Priority Campaign 2022

Boundary Waters

Boundary Waters
Photo: Alex Falconer

The Conservation Alliance harnesses the power of businesses and outdoor communities to protect North America’s cherished wild places and outdoor spaces. Through the collective strength of our membership – companies from banks to breweries and outdoor gear – we champion solutions that balance the best interests of the land and water, wildlife, and people. Since 1989, we’ve helped protect 81 million acres and 3,580 river miles, remove or halt 37 dams, purchase 21 climbing areas, and designate five marine reserves.

In 2023 and 2024, we are investing additional advocacy resources in six priority campaigns. Each campaign is focussed on natural resource conservation, adapting to a changing climate, recognizing the rights of Indigenous communities, and protecting habitat in places that are also valued for human-powered recreation. We announce our Advocacy Priority Campaigns once a year. In collaboration with our grantees, we work to identify land and water conservation opportunities that are urgent, vital, and need national attention.

Boundary Waters, Minnesota

What’s at stake?

The environmental health of the most visited wilderness area in the United States, home to 4.3-million-acres of wilderness comprising parks and wild lands, stretching north across the Canadian border. Each year thousands of people go to the Boundary Waters to camp, fish, paddle, dogsled, hunt, and hike. This healthy Wilderness supports 4,500 direct jobs and a $16 billion economy. Currently, However, the Boundary Waters is threatened with proposals for sulfide-ore copper mining on neighboring land, which would cause irreversible harm to water quality, wildlife, public health, and the sustainable outdoor recreation-based economy.

What’s the solution?

Permanent protection for the Boundary Waters Canoe Areas that would save the area for current and future generations. And there’s a pathway to make that happen: on January 26, 2022, the Biden administration announced it had canceled the two mining leases for a proposed sulfide-ore copper mine right next to the Boundary Waters. While this move addressed the immediate mining threat, a permanent protection is still not finalized.

The Conservation Alliance joins groups advocating for permanent protection for the Boundary Waters through:

  • Finalizing a proposed federal 20-year ban on copper mining in this watershed, and
  • Passing permanent protection bills in Congress and the Minnesota legislature.
Who is The Conservation Alliance’s partner?

The Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters is led by Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness and was organized by local residents in and around Ely, Minnesota. The Conservation Alliance has been a proud supporter of Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness since 2015.

Photo: Alex Falc
Photo: Nate Ptacek