NBC News reporter Harry Smith recently visited Dave and Amy Freeman in the Boundary Waters, where they are nearing the end of a year spent living full-time in the wilderness.
In a segment for the Sunday TODAY program that aired yesterday morning, the journalist crossed portages and paddled around Birch Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness with the adventurous married couple.
At Dave Freeman’s encouragement, Smith even drinks water directly from the lake, celebrating how it is one of the few places it’s still safe to do that.
“Some of the cleanest water in the world,” Freeman says.
Clean water is the emphasis of the story, as it centers on the couple’s goal of stopping copper-nickel mines adjacent to the wilderness. As Dave points out, the proposed Twin Metals mine is at the headwaters of the South Kawishiwi River, which flows through much of the BWCAW. Smith also notes that, not only do Dave and Amy go through all the normal efforts of living in canoe country, they also write and maintain social media accounts to spread the word about the threat.
The report also covers how the Freemans work together, traveling and advocating, living out of a tent as a married couple who spend all day every day together. It shows them at home in their favorite
Back in town, Smith interviewed Ely major Chuck Novak, who fondly recalls the lifestyle when Iron Range mines were employing more people.
“When the whistle blows and you go home and in five minutes you can be on your boat with your fishing pole in the water, that’s pretty nice,” Novak said.
The Freemans will exit the wilderness on September 23, the fall equinox, one year after paddling into the Boundary Waters. They seem to already be contemplating the end of the expedition.
“A lot of people have asked what we’re going to do when we get back to the ‘real world,’ but the more time I spend out here, the more I think: this is as real as it gets,” Amy Freeman says.