Boundary Waters Mining Ban Reversed; Minnesota BHA Pushes Back

Rep. Ryan Zinke
Rep. Ryan Zinke

ELY, Minn. -( A Trump administration decision to reopen lands near the Boundary Waters Wilderness to industrial mining drew strong criticism from Backcountry Hunters & Anglers members in Minnesota today.

Announced abruptly by the administration just days before Christmas, the decision resurrects a controversial proposal by an international mining company to develop large-scale copper mines within the Boundary Waters watershed.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, which has a large, established chapter in Minnesota and members all over North America who treasure Minnesota’s backcountry lands, is strongly invested in the future of the Boundary Waters, the nation’s most-visited wilderness.

“We are shocked and frankly furious with the Trump administration and Secretary Zinke’s decision to renew the Twin Metals mining leases,” said BHA MN Chapter Co-chair Aaron Hebeisen, who lives in Mora. “This announcement comes as a slap in the face to the Roosevelt legacy that the administration has claimed they want to perpetuate. Since their actions seem to speak louder than their words, you can bet ours will, too – and they will be heard.”

“The renewal of the hard rock mining leases near the Boundary Waters is a dire threat to my family’s outdoor life,” said BHA MN Chapter Co-chair Erik Jensen, a Minneapolis resident. “I’m taking my 13-year-old daughter there this spring to fish walleyes and see pictographs painted by Ojibwe hunters long ago. She’s so eager to go she’s helping pay for it with babysitting money.”

“The fact that the Interior Department lacked the courage even to issue a press release on this decision shows that they know it’s the wrong choice,” said Erik Packard of Rosemount, treasurer of MN BHA and founder of Veterans for Wilderness. “They are too cowardly to face the people who do not want to risk damaging the Boundary Waters because they know it’s wrong.”

“Interior Secretary Zinke says he wants to emulate Theodore Roosevelt,” said Lukas Leaf, a MN BHA board member and outreach coordinator for Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters, “but this shameful decision goes against everything Roosevelt stood for. This is clearly a Christmas present to a foreign mining company and the most anti-public lands representatives in Congress. It’s up to us to defend our public lands, waters and sporting heritage.”

BHA President and CEO Land Tawney, who will be in Minnesota next week to keynote a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources event, offered the following summation:

“Allowing a foreign-owned mining company that pays no royalties to take minerals from our public lands – our lands – is bad enough. Permitting mining a quarter-mile from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the most visited wilderness in America is despicable. And their decision to announce this on the Friday before Christmas? Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and President Donald Trump should be ashamed. This is a sad day for our conservation legacy, and Theodore Roosevelt is rolling over in his grave.”

What would Theodore Roosevelt do?

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

Backcountry Hunters and AnglersAbout Backcountry Hunters & Anglers:

Our freedom to hunt and fish depends on habitat. While many of us enjoy hunting and fishing on a range of landscapes, including farm fields and reservoirs, there is something special – even magical – about hunting deep in the backcountry or fishing on a remote river.

Wilderness hunting and fishing deliver a sense of freedom, challenge and solitude that is increasingly trampled by the twin pressures of growing population and increasing technology. Many treasured fish and wildlife species – such as cutthroat trout, grizzly bear and bighorn sheep – thrive in wilderness. Others, like elk and mule deer, benefit from wilderness. From the Steens Mountain Wilderness in Oregon to the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho and the Boundary Waters of Minnesota, BHA members treasure America's wilderness system and strive to add to it.

We take the advice of Theodore Roosevelt: “Preserve large tracts of wilderness … for the exercise of the skill of the hunter, whether or not he is a man of means.”

  • 12 thoughts on “Boundary Waters Mining Ban Reversed; Minnesota BHA Pushes Back

    1. @Tedd I don’t know who you are scolding in your post but I can assure you that the majority of people on this site do not think the bha is a reputable organization and have sportsmen, hunters and fishermen in their best interests. Land can be used and used effectively without the bha sticking their nose in and trying to hug every tree.

    2. BHA is getting to be just as annoying and predictable as the astr-turf gun control groups, interested only in curtailing citizens rights. Everything in their view is about ever more reliance on government control and restrictions in the name of protecting our rights. Anyone who believes the government is dedicated to protection of our rights is also probably a huge believer in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy!

