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BWCA Fish Tales: The One That Got Away

Monday, June 13, 2016
Posted by
Bart Zienda

It was the last night of a four-day Memorial Day weekend trip to the Boundary Waters and I was getting nervous about how little fishing we had done. We found a great campsite on the southwest corner of Long Island (on Saganaga Lake) and wasted no time taking advantage of the evening breeze.

I quickly reached into the tackle box and rigged a ¼ oz neon moon eye jig, baited with a 3” smoke/silver flake grub. Barefooted, I stepped out onto a fallen tree and made a few strong casts. My landing net was hastily left on shore, but I at least remembered to turn on the GoPro.

Minutes later, everything changed. The line was fully loaded and a tail whipped the water 20 yards ahead. My wife, Elena, was fishing a short distance down the beach, and I called her over to share in the excitement.

My footing was slippery at best, and as the fish surfaced again, it showed off its athleticism in one giant leap. We had one last look at that lake trout as it approached the landing net. In one swift move, it took advantage of a slacked line and snapped its way free. Every now and then, we have to let a fish get away, but we can't let the Boundary Waters do the same. This Wilderness has some of the best fishing in the world, and sulfide-ore copper mining doesn't belong next door. Take action today to defend this angler's paradise.

Save a National Treasure

Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Posted by
Scott Hed

This article was written by Scott Hed and originally printing in the May/June 2016 issue of Midwest Hunting and Fishing Magazine. It is reprinted here with permission.


Within the vast 1.1 million acres of the Boundary Waters lie forests filled with game and interconnected lakes and rivers swimming with trout, pike, bass and walleye. The experience of canoeing and portaging out into the wild there to fish or hunt draws many sportsmen and women to this northern Minnesota Wilderness

While the Boundary Waters itself is protected, the edge of that wilderness lacks that same security. An international mining company has applied to renew federal mineral leases for sulfide ore mining immediately adjacent to the wilderness, where the water flows directly into the Boundary Waters. Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters was formed by hunters and anglers seeking to conserve this wild space for outdoorsmen and women to enjoy for future generations. Protecting this Wilderness takes the work of all of us as conservationists for the wild lands we enjoy. Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters has been raising the voices of all of those who want to protect the Boundary Waters, and we’re proud to say that some amazing voices for the Wilderness have joined this effort lately. Earlier this month, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton stated his “strong opposition to mining in close proximity to the BWCAW.” In a letter, the governor laid out his grave concerns to the COO of Twin Metals, the company owned by Chilean mining giant Antofagasta, which has proposed the first sulfide ore mine near the Boundary Waters. “As you know the BWCAW is a crown jewel in Minnesota and a national treasure,” said Governor Dayton. “It is the most visited wilderness in the eastern US, and a magnificently unique assemblage of forest and water bodies, an extraordinary legacy of wilderness adventure, and the home to iconic species like moose and wolves.” Former Vice President Walter Mondale has also voiced his support for protecting the Wilderness. “I join Minnesota’s Gov. Mark Dayton and urge the federal land management agencies to continue the work of nearly 100 years and to ensure that the Boundary Waters wilderness remains the place it is today,” he said in an oped to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “We must do what Minnesotans before us have done: defend the wilderness.” Moving forward, our efforts to protect the Boundary Waters will focus on supporting a process that allows for strong science and public input to determine the future of the Wilderness. We already know that there will be time for an environmental review for the expired federal mineral leases owned by Twin Metals and that that review can include the option to deny the leases, according to the Department of the Interior. This is critical, because sulfide ore mining is a risky type of mining and produces the most toxic waste of any industry in America, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Toxic Release Inventory, 2014). A recent peer reviewed hydrologic modeling study by Dr. Tom Myers shows the ability of contaminants to flow into the Boundary Waters from both below and above ground sources. He concludes, “Some areas should not be mined at all due to the risk to downstream resources.”

