Advocacy Update from the Executive Director

We don’t need to tell you that this is a challenging time for our national park. Bills are being passed by the House to reduce our vital land acquisition funding (LWCF), to allow hunting in the park and to largely cede authority in Voyageurs to Homeland Security. Minnesota and the EPA approved a state plan that allows pollution trading instead of cleaning up the specific plants that pollute Voyageurs’ air, and a group in Ontario may again pursue a hydroelectric dam that has dire consequences for Voyageurs' Lake Sturgeon population and waters.  We could use your help, as our ongoing diligence on these and other matters is critical. Your membership contribution supports our advocacy efforts for the park. We will keep you informed as opportunities arise to sign on to letters and raise your voice to your representatives. Land and Water Conservation Funding (LWCF)

VNPA has worked actively over the last 6 months with the LWCF Coalition and the Minnesota congressional delegation to ensure that a proposed two-year allocation of $1.4 billion was included in the federal transportation bill. LWCF provides the resources to acquire public lands from willing sellers across the country and has been vital to VNPA’s land preservation initiative. Unfortunately, the LWCF provision was not included in the final make-up of the federal transportation bill, and we will need to continue our campaign to ensure that LWCF receives a significant federal funding allocation.

Hunting Bill (HR 4089)

A bill that could potentially open national park lands to hunting and recreational shooting recently passed the House and is awaiting Senate consideration. While VNPA understands the potential economic and recreational benefits, we view hunting as incompatible with the National Park’s purpose.  VNPA will continue to monitor this bill and work to prevent hunting or recreational shooting in Voyageurs and other National Parks.

Border Bill (HR 1505)

Legislation passed the House that would give the Dept. of Homeland Security complete authority in lands along our national borders.  The current multi-jurisdictional approach to monitoring the borders is not broken, and border security officers on-the-ground believe this bill is not necessary.  Voyageurs could be open to road construction, security towers and other intrusive projects. VNPA has been working with both of the Minnesota senators to urge their support in preventing this bill from becoming federal law.

Namakan Dam

Rumors are circulating that the Namakan River hydro-project is starting up again. The Namakan River runs between Voyageurs National Park and Quetico Provincial Park; the only unprotected portion of the river has been targeted as a potential location for a hydroelectric project. Small-scale hydro construction would be disastrous for the threatened Lake Sturgeon population that calls the Namakan home. VNPA is heading the Namakan Coalition to: track the status of the project, create a plan to ensure that this dam is not constructed and work on long-term protection of this stretch of the Namakan River

Regional Haze

The EPA approved the Minnesota State Implementation Plan (SIP) that allows for industrial plants to “trade” emissions instead of cleaning up the specific polluters of Voyageurs’ air.   VNPA is involved in ongoing discussions regarding the regulation and enforcement of Minnesota’s taconite plants and the Sherco facility, as well as challenging the Minnesota SIP.