We were honored today to have former MN Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources, Tom Landwehr, as our speaker.  Tom's time in that role ended with the 2018 change from Mark Dayton to Tim Waltz as governor of MN and he is now serving as Executive Director of "Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness", an organization of residents in and around Ely, Minnesota, who are dedicated to creating a national movement to protect the clean water, clean air and forest landscape of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and its watershed.  The name of the current campaign is "Save The Boundary Waters" and is directed at the efforts by a Chilean Mining Company to begin mining copper, nickel and other metals from sulfide-bearing ore at a location in the BWCA.  Pollution from this mine would flow directly into the heart of the Boundary Waters.  Even conservative models show that waterways would carry contaminants into the Wilderness and that a single mine would pollute this wilderness area for at least 500 years.
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is America's most visited wilderness area.  It contains 1.1 million acres of pristine water and unspoiled woodlands.  Along with the Superior National Forest, it contains 20 percent of all the fresh water in the entire National Forest System.  The Chilean company has filed suit and the current administration in Washington D.C.has been taking steps to support the mining proposal, including shutting down an
environmental study that had not yet been completed and released.  The current Washington administration favors job creation over pollution prevention but Tom noted that the jobs created by this mine would be less than the economic losses the area would see due to the loss of tourism in the BWCA.