HomeOutdoorsNewsBiden Administration Officially Bans Mining Near Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Wilderness Area

Biden Administration Officially Bans Mining Near Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Wilderness Area

by Brett Stayton
Boundary Waters Canoe Area
Photo By Sam Wagner/Getty Images

The Boundary Waters of Minnesota is one of the most spectacular places on Earth. The area includes more than 1 million acres, 1,100 lakes, and 1,500 miles of canoe routes near the Canadian border. The area is designated as wilderness, and actually has a ban on motorized boats. It’s a world-class bucket-list type of destination for hikers, campers, fishermen, canoers, kayakers, and paddleboarders. With more than 250,000 annual visitors, it’s the most visited wilderness area in America. However, there has been ongoing controversy centered around plans to develop a copper-nickel mine in the area.

That situation gained quite a bit of clarity earlier this week though. The Biden Administration officially decreed a moratorium on all mining activity in the area for the next 20 years. Outdoor Life just shared that the decision will withdraw more than 225,000 acres in the Superior National Forest from being signed into potential mining leases.

Department of Interior Announces Stringent Protections For Boundary Waters

The announcement was made this past Thursday by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “With an eye toward protecting this special place for generations, I have made this decision using the best-available science and extensive public input,” she said. “The Department of the Interior takes seriously our obligations to steward public lands and waters on behalf of all Americans. Protecting a place like the Boundary Waters is key to supporting the health of the watershed and its surrounding wildlife, upholding our Tribal trust and treaty responsibilities, and boosting the local recreation economy.”

Mining advocates speak mostly about the positive economic impact and jobs that the mines would create. However, other folks simply feel like it’s not worth potentially imperiling one of the last great wildernesses in North America. “Not only is this announcement a milestone in the history of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, but it also affirms the immeasurable value of the Boundary Waters to Minnesota’s outdoor economy, its unparalleled recreational opportunities, and its contribution to the legacy of our nation’s public lands and waters,” says Lukas Leaf, the executive director of Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters. “Thank you to all who have stood shoulder to shoulder with us for years in defense of the Boundary Waters.”

Minnesota Legislators Upset By The Decision

Lawmakers from Minnesota are amongst some of the people most upset by the decision though, which shows just how politicized the issue has gotten. They consider it to be just another example of federal overreach by the polarizing presidential administration.

Congressman Pete Stauber’s district includes the Boundary waters. He called the decision “a direct attack on our way of life. A large number of a bipartisan coalition of state representatives also blasted the decision. They even sent an angry letter to the Biden Administration.

“Simply put, this order is an all-out attack on the communities and region that we represent,” the letter says. “It is unacceptable that your administration is once again choosing to invest taxpayer dollars in the development of Chinese-owned mines in nations that employ child-slave labor while blocking the development of taconite, copper, nickel, cobalt, platinum-group elements, and many more critical minerals here in America.”