Joe Baltich lives near Ely, Minn.
These days, everybody has a lot to say about mining, tourism and the northern Minnesota economy. Many from the Twin Cities area oppose an underground copper-mining proposal near Ely and have been trying to stop the project in its tracks.
One of their reasons for doing so is well-intended — they want to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The second reason is more self-serving — they want to protect it for whenever the day comes that they decide to pay a visit.
I felt that it is time someone actually from Ely explained our reality. We want to protect the BWCA all the time, and we also want to be a viable, vibrant community. It is hard to do that with outside forces trying to stifle economic activity. I was recently asked by a Twin Cities resident to sign an anti-mining petition. Here is a condensed version of the letter I sent in reply:
The whole town of Ely is economically collapsing. Last year, 156 people were in the obituaries, and the New Year’s baby was born on Feb. 10. Resort bookings for May and June were substantially off, and I’m pretty sure they will be down for July and August.