The Boundary Waters is part of the nation’s commons: an area shared by all of us in the United States, an area for public use and likewise demanding public protection. Because the Boundary Waters is significant not only to local residents but for the entire nation, NMW, in cooperation with other local and national groups, has embarked on a broad campaign to educate and inform local, regional, state and national stakeholders about the serious threats that sulfuric acid pollution from copper mining brings to this watershed. This edition of the NMW Newsletter reports on these new initiatives.
— Deborah Kleese, NMW Chair.
In This Issue
Boundary Waters Identified as Threatened
SUSTAINABLE ELY Action Center to open
Report on Activities
Note: New format for membership renewals
Boundary Waters Makes Top 10 List of Threatened Rivers
What’s up: The American Rivers organization has named the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness among America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2013, shining a national spotlight on a proposed copper-nickel mine that would release toxic waste into the South Kawishiwi River, threatening fish and wildlife, drinking water quality, and a world class recreation area.
Ore deposits containing copper, nickel, and other metals on unprotected lands in the watershed of the Boundary Waters—including some lands immediately adjacent to the South Kawishiwi River, a cornerstone stream of this great Wilderness—are immensely attractive to multinational mining interests and politicians. The Boundary Waters is endangered by a proposal to create a massive mine within two miles of the South Kawishiwi River to extract copper, nickel, and other metals from sulfide-bearing ores. The impact of this copper mine will be compounded by extensive exploration activities across the area on public lands.
According to the EPA (Toxic Release Inventory: 2010 National Analysis), mining (in ore bodies similar to the one found near the Boundary Waters) produces more releases of toxic materials than any other industry. Approximately 99% of the rock extracted in the proposed mine will be waste. When this waste rock interacts with water and air, sulfuric acid and toxic metals will be released. Similar mines throughout America generate hundreds of millions of gallons of acid mine drainage and will require active water treatment for thousands of years to avoid complete destruction of streams and groundwater.
What You Can Do: This year, Congress may consider an exchange of Superior National Forest lands with state lands for the purpose of promoting copper-nickel mining. The State of Minnesota will auction mineral leases on lands within the watershed of the Boundary Waters, and efforts to challenge state and federal water quality regulations will intensify. These actions will advance the development of copper mines and lead to more mineral exploration and mining pollution within the Boundary Waters watershed. Recent polls in Minnesota have revealed a growing concern among the public. The Boundary Waters ecosystem with its network of lakes, streams, and forests is a high-risk location for a mine. In this area mining pollution is unacceptable.
Please ask President Obama, Congress, and Minnesota’s Governor Dayton to oppose the development of the massive Twin Metals Minnesota mine, all land exchanges intended to turn over public lands to mining companies, and state mineral leasing within the Boundary Waters watershed. Further, ask that they defend a healthy Boundary Waters region by strengthening and enforcing Minnesota and federal water quality regulations and expanding mining protection zones around the Boundary Waters.
• Go to www.americanrivers.org/BoundaryWaters and TAKE ACTION
• Retweet from @americanrivers on Twitter and use the hashtags #MER2013 and #cleanwater
• Share Boundary Waters posts on the NMW Facebook page and the American Rivers Facebook page and share posts on yours
• Keep talking about the Boundary Waters to decision-makers and with your friends
• Celebrate the Boundary Waters and the South Kawishiwi River with us on June 1
• Visit us at 206 East Sheridan Street in Ely and volunteer
Special Events on June 1: American Rivers Event
Highlight the American Rivers designation by paddling the South Kawishiwi River and joining friends at our new Sustainable Ely Action Center.
• River paddle begins at 2:00 pm at Voyageurs Outward Bound School (Take Hwy 1 south to the Spruce Road [left turn 1 mi. after S. Kawishiwi bridge] and look for signs)
• Ely celebration begins at 5:00 pm at 206 East Sheridan Street in Ely
Watch for further updates on the NMW Facebook page.
SUSTAINABLE ELY Action Center to Open in Ely:
Protecting clean water, healthy communities, and the Boundary Waters
On Memorial Day weekend Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness will open its 206 East Sheridan Street Action Center for SUSTAINABLE ELY: Protecting clean water, healthy communities, and the Boundary Waters. Its Statement of Purpose is: To build and support a strong base of concerned citizens who will meet, inform, and inspire to action visitors to Ely and local residents; to engage in this work for the purpose of creating a national movement to protect the clean water, clean air, and forest landscape of the watersheds of the Kawishiwi River, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and Lake Superior from toxic pollution caused by mining copper, nickel, and other metals from sulfide-bearing ore. Our immediate focus will be to educate members of the public and inspire them to act in opposition to mining of copper, nickel, and other metals in sulfide-bearing ores in the Quetico-Superior ecosystem by supporting the permanent protection of the Boundary Waters watershed.
We plan to take maximum advantage of the presence of people from around the U.S. who visit Ely and the Boundary Waters in the summer. On the exterior, we will have a large sign and attractions to pique the curiosity of people passing by. Inside the building, we intend to display maps and photographs, stream videos, and provide literature to educate people about the deadly threat that copper mining poses to northeastern Minnesota. We will staff the Action Center with trained volunteers, the majority of whom will be Ely-area residents. NMW is leading this project, but it does not intend the project to be primarily about NMW. We are seeking participation by a broad coalition of organizations.
