Yearly Archives: 2010

Critics Concerned by Loan to PolyMet

Environmental advocates are concerned with a $4-million loan granted by the state of Minnesota’s Iron Range Resources board to PolyMet mining which hopes to open a controversial copper-nickel mine near Babbitt.Continue Reading

2011 BWCAW Permit Lottery Now Open

The lottery for 2011 permits for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is open until January 15, 2011 for BWCAW visitors who hope to assure themselves of permits for specific entry points on specific dates.Continue Reading

Regional Deer Harvest Up 20%

The number of deer harvested in northern St. Louis County during the recently concluded 16-day firearms deer season increased 20% from last year, according to Minnesota Deparment of Natural Resources statistics.Continue Reading

Easement Conserves 76,000 Forest Acres

A conservation easement agreement will keep some 76,000 acres of northern Minnesota forest protected for sustainable forestry, wildlife habitat, and recreation, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced yesterday.Continue Reading

Book Gathers Boundary Waters Writing

A new book — The Firegrate Review: A Canoe Country Chapbook — published by the wilderness advocacy group Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, gathers the BWCA experiences of 19 writers in a collection of stories, essays, and poems.Continue Reading

Atikokan Looks Ahead to Gold Mine

Atikokan, the northern gateway community to Quetico Provincial Park, is considering what steps to take to become gold mining town. Osisko Mining expects to have a gold mine in the Atikokan area, perhaps by 2015.Continue Reading

Voyageurs Moose Study Seeks Answers

A GPS-based research study on the moose that inhabit Voyageurs National Park seeks to unravel the knotty question of what exactly is causing the decline in the animal’s population in northeastern Minnesota.Continue Reading

Moose Hunters Find Success

Despite warm temperatures during the start of the hunting season and a declining moose population, northeastern Minnesota moose hunters were more successful bagging animals this season than last year.Continue Reading

Petition Filed Over Taconite Plant Emissions

Five environmental advocacy groups including the Voyageurs National Park Association and the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness have filed a petition with the federal Environmental Protection Agency objecting to an air pollution permit granted to the United Taconite processing plant in Forbes, Minnesota.Continue Reading

Heart of the Continent Seeks Communities

The Heart of the Continent Partnership, an association of land managers, researchers, government officials, and local stakeholders, is seeking to add representatives of the region’s communities to its collaborative effort.Continue Reading

Minnesota DNR Awarded Mercury Grant

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has been awarded a $1.6 million federal Environmental Protection Agency grant to study atmospheric mercury emissions from the state’s taconite processing plants.Continue Reading

Quetico Plan Comments Due Friday

The initial public comment period for proposed changes to the Quetico Provincial Park management plan will close on Friday. Park managers are considering designated campsites and defined travel routes in the park as well as commercial dog-sledding operations and the development of a long-distance hiking trail.Continue Reading

Group Finds Mine Pollution near BWCAW

The advocacy group Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness claims that sulfide mine pollution is occurring at a 36-year-old mine site off of Spruce Road near the South Kawishiwi River just miles from the limits of the BWCAW.Continue Reading

Presentation to Discuss BWCAW Archaeology

A presentation sponsored by the advocacy group Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness will discuss the discovery of several siltstone quarries on the BWCAW’s Knife Lake which are believed to date to paleolithic times. The event will take place on Tuesday, October 19 in St. Paul.Continue Reading

New Quetico Plan in Review Stage

Proposals for changes to Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park’s management plan — possibly including designated campsites and defined travel routes — are in the public comment stage until mid-October. Park managers are also considering development of a long-distance hiking trail in the park as well as authorizing commercial dog-sledding operations.Continue Reading

Feds Will Try Again to Delist Wolves

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will try again to remove gray wolves from the endangered species list in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The USFWS has tried three other times return wolves to state and tribal management, only to be stymied in court.Continue Reading

Bear Head Lake State Park Ranks #1

Minnesota’s Bear Head Lake State near Ely has won a $100,000 contest naming it “America’s Favorite Park.” The park garnered 28% of the 5.7 million votes cast by the public in the America is Your Park campaign sponsored by Coca-Cola.Continue Reading

Last Chance to Take our Survey

There’s still time to share your opinion! In the recent Summer 2010 issue of Wilderness News, we published the results of our reader survey sent by mail – but if you missed it, you can take our Online Survey and have your voice heard. Help Us Stay Up to Date: As a free subscriber to Wilderness…

Minnesota DNR Seeks Vermilion Park Input

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is seeking public input as part of its Lake Vermilion State Park planning process. The DNR is asking citizens to respond to a short questionnaire on its web-site this month.Continue Reading

