Photo courtesy of Boundary Waters / Twitter

Boundary Waters to Boston: Saving the BWCA

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) is the nation’s most visited wilderness area. Tucked away in the far-northern part of Minnesota, the area contains 1.1 million acres of untouched lakes, rivers, and woodlands. In accordance with its name, only canoes, kayaks, and boats with small electric motors are allowed into the BWCA. An area free of roads and cell phone service, its natural beauty and seclusion from society draw many to visit.

However, the beauty of the BWCA has been recently threatened because of its trove of mineable metals. On Sept. 6, 2018—while the eyes of the nation were fixated on Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination—the Trump Administration quietly opened the beautiful public lands for foreign mining companies to extract sulfide ore metals—namely copper and nickel.

What is so concerning for me, along with many others who are passionate about this issue, is that mining companies like Toronto-based PolyMet do not have good track records when it comes to environmentally friendly mining. The mines will be located on the Kawishiwi River, which flows into many of the lakes and streams that are a part of the BWCA. If a mining problem was to occur, such as a leak, the polluted water would flow down the river and spread to bodies of water around the BWCA. The worst part is that any damage that takes place can never be fixed. It would permanently pollute the waters, woodlands, and lives of the wildlife that call the BWCA home.

With its only permanent residents being moose, deer, and other wildlife, the BWCA cannot speak up for itself. I think it is incredibly unfair that the government, as well as the mining companies, believe that they have the right to threaten this natural gem. Currently, the water in these lakes is so clean that you can see the floor from nearly twenty to thirty feet above. If the mines pollute these lakes, the cleanliness of the water, the freshness of the air, and the lives of the wildlife will be changed indefinitely. I don't think the government officials and mining companies that advocate for mining in this wilderness realize the importance of conserving the purity of the BWCA. These entities believe that because no human lives there, they have full control over the land—and that is neither fair nor right.

As a student at Boston College, which is 1,600 miles away from the Boundary Waters, you may be asking, “What do does this have to do with me and BC?” First off, this area is a National Forest, so it technically belongs to all United States citizens. Second, this issue is related of many other environmental concerns that have been put under threat by both the Trump administration and other international leaders. Lastly, even if you have never had a connection with or knowledge about the BWCA, you are still absolutely welcome to help in standing up for it. I encourage you to sign the petition, so that senators and other government officials know how important it is that this remarkable place be protected.

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