Boundary Waters Bill Clears Critical Hurdle in House

News for Immediate Release
Sept. 30, 2020
Contact: Katie McKalip, 406-240-9262, [email protected]


House Natural Resources Committee advances bill that would conserve Boundary Waters watershed, maintaining traditional outdoor opportunities and conserving irreplaceable landscapes


WASHINGTON – Sportsmen and women, including Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters, this afternoon reiterated their support of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness as a U.S. House of Representatives committee voted to advance legislation that would ensure the region’s long-term conservation.

Members of the House Natural Resources Committee met today to mark up the Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act (H.R. 5598). The bipartisan bill, co-led by Reps. Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Francis Rooney (R-FL), would withdraw 234,328 acres of public lands in the watershed surrounding the Boundary Waters Wilderness from industrial mining development and mineral leasing.

Drafted in response to vocal opposition by hunters, anglers and others over a proposed sulfide-ore copper mine located within the Boundary Waters watershed, the bill would maintain the region’s pristine ecological quality, unparalleled hunting and fishing opportunities and critical economic role and permanently conserve the Boundary Waters, America’s No. 1 most visited wilderness area. 

BHA President and CEO Land Tawney thanked members of the committee and emphasized the importance of the Boundary Waters region to public lands sportsmen and women.

“I want to be clear,” said Tawney, “BHA is not against mining when it is done sensibly, but the Boundary Waters is a critical landscape of sensitive, interconnected waterways that is simply too valuable and vulnerable to jeopardize by any proposed mining activity. This is no place for a mine - not now, not ever. Representatives McCollum and Rooney and leaders on the committee understand this. Sportsmen and women thank them for their leadership. 

“We still have work to do to move the legislation across the finish line,” Tawney stated. “I encourage House leadership to stand up for the Boundary Waters – and take decisive action to give it final consideration on the floor.”

Lukas Leaf, executive director of Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters, reiterated the importance of the McCollum-Rooney bill and the critical need to protect the wilderness watershed.

“Hunters and anglers across the country are excited by the progress H.R. 5598 is making in Congress, but we know the work is far from over,” said Leaf. “We need your help to drive this momentum in Congress to protect the Boundary Waters. This world-class hunting and fishing destination will never be permanently protected for our future generations until we make sure this bill is ultimately passed through the House, advanced in the Senate, and signed by the President.”

The Minnesota chapter of BHA has consistently advocated for the conservation of the Boundary Waters and sustaining hunting and fishing traditions cherished by generations of Minnesotans and others. Chapter chair Matt Lee welcomed today’s committee vote.

“The Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act will protect businesses, preserve jobs and conserve vital resources,” said Lee, of Minneapolis. “The technology does not exist that would guarantee this mine will not pollute the great economic engine that the Boundary Waters is for the state of Minnesota. Nor is the Boundary Waters, with its high water table, a safe place to use dangerous technologies and techniques. 

“Too many people – including millions of Minnesotans – count on these public lands and waters for hunting and fishing, for solace and adventure, and for their livelihoods,” Lee continued. “The Minnesota chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is committed to working to conserve our special places for future generations. Sulfide ore mining is not the right type of mining for the Boundary Waters watershed, and we do not have the right to spend the resources of future generations of Americans.”

Following today’s vote, the legislation will be reported out of committee and placed on the House calendar.

Yesterday morning, BHA and SBW broadcast a virtual video discussion with Reps. McCollum and Rooney and grassroots sportsmen about the importance of the Boundary Waters and H.R. 5598. View it here.


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