This type of mining produces giant waste piles that, when exposed to air and water, leach sulfuric acid, heavy metals and sulfates. The proposed mines would be located upstream from the Boundary Waters and would threaten the fishing and hunting areas, harm wildlife and harm the regional economy. Due to the massive amount of interconnected water in the Rainy River Drainage Basin, it’s not hard to imagine sulfide ore mining pollution degrading the Boundary Waters, Voyageurs National Park, and even Quetico Provincial Park in Canada. The voices of the public will be hugely important to this process. A recent poll shows that 67% of Minnesota voters, including a clear majority of Independents and Republicans, oppose sulfide ore mining near the Boundary Waters. Even more impressively, the poll found that 61% of voters in the Eighth Congressional District, which includes the Iron Range, oppose it. When there’s an open comment period, we hope the voices of hunters, anglers, campers and canoers across the country will join in and say that America’s most visited Wilderness is no place for America’s most toxic industry. 

As I travel with Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters across the Midwest talking about this issue, sportsmen and women show clear passion for the Wilderness and express deep concern for the risks it now faces. Many are keen to talk about past trips and share photos, and eagerly recount their experiences hunting and fishing in the Boundary Waters. Jon Nelson, a hunter and angler from Duluth, considers himself lucky to have had the chance for a Boundary Waters moose hunt. “To be able to combine my love of wilderness with the joy and challenge of hunting made for an unforgettable experience,” he says. These are just a few of the growing group of sportsmen and women who have expressed concern over the proposed sulfide ore mines.

The proposed sulfide ore copper mines also put us all at risk of losing the ability create memories like those expressed above. So far, protection for the Boundary Waters is supported by the Pope & Young Club, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, National Wildlife Federation, Izaak Walton League of America, International Federation of Fly Fishers, Wildlife Forever, Orion The Hunter’s Institute, Rapala and a growing list of other groups and businesses. While Governor Dayton’s public statement against mining near the Boundary Waters was a huge step in the right direction, there is still much work to be done. Ultimately, the decision to permanently protect the Boundary Waters lies with the federal government.

We hope Dayton’s strong opposition to risking the health of the Boundary Waters will pave the way for other key decision makers, urging them to carefully consider what is best for the future of this area and the preservation of these wild lands and waters. Tell your friends, family, and fishing and hunting buddies to thank Governor Dayton for taking a stand and urge other decision makers to speak up for Boundary Waters experiences they love. Spread the word about the risks facing this habitat and learn more and sign the pledge at
SportsmenForTheBoundaryWaters. org, Facebook, Twitter: @SportsmenBWCA, and Instagram: @SportsmenBWCA.

Visit Midwest Hunting and Fishing Magazine


Scott Hed is the sporting outreach director of Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters. He has a degree in economics from St. Olaf College and worked in commercial finance for 10 years before embarking on his career in conservation.  Since 2001, Scott has worked on some of the highest-profile conservation issues in Alaska, including the campaign to protect the world’s most productive wild salmon fishery in Bristol Bay from the proposed Pebble Mine project.  For his work, Scott was recognized as Fly Rod & Reel magazine’s 2014 Angler of the Year. 

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The Lake Trout of a Lifetime

Monday, May 16, 2016
Posted by
Joey Klegstad

"He hammered it," Dad yelled from the back of the canoe as we trolled through 120-feet of water. The smile on Dad's face quickly dissipated and turned to the serious look of a diehard fisherman fighting an epic battle with his first lake trout. "He's still got it, he's still got it," he repeated as I continued to paddle on that cool, cloudy, mostly wet day in June 2011.  This trip started about eight months prior around Thanksgiving 2010, maps spread across the kitchen table, looking at different routes and talking about what we wanted to accomplish.  Normally, we plan four day trips, but that year we wanted to try something a little longer, a seven-day loop.  We figured a few days chasing the elusive lake trout and a few chasing Dad's favorite, the walleye. I suppose over the last 25 years I have also come to love the walleye, never eating more than a meal or so per trip, mainly I love the chase. The adventure the BWCA provides is the real attraction, exploring new areas, paddling through big and small lakes, and streams of varying difficulty, there is truly something for everyone. This fish proves that theory. 

