The Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act, H.R. 5598, was introduced by Minnesota’s fourth district congressional representative, Betty McCollum. Over the past three years, we provided updates to the ACA membership on the evolution of rolling back protections for the Boundary Waters and the opening of adjacent lands to sulfide ore coppering mining. These activities are ultimately a large threat to the Rainy River Watershed, which is home to 20% of the freshwater resources in the U.S. National Forest system. A single mine within the watershed could pollute pristine waters for five hundred years. Take a moment to review some of the direct language from McCollum’s bipartisan bill:
(9) A peer-reviewed study of water quality impacts from 14 operating United States copper sulfide mines found 100 percent of the mines experienced pipeline spills or accidental releases: 13 mines experienced failures of water collection and treatment systems to control contaminated mine seepage resulting in significant negative water quality impacts.
Scientifically, it is clear that mining within the Rainy River Watershed will harm water quality and, in turn, the paddling experience for those who recreate in the region. Economically, examining a graph of employment by industry in the region since 1970, mining has been on a steady decline, while the services industry (i.e., recreation and paddling related jobs) has tripled in size.
Click here and scroll to p.5 to see the graphic and a more in-depth discussion of employment opportunities as related to resources in the Boundary Waters.
Please click the link below, created through the ACA partnership with the Outdoor Alliance, and let your lawmakers know that you support the protection of the Boundary Waters! Sign the petition to support Representative McCollum’s Bill to permanently protect the Boundary Waters and the Rainy River Watershed from sulfide-ore copper mining: Save America’s Most Visited Wilderness!
If you would like to read more about the evolution of the Boundary Waters issues over time, you can visit the ACA Minnesota policy page, here.
To read more about other national policy initiatives and issues that the ACA addresses on behalf of paddlers, please click here.