Voyageurs National Park Needs Your Voice
Support Environmental Review and Longterm Protections from Sulfide-Ore Copper Mining in Voyageurs’ Watershed
In 2016, the U.S. Forest Service announced a two-year pause on mining activities in approximately 234,328 acres of the Superior National Forest, a vital portion of the Rainy River Watershed, which flows into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Voyageurs National Park. This time period was established for public comment, and scientific study of the area to create an environmental review. The review was set to guide the decision by the Secretary of the Department of Interior on whether to approve the U.S. Forest Service’s application for a 20-year withdrawal. Here’s a quick video explaining the process.
Recently, the new Federal Administration downgraded the Environmental Impact Statement they were pursuing to an Environmental Assessment. An EA requires a shorter term and much less rigorous scientific study of the proposed area, which could cause potential hazards to be overlooked. VNPA maintains that a full two-year Environmental Impact Statement of the proposed withdrawal is essential to allow federal agencies and the public to examine scientific findings thoroughly to determine whether copper-nickel mining should be allowed in this watershed. Read more on how sulfide mine development in the Rainy River Watershed as far away as 100 miles will flow into Voyageurs impacting its waters and wildlife
In the News:
Star Tribune: Department of the Interior reverses denial of Twin Metals copper-nickel leases
The Washington Post: The Trump Administration cancels detailed review of mining ban near BWCAW.
➤ Take Action
Talk to your Congressional representative and tell them you value the precious waters of Voyageurs National Park and the BWCAW (Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness) and support the withdrawal of neighboring lands from future copper mining projects.
Become a member of Voyageurs National Park Association with a donation at voyageurs.org/member. Be a voice to protect your National Park! We rely on the generosity of individuals to support our efforts.
Send a letter to U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture (Perdue) and Interior (Zinke) urging protection of American treasures like Voyageurs and the BWCAW from sulfide-ore copper mining. Tell them to immediately suspend all mining decisions during a two-year federal moratorium while the U.S. Forest Service conducts a study of risks from proposed sulfide-ore copper mining on public lands in the Boundary Waters-Voyageurs watershed.
Increase Federal Funding for National Parks
America’s national parks had 331 million visitors in 2016 – a third consecutive all-time attendance record for the National Park Service. Park visitors spent an estimated $16.9 billion in local gateway regions while visiting NPS lands across the country. Each federal dollar invested in the National Park Service generates $10 in economic activity, a tremendous return on investment to local economies. Click here to learn more about the local economic impact at Voyageurs.
The National Parks budget supports healthy fish and wildlife, public access to the outdoors, rural economies, and our nation’s rich heritage. Congress should reject the President’s proposed cuts, which could be up to 7% cut for the National Park service, which already faces significant backlog, and up to 16% for the Department of Interior as a whole. The Park Service funding is essential to operating and maintaining the places that deeply inspire American families, provide healthy recreational opportunities, support local economies and protect America’s natural and cultural treasures.
➤ Tell your representative to support increased funding for the National Park Service and appropriate funds that support the National Park Service Centennial Challenge.
Improve Public Lands Infrastructure
A long-term underinvestment by Congress in public lands has led to a $16 billion repair backlog, including crumbling roads and bridges, run-down trails, and rotting historic buildings. Voyageurs National Park alone has over $16.4 million in backlog which includes projects that would improve visitor safety and save historic structures.
The backlog is a result of aging infrastructure, increased wear and tear from visitation and congressional underfunding. In addition, federal lands do not have the benefit of local or state taxes to fund infrastructure projects. The Trump administration’s proposed budget will only allocate $805 million to address the $11.6 billion deferred maintenance backlog in our National Parks, which accounts for 69% of Interior’s $16 billion overall backlog.
In the News: The Guardian launches a new series and explores the National Park Service’s $11 billion maintenance backlog.
➤ Tell your representative to support the National Park Service Legacy Act which would provide investments that would go toward reducing the backlog the National Park Service faces to repair roads, visitor facilities, trails, and other park structures.
Permanently Reauthorize and Fully Fund the Land & Water Conservation Fund
Minnesota has received approximately $240.8 million in LWCF funding over the past five decades, protecting places such as Voyageurs National Park, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, and the Saint Croix National Scenic River. LWCF is a dedicated funding source allows the federal government to buy private lands from willing sellers and is crucial to VNPA’s Land Preservation Initiative.
The future of our outdoor access depends on investment from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and it doesn’t cost taxpayers a dime. LWCF is overwhelmingly popular with the American people and has maintained broad bipartisan support over its half century history of successful, locally-driven conservation. Read more about why LWCF matters to you.
The president’s proposed budget would eviscerate the Land and Water Conservation Fund, with an upwards of 98% overall cut to the program from this year’s enacted level. The LWCF is vital to our protected lands, and this cut is unacceptable.
➤ Take Action: The date for permanent re-authorization of the LWCF has passed, but you can still ask your representative to help push for general re-authorization, and support of the LWCF.