I quickly reeled my line in and continued paddling to keep us in the deep water. The last thing we needed was this monster getting caught up in a log or some other structure in the shallows. The fish was peeling line off the reel like I've never seen before, running 30-40 feet at a time and then, sitting not giving an inch. "He's gone!," Dad said. "What? No way, you kidding?!" I replied as I turned to see Dad's rod straight as an arrow. He was still reeling, picking up slack and bang, "He's back!" The battle continued for the next 40 minutes. I'd been paddling the entire time in the front of the canoe by myself, the slight head wind adding a little extra burn to my arms. "Get the net!" As the fish came to the surface, Dad and I looked at each other in amazement. How was this tank going to fit in the net? The giant was so exhausted he gave me no problem, aside from his sheer size, measuring 37.5 inches. How about that for a first lake trout? We took just a quick minute to snap a few pictures, before returning him to the water as quickly as possible. As we released him, we watched him twist and turn as he slipped through Dad's hands. I will never forget that scene; an old giant going back to patrol the waters he's roamed for decades.

Dad and I decided to paddle west to a nearby bay to take a break. We wanted to reflect on what had just happened, both of us still in shock. Coasting into the calm bay, we saw it, floating just as perfect as could be; an eagle feather. Like a picture out of a story book, it was somewhat emotional. There are some old Indian tales that claim eagles are messengers from the afterlife. Just a year earlier my mom had lost an exhausting battle with pancreatic cancer. I can promise you she was right there with us that day in June. There was a reason we were on that lake, in that spot, on that day, with that lure. This journey had been tough for both my Dad and me. The feather was a sign to keep battling. Every year we make a trip or two. The routes are rarely the same, but one thing never changes, the adventure.

 


Joey Klegstad works in the gaming entertainment industry as the chief operating officer of Pro Paintball MN and Escape MSP. Born and raised near Ely, MN, Joey has a deep connection to the Boundary Waters Wilderness and family roots in the mining industry. Joey is a member of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and spends much time hunting and fishing across the state. He currently lives with his family in Lakeville, Minnesota. 

 

The Backcountry Chef: Another Day in the Wilderness

Monday, May 2, 2016
Posted by
Lukas Leaf

Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters is pleased to present "The Backcountry Chef," a monthly blog written by avid outdoorsman and chef Lukas Leaf that details his experiences hunting, fishing, cooking, foraging and exploring in the Boundary Waters Wilderness. 


It was 10 days into spring fishing opener and we had just cast Dad and Andy off, as they were returning home after an ice-filled week in the Boundary Waters with us. I ran from camp, through the smell of cedar and fresh rain, to get to the point overlooking the lake. I wanted to make sure their paddle went as planned. As I reached the rocky shore, I was nearly knocked off of my feet by the power of the wind rolling across the lake. Scanning the lake, it seemed Dad and Andy had handled the paddle like true outdoorsmen. Satisfied, I walked back to camp and continued to help Joe finish packing. We were set to spend five more days camping and fishing for Lake Trout further into the Boundary Waters. Crooked Lake was our destination. 

The wind was howling as Joe and I crashed through the waves making our way across the lake. The lake was in full force, powerful waves splashing water into our faces as we paddled with everything we had. Occasionally, Joe’s paddle caught only air as he swiped into what he thought would be water. We leaned perfectly in and out of the waves, riding them with ease. I was excited to make the paddle with my canoe partner. We battled through, reaching the portage. Just as it seemed that the lake had released us, a wave crashed over the stern, drenching the spot I had just been sitting in.

I hoisted the canoe and it immediately turned into a sail, nearly knocking me over. Thankfully, Joe caught my balance and we were on our way. You could hear the wind coming across the lake as if chasing us. We pushed forward trying to outrun the fury. Halfway through the portage the sky opened up and sun shone down, rewarding us for our efforts. We both let out a sigh of relief and continued on. The rest of the travel to our destination would be much easier. We reached our campsite within an hour and set up camp as if we had done it a million times. That evening we enjoyed a great meal of lake trout and went to sleep with not a care in the world, listening to the song of the wild.

The Boundary Waters is about testing one’s self and enduring, if even for a fraction of the trip, a bit of a survival situation. This primal instinct to survive rarely has a chance to surface in urban society. This is why we venture into the wilderness. The wild and unknown is an endless and vast place of exploration. The Boundary Waters is a beautiful and unforgiving place. So please, take care, and get out there and explore.  


