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Northland adventurers plan full year in the BWCAW

National Geographic 2014 Adventurers of the Year Dave and Amy Freeman speak to a group of people near the Duluth Harbor in Sept. 2014. The Freemans plan to spend a full year in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to call attention to the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters, an anti-copper mining effort. (2014 file photo / News Tribune)

Northeastern Minnesota adventurers Dave and Amy Freeman may have found a way to top last year's canoe trip from Ely to Washington, D.C.: spending a full year in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

The Freemans, who split their home between Ely and Grand Marais, are planning to start their BWCAW trip on Sept. 23 and spend 365 days in the wilderness to call attention to the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters, an anti-copper mining effort.

Last year, the couple made the "Paddle to DC" journey in which they paddled, sailed and portaged their canoe for 101 days and 2,000 miles from Ely to Washington to gain signatures and raise awareness about proposed copper mining in the BWCAW watershed.

On Sep. 23, "Dave and I will launch our canoe in the Kawishiwi River and paddle into the Boundary Waters and become immersed in the Wilderness for a full year," Amy Freeman said in announcing the trip Wednesday. "We will camp at approximately 120 different sites during this Year in the Wilderness and travel more than 3,000 miles by canoe, foot, ski, snowshoe and dog team. This trip is about bearing witness to the very land and water we are fighting to protect."

During the yearlong trip, the Freemans will invite others to join them, so-called resupply missions that will also serve to introduce people to the beauty of the million-acre BWCAW that copper mining critics say could be spoiled by acid mine runoff from mining operations.

The couple have traveled more than 30,000 miles by kayak, canoe and dogsled through some of the world's wildest places, from the Amazon to the Arctic. They were the 2014 National Geographic Adventurers of the Year in recognition of their three-year, 11,700-mile North American Odyssey, which took them across the continent by canoe, kayak and dogsled.

"We are wilderness guides and educators, and this is our way of working to help keep this wilderness wild," Amy Freeman said. "We care deeply about this place and we will do everything within our power to ensure that it remains intact for the next generation."

The Freemans run the Wilderness Classroom Organization, an educational nonprofit geared toward "inspiring kids to get outside and explore. ... " Wilderness Classroom reportedly reaches 100,000 elementary and middle school students and 3,200 teachers around the world.

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