Sportsmen Thank Gov. Dayton for Protecting Boundary Waters

Border Prairie Region of Minnesota
Sportsmen Thank Gov. Dayton for Protecting Boundary Waters
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

Colorado Springs, CO -( Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton recently released a letter he sent to Twin Metals—the company owned by Chilean mining conglomerate Antofagasta (now based in London) that wants to build a sulfide-ore mine on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW)—informing them of his “strong opposition to mining in close proximity to the BWCAW.”[2]

Minnesota’s hunters and anglers are particularly thankful for Gov. Dayton’s opposition to sulfide mining in the Boundary Waters region.

We support Gov. Dayton because mining companies are unable to point to a single sulfide mine that has been developed, operated and closed without producing acid mine drainage from its operations.[3] Yet studies show that the companies, and state agencies reviewing mine plans, consistently predict no pollution will occur during the planning and permitting process.[4]

A study of 25 sulfide mines by consulting groups Kuipers & Associates and Buka Environmental found that in only 4 percent of project plans was water quality impact correctly predicted. [5] And an analysis of environmental impact statements for hardrock mines showed that 100 percent predicted compliance with water quality standards before operations began. Yet the EPA estimated in 2004 that there are 156 hardrock mining Superfund sites with potential cleanup costs ranging up to $54 billion.[6]

Last summer the 3 million gallon Gold King Mine blowout in Colorado turned the Animas River orange with heavy metals-laced muck.[7]

“You’re never going to walk away from these things,” said Bruce Stover, director of Colorado’s inactive mine reclamation program. “Things happen inside mines that are unpredictable … You cannot just cork these up so it all goes away. That’s not going to happen.”[8]

As Minn. State Auditor Rebecca Otto said: “Cleanup related to nonferrous mines is costly and difficult to predict. State regulators estimate that the PolyMet Mining site in northern Minnesota, for example, will require water treatment for up to 500 years. How do we calculate such financial risk 500 years into the future?”[9]

Not surprisingly, a new poll, completed in February, found 67 percent of Minnesotans opposed to sulfide mines on the edge of the Boundary Waters, compared to just 16 percent in support. Even within the Eighth Congressional District in Northeast Minnesota, opposition to sulfide mining was 61 percent.[10]

Numerous sportsmen’s groups and businesses have expressed support for Gov. Dayton’s decision, including (in part): Pope and Young Club, Rapala, American Fly Fishing Trade Association, Sawbill Canoe Outfitters, Izaak Walton League, National Wildlife Federation, Piragis Northwoods Co., Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters and Veterans for the Boundary Waters, and many more.

And sportsmen’s groups nationwide have been closely involved in the opposition to the Twin Metals leases.

Land Tawney, president and CEO of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, said that the protection of the boundary waters “has turned into a national priority, not just for Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, but for all sportsmen across the country.”[11]

“Boundary Waters is a national treasure for sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts—and serves as an economic engine for the communities in northeastern Minnesota,” said John Tomke, chair of the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council. “It is America’s most visited Wilderness Area, primarily because of the pristine habitat that supports a wide diversity of wildlife … and outdoor experiences from hunting and fishing to canoeing and camping. Tourism in this region supports thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of economic activity annually.”[12]

In addition, some 70 northern Minnesota businesses that employ over 1,000 people (“The Downstream Business Coalition”) oppose sulfide-ore mining projects—such as PolyMet and Twin Metals—in Northeastern Minnesota.[13]

And in the words of Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters outreach director, Scott Hed: “The BWCAW is the most-visited Wilderness in the country, with over 250,000 people enjoying its clean waters and healthy forests annually … There are some places that are simply too valuable to risk.”[14]

Come October I’ll be paddling (and grouse hunting) in the Boundary Waters, traversing pristine lakes and rivers like Mudro, Fourtown, Boot, Gun, Wagosh, Crooked, Basswood River, Horse River and Horse Lake. We’ll see pictographs, waterfalls, deer, ducks, geese, swans, and hopefully put some grouse on the spit for dinner. Thanks to the foresight of hunter-conservationists like Gov. Dayton, future generations of hunters, anglers and other outdoorsmen and women will be able to do the same.

  • Link to Minnesota BHA’s letter thanking Gov. Dayton for Protecting the BWCAW:

For additional information, also see:

[1] David Lien is a former Air Force officer, co-chairman of the Minnesota Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (, and author of Hunting for Experience II: Tales of Hunting & Habitat Conservation:

[2] Marshall Helmberger. “Twin Metals suffers a one-two punch: Dayton nixes state land access; BLM may not renew federal leases.” The (Ely, Minn.) Timberjay: 3/9/16.

[3] Will Jenkins. “Help protect one of the most pristine freshwater fisheries in the country.” TheWillToHunt: 2/26/16.

[4] Conservation Minnesota, et al. “Frequently Asked Questions about Sulfide Mining in Minnesota.” Conservation Minnesota: May 2012.

[5] Dylan Blaskey and Sarah Blaskey. “Critics Say Proposed Sulfide Mine in Minnesota Threatens State’s Watersheds.” 2/14/16.

[6] Conservation Minnesota, et al.  “Frequently Asked Questions about Sulfide Mining in Minnesota.”  Conservation Minnesota: May 2012.

[7] Bruce Finley. “230 Colorado mines are leaking heavy metals into state rivers.” The Denver Post: 8/16/15.

[8] Bruce Finley. “Draining old mines foul Denver’s watershed every day with contaminants.” The Denver Post: 9/16/15.

[9] Rebecca Otto, state auditor (since 2007). “State auditor on mining: Long-term Risk too hard to quantify.” Minneapolis-St. Paul (Minn.) Star Tribune: 11/20/13.

[10] Marshall Helmberger. “Twin Metals suffers a one-two punch: Dayton nixes state land access; BLM may not renew federal leases.” The (Ely, Minn.) Timberjay: 3/9/16.

[11] Jenny Rowland. “Proposed Mining Site Threatens America’s Most Popular Wilderness Area.” 3/9/16.

[12] Jenny Rowland. “Proposed Mining Site Threatens America’s Most Popular Wilderness Area.” 3/9/16.

[13] Jamey Malcomb. “Silver Bay City Council votes to remove Bent Paddle beer from municipal liquor store.” Duluth News Tribune: 3/11/16.


[15] For additional information see: “David A. Lien Recognized by Field & Stream as ‘Hero of Conservation.’” 7/2/14.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is the sportsmen’s voice for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife. 

About David Lien:

David Lien is a Grand Rapids (Minn.) native, former Air Force officer and co-chairman of the Minnesota Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. He’s the author of “Hunting for Experience II: Tales of Hunting & Habitat Conservation” and during 2014 was recognized by Field & Stream as a “Hero of Conservation.” [15]

About Backcountry Hunters & Anglers:

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is The Sportsman’s Voice for Our Wild Public Lands, Waters and Wildlife.

For more information, please visit

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Scott Hed

Justin, sounds like you’ve got BWCA experience…send me an email if you would. Thanks!