Action Alert

The U.S. Forest Service is currently taking comments on the scope of environmental review for the Twin Metals hydrogeological well-drilling program. Twin Metals proposes to drill more than 100 wells in the South Kawishiwi area to assess area hydrogeology in preparation for mining.

Please tell the Forest Service:
The well-drilling program is spread across lands of many different types of ownership and jurisdiction; although only 13 wells are subject to U.S. Forest Service approval at this time, all will have impacts on the local environment.

  • The impacts of all well-drilling across all jurisdictions must be considered together in one document;

Several federal environmental reviews have been or are being conducted by the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for mining related activities in this area. These include the recent Hard Rock Prospecting Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), an Environmental Assessment (EA) for BLM mineral lease renewals, and an Environmental Assessment A for bulk sampling. In addition, many prospecting and drilling activities are being conducted under the jurisdiction of the State of Minnesota, most of which have been subject to no environmental review at all.

  • All of these actions are connected, and their cumulative environmental impacts must be considered together in one document.

Drilling and traffic noise will affect the wilderness experience within the BWCAW, and will affect recreational experiences over a large area within the Superior National Forest. Noise due to the hydrogeological drilling project will add to noise that has already been permitted by the Forest Service and the State for exploratory drilling projects. Wilderness visitors and guides have already noticed the increase in noise.

  • The additive impacts of various mining-related activities must be considered together in one document.

Any sulfide-ore mining that will drain to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness presents an unacceptable risk to the nation’s most popular wilderness area and the irreplaceable waters, forest, wildlife, and tranquility that make it what it is. Although we agree that a hydrogeological study must be done prior to permitting a mine,

  • no additional mining-related activities should be approved until an ecological risk assessment is prepared. The federal government should assess the alternative of excluding any sulfide mining from the Boundary Waters watershed.

Moose have disappeared from much of their former range in Minnesota, and their numbers are dwindling rapidly. Many biologists believe that moose will disappear from Minnesota in a matter of years if actions to help them are not taken immediately. The increase in noise, new roads, traffic, and human activity accompanying prospecting, well-drilling, and mining will severely impact moose habitat and will affect the viability of moose in Minnesota.

In addition to wildlife species considered in the Hardrock Mining EIS, the Forest Service must consider the impacts of mine prospecting and hydrogeological assessment activities on moose and moose habitat.

How to submit comments:
Submit your comments to the Forest Service by November 21, 2013. Note that all comments will become part of the public record, including names and addresses. Use any of the following methods:

  • On line: Submit electronic comments using the Forest Service’s on-line form at: https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public/CommentInput?project=40756
  • E-mail: E-mail comments to: comments-eastern-superior-kawishiwi@fs.fed.us
  • U.S. Mail: Mailed comments should include your name, address, and the reference “Twin Metals MN Hydrogeologic Study.”

Address comments to: Forest Supervisor Brenda Halter
Attn: TMM Hydrogeologic Study Comments
Superior National Forest
8901 Grand Ave. Place
Duluth, MN 55808

  • In person: Oral or written comments may be submitted at the Forest Supervisor’s Office at 8901 Grand Ave. Place, Duluth, MN 55808 during normal business hours (8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday).
  • By telephone: Call the project leader at (218) 626-4382, or by FAX at (218) 626-4398.