BWCA makes American Rivers 2013 List of Endangered Rivers

American Rivers named the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness among America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2013 today. American Rivers is a leading environmental organization working to protect and restore the nation’s rivers and streams.  Since 1973, American Rivers has fought to help protect and restore more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual release of “America’s Most Endangered Rivers”. American Rivers believes that the proximity of a proposed copper nickel mine near the South Kawishiwi River threatens the water quality of that watershed. The mine, proposed within the Superior National Forest but just outside the wilderness area, would produce large quantities of waste rock, sulfuric acid, and a variety of toxic metals. This is a reputable environmental outfit and their annual list of endangered rivers is short. The fact that the BWCA made the list shows a depth of concern. What makes sulfide mining different from the iron mining which has been done in northern Minnesota for a long time is that the rock must be pulverized to extract the copper. The result is thousands of tons of waste rock the consistency of baby powder. There are other problems with sulfide mining, but for me, the insurmountable one is what to do with all this “powder”. It will eventually get into the water and silt it up. One of the greatest treasures of the BWCA is water clarity. This proposed mining is a major threat to that clarity. And for what? Polymet recently sold out a large share of its stake in the effort to a multinational based in Hong Kong. The real money from this “development” will not go to residents of the area but to mucky mucks who don’t know which end of a canoe is the stern and don’t care. Once built these mines are built they are so automated all the locals will get is murky water. A big reason people live in northern Minnesota is for the lifestyle and that includes clear, clean water.  It is also one reason the area is cherished worldwide by canoeists. Sulfide mining in northern Minnesota? Not on our watch. Let’s stop it now.

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