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Reader's view: Boundary Waters is dear, old friend in need of help

I first dipped a paddle into the clear lakes of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness when I was 12 and on a Boy Scout trip. I was mesmerized by the lakes, rivers and forests of this sprawling wilderness and was hooked for life.

I returned often, including a three-week canoe trip with two buddies to celebrate graduating from East High School. Later, I went on another three-week voyage for a honeymoon with my new bride. As our family grew, we made annual trips to the canoe country with our daughters and other family members and friends, introducing them to our beloved wilderness.

I’m now 66 and still look forward to my next canoe trip. I’ve camped on many different rocky points and pine-studded islands, frying fish over campfires, watching the sun set and the stars fill the night sky, listening to the loons cry and the wolves howl.

When I view maps of the canoe country, I see pictures of an old friend. There’ve been so many wonderful experiences and memories on the blue lakes that dot the map.

But now my friend is threatened by the prospect of copper-nickel mining and the environmental damage that plagues mineral extraction in sulfide-bearing rock.

Over the years, many fought to establish and protect the BWCAW. I’m thankful for conservation stewards who made it possible for my family to enjoy this wilderness treasure.

I applaud Gov. Mark Dayton for his leadership in opposing mineral exploration on state lands that border the BWCAW (“Twin Metals mine is threat to BWCAW, Dayton says,” March 8).

The governor has recognized Minnesota’s environmental review and permitting processes aren’t adequate to protect the pristine waters of the canoe country. I hope he’ll make the same decision about the St. Louis River and Lake Superior, wherein lies 10 percent of the world’s surface freshwater — and Duluth’s drinking water.