Lukas Leaf is a passionate chef and outdoorsman. He spends his free time fishing, foraging, hunting, camping and cooking his way through the great Minnesota outdoors with friends and family. 

Mark Norquist Wins BHA's Sigurd Olson Award

Monday, April 11, 2016
Posted by
Piper Hawkins-Donlin

On Saturday, April 2, Mark Norquist, a member of Minnesota Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA) and long-time supporter of Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters, won The Sigurd F. Olson Award at the BHA’s fifth annual Rendezvous in Missoula, Montana. The Sigurd F. Olson Award recognizes outstanding effort by a BHA member in conserving rivers, lakes or wetland habitat. Norquist received the award for leading the Minnesota chapter's efforts to stop sulfide-ore mining in the Boundary Waters watershed. Norquist, owner of Green Head Productions and executive producer of our acclaimed series Fish Out of Water, is a passionate voice for conservation efforts, particularly in the Boundary Waters Wilderness.

Throughout the past year, Norquist has used his unique skillset to raise awareness about the risks from proposed sulfide-ore copper mining near the edge of the Boundary Waters Wilderness. He's helped support Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters at film festivals and community events and in interviews with various news outlets [pictured above right]. Earlier this year, Fish out Of Water won the Spirit of Film award at the Frozen Film Festival in St. Paul on February 7 [pictured left]. It was also shown at the Oneota Film Festival in Decorah, Iowa. In addition, Mark produced Flush In The Wild, a short video featuring Erik Packard, founder of  Veterans for the Boundary Waters, in his first Boundary Waters Wilderness grouse hunt.


 

"Mark Norquist has an innate passion for wildlands and wildlife and especially the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in our home state of Minnesota," said BHA Minnesota Chapter Chair Erik Jensen. "Mark is also a filmmaker who utilizes his chosen medium to drive home the need to responsibly manage and conserve these irreplaceable lands and waters. His commitment to Minnesota's backcountry resources and to sportsmen and other recreationists will have a lasting, positive impact."

Mark Norquist has played a vital role in expanding the reach of Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters, volunteering many hours and weekends tabling at events across the state [pictured right at St. Paul Sportsmen Show]. We would like to congratulate Mark on this well-deserved award and extend our appreciation for his efforts to protect the Boundary Waters Wilderness from the threat of sulfide-ore mining.

The Power of Partnership

Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Posted by
Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters

Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters is committed to protecting fish, wildlife and sporting experiences in Boundary Waters Wilderness from the risk of toxic pollution from proposed sulfide-ore mining, but we cannot do it alone. We are grateful for the support of our partners and supporting businesses. Our combined effort and reach gives us a national presence and offers the chance to learn from one another. To date, we’re joined by 12 amazing organizations:

We’re proud to welcome the  American Sportfishing Association (ASA) as our newest partner. The American Sportfishing Association is committed to looking out for the interests of the sportfishing industry and the entire recreational fishing community. ­We especially want to thank them for recognizing the unique values of the Boundary Waters Wilderness in a recent letter to the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service (read here).

"There are few places left in the country quite like the Boundary Waters in the upper reaches of Minnesota. The Superior National Forest, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), and the Rainy River drainage basin are comprised of many unique natural resources and teem with walleye, bass, pike, trout, and panfish. Simply put, it is an anglers paradise. Because of its distinction, the debate over the Twin Metals proposed sulfide-ore copper mine is a serious one with long-term implications." -- Scott Gudes, Vice President of Government Affairs for ASA

The entirety of the U.S. fishing tackle industry is now engaged with this important issue, with ASA joining the American Fly Fishing Trade Association as supporters.

Among the 17 supporting businesses on board with Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters is the Twin Cities-based Rapala family of brands, which has worked in partnership with us since our inception. "As the past ASA Board Chair, and someone who has enjoyed fishing this area with my son, I am pleased to hear that the American Sportfishing Association has joined the debate over the future of this unique fishery," said Gregg Wollner, Executive Vice President for Rapala and former Chairman of the Board for ASA.