Wenonah has donated a canoe to the project. We will have a petition asking President Obama, Congress, and Governor Dayton to expand the mining protection zones around the Boundary Waters and permanently protect the watershed. The Sustainable Ely Action Center will be the headquarters for the national campaign, where we act locally to reach nationally. People will express support by signing the petition and the canoe and by joining the campaign. This is one of a number of actions people will be able to take.
Please make a special tax-deductible donation to NMW to support the watershed protection campaign and the operations of the Sustainable Ely Action Center. We need donations to help us pay for rent, utilities, insurance, and taxes; to purchase equipment and supplies; and to compensate a staff person who will organize and schedule volunteers, and oversee the operations of the Action Center and the campaign. The community of NMW members and other area residents and volunteers is committed to making our headquarters a dynamic source of information and inspiration for people from across the nation and our campaign a success. We intend to prevent copper mining from damaging our waters and land.
We need you! Volunteers sought for various summer events and tasks.
We will need lots of volunteers throughout the summer to staff the Sustainable Ely Action Center. We are looking for outgoing people will talk to the public about the urgent environmental issues facing our area. If you are interested in volunteering, please email email@example.com.
Volunteers are also needed at important summer festival events. We need people to help set up / take down booths, pass out literature, and talk to festival visitors. If you can help at events in Ely, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call volunteer coordinator LynnAnne Vesper at 218-235-8210. For the Fisherman’s Picnic, please call Ellen Hawkins at 218-370-0473.
Blueberry Festival – July 26 – 28, Ely
Harvest Moon Festival – September 6 – 8, Ely
Fisherman’s Picnic – August 1-3, Grand Marais
Report of Activities:
Finding Common Links and Learning from other Communities
The 2013 Sigurd Olson Lecture Series was sponsored by NMW and featured Tim Bristol, Alaska Director of Trout Unlimited. Trout Unlimited is presently working with a diverse coalition of organizations and people, including commercial fisherpersons, guides, lodge owners, Alaska Natives, scientists, and restaurant owners and famous chefs to help protect Bristol Bay against the threats of sulfide-ore mining in the watershed of the bay. The “Save Bristol Bay” initiative advocates for the protection of Bristol Bay, located in southwestern Alaska and the eastern-most arm of the Bering Sea, which holds the world’s greatest population of red salmon and an economy based on fisheries.
The Trout Unlimited Alaska program works to preserve, protect and restore wild salmon and trout populations throughout Alaska. These populations are seriously threatened by the proposed Pebble Mine, a gold, copper and molybdenum operation to be located at the headwaters of two of the eight rivers that feed Bristol Bay. “Save Bristol Bay” has mounted local, state and national efforts to educate and mobilize citizens in efforts to preserve and protect this ecosystem against mining pollution. Tim Bristol’s lecture, entitled “Watersheds: Clean water, wild places and healthy communities”, not only presented information about this most important salmon and trout fishery in the world, but described national efforts to save and secure watersheds.
On February 8, 2013, NMW hosted, along with the Vermilion Community College Wilderness Club, a two-part community forum on copper mining. Former state legislator and musher Frank Moe presented his documentary film, “Sled Dogs to Saint Paul”. The film describes the 360-mile trip by dog sled from Grand Marais to Saint Paul to deliver signed petitions to Governor Dayton and to elected officials in St. Paul about concerns of citizens of the dangers of pollution from copper mining. The community forum also included a presentation by Dan Humay, Eagles Nest resident, and Matt Tyler, about the state mineral lease program and its effect on private property.
Renew your membership today!
Note: Renewal notice now combined with newsletter – NEW FORMAT
Our members are our most important asset. As a volunteer organization, NMW relies on the dedication and commitment of our members. Our organization matters because we are a local voice for the wilderness. Together our voices make a difference. Thank you for all you do to protect the Quetico Superior ecosystem. Please renew your NMW membership today and keep our organization strong. Membership donations go to support NMW activities and operations.
In the past, we have sent out renewal notices when it is time for you to renew your annual membership. We would like to reduce the number of trees we use and associated mailing costs. Starting with this newsletter, we are placing a reminder within the newsletter. If you received an envelope and a membership “Please renew” sticker below, please send us your renewal membership. Please also consider a special donation this year to support the campaign to permanently protect the Boundary Waters watershed from the sulfuric acid pollution of copper mining.
Membership Categories: $15 Fixed Income (“Chickadee”), $25 Individual (“Gray Jay”) $50 Family (“Raven”), $75 Organization (“Blue Heron”)
$100 (“Loon”), $500 (“Eagle”), $5 Student (“Pine Siskin”)
NEW! We can now accept credit card donations and membership payments via Paypal. Visit our website nmworg.org and select the “Support NMW” tab.
Volunteers needed for Boundary Waters Clean-up work trip
Let’s get the Boundary Waters ship-shape before the summer season starts! We will be cleaning campsites, checking latrines, and brushing trails. Join other NMW members for a Boundary Waters work trip May 3 – 5. For more information or to register your intent to participate, contact John Ipsen or Kris Wegerson for details about this year’s clean-up by email: email@example.com or phone: 218-724-5453.
Join NMW for a Boundary Waters day outing this summer!
Meet and connect with other NMW members while spending time in the wilderness we all love. NMW members and their guests are welcome.
June 23: Day trip to Hegman Lake pictographs
July 21: Day trip to view Pagami Creek Fire regrowth in Lake Isabella / Island River area
For more details or to register, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sulfuric acid pollution from copper mining has the potential to damage water quality especially in this area of the Kawishiwi Triangle where the Kawishiwi River flows into White Iron Lake. Birch Lake is in the background.