The Longest Portage: Going the Extra Mile for the Boundary Waters

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Walking through the woods can be incredibly peaceful and relaxing, especially in Boundary Waters, where the boreal forest provides a multi-sensory experience that’s difficult to find anywhere else.

As Wilderness lovers we work hard to protect that experience. The Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters is leading the effort to protect the Boundary Waters Wilderness.

Though the path to protection is rocky, like a challenging portage, we are committed to preserving this national treasure. And this summer we have a chance to take an important step forward in the fight to keep sulfide-ore copper mining from polluting the interconnected land, lakes and rivers of the Wilderness.

On June 13, the U.S. Forest Service announced that it is considering withholding its consent to the renewal of Twin Metals’ two 50-year-old expired federal mineral leases on the edge of the Boundary Waters. This is a critical step on the long journey, and the upcoming second U.S. Forest Service Listening Session on July 19 in Ely, we’re counting on everyone who loves the Boundary Waters to raise their voice in support of the Wilderness. Our petition to the Forest Service has been signed by more than 10,000 individuals, our numbers are growing, and our combined voices are getting louder by the day. We have to keep our gaze fixed on the big picture, and remember why we’re fighting in the first place. This is America’s most visited Wilderness, with more than 250,000 annual visitors, and it is the crown jewel of the north.

In a July 1 op-ed in The New York Times, Vice President Walter Mondale and Ted Roosevelt IV gave readers an idea of the timeless importance of the Boundary Waters, “There should be no copper mining anywhere near the Boundary Waters Wilderness, today or ever.”

The future of the Boundary Waters rests on our shoulders, but no one carries the burden alone.  A broad coalition of citizen-supporters, partners, allies, and volunteers is working tirelessly to defend the Boundary Waters from the threats posed by sulfide-ore copper mines proposed on the Wilderness’ edge. As Vice President Mondale said in that same article: “The consequences of such mining are perpetual. They will surely outlive all of us and will just as surely outlive the mining company’s pledges, promises and sureties.”

The path ahead remains challenging and the opposition has mounted their arguments, but it’s our job to speak loudly for a quiet place of pure water and uninterrupted wilderness. With science on our side, we will come together and urge the Forest Service to do the responsible thing, and protect this timeless place from the fleeting promise of short term profits (and benefit to foreign mining companies).

Tell the Forest Service to protect the Boundary Waters. Your voice counts. Sign the petition. Learn more about the July 19 listening session in Ely.

Together, we can save a national treasure, and together we must.

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