St. Croix Rods is another fishing company in support of our efforts. "As a company that's based in the Upper Midwest, we are obviously interested in any proposals that have the potential to negatively impact water resources, the fish and the fishing opportunities they support. This idea of allowing a risky type of mining on the edge of one of the country's premier northwoods fisheries is one that should be dismissed quickly, and I'm happy that ASA has weighed in on the matter," said Paul Schluter, ASA board member and president of  St. Croix Rods.

Please join us in thanking these organizations and businesses for their support. It’s always a pleasure to connect with fellow sportsmen. While not everyone we meet has a story about hunting or fishing in the Boundary Waters, we all aim to protect the opportunity to experience and enjoy that pristine Wilderness.

The next time someone asks you what Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters is all about, don’t just take our word for it. Much like Yellowstone, Yosemite, or the Grand Canyon, the Boundary Waters is best experienced in person, and even better when shared. "Given the gravity of the threat, we encourage all hunters and anglers to join this cause and prioritize the protection of the Boundary Waters' more than 1 million acres of clean water and pristine forests and wetlands. This is not simply an issue that matters to Minnesotans," said Collin O'Mara of the National Wildlife Federation and Ted Roosevelt IV, great grandson of the 26th president, in a submission to the Rochester Post Bulletin today.

As we transition into spring, many of us are going through our gear and getting ready for another exciting season. Whether you’re tying flies, fixing reels, or just making sure that your cooler is clean enough to use, be sure to stop and think about how your plans would be disrupted if your favorite fishing spot was inaccessible or polluted beyond repair.

Speak up for the Wilderness you love.

Science Desk: Success Stories: Protecting Special Places

Monday, March 28, 2016
Posted by
Rachel Garwin

As Governor Mark Dayton and former Vice President Walter Mondale have both stated in recent weeks, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is a national treasure. It belongs not only to every Minnesotan, but to Americans across the country. We sometimes forget that we are co-owners of America’s public lands, including 1.1 million acres of interconnected lakes, streams, and woods in our own backyards: the Boundary Waters Wilderness.

As the threat of sulfide-ore mining in the Boundary Waters Wilderness watershed looms large, it is helpful to remember that other national treasures around the country have successfully been protected from similar mining proposals. When we, the people, weighed in on how we want our public lands managed across the country, we have successfully protected icons such as Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon and Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front. We are trying to do the same thing for the Boundary Waters Wilderness, so it can be instructive to look at how similar icons around the country were saved.

Saving Yellowstone National Park from the New World Mine
In the mid-1990s, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC)--a coalition of recreation, tourism, business, and environmental groups based in Bozeman, Montana--successfully stopped a proposed sulfide-ore mine from being built on the edge of Yellowstone National Park. A Canadian company, Crown Butte Mines, wanted to build a massive open pit gold mine only a few miles from the park’s northeast entrance, and less than a mile from the park boundary. Crown Butte Mines claimed that its tailings sitting along rivers that flowed into Yellowstone would not pollute the park, but they could not prove it.

GYC took two strategic paths toward victory: assembling a group of experts that showed the impossibility of mitigating the impacts from such a mine, due to the likely enormity of the mine, and the nature of the orebody, and the potential for acid mine drainage to develop. Additionally, GYC raised concerns about the fundamental change in landscape character so close to the park boundary that would occur with the development of an industrial mining district.

In addition to raising scientific concerns about the impact of the proposed mine, GYC amassed political support for protecting Yellowstone. Building on the broad coalition of local and regional opposition to the mine, GYC elevated the profile of the issue to the national stage and caught the attention of the Clinton Administration. This advocacy ultimately convinced Crown Butte to retract its proposal, and the federal government compensated Crown Butte for site reclamation and reclamation costs. Check out this 1996 photo of the signing of the deal that saved Yellowstone from the New World Mine.

Protecting Grand Canyon National Park from Uranium Mining
Protecting America’s special places didn’t stop in the 1990s. Thousands of uranium mining claims in the watershed of the Grand Canyon were filed in the late 2000s, prompting a network of conservation groups, Native American tribes, businesses and downstream water consumers to advocate for permanent protection for the Grand Canyon watershed.

