Yearly Archives: 2009

BWCAW Lottery Registration Open

Registration for the lottery drawing for permits to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area is underway until January 15, officials at the Superior National Forest have announced. The drawing opens registration for the 2010 BWCA season.

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Painting History

In 2006, Quetico Provincial Park’s French River proved impassable by kayak—so Ken Lister crawled upriver through the slippery, overgrown underbrush. His destination? French River Rapids. Lister suspected that an oil painting by Canadian artist Paul Kane portrayed the rapids. If correct, he would disprove widely held notions about the painting’s origins, and possibly discover a new understanding of the fur trade.

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Fall Issue of Wilderness News

The Fall 2009 issue of Wilderness News (the print edition) is here! If you’re a subscriber, watch for your mailed copy soon. Or download a PDF of the full issue, and read all of the stories, with full-color photographs, and help us save on mailing costs.

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Northern Minnesota Haze Rules Passed

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency passed new regulations aimed at reducing haze over northern Minnesota, including Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The MPCA board voted 7-1 in favor of the new rules, despite calls for tighter restrictions.

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PolyMet Meetings Underway

The first of two public meetings on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for PolyMet Mining Company’s proposed copper-nickel mine near Babbitt is history. Roughly a thousand citizens converged on Aurora last night to support or question the project.

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PolyMet Public Comment Meetings Ahead

The two public comment meetings for PolyMet Mining Company’s proposed NorthMet projct take place tomorrow and Thursday in Aurora and Blaine, Minnesota respectively. The meetings are part of a 90-day public comment period for what could be Minnesota’s first copper mine.

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Ely Mayor Charged with BWCA Violations

Ely Mayor Roger Skraba has been charged with three counts of federal wilderness violations in the BWCA. He is accused of entering the wilderness area without a permit, possessing a motor vehicle within the wilderness, and removing property.

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Ely Guides Concerned with Regulations

Ely-area outfitters recently voiced concerns about U. S. Coast Guard regulations for businesses that guide clients on federally navigable waters. The agency requires that outfitters be licensed and that they and their employee know first aid and CPR as well have background checks and undergo drug testing.

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Hopes for Vermilion State Park Dimming

Time and money seem to be working against efforts to establish a new state park along the shores of Lake Vermilion. The State of Minnesota isn’t expected to renew efforts to buy land for the park from U.S. Steel until the spring of 2010.

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Franconia Minerals Project Progressing

With the stated goal of becoming the second operating copper-nickel mine in the Duluth Complex of Northeastern Minnesota, Franconia Minerals Corporation announced today that it is initiating waste rock characterization studies on its the Birch Lake deposit.

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Precious Waters Debuts Wednesday

“Precious Waters,” a film producers hope will help sway public sentiment against sulfide mining in Northeastern Minnesota, debuts Wednesday. The film will be shown at 7:00 p.m. at the John B. Davis Lecture Hall, Ruth Stricker Dayton Campus Center at Macalester College in St. Paul.

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PolyMet Public Comment Meetings Set

Two public meetings to hear comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for PolyMet Mining’s proposed copper-nickel mine near Babbitt have been scheduled, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced.

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Feds Ask Minnesota to Tighten Haze Regulations

The heads of Voyageurs National Park and the Superior National Forest asked Minnesota Pollution Contol Agency board members to tighten restrictions on taconite and coal-burning power plants as the state impliments new haze reduction regulations.

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Activists Gearing Up for PolyMet Comment Period

Environmental organizations are pouring over the more than 1500-page Draft Environmental Impact Statement for PolyMet Mining’s proposed NorthMet copper-nickel operation. The groups are preparing for the start of the 45-day public comment period which opens on Monday, November 2.

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PolyMet Impact Statement Delayed

The release of the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine near Babbitt has been delayed, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has announced.

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Quetico, Atikokan Mull Downtown Park HQ

Officials from Quetico Provincial Park and the town of Atikokan are considering a plan to move the Ontario park’s headquarters to Atikokan’s Main Street. Currently, the park headquarters are located in the Ontario government offices on the edge of town.

