I am both a liberal (ideologically) and a progressive (pragmatic about what can happen). Still, I seem to have a fondness for volunteering for what might seem like lost causes. (More)

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break.

I am devoted to trying to preserve the Boundary Waters against the profits of mining companies. I hope it is not a lost cause but I’d like to be realistic. The northeastern corner of Minnesota is called the arrowhead because of its shape on the map. Traditionally, mining of iron ore and then taconite was a source of jobs across the arrowhead. Historically these were good paying union jobs and reliable Democratic voters.

In 1964 Congress passed the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act which was amended in 1978. It protected over 1 million acres of wilderness in the arrowhead for posterity. There were tradeoffs between limited logging, limited motor boats and other concerns.

The main purpose of the law is to protect, preserve, and enhance the lakes, waterways and forested areas of the BWCA to enhance public enjoyment of the unique landscape and wildlife. It also intends to establish some form of management to maintain the area and places restrictions on logging, mining, and the use of motorized vehicles.

Mining is definitely part of the history up north. It is trying to become part of the future a well. Twin Metals has been doing exploratory drilling on the edge of the BWCA. Their site won’t let me copy and paste but they claim there are more than “4 billion tons of ore” containing copper, nickel, platinum, palladium, gold and other “strategic metals critical to our nations economy.”

What Twin Metals is proposing is basically sulfate mining. Mixed in with all the precious metals is sulfur which smells like rotten eggs and the leftover sludge is a smelly, toxic orange hazard. This kind of mining has never been done successfully without causing environmental damage to ground water, wildlife and people.

The tradeoffs are a mining company owned primarily by Chileans and Canadians who used to talk of 30 to 60 billion dollars worth of precious metals and ‘jobs’ versus one of the largest protected pristine wilderness areas in the world with only volunteers to speak for it. I am one of those volunteers. It may be a lost cause, but I cannot remain silent. Hello, The Lorax anyone. “I am the Lorax and I speak for the trees.”

My first canoe trip to the soon to be BWCA was in the early sixties with a Methodist church youth group. I was forever taken with this magical, spiritual place. I have returned often for the experience of just being here. I brought my sons here. My grandchildren have been here. I now live one portage away from the BWCA and I love all the campers who are either day trippers or on their way in or out of the wilderness.

I am a volunteer with Sustainable Ely.

Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness, an advocacy group, says the goal of the new center is to: build and support a strong base of concerned citizens who will meet, inform, and inspire to action visitors to Ely and local residents; to engage in this work for the purpose of creating a national movement to protect the clean water, clean air, and forest landscape of the watersheds of the Kawishiwi River, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and Lake Superior from toxic pollution caused by mining copper, nickel, and other metals from sulfide-bearing ore.

The back of my car has bumper stickers for Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness, Save Our Sky Blue Waters, and Sustainable Ely. I volunteer one morning each week. I write letters. It may be a lost cause, pragmatically speaking but I cannot remain silent. If the ground water is polluted, it is game over and I won’t give up without a fight. There is a growing community of fighters up here. I am not alone. Can a bunch of citizens possibly win? Maybe, just maybe we can.

We are the Loraxes of our time.