Starting in 2008, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Grand Canyon Trust and Sierra Club embarked on an advocacy and legal strategy aimed to protect the health of the waters flowing into the Colorado River and thus the Colorado River itself. They responded to overwhelming public opposition to the proposed uranium prospecting and mining by filing injunctions, sending letters to federal land management agencies, and suing the Department of Interior (DOI) for allowing mineral exploration on public lands in the Grand Canyon watershed in direct opposition to a congressional resolution that prohibited such activities.

At the same time, widespread support for permanently protecting the watershed of the Grand Canyon was mounting. Towns and cities dependent on the Colorado River for drinking water expressed support for a two-year “pause” to study the need for withdrawing public lands in the watershed from the mining laws, which would prevent new mining operations. In 2009, DOI Secretary Ken Salazar announced just such a period -- a two-year moratorium on new claims and exploration on public lands within the Grand Canyon watershed. After a complex and thorough process to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, invite public comment, and revise the document in response to those comments, in October 2011 the Bureau of Land Management issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement showing the need to protect the Grand Canyon. In January 2012, DOI Secretary Salazar ordered a 20-year withdrawal of public lands in the watershed of the Grand Canyon from the mining laws, creating an effective moratorium against new mining claims and operations that would threaten the Grand Canyon. [For a more detailed timeline of these activities, plus all of the additional actions necessary for the campaign’s success, see this chronicle.]

It’s Time to Save the Boundary Waters
The Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters has learned a lot from these campaigns and others to protect nationally significant natural icons, and we are committed to achieving permanent protection for the Boundary Waters. The Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters is a broad coalition of more than 25 partner organizations, including sportsmen, conservationists, veterans’ groups and more than 100 local and national businesses. Organizations such as the National Wildlife Federation have passed resolutions opposing sulfide mining in the BWCA watershed and 53 leading scientists in ecology and natural resource-based disciplines signed a letter expressing deep concern over the proposed mine sites.

The Campaign also has the support of the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council, an official advisory group established under the Federal Advisory Committee Act to advise the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture on recreational hunting and wildlife resource issues.

Our broad-based coalition will continue advocating for permanent protection for Minnesota’s national treasure, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Will you join us?

[TOP AND BOTTOM PHOTOS: Dave Freeman; YELLOWSTONE PHOTO: NPS / Neal Herbert; GRAND CANYON: NPS / Michael Quinn]


Rachel Garwin holds an M.S. in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. Every month, Science Desk will include our latest scientific support and share a deeper understanding of the potential environmental impact from sulfide-ore copper mining near the Boundary Waters.

Wilderness Memories: Guiding First-Time Anglers in the BWCA

Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Posted by
Spencer Shaver

Nothing lights up a kid's face quite like landing their first fish. That dark pool they've been casting their Rapala into for the last half hour suddenly comes alive as their rod bends and their focus sharpens on the line darting across the water. Small veins pop and hands frantically spin around the reel, followed by a fish flopping to the surface, then calming down as it shows its bright belly to the sky. Young eyes shine and a smile a mile wide spreads across the face of the first-time fisher.

Next, comes something almost as great as the smile, and equally as predictable, "Now what?" I'm lucky enough to have watched this happen countless times during my last two summers as a canoeing and backpacking guide in Minnesota's own Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Most of my time there has been with YMCA Camp Menogyn, taking 12 to 18-year-old kids on treks across the endless Boreal wilderness on the northern edge of our state.

Dinners here are classic Boundary Waters fare, from heaping cups of mac and cheese to hearty chili after a long day of paddling. As often as I can, though, I make sure all of my campers eat an appetizer of freshly caught fish. I'm happy to oblige, but the experience is that much better when I get to see a camper reel in their own fish.

On most trips, there are one or two veteran fishermen (by the age of 12) that come prepared with a selection of rods, reels and a fully stocked tackle box. As soon as we get on the water, it's clear they're having the time of their lives paddling around and plopping lures wherever they please, and that enthusiasm flows through the group.

