In the May edition of the SEVENSEAS travel and marine conservation magazine the LT&C-Example “Campaign to Safe the Boundary Waters” is profiled as one of the top-stories (pp 88-90). The LT&C-story about saving this unique wilderness area at the Canadian border of the USA from severe pollution impacts of possible mining activities, described by Steve Piragis, illustrates a unique example of tourism and travel businesses engaging in protecting nature. It deserves international attention, and SEVENSEAS is helping in this respect by reaching out to 174 countries in the world.
This LT&C-Example has been described in summary as follows:
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota is America’s most popular wilderness with over 250,000 visitors each year. The 1.1 million acres with over 1,000 lakes holds over 20% of all the water in the national wilderness system. From the air the BWCAW appears to be more lake and stream than land. Some 80,000 people from around the US and the world come to camp and travel each summer by canoe without the use of outboard motors and by dog team in winter. The BWCAW links across the border with the Quetico Provincial Park of Ontario to make a canoe wilderness that is unmatched anywhere in the world. It is the land of Voyageurs and trappers of 300 years past and the homeland of the Ojibway people who migrated here for the wild rice harvest and the fishing and hunting.
Over the past 100 years the wilderness has met many challenges from proposed dams to float planes and motor boats and remote resort development. The Boundary Waters was permanently protected in 1964 by the Wilderness Act and again in 1978 with the Boundary Waters Wilderness Act. One provision was neglected however in these extensive protections and that was the withdrawal of mineral leases outside the wilderness but in the watershed that drains through the wilderness. That detail has lead to another great environmental effort to rectify the oversight.
In 2013 our company called a meeting of informed environmentalists in our wilderness edge town of Ely, Minnesota to discuss what had become a looming threat of sulfide ore copper and nickel mining in the watershed of the BWCAW. We formed a group that came to be know as The Campaign To Save The Boundary Waters. We opened a visitor center in Ely that summer to educate tourists and local people about this threat that could easily pollute the waters of the BWCAW. Research lead us to believe that this type of mining known to the US EPA as the most polluting industry in America was just not appropriate for this water rich ecosystem. Examples abound around the world of accidents from such mines having acid mine drainage into the ground and surface water and multiple blow outs of tailings dams rendering destruction downstream of such mines. Our livelihood and those of our employees absolutely and unequivocally depends on clean pure water throughout the canoe country. We are proud to be able in our wild lakes to be able to drink the water directly from the lake and eat the fish we catch for dinner around the campfire.
The Campaign now has grown to a full time staff of 12 people and hundreds of volunteers across the country. Our efforts in Washington, DC have lead to serious consideration of at least a temporary withdrawal of mineral leases with the prospect of further action to permanently ban sulfide ore mining in our watershed. We continue with our meetings in Washington every month with Congress and with the agencies like The Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service. The effort has been expensive and time consuming but rewarding for our team at Piragis Northwoods Co. Our efforts will go on into the next administration unabated.
The SEVENSEAS May-edition is the 24th issue of the colourful and informative marine conservation and travel magazine. Magnificent photography and inspiring articles relevant to the mission of Linking Tourism & Conservation, make the SEVENSEAS magazine a must-read for LT&C members and like-minded marine conservationists and travellers. The magazine has been produced for readers in 174 countries. More than 14 000 have subscribed and 15 000 visitors per month have clicked through the colourful pages. The numbers are growing. The magazine is a project in partnership with, and sponsored by The Ocean Foundation. LT&C is one of many credible international partners of SEVENSEAS and only endorse the magazine to its members.
The electronic editions of SEVENSEAS are for free, and LT&C recommends to subscribe to this impressive marine conservation and travel magazine. However, you may also support the production of this valuable magazine with your personal donation.