U.S. Forest Service Holds Hearing on Proposed Mining Ban

Amy Adamle
July 19, 2017 09:37 AM

Tuesday night, the U.S. Forest Service listened to arguments regarding a proposed ban on mining near the Boundary Waters.  A public rally was held by people supporting Save the Boundary Waters before the meeting. 

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The room was full of people voicing their concerns about mining near the Boundary Waters.

"We had a big turnout in support of protecting the wilderness area," Amy Freeman, who spent a year living in the Boundary Waters, said.  

Many of their concerns were about the impact mining would have on the environment. 

"I want to look at this long term and I think it's important to consider what would happen to the region if the resources are mined and then we're left with a big hole in the ground," Freeman said.  "They would have a huge negative impact on the current tourism economy we have there."

Iron Rangers in support of copper-nickel mining protested by not showing up.  

"The entire Iron Range and including our organization were boycotting the hearing and decided not to participate at the St. Paul hearing," Jason George, Special Projects Director for the operating engineers union Local 49,  said.  

They believe the proposed withdrawal of 234,000 acres of federal land is unfair. 

"They should let the projects be proposed if there are going to be some and study those very carefully and determine if they are going to meet the strong environmental practices we have here in the state and make the decision at that point," George said. 

Both sides agree jobs are important. 

"The overwhelming majority of people that live where these projects potentially could be, want to see if these projects will meet the environmental standards and if they do they want to work on them," George said. 

"I understand the jobs are important, but I think we can have jobs that are sustainable and keep the resources intact, keep the ecosystem in tact," Freeman said.  

The next hearing about the proposed ban will be next Tuesday, July 25 at Virginia High School at 5 p.m. and Iron Rangers say they will be out in full force. 


Amy Adamle

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