Once, while doubling-back on a portage, I kept expecting to run into one of the five 12-year olds I was guiding on their first trip through the Boundary Waters. There was no sign of any of them along the trail, so I picked up my pace, worried something might be wrong . When I reached the clearing at the end of the portage, I saw a scene straight from the pages of Huckleberry Finn.

I watched as two campers sat on a rock, one watching his bobber while the other waited for his turn. Two more stood pulling a line out of a nearby tree, and another sat on an overturned Duluth Pack, taking it all in. As soon as they saw me, one yelled, "We saw a fish that was bigger than the canoe!" Naturally, we weren't going anywhere. I settled in to watch my four-foot-tall camper work on landing a canoe-sized fish.

The chance to show the next generation that food comes from the soil, water, and the Earth they inherit is one of my favorite parts of guiding. I'm a firm believer that a meal earned by the patience of an afternoon in a canoe will taste better than anything frozen, pre-packaged and reheated.

We need to let kids learn to chase walleye in the deepest pockets of a glacial lake, to untangle the inevitable snarls of line they'll wrap themselves in, and to cook something caught and cleaned by their own hands. The Boundary Waters is the ideal backdrop for all of this to be taught, and to lose any part of this place to pollution would be a tragedy that would reverberate across generations.

Please take the time to sign the petition and speak loudly to protect generations of uncaught fish, untaught fishermen, and the wilderness that brings them together.

P.S. Keep your eyes peeled for that 16 and a half-foot fish on your next trip. We never did catch it.

Thanking the Governor in the Pioneer Press

Friday, March 11, 2016
Posted by
Scott Hed

Today, we ran an ad with supporters in the St. Paul Pioneer Press thanking Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton for his letter to Twin Metals Minnesota earlier this week. In his letter, the governor called the Boundary Waters Wilderness "a magnificently unique assemblage of forest and waterbodies, an extraordinary legacy of wilderness adventure, and the home to iconic species like moose and wolves" and stated his "srong opposition to mining in close proximity to the BWCAW." You can add your thanks to the governor here. See below how many sporting organizations and businesses support protection for the rivers and lakes of the Boundary Waters from sulfide-ore mining pollution so they and future generations can continue to enjoy remote hunting and angling in the Wilderness.

 


Minnesotans Strongly Oppose Sulfide-ore Mining Near BWCA

Thursday, March 10, 2016
Posted by
Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters

Recent polling results show that Minnesota voters want to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from proposed sulfide-ore mining. This news comes alongside this week’s important news about Twin Metals Minnesota’s proposed sulfide-ore mining operation in the watershed of the Boundary Waters Wilderness.

On Monday, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton released a letter to Twin Metals’ COO calling the Boundary Waters Wilderness “a crown jewel in Minnesota” and stating his “strong opposition to mining in the proximity of the BWCAW.” The next day, the federal government confirmed its authority to either deny or approve Twin Metals Minnesota's request to renew its outdated and expired federal mineral leases. This decision opens the door for a thorough and necessary environmental review of the leases, which has never been performed before. 

The statewide poll, conducted by the research firm Anzalone Lizst and Grove, shows that 67% of Minnesota voters oppose sulfide-ore mining near the Boundary Waters Wilderness, including 61% of voters in Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District where proposed sulfide-ore mines would be located.

This broad statewide opposition coalition includes eight-in-ten DFL voters, more than 60% of Independents, and a 30-point majority in opposition among Republicans.

In addition to the large number of people opposed to sulfide-ore mining in areas near the Boundary Waters Wilderness, an additional 65% of Minnesotan voters believe the Boundary Waters watershed should be afforded permanent protection, including 59% of voters in the Eighth Congressional District.

Twin Metals, owned by South American mining giant Antofagasta, has proposed to mine sulfide-ore on lands next to the Boundary Waters Wilderness and along rivers and lakes that flow directly into the Wilderness. This kind of metal mining is known as “America’s most toxic industry.” Preliminary drilling has already occurred within one-quarter mile of the Wilderness boundary.

Read the Governor’s letter and send him thanks for his support of protecting the Boundary Waters Wilderness.

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