Three more days to comment on proposal to block mining near the Boundary Waters

One thousand people attended a public hearing on the proposal in St. Paul in July. Most pro-mining advocates boycotted the event. (Photo by Margaret Smith, used with permission)
One thousand people attended a public hearing on the proposal in St. Paul on July 18, 2017. Most pro-mining advocates boycotted the event. (Photo by Margaret Smith, used with permission)

The deadline for public input regarding the possibility of closing the Boundary Waters watershed to mining for at least twenty years has been extended to midnight this Thursday, August 17.

The comment period was originally supposed to close on August 11, but a mistake in an earlier announcement from the Forest Service led to a last-minute change in plans.

Now, interested individuals have a few more days to weigh in. Comments may be submitted via email to comments-eastern-superior@fs.fed.us.

The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management are considering a proposal that would withdraw public lands from mineral leasing on about 234,000 acres of Superior National Forest which drain into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

The proposal was made in the waning days of the Obama administration last December. President Trump’s chief of the Forest Service has since stated they plan to let the process play out. Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) recently introduced legislation that would stop the proposal and open the lands up to mining again.

During the seven-month comment period on the withdrawal plan, the government hosted well-attended hearings in St. Paul and Virginia.

When the comment period was originally announced on January 13, it was only scheduled to last 90 days. An announcement extending the period mistakenly listed the new deadline as August 17.

“A revised Federal Register Notice of Intent was later published on April 13, 2017 stating the comment period would only be extended to August 11, 2017,” said Constance Cummins, Superior National Forest supervisor. “Due to the inconsistent information regarding the comment period ending date, substantive formal comments received by August 17, 2017 will be accepted and considered timely.”

Comments can also be submitted via a form on the Forest Service website.

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