Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness


Mission Statement

Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness is the founder and lead organization for the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters, a national movement to permanently protect the Boundary Waters Wilderness, America's most visited Wilderness and Minnesota's crown jewel, from proposed sulfide-ore copper mining.
NMW's mission statement:
To protect and preserve wilderness and wild places.
To advocate for the protection of the BWCAW and the enhancement of its wilderness aspect.
To foster education about the value of wilderness and wild places.


The Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters, led by Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness, was organized by local residents from Ely, Minnesota who are dedicated to sustaining a national movement to protect the Boundary Waters and its watershed from sulfide-ore copper mining. After launching in 2013, the Campaign quickly built a strong local and national presence. Headquartered in Ely, a Wilderness-edge town near the proposed mining sites, Save the Boundary Waters now has over 150,000 members and activists and the support of more than 350 sportsmen groups, environmental and public interest organizations, and businesses. Through Campaign partners and the media, Save the Boundary Waters reaches millions of people.  

Program Details

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness  
The Boundary Waters, which lies within the 1854 Treaty Area and on ancestral Anishinaabe lands and within the Superior National Forest in Minnesota, is 1.1 million acres of woods, lakes, streams, and wetlands in the heart of a multi-million acre forest ecosystem in the United States and Canada. The Boundary Waters is the largest Wilderness Area east of the Rockies and north of the Everglades, and it is the most-heavily visited Wilderness Area in the United States. The Boundary Waters appears on National Geographic Traveler Magazine’s “50 Places of a Lifetime.” Because of the nature of the landscape and the prevalence of canoe travel, the Boundary Waters is family-friendly and accessible. Every year, more than 155,000 people from all over the world visit the Boundary Waters to camp, paddle, fish, hike, hunt, snowshoe, ski, and enjoy its pristine beauty. The Boundary Waters also supports a thriving local economy, which is based primarily on Wilderness travel, Wilderness-edge lodges and resorts, and communities supported by this outdoor amenity-based area.
The Threat  
Twin Metals Minnesota, owned by international mining company Antofagasta, seeks to develop mines to extract copper and other metals from low-grade sulfide-bearing ore along the South Kawishiwi River, Birch Lake, and other waters that flow into the Boundary Waters. History shows that sulfide-ore mining always pollutes; the clean water and rich aquatic ecosystem of the Boundary Waters watershed are particularly vulnerable to the acid mine drainage caused by this type of mining. Mining infrastructure near the edge of the Wilderness would also seriously damage and disrupt thousands of surface acres in the Superior National Forest, with cascading effects on the forest ecosystem outside and within the Boundary Waters.   
Save the Boundary Waters
The Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters implements a strategic, multi-pronged protection approach. We educate and raise public awareness about the dangers of sulfide-ore copper mining on the edge of the Wilderness. We also lobby and meet with lawmakers on both the state and national levels. We spend time and resources to conduct and assemble scientific research and studies, and engage in litigation when necessary. We participate in public input processes and also have a robust outreach program that creates Wilderness ambassadors across the country. We create and work with powerful networks of partners. We do all of this and more in order to ensure the permanent protection of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Primary Issue
Secondary Issue
P.O. Box 625
Ely, MN 55731
United States
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