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…

Cormorant Control Approved for Lake Vermilion

According to the Ely Timberjay newspaper the DNR recently announced their decision to kill up to 10% of the Double Crested Cormorants on Lake Vermilion, in Minnesota, this summer. In addition, cormorant eggs will be spread with vegetable oil to prevent them from hatching and at the same time not stimulate the birds to renest.…

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…

St. Louis County Board Favors BWCAW Land Swap

U.S. Representative-elect Rick Nolan may have gone on record saying the BWCAW Land Swap probably wouldn’t see traction this year, but this month the St. Louis County Board passed a resolution in favor of the swap anyway. According to an article on Northland’s Newscenter, the board voted 5 to 1 in support of the state law…

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…

New Film: Sled Dogs to St. Paul

When former Minnesota State Representative Frank Moe mushed his team of sled dogs into St. Paul last winter, the runners on his sled sparked as they crossed snowless patches on the road. Moe and his team of 10 sled dogs carried 13,000 signatures on a petition against sulfide mining–they’d ridden all the way from Grand…

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…

Border Security vs. Wilderness Protection

Another new bill raises concerns about potential development in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives waives environmental regulations on public land within 100 miles of international borders.

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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…

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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AT&T Suspends Tower Construction Until Trial

In an agreement hammered out in a Minneapolis courtroom, AT&T has agreed to suspend construction of a controversial cell phone tower at the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness until a trial determines its ultimate fate.

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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.

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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.”

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$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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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