Reintroduction of Bill for Permanent Protection of Boundary Waters Met With Support from Sportsmen’s Organizations

News for Immediate Release
Jan. 31, 2023
Contact: Katie McKalip, 406-240-9262, [email protected]

Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act Would Ensure Public Waters Will Be Enjoyed by Future Generations 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Backcountry Hunters & Anglers welcomes the reintroduction of the Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act, legislation sponsored by Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN) that would permanently protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the most visited wilderness area in the United States. A permanent withdrawal of sulfide-ore mining in the Superior National Forest upstream of the Boundary Waters is critical to ensuring that future generations can enjoy this crowned jewel of Minnesota’s public lands.  

“The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the watershed that feeds it are national treasures that deserve permanent protection,” said Land Tawney, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers president and CEO. “We are thankful for Congresswoman McCollum introducing legislation to do just that and ask her colleagues to follow suit. Protecting such a special place now and for future generations will ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to experience this unique landscape and that it will continue to provide clean water for so many. Pass this legislation now!” 

Hunters, anglers and others have long been in strong opposition to the foreign-owned Twin Metals proposed sulfide-ore copper mine located within the Boundary Waters watershed. This method of mining is not connected to Minnesota's Iron Range heritage and has a poor industry record that threatens the complexly interconnected hydrology of the Boundary Waters. Rep. McCollum’s bill would maintain the region’s pristine ecological quality, unparalleled hunting and fishing opportunities and sustainable economic role for local communities. 

“Backcountry Hunters & Anglers has fought for the permanent protection of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and its surrounding watershed since the formation of the Minnesota Chapter in 2010,” said Aaron Hebeisen, chapter coordinator for Minnesota. “It was one of our founding principles and continues to be a keystone issue to our members. We recognize the importance of mining to Northern Minnesota and that this bill would allow for traditional mining practices to take place, should iron-ore and taconite mining deposits be found here and could continue to be extracted in a responsible manner. While we celebrate the administrative mineral withdrawal recently announced by the U.S. Departments of the Interior and Agriculture, we support the Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act as the only solution to permanently protect this truly unique and remarkable area.” 

“We applaud Rep. McCollum’s unwavering dedication to achieving permanent protection for the Boundary Waters. On the heels of the recently announced 20-year mineral withdrawal, this important legislation represents the final step towards ensuring the Boundary Waters is protected in perpetuity from sulfide-ore copper mining for future generations of hunters, anglers, and paddlers,” said Lukas Leaf, executive director of Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters. “We urge all outdoor enthusiasts from across the country to contact their members of Congress to express support for this critical bill.” 

Last week, BHA lauded the Biden administration's decision to establish a 20-year moratorium on mining in the Boundary Waters following the environmental analysis of the Boundary Waters and the potential effects of copper-nickel mining in this pristine watershed. The administration’s withdrawal prohibits the development of any new mineral leases on approximately 225,504 acres of Superior National Forest lands within the watershed of the Boundary Waters for 20 years. However, only Congress can institute a permanent mineral withdrawal. 

In July of 2022, Rep. McCollum’s bill was advanced by the House Natural Resources Committee. Along with all other bills not passed into law during the 117th Congress, it formally expired on January 3, 2023. This reintroduction once again marks the opportunity to permanently protect the Boundary Waters for future generations of hunters and anglers. 

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About Katie McKalip