Battle escalates over mining moratorium near BWCAW – by John Myers (Duluth News Tribune – June 2, 2017)

Conservation, hunting and angling groups are battling back against U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan’s effort to undo a moratorium on mining on federal land near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Groups such as the Izaak Walton League of America and Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters kickstarted a campaign this week for supporters to call Nolan’s offices and tell the Democrat from Crosby to leave the two-year mining ban and a proposed environmental review in place.

On Thursday, Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters ratcheted up the debate by purchasing a full-page ad in the News Tribune. They’ve also scheduled a noon rally Friday in front of Nolan’s Duluth office.

“Representative Rick Nolan is giving away our hunting and fishing heritage in the Boundary Waters,” the ad claims, asking sportsmen to call Nolan’s office and tell him to support the two-year moratorium on mining exploration that accompanies a federal environmental review of potential mining impacts on the region’s ecology. Critics are especially concerned about proposed copper-nickel mining projects that have the potential to release acidic runoff into the BWCAW watershed.

The moratorium was unveiled this past winter, in the last days of the Obama administration, which also canceled mining exploration leases to Twin Metals, the Chilean-owned company that wants to build a large underground copper mine along the Kawishiwi River, southeast of Ely and on the edge of the BWCAW.

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