Legislation would protect iconic wilderness area and surrounding watershed
WASHINGTON – Public lands sportsmen and women united in commending introduction of bipartisan legislation, the Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act, which would ensure the permanent protection of 234,328 acres of public land upstream of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the wilderness area watershed. Lead sponsors of the bill are Reps. Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Francis Rooney (R-FL) with support from original co-sponsors Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI), Dean Phillips (D-MN), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ).
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, along with business owners, community leaders and recreationists of all stripes, are committed to defending the Boundary Waters, a vast and storied landscape of lakes, wetlands and forests, as an industrial mining project advances just south of the wilderness border. BHA has worked for years to fight the proposed Twin Metals copper-nickel mine and conserve the area’s unique fish and wildlife habitat.
“The Twin Metals proposal – developing a mine south of the Boundary Waters watershed when everything flows north – makes no sense,” said BHA President and CEO Land Tawney. “The outdoor recreation industry in northern Minnesota provides certainty for the local economy. This mine would deliver only short-term economic gain followed by a lifetime of harmful impacts to fish and wildlife. We at Backcountry Hunters & Anglers commend this bipartisan effort to permanently protect a landscape that provides unmatched hunting and fishing opportunities.”
An administration decision to renew controversial and contested mineral leases and enable the advancement of the proposed Twin Metals copper-nickel mine near the Boundary Waters was loudly condemned by thousands of citizens, who have repeatedly advocated for the area’s conservation. The move reversed a popular 2016 decision to withdraw the leases and halt development of the mine.
“Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters is proud to have worked as a combined force with BHA to make the bipartisan Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act a reality,” said Lukas Leaf, executive director of Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters. “The Boundary Waters is a world-class backcountry destination that provides some of the best fishing and hunting the world has to offer. This legislation is the next step to ensuring America’s most-visited wilderness, along with the public land and water surrounding it, have guaranteed protection for our future generations.”
BHA has a large, active chapter in Minnesota that is committed to defending the Boundary Waters, said Aaron Hebeisen, chapter co-chair and resident of Lake City.
“This is our wilderness,” said Hebeisen. “It’s this iconic landscape that defines Minnesota. Exploring the Boundary Waters is the pinnacle outdoor experience for countless sportsmen and women, both from Minnesota and across the country. We are thrilled to finally see effective, bipartisan legislation that will protect this incredible landscape from damaging and unnecessary development. It’s high time Congress recognized the priorities of the hunters and anglers who revere this watershed.”
The BWCAW encompasses more than 1 million acres of pristine fresh water and forests and provides opportunities to hunt, fish, canoe, hike and camp that have been enjoyed by generations of public lands users.
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is the voice
for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife.