the thick, tangled underbrush surrounding the lakes where we camped.