      1. Mule skinner you need to get out of your anti government bunker and go see the world for while. I hunt and fish a good chunk of the world and see that man has no bounds when it comes desecrating land. I live here in Minnesota and am from northern Wisconsin which are two places I do a lot of hunting and fishing and have access to do so thanks to the government protections put in place from the likes of Teddy Roosevelt.

        You clearly don’t know how open pit mining is done or what it does to the environment. It’s not just here in Minnesota either go to the top of Pikes Peek in Colorado and look to the south were LaFarge Mining has inverted a mountain from mining copper or in Montana 75 miles west of Boseman where there is a mountain that looks like its cut in half in the pursuit of copper. What you don’t know about metals mining is there are metals in the rock call heavy metals like cadmium, nickel, zinc, and mercury. These are called tailings and are left in our water as they are not what they are looking for and are very caustic to man and animals. In Ashland, WI my home town the a superfund site that cleaning up cancer causing waist on the lake floor. I grew up swimming at Kreher beach as well as other places on Chequamegon Bay and its a travesty that it took many years for them to find out why so many people were getting canser before they determined the site needed to be cleaned. By the way I am not part of BHA or a tree hugger and do not believe in global warming before you and others will try categorize me in those groups. I am a non wealthy conservative who is also concerned about the environment. I also understand we (our country) need to get natural resources to keep our country leading the world but NOT these protected areas. The areas we are talking about are not cattle grazing land that the BLM has but are natural pristine treasures that have been virtually untouched by man and should stay that way.

        As with most groups like BHA or any other hunting organizations I don’t agree with everything they do or back but I support them on this subject. So with explanation for which I hope I open your mind a little, please in the future do a little research on the subject before you make an opinion.

        1. Minnesota Man, I appreciate your thoughts on the subject and understand your concerns for the environment. I too hearken back to better times and conditions in our national forests, BEFORE the federal government promulgated so many rules and regulations for We The People to use them.

          That being said, my view of government is best summed up by Reagan when he said something to the effect that the most terrifying words one could hear were, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Starting with their handling of relations with native Americans, through the government-enabled robber railroad barons, Jim Crow laws, the War on Poverty, the War on Drugs, Roosevelt’s New Deal, Johnson’s Great Society, the examples are numerous and the fixes imposed merely bandaids on the real problem: too much (federal) government control. I’m all for local and state governments (“laboratories of democracy”) assuming control in cooperation with local stakeholders. The federal government, however, should always be limited, and in today’s world dialed back, to just those powers that have given it by the states in keeping with the Bill of Rights and other Constitutional restraints. In other words, limited standing military and possibly management of the interstate highway system. Beyond that, only a VERY LIMITED federal government.

          Lastly, I don’t have an anti-government bunker. I believe in a representative republican democracy as established by our country’s Founders and pride myself in being involved with and communicating with my elected public servants…in cooperation with other LOCAL citizens and groups (ie., NRA AMA, GOA, ARRA, etc.) and encourage others to do the same. In that effort, I will continue to call out charlatans like BHA, MAIG and other Soros/Bloomberg front groups working to impose the dictates of elite central authority overlords at the federal level.

        2. so YOU can stand on top of your faourite mountein survey the horizon in 360 degrees, and find something that is “unsightly” subtencding less than one degree of that horizon. SO WHAT???!!!??? I just checked the spot price of copper… $7200 per ton. Two years ago it was $4300 per ton. WHY? Because of supply and demand. Our own US EPA have been making a nasty habit of restricting to the point od oblivion all manner of natural resource production within our borders. Lead, zinc, copper, coal, uranium, aluminium…. which has led directly and proximaly to the insane price increases in everything made from these resources, indluing electricity, cars, construction….. I KNOW firsthand what open pit mining is all about. I’ve seen, up close and personal, open pit mining operations. I’ve also seen clear cut forest operations, timber cultivation, logging, fish processing, large scale agricutlrue. You BHA lot are all knicker-beknotted over your own personal sensibilities about how YOU all like the world to be. Personally, I prefer a bit more mess but having needful things accessible at more affordable prices. I thought $4300/T for copper two years ago was insane.. and certain to begin dropping like the price of steel scrap…… a high of near $300/T three years ago to a mere $70/T today. Hah!!! Boy did I miss THAT boat. Had I bought a few tonnes of copper two years ago, I’d have nearly doubled my money by satching it sit on the floor.

