ELY, Minn. – Public lands sportsmen today strongly criticized efforts by a Minnesota lawmaker to reignite a controversial proposal by an international mining company to develop large-scale copper mines within the watershed of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the most-visited wilderness area in the United States.
Rep. Rick Nolan is in meetings with the Interior Department in an attempt to green-light sulfide-ore copper mining leases located on the edge of the Boundary Waters wilderness. In December, the departments of Interior and Agriculture declined to renew the leases, held by Twin Metals Minnesota, a subsidiary of Chilean mining conglomerate Antofagasta, due to the danger they posed to the Boundary Waters.
“Minnesotans – including hunters, anglers and outdoor recreationists – have made clear the value of the Boundary Waters, of fish and wildlife, and of our treasured public lands traditions,” said Will Jenkins, BHA Upper Great Lakes outreach coordinator. “That Congressman Nolan would attempt to dismiss these interests and jeopardize a crown jewel of America’s wilderness system shows where his loyalties lie. Sportsmen and women unanimously reject his underhanded efforts – and remain united in our resolve to stand up for the Boundary Waters.”
The BWCAW encompasses more than 1 million acres of pristine fresh water and forests and provides opportunities to hunt, fish, canoe, hike and camp that have been enjoyed by generations of public lands users. Approximately 60 percent of Minnesotans oppose sulfide-ore copper mining near the Boundary Waters wilderness. BHA members have joined with Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters and others to raise awareness of the threat the Twin Metals proposal poses and urge for the area’s long-term protection.