April 3, 2017
United States Congress
Washington, DC 20510
Re: The Boundary Waters
Dear Members of Minnesota Delegation to the U.S. Congress,
We write today to urge you to support the two-year pause and study process commenced by the U.S. Departments of Interior and Agriculture in January 2017 for the watershed of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. This study will determine if the Superior National Forest lands adjacent to the Boundary Waters and in the Rainy River Drainage Basin should be removed from the federal mining program to protect the wilderness and Voyageurs National Park from the pollution and damage caused by sulfide-ore copper mining.
As you are all well aware, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is one of our nation’s largest and most visited wilderness areas. It is a critical piece of the Quetico-Superior protected region, which also includes Voyageurs National Park and Quetico Provincial Park. The Boundary Waters is home to some of the cleanest and clearest waters in our country. They are the crown jewel of Minnesota, and are truly wild. Americans of all walks of life treasure these vast water-rich regions for fishing, canoeing, boating, camping, hunting, and other forms of outdoor recreation.
The Boundary Waters and Voyageurs National Park face a threat of permanent and irremediable harm if the Rainy River Watershed is opened to sulfide-ore copper mining. Sulfide-ore copper mining has never been done in Minnesota, but has a consistent track record of polluting ground and surface waters elsewhere in the U.S. and around the world. Peer-reviewed science shows that sulfide-ore mining on lands adjacent to rivers and lakes that flow into the Boundary Waters would pollute the wilderness, even under ordinary operation of a modern, state-of-the-art facility. This particular watershed, upstream from the Boundary Waters and Voyageurs National Park, is one of the worst places in the United States for sulfide-ore mining.
Minnesotans have made it clear time and time again that they oppose the proposed sulfide-ore mine next to the Boundary Waters. For example, recent polling has shown that 79% of Minnesotans support the two-year pause and study of whether mining is appropriate in the area.
It is vital that the U.S. Departments of Interior and Agriculture fully finish the two-year pause and study to determine if the Superior National Forest lands adjacent to the Boundary Waters and in the Rainy River Drainage Basin should be removed from the federal mining program in order to protect the wilderness and the park from the pollution and damage of sulfide-ore copper mining.
We know, and you know, that this land is special, and that it is vital to our heritage as Minnesotans and as Americans. That is why it is so important to keep it wild and open for years to come, which is why we ask for your support in upholding the two-year pause from mining and the study of the area that DOI and USDA began earlier this year.
League of Conservation Voters
League of Women Voters – Duluth
National Parks Conservation Association
The Wilderness Society
National Wildlife Federation
Defenders of Wildlife
Natural Resources Defense Council
The Conservation Alliance
Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship
Partnership for the National Trails System
Center for Biological Diversity
San Juan Citizens Alliance
Californians for Western Wilderness
Rivers and Birds
Klamath Forest Alliance
Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC)
Friends of the Kalmiopsis
Conserve Southwest Utah