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Bracing for the PolyMet Fight

With the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for PolyMet Mining’s NorthMet mine due this week, observers are preparing for an argumentative comment period over what could be Northeatern Minnesota’s first non-ferrous mining operation.

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Namakan Hydro Field Studies Completed

Field studies for the Namakan River Hydro Development Project proposed by the Ojibway Power and Energy Group have been competed, the organization announced recently. OPEG expects publication of its Draft Environmental Report on the project in November.

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Analyzing the Odds for a Vermilion State Park

Negotiations between landowner U.S. Steel and the State of Minnesota for the purchase of what would be the first new State Park in 30 years stalled when the parties disagreed on the value of the property. Is there still hope for a new park on the shore of Lake Vermilion?

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Cook County Board Opposes Buffer Zone

The Cook County Board of Commissioners recently voiced its opposition to the establishment of a buffer zone near the limits of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The statement comes as the U.S. Forest Service considers the impact of snowmobile noise in the siting of a new trail to South Fowl Lake.

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PolyMet Impact Statement Due Shortly

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Poly Met Mining’s proposed copper-nickel mine near Babbitt will be released the week of October 19. A public comment period on the project will commence on November 2, which will include public meetings in Hoyt Lakes and the Twin Cities.

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Bringing Broadband to the North Shore

Voters in Cook County will decide on a sales tax in November that would support the construction of a fiber optic network and the expansion of high speed internet to the North Shore. Proponents argue that Internet connection is vital to economic sustainability.

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Bad Economy Slowing Timber Sales

Timber put up for sale by public landowners is often going unsold to loggers who find themselves with reduced opportunities to sell cut wood due to the depressed market for new homes and the closure of some northern Minnesota wood mills.

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Gray Wolves Back on Endangered List

Grey wolves in Minnesota were recently put back on the federal endangered species list. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a notice last week formally re-establishing the animals’ protected status.

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Celebrate Minnesota’s National Park Legacy

The Bell Museum of Natural History hosts the premier of Twin Cities Public Television’s “Minnesota’s National Park Legacy” this Thursday, September 24th. Join the film’s producer and National Park Superintendents to be among the first to view the film.

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Invasive Mussels Found Near Isle Royale

A colony of non-native mussels has been found in Isle Royale National Park’s Washington Harbor, park officials revealed yesterday. The discovery raises concern over the island park’s large native mussel populations.

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Voyageurs National Park Fall Rendezvous Restores Native Shoreline

Volunteers met at Voyageurs National Park last weekend, September 11 – 13, to plant native trees and wildflowers and restore disturbed shoreline within the Park. Part of the Fall 2009 Volunteer Rendezvous, they are part of a growing effort by Voyageurs National Park Association and friends and supporters of the park to contribute to a healthy and vital park and community.

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Forum Previews Sulfide Mining Debates

A forum yesterday previewed the discussion that’s likely to take place in more official precincts when the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for northeastern Minnesota’s first non-ferrous mining project is released later this fall.

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Wilderness News Profile: Frederick Winston

In 1964, Fred Winston received an inquiry following Wilderness News’ inaugural publication: “I can see that there are many sides to Minnesota’s wilderness problem. But which side are you on? What are you trying to prove?” In his reply, Fred Winston set the tone for the Quetico Superior Foundation’s role in the ever changing wilderness debate and set an example of activism.

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Columnist Concerned About Moose

A northern Minnesota resident writes about her concerns over the declineing moose population in northeastern Minnesota. She outlines the steps moose experts believe are needed to support one of the Quetico-Superior’s signature species.

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City to Build Voyageur’s Park Headquarters

In a city-park partnership that would have been unthinkable a decade ago, plans are set for the city of International Falls to construct a headquarters building for Voyageurs National Park. The city intends the building to be the starting point for a multifaceted recreational development.

