We appreciated the love of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness that Alison M. Rosengren described in her May 24 commentary in the News Tribune (Local View: “Protect Boundary Waters’ economic, environmental advantages”).
We like fishing and camping adventure as much as she does — perhaps even more. As evidence, we point to how we have chosen to make our lives here. We have lived on the edge of the BWCAW for years.
Writing as an assignment for her college in Chicago, Rosengren failed to appreciate that real people live in the Arrowhead. We have had the opportunity to build prosperous lives here, but only a select few can build prosperous lives on serving visitors from Minneapolis, St. Paul, or Chicago, who only come to vacation.
The rest of us need the kinds of jobs and economic development offered by modern mining operations, where starting jobs annually pay $70,000 to $80,000 with generous benefits. That is why many of us who appreciate the opportunities that tourism offers our region also support projects such as Twin Metals Minnesota’s being-planned underground mine. The economies of healthy communities in Northeastern Minnesota depend upon mining, tourism, and the forest-products industry.
Like almost every industry, mining is more protective of the environment today than it once was. Rosengren and her dad never dragged canvas tents into the wilderness in birch-bark canoes, and Twin Metals miners won’t be blasting canyons in the wilderness with sticks of dynamite and polluting our air and water. The underground Twin Metals mine is to be built mostly by machines operated by highly trained — and highly paid — technical professionals.
Unlike with other proposed mines, the copper-nickel ore at the Twin Metals site is underground, and the tailings are to be safely stored mostly underground from where they came.
Wilderness visitors and natural-resources based industries are foundations that helped build Northeastern Minnesota. By working together we can continue to protect our clean water and offer jobs that enhance the economies of our region’s communities.