The threat of toxic mining returns to our nation’s most visited wilderness area

New proposed legislation would allow toxic sulfide-ore copper mining to take place in the Boundary Waters.

Forest Service, Eastern Region via Flickr | Public Domain

Where a network of paved roads ends, this vast network of unspoiled rivers and lakes begins. Glittering lakes in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters are so clean that many paddlers dip their canteens straight into them to drink.

The nation’s most visited wilderness area should stay wild and pure, but proposed mining projects upstream from the Boundary Waters threaten to irreparably damage and pollute this unique wilderness.

New proposed legislation would allow toxic sulfide-ore copper mining to take place in the headwaters of this natural treasure.

The pristine Boundary Waters are a natural treasure.

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness lies in the northern part of the Superior National Forest and preserves over a million acres of wilderness. In this labyrinth of interconnected lakes, rivers and islands, you won’t hear the sound of cars or even come across a road.

Instead, you’ll hear the call of the wild: The sounds of loons and howling wolves echo across the water. This wilderness expanse encompasses an area larger than Yosemite National Park.

With no motorboats, docks or jet skis present, there are few other places that offer paddlers and hikers the chance to see so much wildlife. The region also provides critical habitat for endangered animals such as gray wolves, Canadian lynx, moose and more.

Destructive sulfide-ore copper mining would threaten every part of this precious wilderness.

The bill’s backers are hiding the legislation’s true intention by deceptively calling it the Superior Forest Restoration Act.

Let’s be clear: The “Superior National Forest Restoration Act” has nothing to do with restoring a forest. It’s about restoring toxic sulfide-ore copper mining interests in the Boundary Waters.

This proposed bill would reverse the 20-year moratorium on mining and would reinstate canceled permits and leases for Twin Metals Minnesota LLC. But at what cost? The entire ecosystem.

Here’s what that mining entails:

  • Sulfide-ore copper mining, which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has called the most toxic industry in America, poses a risk to the entire watershed and can leak dissolved heavy metals into the groundwater.
  • One study shows that pollution from these mines would flow directly downstream into the heart of the Boundary Waters — devastating the ecosystem.
  • Copper, nickel and other precious metals are bound in sulfide ores that release sulfuric acid and heavy metals when exposed to the air.

It’s not a matter of if but when these mines leak — spewing toxic material into this precious wilderness. Wildlife like moose, wolves, trout and more don’t deserve to be poisoned by this stuff.

Tell your U.S. senators to oppose the Superior National Forest Restoration Act today.

Find Out More