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Forum to Discuss Non-Ferrous Mining

Non-ferrous mining in Minnesota will be the topic of an afternoon-long discussion hosted by the Minnesota Environmental Initiative on September 15. Registration for the program is open until September 8, as space allows.

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Quetico Visitor Numbers Down Again

Despite 100th anniversary activities, the number of people visiting Quetico Provincial Park is down some 10% this year. It’s the second straight year that Quetico visitor numbers have declined.

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Protecting a Scenic Entrance to the BWCAW

Protecting a Scenic Entrance to the BWCAW

Fall Lake Property on the Edge of the Boundary Waters to be Protected An 11-acre parcel of land on Fall Lake outside of Ely, Minnesota, will be protected thanks to the joint efforts of the landowners, the Forest Service and the Trust for Public Land (TPL). Located just across the lake from a Forest Service…

Forest Service Taking Comments on South Fowl Trail

The Forest Service is accepting public comments on the development of a new snowmobile trail from McFarland Lake to South Fowl Lake in far northeastern Minnesota. The new trail was necessitated by the closure of the Tilbury Trail which crossed land included in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

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Voyageurs Plans Burn for Thursday

Voyageurs National Park officials plan to burn an area on Tar Point near Blind Indian Narrows in Namakan Lake Thursday. The burn is intended to help determine what effect fire has on archeological artifacts and help determine the effects of fire on vegetation.

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McGuffins Release Quetico: Into the Wild

The celebration of Quetico Provincial Park’s 100th Anniversary continues … in book form! Renowned nature photographers Gary and Joanie McGuffin have produced Quetico: Into the Wild after nearly three years of photographic and paddle-and-portage effort.

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July Adds Up to Cold, Dry

Temperatures in the Quetico Superior region were colder than normal in July, with International Falls breaking a record for lowest average temperature for the month. July was also a dry month across the region.

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Fire Danger Low, but Area Firefighters Active

Forest fire danger in northern Minnesota and western Ontario is low, but that doesn’t mean area firefighters are keeping busy. Wild-land fire fighters from the Quetico-Superior region are helping fight fires currently burning in British Columbia.

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Friends of the Quetico Celebrates 25 Years

It’s the 100th aniversary of Quetico Provincial Park this year, but 2009 is also the 25th birthday for the Friends of Quetico Park, an organization whose objective is “the preservation of Quetico Provincial Park as a unique wilderness area.”

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Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness

Last spring, the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness welcomed new director Paul Danicic. Paul recently shared his thoughts on the state of the wilderness and the Friends’ role in protecting it with Wilderness News contributor Alissa Johnson. Originally published in part in the Summer 2009 issue of Wilderness News, read the full interview here.

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Grand Portage State Park Closed Weekdays

Grand Portage State Park will only be open on weekends until mid-August, due to site preparation work for a new 5800 square foot visitor center. The park will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, but parking will be limited.

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Update: Namakan River Dam Project

The Spring 2008 issue of Wilderness News covered a proposed dam at High Falls on the Namakan River west of Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario. A project with environmental impacts on both sides of the border, the Ojibway Power and Energy Group (OPEG) is preparing to release its Environmental Assessment as part of a proponent-led approval process.

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Guns in Voyageurs: Not Yet

A law passed in May that will allow loaded firearms in Voyageurs and other national parks is not in effect yet. That’s the message Voyaguers officials are spreading, noting that the law doesn’t take effect until February 22, 2010.

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Dorothy Molter Museum Remodeled

Ely’s Dorothy Molter Museum got a $16,000 facelift recently, thanks to an $8000 grant from Minnesota Iron Range Resources, the and matching private donations. The museum that recognizes the last person to live in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area now has a remodeled interpretive center.

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Mayflies Inundate Lake Vermillion

This year’s mayfly hatch on Lake Vermillion was one of epic proportions. Hatches of the short-lived native species are normal in mid-summer, but this year’s hatch of the insects called for extra measures to remove the piles of dead creatures.

