Sportsmen alert: Deadline to comment on BWCA environmental assessment is Saturday, Aug. 13

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By Lukas Leaf
Executive Director, Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters

We’re down to one week for hunting, fishing, and wilderness advocates to make their voices heard in an important public review process that directly affects the future of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

The Boundary Waters is currently under threat from proposed sulfide-ore copper mining at its headwaters by the Chilean mining company Antofagasta, which owns Twin Metals MN. This type of mining has a lousy track record of polluting, especially in such a water-rich environment like the Boundary Waters. Sulfide-ore copper mining on the edge of the Boundary Waters would cause irreparable damage to the very quality that makes these public lands and waters so unique.

A long-awaited analysis from the U.S. Forest Service hit last month indeed shows that copper-nickel mining poses a major risk to the BWCA, and a USFS draft environmental assessment proposes a 20-year ban on copper-nickel mining on federal lands in the watershed. If adopted, the proposal would prohibit the development of any mineral leases on approximately 225,504 acres of Superior National Forest lands within the watershed of the Boundary Waters for up to 20 years.

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Lukas Leaf is the executive director of Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters.

Bottom line, the EA validates what is obvious to any person devoted to this incredible water wilderness where we hunt and fish: The risk of copper-nickel mining to the purest waters remaining in the Lower 48 is unacceptable. This type of mining is not compatible with the BWCA watershed, and it’s clear that there’s solid scientific footing to implement the proposed 20-year mineral withdrawal.

Now, it’s up to us to guarantee that this precious wilderness will be conserved for our future generations in perpetuity, which is why it’s incredibly important for supporters of permanent Boundary Waters protection to send comments in favor of the latest environmental assessment.

Dsc 2319The USFS has extended the initial public comment period on the EA through 8 a.m. EDT on Saturday, August 13. After the public comment period concludes, federal agencies will read, record and evaluate any written feedback it receives. That’s why it’s incredibly important for supporters of permanent protection of the Boundary Waters watershed to send comments in response to the latest Environmental Assessment right now! This is a process that is designed for community participation. If we want to guarantee that the Boundary Waters, America’s most-visited wilderness area, is protected for future generations to fish, hunt, and paddle, this is the most direct forum for us to show our support for that outcome.

After federal agencies have evaluated the written comments submitted during the comment period, agency officials will respond to any concerns or questions raised by stakeholders and produce either another draft environmental assessment or a final EA for public review. The Bureau of Land Management will then develop findings and recommendations for consideration by the Secretary of the Interior, who will ultimately decide on whether or not to establish the withdrawal period requested by the U.S. Forest Service. The final determination can and should be a 20-year moratorium on copper-nickel mining in the watershed of the Boundary Waters.

You can still participate by signing our petition via this link. On behalf of all of sportsmen, sportswomen, and any citizens who use and cherish America’s most visited wilderness, Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters thanks you for supporting these efforts.

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