Joseph Goldstein: A “Wish” to Protect the Boundary Waters
We are humbled and inspired by the passion shown here by Joseph Goldstein. It’s amazing to see how the
Boundary Waters has impacted his life and inspired him to make it his mission to protect the wilderness. The
following is a letter Joseph drafted and sent to decision makers in D.C., which he shared with us.
My name is Joseph Goldstein. I am 13 years old, I live in Springfield, Illinois, and in October of 2014 I was
diagnosed with leukemia (ALL). I’m writing today to request the opportunity to meet with you to discuss
the protection of one of America’s most beautiful and pristine wildernesses: The Boundary Waters Canoe
Area. This very special place is at risk from sulfide-ore copper mining, and I have made it my Wish to
permanently protect the BWCA from this danger.
When the Make A Wish foundation first came to me, I was pretty surprised and didn’t really know what to
say to their offer. The idea of having a wish granted was…uncomfortable. They talked to me a lot about all
the Wishes they grant every year – trips and swimming pools and ponies. I’ll admit that I did like the idea
of asking for a trip to the North Pole, something my dad and brother and I have talked about doing with
our friend and explorer, Paul Schurke, but it just didn’t feel right – it didn’t feel BIG enough.
After we left the hospital, I kept thinking that a wish is an important thing. I think it should be about more
than just me. It should be about my brothers and my friends and my parents and all of us – a wish for my
generation and everyone after. I have been exploring the Boundary Waters since I was 5 years old, both
summers and winters. I know what an important, beautiful place it is, and I know how much my friends
and teachers all want to hear more about where we went and what we did. I want them to have the
chance to be there and love it, too. I want them all to know what it feels like to pull a huge Pike from the
lake, to clean and cook it over a fire they built, and to be able to drink straight from the lake (I know I’m
not supposed to but the point is I CAN). Everyone I know is interested, even if they haven’t yet had the
chance to experience it, and I want to protect that opportunity for everyone, forever.
Because of my experiences in the BWCA and the friends we have made there, I’ve had the chance to
travel to and learn from a lot of other wild places. I have seen, first hand, that a lot of damage has been
done because of short sightedness, and I know that there is no “safe” way for the area around the BWCA
to be mined. Water and runoff won’t understand man’s boundaries, and sulfide-ore mining for copper and
nickel will create destructive pollutants that will poison the water, and kill the fish, the animals and the
forests of the Boundary Waters. This type of mining is just shortsighted destruction for temporary gain. I
know that there are people who call this job creation, but I hope we can come up with something better.