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Remembering the Blowdown of 1999

Tomorrow marks the 10th anniversary of the famed Boundary Waters Blowdown. On July 4, 1999 a huge storm packing 90-mile-per-hour winds ripped through the BWCA, uprooting trees, blocking portages, and stranding campers. In all 370,000 acres in the BWCA were affected by the storm.

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Paddlers Celebrate 100th for Quetico, Superior

A paddling expedition that pushed off yesterday is celebrating the 100th birthdays of the Superior National Forest and Quetico Provincial Park. Representatives of the Heart of the Continent Partnership will paddle a 24-foot voyageur canoe across the region.

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Wolves Back on the Endangered Species List

Two weeks ago, five wildlife protection groups filed a complaint against the removal of Great Lakes Wolves from the Endangered Species List. Today, wolves are back under federal protection as the result of a court ordered settlement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the protection groups. According to Associated Press coverage on WCCO,…

Cross-Border Study Examines Cormorants

An on-going study of cormorants on Rainy Lake will include increased attention on birds dwelling on the Canadian side of the international water-body this summer. Cormorants have been a lightening-rod species among some anglers who fear the birds are impacting game-fish populations

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Island Life Author to Speak at Voyageurs

Ted Gostomski, the co-author of Island Life: An Isle Royale Nature Guide and a Biologist/Science Writer at the Great Lakes Inventory and Monitoring Program of the National Park Service, will speak on Friday at Voyaguers National Park in International Falls.

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Mineral Search Reaches BWCAW Border

Exploration for copper and nickel resources in Northeastern Minnesota has reached the borders of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of the Superior National Forest. While prospectors hope to find useful and valuable minerals, environmental advocates worry about impacts on the wilderness.

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Gypsy Moths Sprayed on North Shore

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has sprayed pesticide this week along the North Shore to slow the spread of invasive gypsy moths. The agency applied BTK via aircraft near Tofte and Lutsen.

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Groups Sue Over Wolf Decision

Five wildlife protection groups have filed a complaint in Federal District Court challenging the removal of federal Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the Upper Midwest.

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Stimulus to Rehab Voyageurs Campsites

Voyageurs National Park will use $230,000 in federal stimulus funding to rehabilitate campsites over the next two years. The money appropriated through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will support work on some 38 campsites in the park.

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Friends Spotlight Carbon Impact of PolyMet

The wilderness and environmental advocacy group Friends’ of the Boundary Waters Wilderness is concerned with the climate-change impact that destruction of 1000 acres of peat bog for the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine in Northeastern Minnesota will have.

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Book Review: Last Child in the Woods

Today’s kids do not connect with the outdoors or nature because societal changes have taken away the opportunity to do so. National park and wilderness lovers take heed; the implications are significant for child development, but they are also crucial for the long-term protection of natural places.

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Mining Projects Back in the News

Copper-nickel mining projects in northern Minnesota continue to move forward as environmentalists question the impact of the proposed mines and proponents hail the economic benefits. Meanwhile, the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness notes that the land for the proposed PolyMet mine was once identified for its ecological significance.

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Report: State Sweetened Vermilion Park Deal

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune is reporting that the State of Minnesota looked for ways to sweeten the deal for U.S. Steel to sell land to the state for a state park on Lake Vermilion. The paper questions whether laws were skirted to procure land for the park strongly supported by Governor Tim Pawlenty.

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Weather Hampers Voyageurs Burn Efforts

Rainy weather has confounded Voyageurs National Park’s efforts to conduct four prescribed burns this spring to further pine and oak regeneration in the International Falls-area park. While the window for spring burning may have passed, burning during the summer months is still a possibility.

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New Book Spotlights BWCA Wildflowers

Betty Vos Hemstad’s new book spotlights Boundary Waters area wildflowers in a new way. “Wildflowers of the Boundary Waters: Hiking Through the Seasons” depicts northern Minnesota’s wildflowers in various stages of development — from bud, to flower, to seed.

