Author Archives: cmahler

Court Upholds State’s Sulfate Rules

A Ramsey County Court judge upheld Minnesota’s restrictions on sulfate pollution in waters that host wild rice plants, denying a Minnesota Chamber of Commerce challenge that the rules were vague and arbitrarily applied.

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Moose Population Continues Decline

The number of moose dwelling in Minnesota continues to decline according to the latest Minnesota Department of Natural Resources survey numbers, putting this fall’s moose hunt into question.

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Northshore Mining Fined $240,175

Northshore Mining was fined $240,175 by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency after its taconite processing plant in Silver Bay was cited for 30 air quality violations in 2010 and 2011.

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Oberholtzer Foundation Wins Grant

The Ernest Oberholtzer Foundation recently received an Historical and Cultural Heritage Grant from the Minnesota Historical Society for restoration work at the late wilderness advocate’s Mallard Island residence.

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Cravaack to Introduce Land Exchange Bill

Minnesota U.S. Representative Chip Cravaack said last week that he plans to introduce a bill in Congress to order exchange of state-owned land in the Boundary Waters for federal land in the Superior National Forest.

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Protestors Demonstrate Against Mine

Opposition to plans to mine copper, nickel, and precious metals in northeastern Minnesota took on an “Occupy Wall Street” tone when protesters demonstrated outside a Duluth Chamber of Commerce meeting yesterday.

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Superior Forest Head to Retire

Jim Sanders, who has held the top post on the Superior National Forest longer than any other forest supervisor, will retire at the end of December after 15 years in the position.

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Plan Would Buy, Swap State BWCAW Lands

A plan being hammered out between federal, state, and local lawmakers and interest groups could see the federal government swap 43,000 acres of land with the State of Minnesota and buy another 40,000 acres for $80 million.

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Some BWCAW, National Forest Areas Reopening

Areas in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the Superior National Forest closed to the public because of their proximity to the Pagami Creek Fire have been reopened thanks to cooler, wetter weather and increased containment of the blaze.

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Pagami Creek Fire 80% Contained

Despite last week’s hot, dry weather and high winds, firefighters battling the Pagami Creek Fire in northeastern Minnesota now have the blaze 80% contained, officials reported Monday morning.

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BWCAW Drops Permit Lottery

Superior National Forest officials will no longer hold a lottery to distribute Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness permits for the most popular dates and entry points.

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State Prospecting Leases Postponed Again

For the third time this year, Minnesota’s Executive Council has delayed the sale of a set of northeastern Minnesota mineral exploration leases on properties where the state holds mineral rights but private individuals own surface land.

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Weather Keeps BWCAW Fire From Growing

Wet weather in northeastern Minnesota over the weekend helped firefighters in their battle with the Pagami Creek fire which raced across the Boundary Waters last week and continues to threaten the area.

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As BWCAW Fire Slows, Recriminations Flare

After a second day in which weather conditions allowed a growing team of firefighters to hold ground against the fire burning in the Boundary Waters, frustration over the Forest Service’s initial response to the blaze has flared.

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Weather Slows Advance of BWCAW Fire

Cooler weather on Wednesday that included rain and even some snow showers helped slow the advance of the Pagami Creek fire in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness which has consumed more than 100,000 acres of forest.

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Pagami Creek Fire Nearly Quadruples in Size

Fanned by gusty northwest winds, the Pagami Creek Fire nearly quadrupled in size yesterday, charring Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness forest from Lakes One and Two in the north to just north of Clearwater Lake in the south.

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Burning Used to Reduce Fire Danger

Superior National Forest officials are using intentional burns to reduce the danger posed by a small, lightening ignited fire near Lake One and Lake Two in the Boundary Waters east of Ely, Minnesota.

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State Mineral Lease Sale Delayed Again

A council of top Minnesota government officials has again delayed the sale of a set of northeastern Minnesota mineral exploration leases on properties where the state holds the mineral rights but private individuals own the surface land.

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Wildfire Grows in Boundary Waters

A lightning-caused wildfire in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness that smoldered for a week has grown to 130 acres and is now being closely monitored by U.S. Forest Service officials.

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Wolf Commnet Period Re-Opened

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is re-opening the comment period on its proposal to remove endangered species protection from gray wolves in the western Great Lakes states.

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Moose Also Struggling in Canada

Moose populations on the Canadian side of the Quetico-Superior region’s international boundary are also showing long-term declines according to aerial surveys by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

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Judge Denies Cell Tower Near BWCAW

A Hennepin County judge ruled Wednesday against AT&T’s proposed 450-foot lighted cellular communications tower which would have been visible deep into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

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Voyageurs to Conduct Deer Tick Survey

Voyageurs National Park officials are partnering with the Minnesota Department of Health this summer to collect data on deer ticks. Deer ticks are known to carry pathogens for Lyme Disease and other maladies.

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Minnesota Changes Wolf Hunting Plans

The state environmental bill signed into law this morning by Minnesota governor Mark Dayton changed the the state’s wolf management plan by allowing establishment of a hunting season as soon as the gray wolf is removed from the federal Endangered Species List.

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Glencore Buys More of PolyMet

Glencore International, the Swiss commodities and natural resources behemoth, furthered its stake in PolyMet Mining, buying an additional $13.1 million of the company’s stock. PolyMet plans a copper-nickel mine near Babbitt, Minnesota.

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PolyMet EIS Slowed by Shutdown

The Minnesota state government shutdown is delaying work on PolyMet Mining’s revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement which depends on the efforts of Department of Natural Resources and the Pollution Control Agency officials.

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PolyMet Gets Loan, Buying Land

PolyMet Mining closed a $4-million loan from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board and exercised its option to buy 5,375 acres of land it plans to swap with the U.S. Forest Service for its proposed mining operation.

