Author Archives: Greg Seitz

YMCA Camp Widjiwagan: Generations of Exploration

YMCA Camp Widjiwagan: Generations of Exploration

On the pine-covered shores of Burntside Lake’s North Arm twenty miles northeast of Ely, Camp Widjiwagan has been a launching point for teenagers to explore wilderness since 1929. Today, some families are sending their fourth generation of campers to Widji, where the fundamental experience hasn’t changed much since their grandparents’ days. The camp still uses…

Campsite Reservations Coming to Voyageurs National Park

Starting in 2014, it will be possible to reserve some campsites in Voyageurs National Park. Previously, all sites in the park were available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The new system is the result of a three-year public engagement process. Reservations for all campsites in the park will be phased in over the next few…

Islands on Two Northern Minnesota Lakes Acquired by Public Agencies

Islands on Lake Vermilion and Burntside Lake will be protected from development after being purchased by the U.S. Forest Service and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, respectively. The Trust for Public Land (TPL) recently helped acquire and transfer to government ownership Wolf Island on Vermilion and Gaul Island on Burntside. Fifty-eight-acre Wolf Island has…

Forest Service Fighting Two Small Fires in Boundary Waters

Two small fires are burning in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and are being intensively managed by Superior National Forest crews. The fires have not yet resulted in the closure of any entry points, but some campsites are affected. The larger of the fires has burned about 100 acres near the South Arm of…

Release Date Set for Revised PolyMet Environmental Review

Starting late this fall, the public will have a chance to review and comment on the amended environmental review for the first proposed copper-nickel mine in northern Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has announced that the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for PolyMet will be released on November 22. A public comment…

Wolf Hunt Quota Lowered Due to Population Decline

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will allow 180 less wolves to be killed during the 2013 hunting season than last year. The new quota was announced after the DNR said earlier this month that Minnesota’s wolf population had declined by about 25 percent in the past five years. “The changes are a management response…

Wolf Numbers Decline, Range Increases in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says the first survey of the state’s wolf population since last fall’s inaugural hunting season shows the population remains strong. Estimates of wolf numbers have declined by 710 since the last survey, in 2008. Despite the smaller numbers, the DNR says the population remains strong and the area of…

Popular Ely Bear Researcher Denied Permit

Bear feeding at the North American Bear Center in Ely. Photo by Michael Lore via Flickr. Lynn Rogers, who has studied black bears in northern Minnesota for 46 years, was recently denied a new research permit by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. In a letter to Rogers, the DNR says Rogers’ research, which includes…

Mining Truth Coalition Launches Summer Campaign

The environmental coalition Mining Truth, comprised of the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, Conservation Minnesota, and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, has announced a new campaign. The “4 Simple Questions” effort is intended to educate the public about the risks of sulfide mining, and call on Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton to adhere to…

Montana Economist Presents in Minnesota on Mining Cost-Benefits

Retired University of Montana economics professor and researcher Tom Power was in northern Minnesota this week to speak about the risks of mining-dependent economies. He gave presentations in Duluth and Ely sponsored by environmental organizations. Power’s research has found that mining does not typically lead to the prosperity promised by its proponents. This is largely…

Sigurd Olson Exhibit Opens in Ely

The International Wolf Center in Ely, MN has opened a new exhibit dedicated to wilderness writer and author Sigurd F. Olson. The exhibit is focused on Olson’s legacy as a writer, wilderness advocate and wolf researcher. Before Olson was well-known as a conservationist and author, he did groundbreaking research on wolves. In a statement, Wolf…

New Version of PolyMet Environmental Review Released to Cooperating Agencies

A revised draft of the environmental review for the first-ever copper mining project proposed in Minnesota has been completed. PolyMet Mining Corp.’s new document has been distributed to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, tribal governments, and other state and federal agencies which are involved in the process. The release comes almost…

Researchers Call for Isle Royale Wolf Management

Three scientists have published an op-ed in the New York Times calling for the National Park Service to not let Isle Royale’s wolf population disappear. There are now so few wolves on the remote Lake Superior island that there are questions about whether or not there is enough genetic diversity, and even enough females, to naturally survive. Wild vs.…

Moose Population Holding Steady in Voyageurs National Park

Photo by Steve Wall via Flickr The moose population in Voyageurs National Park remains steady, according to a Park Service study released Tuesday. Aerial surveys conducted in late February indicate a population of 46 animals, compared to 51 in 2009. Over the same time period, the population of northeastern Minnesota moose is believed to have declined…

Anti-mining Activists to Open Office in Ely

New mine proposals in northeastern Minnesota have prompted a group of local citizens and businesses to plan an anti-mining “action center” on Ely’s Sheridan Street. The office will provide information to visitors and residents, and is expected to open by Memorial Day weekend. The effort is being spearheaded by Steve Piragis, proprietor of wilderness outfitter…

South Kawishiwi River Named One of America’s “Most Endangered Rivers”

The South Kawishiwi River, which flows into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, has been named one of “America’s Most Endangered Rivers” as a result of the Twin Metals mine proposal and other mineral exploration nearby. The annual report by American Rivers, a national organization which works to protect and restore the nation’s rivers, highlights…

Border Security Intrudes on Boundary Waters

Campers deep in northern wildernesses are being harassed by U.S. Border Patrol helicopters, and the problem could get worse if new policies are implemented. This conflict between solitude and security is outlined in a new report (PDF) from national advocacy group Wilderness Watch, and described in a Star Tribune commentary by Wilderness Watch’s Kevin Proescholdt…

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