Letter: Raise your voices before it’s too late

Published 7:20 pm Thursday, May 23, 2019

In 2000, visiting the town of Grand Marais, I learned about the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. I have made trips into this wonderful place and introduced friends and family members.  Each trip has provided us with memories, bonding, peacefulness and personal challenges. We have had many wildlife sightings and good fishing.

Lately, though, I can’t seem to stop a song from 2002 from resonating in my head. 

“They paved paradise

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And put up a parking lot

With a pink hotel, a boutique

And a swinging hot spot

Don’t it always seem to go

That you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone

They paved paradise

And put up a parking lot

They took all the trees

And put ‘em in a tree museum

And they charged the people

A dollar and a half to see ‘em…”

(Counting Crows: “Big Yellow Taxi”)

On May 15, the federal government reinstated leases for Twin Metals sulfide-ore mining operations on the edge of the BWCAW, and in its watershed. Are we going to stand by as elected officials allow a foreign mining corporation to pave paradise and put up a parking lot (build a sulfide-ore mine that will pollute the BWCAW, Quetico, and Voyageurs National Park with sulfuric acid and toxic metals)?  Once sulfide is exposed to water, oxygen and bacteria, it continually interacts to form sulfuric acid. The sulfuric acid continues to corrode the rock and metals, which exposes more sulfides indefinitely. 

Sulfuric acid can be fatal to plants, animals and human beings. It is virtually impossible to forecast an adequate disaster fund for the mining company to set aside since pollution could go on indefinitely.  The mining companies will be long gone, their disaster funds will be depleted and Minnesotans will get stuck holding the cleanup bill.

Is clean, drinkable and habitable water a priority in Minnesota? Research conducted by the U.S. Copper Porphyry Mines Report show that of the 14 current modern sulfide-ore mines operating in the U.S., 13 have had serious system failures that resulted in significant water pollution.

Please educate yourselves now so that you know what we have before it is gone: engagement with nature, pristine lakes whose water you can drink, wilderness trips, solitude experiences, loons, moose and unbelievable fishing and tax money in the future.

If mining is allowed to take place, it will be such a disgrace to have to go to a Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Museum to get a relegated version of the BWCAW wilderness experience.

Please stand up, raise your voices and contact your elected officials. A “Save the Boundary Waters” rally was at the Capitol on Wednesday at 3 p.m. in the Minnesota state Capitol rotunda. If you are interested in learning more, please visit the savetheboundarywaters.org website, or visit the “Save The Boundary Waters” Facebook page, where you will find upcoming events in your area.

John Sand