Minnesota Issues

MN BHA Comments on Enbridge Sandpiper Pipeline

April 4, 2014                                         

BWCA-northernTO: Larry Hartman, Environmental Review Manager, EERA Minnesota Department of Commerce (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

FROM: Minnesota Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

SUBJ: Enbridge Sandpiper Pipeline Comments-PUC Docket Number (13-474)

 

Dear State Agency Leaders:

Minnesota Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA)—The Sportsman's Voice for Our Wild Public Lands, Waters and Wildlife—are a grassroots group of sportsmen and women who are united by a passion to protect and conserve the public lands, forests, mountains, prairies, streams, and lakes that support our hunting and angling traditions.

Nationally, BHA has members in all 50 states and seeks to ensure America’s outdoor heritage in a natural setting, through education and work on behalf of clean water and wildlands. Founded in 2004, BHA is a 501c3 non-profit organization that works to conserve big, natural habitat and healthy rivers and streams. We work so our kids and grandkids are able to enjoy the high-quality hunting and fishing we cherish (www.backcountryhunters.org).

Sportsmen against sulfide mining

northern bwcaThe following op-ed originaly appeared in the Grand Rapids Herald Review on February 4, 2014.

PolyMet is one of several companies considering sulfide mining operations in northeastern Minnesota. During recent public meetings in Duluth, Aurora, and St. Paul on the PolyMet Mining NorthMet Project Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS), mining companies sent busloads of sulfide mining supporters to make a show of force, but most of the substantive testimony came from mine opponents.

Hunters and anglers are particularly concerned about the impacts of sulfide mining. “I’m an outdoorsman, and I’m concerned about water quality,” said Jim Juntti of Barnum. “I asked them what the plan is if something happens and that (tailings basin) opens up and things go bad … They didn’t really have an answer for me.” The Minnesota DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife said the project will definitely affect fish and wildlife, noting that “this increase in risk to water quality and fish habitat is a significant impact of the project.”

That’s because when sulfides interact with oxygen (in our air) and water (in rain or snowmelt, for example), they create sulfuric acid—the same caustic substance used in car batteries. A common term for this pollution is Acid Mine Drainage (AMD), which will continue as long as sulfides, water, and air mix. No new technologies have emerged that can stop the chemical reaction once it begins. Sulfide mining in water-intensive areas has never been done without contaminating waterways and watersheds.

Letter to MN DNR: Sulfide Mining Proposal Harmful to Hunting & Fishing

January 27, 2014                                               

bwca-buckTO: Lisa Fay, Minnesota DNR SDEIS Manager

FROM: Minnesota Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

SUBJ: PolyMet Mining’s NorthMet Project Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS)/Northern Minnesota Sulfide Mining Proposals

Dear Federal and State Agency Leaders:

Minnesota Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) are a grassroots group of sportsmen and women who are united by a passion to protect and conserve the public lands, forests, mountains, prairies, streams, and lakes that support our hunting and angling traditions.

Nationally we seek to ensure America’s outdoor heritage in a natural setting, through education and work on behalf of clean water and wilderness. Founded in 2004, BHA is a 501c3 non-profit organization that works to conserve big, natural habitat and healthy rivers and streams. We work so our kids and grandkids are able to enjoy the high-quality hunting and fishing we cherish (www.backcountryhunters.org).

Hunters & Anglers Oppose Northern Minnesota Sulfide Mining Proposals

 “To me the biggest thing is this whole question about
500 years of pollution for 20 years of jobs.”

–Paul Austin1

The Minnesota chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) is concerned about proposed sulfide mining operations in northern Minnesota. The two foreign-owned sulfide mining operations include PolyMet’s mine near Hoyt Lakes and the Duluth Metals/Twin Metals mine southeast of Ely adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

Much of the debate surrounding sulfide mining revolves around whether companies have adequate bankruptcy-proof financial assurances in place to cover cleanup costs when (not if) acidmine drainage (AMD) occurs. This is no small issue. PolyMet’s proposed mine, for example, is within the Partridge River watershed, a headwater tributary of the St. Louis River, which enters Lake Superior at Duluth. The Twin Metals mine project would be about two or three miles from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). The ore body to be mined is adjacent to the South Kawishiwi River, along both sides of scenic Highway 1, and under Birch Lake.2

In response: What the metals-mining lobbyist left out of column speaks volumes

The following article was recently posted in the Duluth News Tribune

A Washington, D.C.-based mining lobbyist wrote in the News Tribune this month that, “America’s lengthy and uncertain permitting process” is swaying investors to “seek out foreign mineral projects that can be swiftly approved.” The lobbyist, Hal Quinn, president and CEO of the National Mining Association, also weighed in with some questionable jobs numbers forecast for a northern Minnesota sulfide mining project being proposed by Twin Metals (Mining industry’s view: “Let mining boost state manufacturing,” Aug. 11).

By: David A. Lien, Duluth News Tribune

Gorka BWCAA Washington, D.C.-based mining lobbyist wrote in the News Tribune this month that, “America’s lengthy and uncertain permitting process” is swaying investors to “seek out foreign mineral projects that can be swiftly approved.” The lobbyist, Hal Quinn, president and CEO of the National Mining Association, also weighed in with some questionable jobs numbers forecast for a northern Minnesota sulfide mining project being proposed by Twin Metals (Mining industry’s view: “Let mining boost state manufacturing,” Aug. 11).

