About the Issue.

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area is a wilderness area in Northern Minnesota that is 1.1 million acres of pristine water and unspoiled woods. It has a long history of environmental protections put in place, dating back to 1909 when President Theodore Roosevelt, who loved it and understood its importance to America, established the Superior National Forest.

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is America’s most visited wilderness area. It contains 1.1 million acres of pristine water and unspoiled woodlands. Along with the Superior National Forest, it contains 20 percent of all the fresh water in the entire National Forest System.

The immediate danger to the BWCA comes in the form of sulfide ore copper mines that have been proposed immediately on its border, upstream and within its watershed. Sulfide-ore copper mining is much more toxic than Minnesota’s traditional taconite mining. It produces giant waste piles that, when exposed to air and water, leach sulfuric acid, heavy metals and sulfates. Sulfide-ore copper mines pollute groundwater, rivers and lakes, and in the entire history of sulfide mining, this acidic pollution has never been avoided

Hard rock mining, most of which is sulfide-ore mining, contributes to more superfund sites than any other activity. It has, in fact, been deemed “America’s most polluting industry” by the EPA.

Pollution from these mines will flow directly into the heart of the Boundary Waters. Even conservative models of pollution show that waterways would carry contaminants into the Wilderness. A single mine in this watershed will continually pollute the wilderness for at least 500 years.

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