Wilderness News Print Edition Summer 2010

The Summer 2010 Issue of Wilderness News Print Edition is now online! Download the full pdf, read the feature stories – from wilderness research on Fall Lake to the impact of climate change on the BWCAW, updates on mining controversy and a new hiking trail through the Arrowhead, find out what’s going on in the Quetico Superior region.Continue Reading

“Savannification” Still Expected in North Woods

University of Minnesota forest ecologist Lee Frelich continues to foresee a transition from forest to savanna taking place at the margins of Minnesota’s north woods. Newly published research suggests that within the century, the climate and ancillary factors will make significant changes to the state’s prairie/forest border.Continue Reading

Freshwater Jellyfish Appear in Namakan Lake

Tiny freshwater jellyfish have recently made a rare appearance in Namakan Lake along the Ontario border. The creature — Craspedacusta sowerbii — is the size of a small coin and typical shows itself toward the end of warm summers.Continue Reading

Small Fire Burning in BWCAW

A small forest fire is burning south of the Gunflint Trail in a remote section of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in the general vicinity of Long Island Lake.Continue Reading

Parks Movie Nominated for Regional Emmy

Minnesota’s National Park Legacy, a film made in collaboration with Voyageurs National Park Association and the state’s seven National Park units and produced in partnership with Twin Cities Public Television has been nominated for an Midwest Regional Emmy Award.Continue Reading

Invasive Spiny Waterfleas Discovered Near Boundary Waters

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) confirmed that spiny waterfleas were discovered by anglers in Burntside Lake near Ely last week. Burntside Lake is a popular entry point into motorless area of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Water fleas are tiny, but pose threats to lake life. The animals can collect in masses…

Forest Service May Demolish Historic Buildings

A Depression-era complex of log and stone cabins near Ely may be razed by the U.S. Forest Service, contending that while they may have historical significance, the buildings are too expensive to maintain. The Kawishiwi Laboratory and Forest Research Center is known to some for pioneering research on wolves and bears. Several of the property’s…

Lake County Responds in Cell Tower Dispute

Lake County filed a “friend of the court” brief in Hennepin County District Court this week siding with AT&T Mobility in the cell tower suit brought against the company by Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness. The advocacy organization objects to the 450-foot tower due to its impact on scenic beauty in the Boundary Waters.Continue Reading

Petition Asks for Continued Wolf Protection

A petition by the Center for Biological Diversity asks the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to continue endangered species protection on wolves in the Great Lakes and Rocky Mountains until the predators have expanded their territory to more of the United States.Continue Reading

Cell Tower Suit Spurs Discussion

The lawsuit by the advocacy group Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness to halt construction of a 450-foot=high cellular communications tower near Ely has recently prompted commentary from those who hail and oppose the effort.Continue Reading

VNPA to Celebrate 45th Anniversary

The Voyageurs National Park Association will celebrate its 45th anniversary with Le Fete du Voyagers on Tuesday, July 27th. The “Celebration of the Voyageurs” will also commemorate Voyageurs National Park’s 35th year of existence as a National Park.Continue Reading

PolyMet Impact Statement to be Rewritten

State and federal agencies will rewrite the the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for PolyMet Mining’s proposed copper-nickel and precious metals mine near Babbitt. The rewrite comes after the federal Environmental Protection Agency deemed the initial Draft EIS “Environmentally Unsatisfactory-Inadequate.”Continue Reading

Museum Tells Gunflint Trail Story

A former fishing camp on northeastern Minnesota’s Gunflint Trail has reopened as a museum telling the story of the natives, voyageurs, miners, loggers, and recreationists who played a role in the region’s rich history.Continue Reading

$1 Trillion in Metals Buried Near BWCAW

With an estimated $1 trillion worth of copper and other precious metals buried beneath the surface along the South Kawishiwi River near the southern border of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the tangle over mineral development and natural resource protection appears likely to continue well beyond those surrounding the PolyMet copper-nickel mine in nearby Babbitt.Continue Reading

BWCAW Reservations Down in 2010

Reservations for overnight stays in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness this summer were down as of late-May, adding more credence to concerns about a fall-off in visitation to the nation’s most-visited wilderness area.Continue Reading

Wilderness News Spring 2010 is Online

Featured in this issue:
Big Bill Wenstrom — Last Man Standing by Barbara Wenstrom Shank and William P. Wenstrom. Special Report: New Trends in Visits to Quetico-Superior Wilderness by Charlie Mahler. Book Review: A Modern-Day Voyageur Family; Paddling the 3,000 Mile Fur Trade Canoe Route Across the U.S. and Canada, by Timothy J. Kent. Wilderness Essay: Moments of Clarity by Andy Wright. The Heart of the Continent Partnership Comes of Age, by Rob Kesselring.Continue Reading

