Category Archives: Legislation/Policy

Protecting Our Wild Rice Heritage

Protecting Our Wild Rice Heritage

Evaluating Minnesota’s water sulfate standard for wild rice. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is reviewing its standards for protecting wild rice in Minnesota. With funding from the Minnesota State Legislature, the agency conducted a two-year study to determine how sulfate—the presence of which in water has been linked to an absence of wild rice—and other chemicals affect the health of wild rice.Continue Reading

Ontario Endangered Species Act Weakened

The Ontario Provincial Cabinet announced May 31st its approval of several exemptions for industry under the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA).  Many environmental organizations are incensed at the this government action. They fear it is an abdication of public government’s responsibility to protect Ontario’s endangered plants and animals. Specifically, the exemptions for the forest industry…

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.…

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…

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…

Increased Protection for Moose Does Not End Hunting

The Department of Natural Resources’s recent announcement that the moose will be listed as a “species of special concern” comes with a certain irony: the lowest designation on the Endangered Species List does not limit hunting of the animal. According to the Regional Roundup at the Pilot Independent, moose hunting will only be impacted if…

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…

Moose Targeted for Extra Protection

Minnesota’s moose population has dropped by about half since 2005–a rate of decline that could lead to the animal disappearing from the state in 20 years. That’s earned the moose on a list of 591 animals, plants and insects deemed “species of special concern.” According to an article in the Star Tribune, it’s a potential…

Wolf Hunt Starts Saturday

Minnesota’s first wolf hunting season begins this Saturday, November 3. More than 23,000 people applied for wolf hunting licenses, and according to the DNR, 6,000 hunters received licenses. They’ll be allowed to take up to 400 of the state’s 3,000 wolves over two general hunting seasons and one trapping season. According to a Kare11 article,…

Groups Sue to Stop Wolf Hunt

The Humane Society of the United States and the Fund for Animals are filing a suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in an attempt to halt wolf hunts in Minnesota and Wisconsin. According to a press release by the Humane Society, the motion came on the first day of the first public wolf hunt in the…

Pollution Control Agency Ramping up Water Monitoring

State and local organizations, and even citizens, will begin monitoring lakes, rivers and streams in Minnesota’s Lake Superior North Watershed. It’s part of a new monitoring approach by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). The initiative is known as “Intensive Watershed Monitoring,” in which water experts from local soil and water conservation districts, the Minnesota Department…

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.Continue Reading

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…

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.Continue Reading

AT&T Asks Courts to Overturn Tower Ruling

AT&T asked the Minnesota court of appeals to overturn a decision barring the company from building a 450-foot cell phone tower on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). In a brief filed at the beginning of January, AT&T argued that Hennepin County District Judge Philip Bush wrongly applied state law to…

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.Continue Reading

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.Continue Reading

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.Continue Reading

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.Continue Reading

MN State Parks Suffer during Shutdown

MN State Parks are losing $1 million a week in camping permits, trail fees, fishing licenses and concessions as the government shutdown drags on during the height of tourist season. How will the economies of northern Minnesota towns be affected?Continue Reading

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.Continue Reading

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.Continue Reading

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.Continue Reading

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.Continue Reading

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.Continue Reading

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.Continue Reading

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.Continue Reading

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.Continue Reading

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.Continue Reading

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.Continue Reading

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.Continue Reading

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.Continue Reading

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.Continue Reading

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.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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.Continue Reading

Feds Ask Minnesota to Tighten Haze Regulations

The heads of Voyageurs National Park and the Superior National Forest asked Minnesota Pollution Contol Agency board members to tighten restrictions on taconite and coal-burning power plants as the state impliments new haze reduction regulations.Continue Reading

Bringing Broadband to the North Shore

Voters in Cook County will decide on a sales tax in November that would support the construction of a fiber optic network and the expansion of high speed internet to the North Shore. Proponents argue that Internet connection is vital to economic sustainability.Continue Reading

Forest Service Taking Comments on South Fowl Trail

The Forest Service is accepting public comments on the development of a new snowmobile trail from McFarland Lake to South Fowl Lake in far northeastern Minnesota. The new trail was necessitated by the closure of the Tilbury Trail which crossed land included in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.Continue Reading

Guns in Voyageurs: Not Yet

A law passed in May that will allow loaded firearms in Voyageurs and other national parks is not in effect yet. That’s the message Voyaguers officials are spreading, noting that the law doesn’t take effect until February 22, 2010.Continue Reading

Wolves Back on the Endangered Species List

Two weeks ago, five wildlife protection groups filed a complaint against the removal of Great Lakes Wolves from the Endangered Species List. Today, wolves are back under federal protection as the result of a court ordered settlement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the protection groups. According to Associated Press coverage on WCCO,…

Groups Sue Over Wolf Decision

Five wildlife protection groups have filed a complaint in Federal District Court challenging the removal of federal Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the Upper Midwest.Continue Reading

Stimulus to Rehab Voyageurs Campsites

Voyageurs National Park will use $230,000 in federal stimulus funding to rehabilitate campsites over the next two years. The money appropriated through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will support work on some 38 campsites in the park.Continue Reading

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.Continue Reading

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