‘Today Show’ highlights BWCA, mining debate

NBC's Harry Smith interviews Dave and Amy Freeman in the BWCA for the Today Show.

NBC’s Harry Smith interviews Dave and Amy Freeman in the BWCA for the Today Show.

The debate over copper/nickel mining in Northern Minnesota reached national news this morning.

The weekend edition of NBC’s “Today Show” profiled Dave and Amy Freeman. This Ely and Grand Marais couple have been living in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness for more than 300 days.

The Freemans started their year in the BWCA to highlight the risks of mining projects near the pristine lakes and forests of the federally-protected area.

The Today Show also interviewed the Ely Mayor Chuck Novak. He talked about the potential economic benefit of the proposed mines. Novak argued against the notion that the project posed environmental risk to the Boundary Waters.

You can see the story for yourself here:

Not much new ground covered, though it was nice to see an update on the Freemans after 300 days of camping.

You’ll note I didn’t cover the recent hubbub over the U.S. Forest Service forums held in Duluth and Ely. At this point in the debate, particularly as it relates to Twin Metals, actual mining is so far in the future, and so dependent on so many factors we don’t control, that I view the amount of political and emotional energy spent on the topic as wasted.

We have problems we can solve right in front of us. We can improve our communities, help our neighbors, and *have fun living life* right now. I’m not waiting. If you want my opinion, neither should anyone else. If you want to be passionate about mining, be passionate about value added iron ore products. If we don’t figure that out there won’t be much mining at all in a couple decades.

The future of the Iron Range will not be determined by lawn signs or by stacking bureaucratic public forums with people wearing the same lapel stickers as you.

You might not agree with the Freemans about mining, but at least they’re living life and highlighting one of Northern Minnesota’s most objectively beautiful assets.

Writing teachers always advise to show, not tell. The same is true for those of us living through Northern Minnesota’s ongoing transition to a new era.


  1. Independant says

    You are absolutely correct that any actual mining by Twin Metals is many years down the road, if ever. However if for political reasons we as a state are going to do a 180 degree spin on continuing a simple lease allowing exploratory sampling we all lose. To not allow testing and research that would clarify what mineralization is beneath our feet along with other information that can help develop greater knowledge and be applied to this or other mining projects in the immediate area is just foolish. What business, mining or otherwise, is going to want to expand into a state that does not have a predictable track record of steady and stable decision making when it comes to regulations. I can tell you there is more than just iron prices to thank for Steel Dynamics idling their Minnesota operations. I am surprised they stayed running here as long as they did while trying to get mining permits (that they still have never received) to simply mine iron ore in an existing old LTV/Erie mine location that had already be mined for the last 60 years to feed the value added iron plant they completed in 2010 near Hoyt Lakes. Unelected bureaucrats injecting personal bias throughout their careers are certainly not acting as “Public Servants”.

    • Agree completely Independant.
      We need to create a healthier and more diverse economy in the region, but letting politics rather than laws determine what we can and cannot sell creates uncertainty which goes far beyond mining. Maybe uncertainty doesn’t affect every possible business that could sprout up in the region, but in general, uncertainty is very bad for creating a healthy, diverse business culture.

  2. Meanwhile at the DFL meetings a resolution was submitted, again, that would call for the end of all mining in Minnesota. This happens every year from the Citiot wing of the party, and seems to gain a little more traction every time it’s presented. Is this the true color of the future of the DFL? If so, we have a problem.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.