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Time-Out Called in Roadless Tug-O-War

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a temporary order requiring all new projects in U.S. Forest Service-managed roadless areas be approved by his office. Apart from the permanently protected Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness, the Superior National Forest contains roughly 62,000 acres of roadless areas, mostly adjoining the BWCAW.

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Minnesota DNR Looking for Loon Counters

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is looking for volunteers to count loons on lakes in Cook and Lake county. The one-day count by volunteers is part of the Minnesota Loon Monitoring Survey, now in its 15th year.

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Sentence Upheld in BWCA Incident

A three-year prison sentence for Boundary Waters terrorizer Jay Andrew Olson was upheld by the Minnesota Court of Appeals this week. Olson was one of six men convicted of participating in a drunken shooting spree that frightened campers on Basswood Lake in the BWCA in August of 2007.

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Namakan Sturgeon Study Enters Third Year

A study examining the health of the Namakan Reservoir’s sturgeon population has entered its third year. The study, which could have an impact on proposed hydroelectric projects on Ontario’s Namakan River, seeks to establish baseline information on health of the species of “special concern” in both Minnesota and Ontario.

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Still Hope for State Park on Lake Vermilion?

A proposal to develop a new state park on property currently owned by U.S. Steel lost steam recently when the company and the State of Minnesota disagreed on the value of the land in question. Might a closer look at the numbers put the park back on track?

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Gunflint Green Up Sprouts New Life In Forest – And Community

Hundreds of people descended upon the Gunflint Trail outside of Grand Marais last weekend to plant thousands of pine seedlings and green up the fire impacted forest. Wilderness News Online caught up with Quetico Superior Foundation board member and Gunflint Trail property owner Dyke Williams, who had the opportunity to join the annual event. Read our Q&A.

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PolyMet Environmental Statement Delayed

PolyMet Mining, the Canadian company hoping to develop a copper-nickel mine near Hoyt Lakes, annouced in a media release this week that the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project will not be released until the third quarter of this year.

The draft EIS was originally expected earlier this year.

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Project Venture North

Ice fishing, snow shoeing, canoeing and camping – cornerstones of the northwoods experience, yes, but cornerstones of drug and alcohol prevention? Project Venture North, a replica of Project Venture in New Mexico, is betting yes, serving American Indian communities in the Quetico Superior region by connecting kids with nature.

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Gunflint Green Up 2009

Third annual Gunflint Green Up is gearing up to plant thousands of white pine and coniferous seedlings in areas of Superior National Forest impacted by the Ham Lake Fire of 2007. Register now for a spring weekend of outdoor work and great fun! May 1-3, 2009.

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Moose Population Steady in Voyageurs National Park

According to a Voyageurs National Park press release, a recent survey of the park’s moose population revealted that it is holding steady. The aerial survey sited 45 moose–a pleasant surprise for park officials given the decline of other moose populations acrosss northeastern Minnesota and southern Ontario.

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The State of the Wilderness 30 Years After the BWCAW Act of 1978

On the thirtieth anniversary of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act of 1978, Wilderness News set out to assess the current state of the wilderness and its management. We uncovered a transformation in the challenges facing the region. Where issues like motor use once topped management concerns, they are giving way to increasingly complex challenges that defy man-made boundaries and may have significant implications for how we think about — and manage — the Boundary Waters.

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The 100th Anniversary of the Quetico Superior Region

2009 marks the 100th Anniversary of the initial formation of what would become Quetico Provincial Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. What started as a long and jagged process of preservation and restoration resulted in a huge, roadless and protected forest being celebrated today.

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Welcome

Welcome to Wilderness News Online! We couldn’t be more excited to launch the online version of the Quetico Superior Foundation’s publication Wilderness News. Our goal is to become your online news source for the unique issues and challenges impacting the Quetico Superior region–because an informed public can practice informed stewardship of this ecologically and culturally…

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