Big Bill Wenstrom – Last Man Standing

Sig Olson’s readers were introduced to Big Bill Wenstrom in Open Horizons (p. 97). Sig wrote: “It was Big Bill Wenstrom who taught me how to throw on a canoe. He didn’t tell me, but I noticed the ease with which he did it, the balancing on his thighs, the short kick of the hips, the twist of the arms as the canoe went overhead…”Continue Reading

Friends of the BWCAW Sues Over Cell Tower

The wilderness advocacy group Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness filed suit on Tuesday to halt construction of a 45-story cell-phone tower on a ridge close to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness near Ely. The group says the AT&T tower, which will be lighted, will be visible from within the BWCA.Continue Reading

Moose Symposium Set for Thursday

A symposium aimed a getting a better understanding of moose population dynamics in a world affected by climate change is set to take place this Thursday in International Falls. The “Moose in a Warming World” symposium, co-sponsored by Voyageurs National Park Association and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, is open to the public.Continue Reading

PolyMet Impact Statement May Be Redone

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may redo their Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the PolyMet copper-nickel mining operation proposed near Babbitt. The original Draft EIS was declared “environmentally unsatisfactory-inadequate” by the federal Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year.Continue Reading

Ely-Area Bears Apart, But Doing Well

Lily and Hope the celebrity bears being observed by researchers at the North American Bear Center continue to live separate lives, although both appear to be doing well. Lily, the mother bear, and Hope, her cub who’s birth was web-cast earlier this year, have been apart since May 31.Continue Reading

Voyageurs Program Will Discuss Ojibwe Traditions

A program sponsored by the Friends of Voyageurs National Park will discusses Ojibwe traditions and life growing up in the north country. Presenter Ida Mainville will explain how the voyageurs and the Ojibwe people interacted and influenced each other. Continue Reading

Take the WN Survey

As a free subscriber to Wilderness News, you appreciate the feature stories, book reviews, and reports on critical issues in the Quetico-Superior region we deliver to your door. Please answer a few quick questions and help us make Wilderness News even betterContinue Reading

Lake Vermilion Park Deal Finalized

The dream of a Lake Vermilion State Park is now a reality after the State of Minnesota and U.S. Steel Corporation signed a deal yesterday that put 3,000 acres of company land along the picturesque lake under state ownership.Continue Reading

Loons Could be Gulf Spill Victims

Common Loons, birds emblematic of the Quetico-Superior region, could face survival problems due to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Many of the loons that nest on Minnesota and Ontario lakes in summer, winter along the Gulf Coast.Continue Reading

Bear Cub Abandoned Again

Hope, the most famous black bear cub in North America, has been abandoned again by her equally famous mother Lily. The latest separation comes just a week after the pair first became separated but were dramatically reunited.Continue Reading

Forest Advisory Committee to Convene

An advisory committee intended to to enhance local community collaboration with federal officials who manage the Superior National Forest will convene for the first time on June 11, the U.S. Forest Service announced recently.Continue Reading

Lost Bear Cub Found, Reunited with Mother

The bear cub known as Hope, which was separated from its mother over the weekend and feared dead, was found yesterday, hiding in a tree in Eagles Nest township west of Ely. Researchers were able to successfully reunite the cub with its mother.Continue Reading

Well-Known Bear Cub Lost

An Ely area bear cub whose birth last winter was shown world-wide by a remote web-camera focused on its mother’s den is missing. The North American Bear Center, which has been following the cub and its mother since the birth, reported that mother and cub had separated on Saturday.Continue Reading

Ely Mayor Sentenced in BWCAW Case

Ely mayor Roger Skarba was sentenced yesterday for riding his snowmobile in a federal wilderness area and entering the wilderness without a permit. Skarba received a $3630 fine, 40 hours of community service, and two years of probation.Continue Reading

Eagle Nests Prompt Voyageurs Restrictions

Voyageurs National Park announced the closure of three developed campsites and three undeveloped areas due to the presence of active bald eagle nests. The restrictions come under the auspices of the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Management Act.Continue Reading

Book Review: Our Neck of the Woods

As essay collections go, Our Neck of the Woods is more of a confessional than a nature tale. Up and down the state, and via every outdoor pastime (fishing, hunting, skiing, canoeing, camping), writers confess to a love of Minnesota …Continue Reading

Gypsy Moth Fight Begins Anew

Minnesota’s battle against the gypsy moth is ready to resume. The state’s Department of Agriculture is about to set 23,000 traps for the moths across the eastern border of Minnesota to note where new outbreaks of the invasive pest are occurring.Continue Reading

