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American Rivers has listed the Boundary Waters as one of 10 most endangered rivers in the United States for 2013.
The 1.1 million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is the most popular wilderness area in the country. The South Kawishiwi River, which flows into the Boundary Waters, is threatened by copper-nickel mining proposals by Twin Metals Minnesota and others on adjacent unprotected public lands.
There is a lot of controversy over this issue and there are views from each side.
Here is a summary from American Rivers as to why this is a threat to The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
The Boundary Waters is endangered by a proposal to create a massive copper-nickel mine adjacent to the South Kawishiwi River and within two miles of the Boundary Waters. The Boundary Waters watershed is also negatively impacted by extensive exploration for additional mine sites. If copper-nickel mines are developed, polluted waters from the South Kawishiwi will flow through some of the most popular Boundary Waters lakes, including the iconic Basswood.
According to the EPA (Toxic Release Inventory: 2010 National Analysis), hardrock mining produces more releases of toxic materials than any other industry. Approximately 99% of the rock extracted in the proposed mine will be waste. When this waste rock interacts with water and air, sulfuric acid and toxic metals will be released. Similar mines throughout America generate hundreds of millions of gallons of acid mine drainage and will require active water treatment for thousands of years to avoid complete destruction of streams and groundwater.
With the Boundary Waters and Superior National Forest as a magnet, vibrant local economies have developed in Ely, Grand Marais, and other communities around the Wilderness. Large numbers of vacation home owners, retirees, and quality-of-life residents provide an economic and tax base for the area. Scores of diverse businesses thrive because of the economic activity generated by tourism and residents attracted to the region. Poisoning of the Boundary Waters would drastically, if not fatally, undermine these thriving local economies.
Learn more in this short video about the BWCA.
Blog posted from Kawishiwi Lake, Superior National Forest, Lake No. 1, MN 55731, USAView larger map