Of course, what the mining lobbyist didn’t say spoke volumes about how much he really cares about Minnesota and long-term jobs in the state. He didn’t say Twin Metals is owned by Canada-based Duluth Metals and Chilean-based Antofagasta, and they’re pushing for a massive underground sulfide mine southeast of Ely along Minnesota Highway 1 and the Kawishiwi River.

He didn’t say that most of the demand for copper, nickel and myriad other sulfide metals is coming from China. Metals will be extracted and exported to China, and the executives of foreign corporations will profit handsomely. He didn’t say the Twin Metals mine project would be within three miles of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Letter to International Joint Commission: Sulfide Mining Proposals

July 7, 2013                                                       

TO: International Joint Commission

FROM: Minnesota Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

SUBJ: Northern Minnesota Sulfide Mining Proposals

Dear Commissioners:

bwca-buck3Minnesota Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) are a grassroots group of sportsmen and women who are united by a passion to protect and conserve the public lands, forests, mountains, prairies, streams, and lakes that support our hunting and angling traditions.

Nationally we seek to ensure America’s outdoor heritage in a natural setting, through education and work on behalf of clean water and wilderness. Founded in 2004, BHA is a 501c3 non-profit organization that works to conserve big, natural habitat and healthy rivers and streams. We work so our kids and grandkids are able to enjoy the high-quality hunting and fishing we cherish ( http://www.backcountryhunters.org). 

We respectfully request that the International Joint Commission (IJC) examine and report upon the water-related impacts from sulfide mining exploration and development within the Rainy River and Lake Superior Basins. We also request that the IJC make recommendations which would assist governmental bodies in both countries in ensuring that the provisions of Article IV of the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 are honored.

The Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 provides the principles and mechanisms to resolve and prevent disputes, particularly those concerning water quantity and quality, along the boundary between Canada and the United States. Article IV of the Treaty states, “It is further agreed that the waters herein defined as boundary waters and waters flowing across the boundary shall not be polluted on either side to the injury of health or property on the other.”

Hunter Walking Trails: Letter to Commissioner Landwehr

The following is a letter that was sent to Minnesota DNR Commissioner Tom Landweher on behalf of MN Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, in support of the expansion of more Hunter Walking Trails (HWT).  The letter was signed by 200 Minnesota sportsmen who agree that a better balance of motorized and non-motorized hunting opportunities on state lands is needed.

Tom Landweher

Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

500 Lafayette Road

St. Paul, MN 55155

Dear Commissioner Landwehr,

We write as avid hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts on behalf of the Minnesota Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA), a group formed with the goal of protecting our public lands, waters, and wildlife from threats like the ever-increasing specter of motorized overuse and abuse. We seek to maintain high-quality habitat and hunting experiences, as well as a strong code of fair chase ethics. BHA members share the values of solitude, tradition, challenge, freedom, health, and family, and want to ensure that our public lands are preserved for future generations of hunters and others.

Petition for More Hunter Walking Trails

walking trailMN Backcountry Hunters & Anglers has been working hard on a campaign to expand non-motorized hunting opportunities through the expansion of Minnesota's popular, but limited Hunter Walking Trails.  This program ensures Minnesotan hunters have opportunities to hunt undisturbed public lands that offer the same sense of tradition, solitude and challenge that generations of hunters have experienced before us.  Further, public lands managed for quiet, non-motorized use provide some reasonable assurance to foot hunters that their experience will not be disturbed by motorized use. 

MN BHA commends the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for offering sportsmen a choice when they hunt: motorized or non-motorized.  We would like to see this program expanded to provide a better balance of choice available to hunters and to ensure wildlife have the wild habitat needed to grow and thrive.  MN BHA has already developed significant

Proposed BWCA land exchange is a bad deal

During September of 1901, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt unexpectedly (but prophetically) became America’s 26th president, and during his tenure as commander-in-chief, Roosevelt personally established the first 21 forest reserves. They evolved into the present-day 192 million-acre national forest system, which includes Minnesota’s Superior National Forest (SNF).

It has been over 100 years since TR signed Presidential Proclamation No. 848, establishing the SNF and laying the foundation for protecting the few unscathed stretches of Minnesota’s north woods, and at the heart of today’s SNF is the 1.1 million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) — one of the world’s 50 greatest destinations, according to National Geographic.

Ely resident and Boundary Waters Journal editor Stuart Osthoff wrote, “There are areas with more deer and areas with more top-end deer, but I contend the BWCAW is the highest-quality public land wilderness whitetail hunting in America.”

But public lands in the Superior National Forest and BWCA are currently at risk.  Legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack (HR 5544) would order the U.S. Forest Service to trade 86,000 acres of state land inside the BWCA for federal land outside the wilderness. The bill seeks to settle an issue that arose in 1978 when Congress drew the current boundaries for the BWCA and didn’t account for the state land within those boundaries.  Unfortunately, HR 5544 is a seriously flawed bill:
  •  It prioritizes parcels for exchange where a handful of mining companies would benefit.
  • It provides no protective measures for how the land may be used and no assurances that existing activities, like hunting and angling, would continue.
  • Losing 86,000 acres of public lands from the SNF is opposed by most hunters, anglers, and other outdoorsmen and women.
  • This bill seeks to bypass a state-level process already in place to address this issue.

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Backcountry Hunters & Anglers seeks to ensure North America's outdoor heritage of hunting and fishing in a natural setting, through education and work on behalf of wild public lands and waters.

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