2010 Warmest Early-Spring on Record

The early-spring of 2010 was the warmest on record in the Quetico-Superior region according to data from the International Falls weather station, which has observed conditions longer than any other station in the area.Continue Reading

Campfire Restrictions Relaxed

While continuing to deem the fire danger in northeastern Minnesota “high,” the U.S. Forest Service has relaxed some of the restrictions put in place earlier to reduce the likelihood of wildfire starting Superior National Forest.Continue Reading

The Future of Moose in a Warming World

A combination of challenges threaten Minnesota’s sensitive moose populations – warming temperatures, changes in precipitation, increased varieties of diseases and parasites, and changes in predator populations. Are we watching the end of moose in Minnesota?Continue Reading

Bracing for an Historic Fire Year

Although weekend rains may have lessened the immediate fire danger in the Quetico-Superior region, wildland fire experts say this year could shape up to be one of the worst fire years in a generation.Continue Reading

Rains Should Lessen Fire Danger

Rain predicted for later today should lessen the extreme fire danger that has accompanied the earliest and driest spring on record in Northeastern Minnesota. Yesterday, despite high winds and dry air, firefighters were able to control new fires and keep others contained. Continue Reading

Fire Danger Still High

Despite some light showers over the weekend, wildfire danger in Northeastern Minnesota is still high according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.Continue Reading

Fire Restrictions to be Tightened

Fire restrictions will be tightened on Friday in the Superior and Chippewa National Forests as continued dry weather raises the risk of wildfire. The Minnesota DNR is also tightening fire regulations.Continue Reading

Do Voyageurs and a Garbage Vaporizer Mix?

Plans by Koochiching County to build a gasification facility which would use a plasma arc torch to vaporize garbage and other waste in order to produce energy is being scrutinized by environmental advocates since the facility would be a neighbor to Voyageurs National Park.Continue Reading

Voyageurs Park Seeking Public Input on New Fees, Reservation System

The public is invited to attend one of two forums to learn about and comment on the Park’s proposed fee and reservation system for interior lake campsites and boat rentals on the Kabetogama Peninsula as well as fees for tour boat programs. Voyageurs National Park Superintendent Mike Ward will host a presentation about the proposed changes, and will open the floor to public comments and questions…Continue Reading

Frelich Ponders Forest Future

University of Minnesota forest ecologist Lee Frelich will discuss the long-term future for vegetation in the Quetico-Superior region in a lecture kicking off the Heart of the Continent Partnership’s quarterly meeting later this month.Continue Reading

Wolf Delisting Suit Filed

As anticipated, a suit to remove Minnesota wolves from the federal Endangered Species List and to return management of the animals to the state has been filed in federal district count.Continue Reading

Voyageurs National Park Turns 35

Voyageurs National Park will celebrate its 35th birthday on Thursday, commemorating the April 8, 1975 date of its authorization by Congress as the country’s 36th national park. The northern Minnesota park will remember the anniversary on its birthday and throughout 2010.Continue Reading

Klobuchar, Oberstar Pressing Coast Guard

Minnesota U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and Eighth District Congressman Jim Oberstar are working to solve a licensing issue that has proved cumbersome for small-boat operators and fishing guides in northeastern Minnesota and elsewhere.Continue Reading

Voyageurs Invites Comments on Fees

Voyageurs National Park is inviting public comments on a reservation system and fee structure it is considering for the park’s interior campsites on the Kabetogama Peninsula. Park officials say a reservation system would guarantee campsite availability. Continue Reading

Minnesota DNR Announces Fishing Closures

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, in cooperation with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, has announced the locations along the U.S./Canada border in Northeastern Minnesota that will be closed to fishing in the early spring.Continue Reading

PolyMet Investors Turn Cautious

Investors in PolyMet Mining Corporation are showing caution over possible delays in the development of the NorthMet copper-nickel and precious metals mining operation near Babbitt after criticisms of the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement by the EPA.Continue Reading

House Considers Financial Assurance

The Minnesota House of Representatives is considering a bill to tighten the financial assurances required by mining companies operating in the state, even though a companion bill in the state senate has been withdrawn.Continue Reading

Minnesota Wants Gray Wolf Delisted

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has filed the petition with the U.S. Department of the Interior arguing that the gray wolf should be immediately removed from the federal government’s endangered and threatened species list and returned to state management.Continue Reading

Financial Assurance Bill Withdrawn

A bill in the Minnesota State Senate which could have raised the financial assurance requirements for non-ferrous mining companies in the state was withdrawn by its sponsor after lengthy hearings in St. Paul. Continue Reading

