Category Archives: Land and Resource Use

Major Twin Metals Partner Declines To Increase Stake in Project

Major Twin Metals Partner Declines To Increase Stake in Project

Mine proposal near the Boundary Waters loses significant source of funding. Chilean mining company Antofagasta PLC has declined an opportunity to take a bigger financial stake in the Twin Metals project near Ely, MN. The move means the company—which has invested more than $200 million in the joint venture so far—will pass up the chance for a controlling stake in the project, and operations will revert to junior mining company Duluth Metals.

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Helping Northern Forests Survive the Heat

On the front page of October 20 Sunday Star Tribune, an article “Saving the Great North Woods” addresses many climate-related issues and their implications to the future of the Quetico Superior biomes. Star Tribune Online includes a few short videos that further clarify what is happening and what efforts are being made to measure changes…

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…

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…

2013 Poll Indicates Public Opposition to Sulfide Mining Exceeds Support

48% of Minnesotans polled oppose sulfide mining in northeast Minnesota while 39% favor it. Results of the January, 2013 poll, sponsored by Minnesota Environmental Partnership, were the first to demonstrate that opposition exceeded support for the proposed mining. Annual polls on this subject have been held every year starting in 2008. Since 2009, there has…

Finnish Musher Wins WolfTrack Classic

The Duluth News Tribune reports that Musher Jennifer Freking of Finland won Sunday’s 10-dog, 60-mile WolfTrack Classic Sled Dog Race from Ely to Cook, MN. It was the 5th annual running of the event and snow conditions were excellent. To be successful, the event requires the cooperation and a valiant effort by Ely residents and…

Minnesota Moose Population Drops by a Third in One Year

According to Saint Cloud Times reporter Glenn Schmitt, MN DNR aerial survey results last month indicate a 35 percent drop in the northeast Minnesota moose population from the previous year and a 52 percent decline from 2010. The current estimate of the moose population is 2,760 animals down from 4,320 animals in 2012. Although DNR…

EPA Issued Rule to Cut Haze over BWCAW

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Voyageurs National Park will both get added protection from haze under a new ruling from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. According to the EPA, the regulations should reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides by about 22,000 tons per year and sulfur dioxide emissions by about 2,000 tons. An article…

Boundary Waters Advisory Commission Meets with Forest Service to Discuss Restoration of Pow Wow Hiking Trail

When most people think of summer recreation in the Boundary Waters Wilderness, images of canoes, blue lakes and fishing come to mind. To a cadre of backpacking enthusiasts the BWCAW is also home to the wildest backpacking trails in the midwest. These trails enable citizens to safely penetrate a wilderness, detached from canoe routes, and…

Iron Range to Get Two Ore Recovery Plants

Magnetation, LLC announced this week that it will build two plants in northern Minn. for iron ore recovery. It will also convert an old ethanol plant into an iron ore pellet plant in Reynolds, Indiana. Superior, Wis. had been competing for the facility. The company currently processes mining waste to reclaim iron ore in two…

Three Companies Bid for Mineral Rights

The mining story continues to unfold in northern Minnesota, where three companies participated in the latest mineral rights auction. According to an article in the LaCrosse Tribune, Duluth Metals LLC bid on nine parcels northwest of Silver Bay, Encampment Minerals Inc. bid on 21 parcels south of Hoyt Lakes, and MMG USA Exploration LLC bid on…

Cummings Lake Fire an Example of New Forest Service Fire Fighting Policy

Lake and area closures have been lifted in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, though fire restrictions remain in place HERE. The suppression of the recent Cummings Lake Fire has prompted some people to note that the Forest Service has changed its fire fighting policy. The Brainerd Dispatch recently pointed out the striking difference between…

Mining in Minnesota: Ely’s Steve Piragis Offers His Take on Keeping Wilderness Pristine

As northwoods mining takes center stage on the economic and environmental stages, a long time land use debate is resurfacing among neighbors who make Ely, MN their home. Steve Piragis, owner of Piragis Northwoods Company, is no stranger to that debate. He and his wife have run their shop and guide service since 1979.

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New Bills Could Open Wilderness Areas to Hunting, Fishing, Motors

When the U.S. House passed the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012 two months ago, it didn’t get much attention. But after further analysis, the bill is increasingly seen as a real threat to wilderness protections. It would expand access to hunting, fishing and motor vehicle use on public lands–including areas like the Boundary Waters Canoe…

$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.

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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.

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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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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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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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Wolf Island Protected

Wolf Island Protected

Wolf Island is a place of legend and lore, holding the footprints of both Native Americans and Voyageurs. The Trust for Public Land (TPL) has taken advantage of a one-time opportunity to protect this prominent archeological site in the middle of Lake Vermilion, one of the premier lakes located in the Minnesota northwoods. Wolf Island,…

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