          You want pristine wilderness to hunt/hike/play in? Fine. Take your dollars and go BUY some. I see large estates for ale dirt cheap all over the nation. Buy yer own. WHY do you insist on OUR lands being taken from US to benefit the few who wanna put their eyeballs all over it and call it THEIRS? You deny the rest of us the benefits we rightly should derive from such public lands. You lot at BHA are either incredibly selfish or incredibly naif….. dupes hoodwinked by those with a larger agenda.. that of ever increasing government managing and micromanaging every aspet of everyone’s lives.

          Look into the debacle of the Tomales Bay National Wildlife Refuge in California. Pay particular attention to the resulting destruction of a hundred plus year old family run operation that benefitted people all across the nation. AND did a better job preserving, protecting, and improving., the condition of that area., simply because that family desired to be good stewards of the natural resource that once was theirs wo govern. But now Uncle Stupid decides what happens.. and does so…. stupidly.
          Stop yer whinge and learn ot play well with others. Life is simpler, and better, that way. Most grownups have learnt how this works. I highly recommend it.

          1. I hope you understand that the government isn’t going to give you any of the money from this copper supply. You along with over 99% of America will not see any of the money from this deal. It is being mined by a foreign country, I honestly have no idea where you think that this benefits the general public.
            I’ve also noticed that you seem to care a lot about money, to the point where you value it over nature. Just because you don’t enjoy camping or hiking in some of the most beautiful landscapes of the United States, doesn’t mean that no one else should. That would be similar to saying, “I don’t like seafood and I get sick on boats, so we should just let the ocean pollute to the point where we can’t use it anymore. All because I don’t see any use for it.” Open your eyes, think about others. I’m of this new generation where we are all so self centered and don’t care about anything but ourselves, but I’m fighting against this. You on the other hand seem to either be part of this generation who has a super ego or one of the pioneers of this new way of living. It’s sad, really sad.
            Also, I don’t know if you lost material to talk about, and started rambling, but it starts to sound like you don’t believe in this decision by the end of it. If you think people should spend their own money to buy a mountain to climb, or buy a full river system with islands, then you must be ignorant. Almost nobody has the money to buy that sort of land. I wish you could maybe open your brain up and realize what’s going on around you.

        3. @MM You know, of course, that BHA would keep you out of the “natural pristine treasures that have been virtually untouched by man and should stay that way”, too! If you want to keep something perfect, you have to buy it yourself.

    3. This issue is being misrepresented by a one-sided opinion. It has become a “City Folk” vs. “Local Folk” issue. City Folk do not want to jeopardize the location of their destination wilderness vacation, and the local folk don’t want new jobs jeopardized. Nowhere in this article is it explained that this is part of a land trade, to keep the mining out of the Boundary Waters. Nowhere in this article is it explained that this is a bi-partisan issue brought forth by the U.S. Representative of that District, Democrat Rick Nolan and adjacent District U.S. Representative Tom Emmer. Nolan has previously been such a headstrong partisan, that is amazing he has teamed with Emmer to bring this forward. Nowhere in this article are the safeguards mentioned for debate. Nolan should actually be congratulated for his rare accurate representation of the opinion and desire of his constituents, who are the immediate residents of the area affected.

    4. Where do we go to through our support behind the stopping of thie mining? I went several times to the Boundry Water area as a kid and I can say that mining in that area would destroy it. One of the few places in the lower 48 where you can go and not hear any motors, see very many people and really enjoy the fact that you can take your cup and drink the water straight out of the lakes.

      This would be a travesty.

      1. You’d better do some through research before you get too upset. BHA is known for lying, being anti-gun, anti-sportsman and being funded by groups that want to close off as much land as possible to ANYONE ever setting foot on them. They support the Federal Govt grabbing every inch of land from the States and banning human beings from ever entering. Check out the background of their top people.

      2. @Fire, BHA would stop you from going to a national park, forest, wilderness area, etc., too. They see you and your friends entering these lands as a problem as big as mining.

    Comments are closed.