Vermilion Park Legislation Advances

A bill in the Minnesota State Senate which would raise the limitation on what the state can spend for the purchase of 3,000 acres of land for a new State Park on Lake Vermilion cleared a hurdle yesterday.Continue Reading

PolyMet Issues Come to State Capitol

Issues surrounding PolyMet Mining Company’s proposed copper-nickel and precious metals mining operation near Babbitt, reached the Minnesota state capitol yesterday at a hearing of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.Continue Reading

Senate Committee to Consider PolyMet

Next week, the Minnesota Senate’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee will hear testimony on issues surrounding PolyMet Mining Company’s proposed NorthMet copper-nickel and precious metals mine.Continue Reading

Legislature Mulls PolyMet Assurances

Minnesota state legislators will soon consider bills which could raise the level of financial assurances required by PolyMet Mining Company in order to operate its proposed NorthMet copper-nickel mining operation near Babbitt.Continue Reading

EPA Criticizes PolyMet Plans

The Environmental Protection Agency, noting more than two dozen inadequacies in the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposedPolyMet copper-nickle mine, says the project should not go forward as planned.Continue Reading

Chorus Grows for Wolf Delisting

A growing chorus in favor of removal of the eastern gray wolf from the federal Endangered Species List could culminate in a lawsuit to force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to turn management of the species over to state agencies.Continue Reading

Could Land Swap Hamstring PolyMet?

Could restrictions on the Superior National Forest land where PolyMet Mining wants to establish Minnesota’s first copper-nickel mine stymie the company’s plans to open its project in a timely fashion?Continue Reading

Gunflint Green-Up Focused on Release

Releasing young pine trees for increased growth will be the focus of the this year’s Gunflint Green-Up scheduled for Friday and Saturday, May 7 and 8. The third annual event is a community effort to help reforest areas devastated by the 2007 Ham Lake Fire.Continue Reading

NE Minnesota Moose Decline Continues

The decline in northeastern Minnesota’s moose population continues, according to new survey data released by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources this week. An aerial survey done in January estimated that 5,500 moose reside in northeastern Minnesota.Continue Reading

Voyageurs to Study Declining Moose

Voyageurs National Park officials plan to radio-collar 14 moose this month to investigate the potential effects of climate change and other factors on the long-term viability of moose in the park.Continue Reading

Friends of the BWCAW Criticizes PolyMet Plan

Citing “numerous serious flaws in the environmental review process and the project proposal,” the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness called for no action to be taken to advance PolyMet Mining Company’s proposed copper, nickel, and precious metals mine near Babbitt.Continue Reading

Locals Largely Favor Vermilion Park

A recent story in the Timberjay found that local officials are largely positive about plans by the State of Minnesota to purchase 3000 acres of land on Lake Vermilion from U.S. Steel Corporation for a new State Park.Continue Reading

Suit Planned Over Tailings Basin

Three environmental advocacy a groups are planning a lawsuit over pollution violations from the tailings basins of the former LTV Steel plant near Hoyt Lakes which PolyMet Mining intends to use for its planned copper-nickel mining operation.Continue Reading

Voyageurs Park to Get its Day in D.C.

In March, Voyageurs National Park will have a day to itself with Minnesota’s U.S. Senators and Representatives in Washington D.C., when a delegation heads to the nation’s capitol to lobby for Minnesota’s only National ParkContinue Reading

Deal Struck for Lake Vermilion Park

A deal to purchase 3000 acres of land abutting Lake Vermilion has been struck between the State of Minnesota and U.S. Steel Corporation, paving the way for what would be the state’s first new State Park in 30 years.Continue Reading

Voyageurs’ Park Ice Road Open

It’s truly winter at Voyageurs National Park these days: the ice road from the Dove Island Boat Landing to Rainy Lake City and the Black Bay Ski Trail is now open. In addition, all of the park’s ski and snowmobile trails are groomed and open for recreation.Continue Reading

Cross-Border Partnership Recognized

The Heart of the Continent Partnership was honored recently for its “ongoing effort to promote trans-boundary cooperation and research” at the World Wilderness Congress, the organization has announced.Continue Reading

Namakan Hydro Comment Period Opens

The inspection and public comment period for the proposed Namakan River Hydro Development Project got underway in late December with the release of the project’s Draft Environmental Report by the Ojibway Power and Energy Group.Continue Reading

Gypsy Moth Numbers Increasing

The number of gypsy moths in northern Minnesota continues to rise, despite successful efforts to eradicate established populations of the exotic insect.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture reported recently that it trapped 28,000 gypsy moths in the state in 2009, more than double the 2008 count.
Continue Reading

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