Historic Decision Reached on Boundary Waters, America’s Most-Visited Wilderness Area

The protections will keep virgin nature intact for 20 years

WASHINGTON, DC—Backcountry Hunters & Anglers commends the decision to promote long-term protections for the Rainy River watershed and the pristine waters of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a jewel in the crown of public lands and waters in northeast Minnesota and America’s most visited wilderness. area.

A jointly secured administrative mineral extraction through the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service would place a moratorium on mineral extraction in the region. In 2016, the Obama administration took steps to remove parts of the basin from new mineral development. In 2018, the Trump administration canceled the Forest Service’s recall request and associated environmental review after three public meetings had already been held, more than 90,000 public comments had been collected, and environmental analysis had been conducted.

Today’s decision is a major milestone following environmental analysis of border waters and the potential effects of copper and nickel mining in this pristine basin restarted by the Biden Administration in 2021. The results of that analysis showed significant risks from mining. of minerals. The administration’s withdrawal proposal would prohibit development of any mineral concessions on approximately 225,504 acres of Superior National Forest land within the Boundary Waters basin for up to 20 years.

“Throughout the country, the significance of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s historic decision to implement 20-year protections for border waters is being celebrated. Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters would like to express our deepest appreciation to this Administration for its leadership in protecting the BWCA from copper sulfide mining,” said Lukas Leaf, Executive Director of Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters.

“This announcement is not only a milestone in the history of the BWCA, but also affirms the immeasurable value of Boundary Waters to Minnesota’s outdoor economy, its unparalleled recreational opportunities, and its contribution to the legacy of Minnesota’s public lands and waters. our nation. Thank you to everyone who has stood shoulder to shoulder with us over the years in defense of the border waters.”

Those recreational opportunities offer an incredible opportunity to canoe, camp, fish, and experience priceless scenery.

“The time I spent in Boundary Waters, especially with my family by my side, are memories I hold dear. Today’s decision by this administration to protect these unique public lands and waters will not only preserve an irreplaceable landscape; it will also ensure that all Americans and their families can enjoy experiences like mine, forever,” said Land Tawney, CEO of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.

The proposed copper and nickel mining threatening border waters is unrelated to Minnesota’s Iron Range heritage, and the BHA recognizes the importance of responsible mining to the state’s local communities. Sulphide mining, however, has a poor track record of endangering the Rainy River Basin and the complexly interconnected hydrological systems that feed its border waters.

“Backcountry Hunters & Anglers of Minnesota is encouraged by the prospect of solidifying protections for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area wilderness,” said Eli Mansfield, president of the BHA’s Minnesota chapter board. “Our focus from the beginning of this discussion has been to draw attention to the potential irreversible impacts of copper sulfide mining in one of the most visited outdoor recreational areas in the country. Our chapter and its members will continue to foster discussions about the pragmatic stewardship of public lands throughout the state of Minnesota. As it relates specifically to the BWCA, we join our friends in conservation in celebrating the decision to protect the crown jewel of our state’s accessible public lands.”

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for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife.

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