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USFWS Concerned About Stricken Bats

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced yesterday that bats stricken with white nose syndrome may warrant federal protection as threatened or endangered species. One of the species, the northern long-eared bat, is a northeastern Minnesota resident.

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DNR Let Lutsen Violations Slide

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources admits it repeatedly let the Lutsen Mountain ski resort draw more water from the state-protected Poplar River for snow-making than its 1964 permit allowed.

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State Mineral Lease Sales Postponed

A council of top Minnesota government officials has postponed the sale of 77 northeastern Minnesota mineral exploration leases on properties where the state holds the mineral rights but private individuals own the surface land.

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International Task Force Issues Report

The International Lake of the Woods and Rainy River Watershed Task Force recently released its draft report addressing how Canada and the United States should work together to manage water quality and related issues in the watershed.

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Wild Rice Rally to Greet Governor

Environmental advocates will greet Minnesota governor Mark Dayton with a rally in support of wild rice protection when he visits northern Minnesota for the walleye fishing opening this weekend.

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Interior Secretary Announces Wolf Plan

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar formally announced his department’s plan to remove the eastern gray wolf from federal protection under the Endangered Species Act and return management of the animal to state and tribal governments by the end of this year.

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Cell Tower Near Voyageurs Rejected

While a court ruling on an AT&T cellphone tower near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness awaits a judge’s decision, the Koochiching County Board rejected a request by the company to build a 350-foot tower near Voyageurs National Park.

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Chain of Lakes: No Quota Change

In the latest chapter of an on-going saga rankling local residents and outfitters, the U.S. Forest Service will not adjust permit quotas for motorboats on the Moose Lake to Prairie Portage chain of lakes leading into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness near Ely.

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Klobuchar Calls for Wolf Delisting

Minnesota U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar wants gray wolves removed from the federal Endangered Species List, calling for the state, environmental groups, and others to work together on management of the predator.

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Feds Again Propose Wolf Delisting

Federal officials will once again try to remove the gray wolf from protection under the Endangered Species Act, saying populations of the animal have recovered in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

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Late Spring Prompts Fishing Closures

Due to anticipated late ice-out on several lakes and rivers along the Minnesota-Ontario border, some waters will be closed to fishing at the start of this year’s season to protect concentrations of spawning walleye from potential over-harvest, the Minnesota DNR has announced.

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Voyageurs Moving to New Headquarters

In a move that reflects the warmed relations between Voyageurs National Park and its gateway community, park officials are set to move their headquarters to a new complex leased from the city of International Falls.

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Sulfates Standard Change Proposed in House

Legislation to markedly roll back the allowable amount of sulfate in wild rice waters in Minnesota is being proposed in the Minnesota House where proponents say current standards are too strict and not based on solid science.

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Officials Call Voyageurs Day a Success

Community officials from the International Falls area called this month’s Voyageurs National Park Day in Washinton, D.C. a success for raising awareness of the park and region among Minnesota’s federal lawmakers.

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Old Mine Drainage Worries Advocates

The drainage of pollutants from an abandoned mine near Ely coupled with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency allegedly lax oversight of the situation has environmental advocates concerned about the state’s ability to oversee the large copper-nickel mines proposed for the area.

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Congressman Pushing PolyMet Project

Newly-elected Minnesota 8th-District Congressman Chip Cravaack met recently with company officials, regulatory agencies, and elected officials in an attempt to expedite PolyMet Mining’s proposed copper-nickel mine near Babbitt.

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Cut in Moose Hunting Permits Likely

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials are likely to cut the number of moose hunting permits in half next fall due to the continued decline in the population of moose in northeastern Minnesota.

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DNR Seeks Comments on BWCAW Lakes

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is seeking comments on its management plans for a number of lakes and streams in the Finland area, including six lakes in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

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Moose Decline Continues in NE Minnesota

The number of moose in northeastern Minnesota continues to fall, according to aerial survey results released by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The current population is now estimated at 4900 animals, down from the 5500 estimated last year.

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PolyMet Won’t Produce Copper Metal

PolyMet Mining’s plan to mine and mill copper, nickel, and precious metals near Babbitt won’t result in production of finished copper metal on-site, the company announced in a change of plans yesterday.

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GPS-Collar Moose Study Underway

In an on-going effort to understand the reasons behind decline in Minnesota’s moose population, a study using global positioning system technology to track the massive ungulates in underway.

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PolyMet Hires Former MPCA Commissioner

PolyMet Mining, the Canadian firm that hopes to build a $600-million copper-nickel mine near Babbitt, has hired former Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner Brad Moore as an Executive Vice President.

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Broad Implications for PolyMet Loan Suit?

A lawsuit brought by a coalition of environmental groups questioning the legality of a Iron Range Resources loan to PolyMet Mining could have wide-ranging implications for projects supported by Minnesota state government money, some worry.

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Coalition to Sue Over Park Air Quality

A coalition of environmental organizations intends to sue the Environmental Protection Agency and two other federal agencies over haze pollution in national parks and wilderness areas, including Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

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Wolf Lawsuit Stayed Until June

A lawsuit brought by two Minnesotans and joined by the state’s Department of Natural Resources calling of removal of Upper Midwest wolves from the federal Endangered Species List has been stayed until June.

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Environmentalists Sue Over PolyMet Loan

Five environmental groups are suing the State of Minnesota over a $4-million loan that Iron Range Resources approved for PolyMet Mining as part of its plan to mine copper, nickel, and precious metals near Babbitt.

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Voyageurs Continues Collared Moose Study

Nineteen adult moose will be captured and fitted with telemetry collars this month as part of a continuing project to investigate the potential effects of climate change and other factors on the long-term viability of moose in Voyageurs National Park.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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