A pristine tapestry of piney woodlands, lazy rivers and sparkling lakes attracts canoers, fishermen, hikers and campers to this 1-million acre wilderness along the U.S.-Canada border in northwest Minnesota. For nature lovers who'd like to see this U.S. Forest Service-managed wilderness kept unspoiled, unfortunately it sits next door to one of the world's largest known deposits of copper and nickel.
Controversy centers on a proposed $1-billion copper-nickel mining operation that'd set up shop just outside the wilderness area, yet within its watershed. Naturally, the concern is that toxic runoff from the mine — expected to dig 20,000 tons of ore per day — will pollute the neighboring waterways and lakes. Three-eyed trout, anyone?
In 2016, mining foes slapped high-fives when the Obama administration terminated the Twin Metals company's long-held mining leases and proposed a 20-year mining ban to conduct environmental reviews. In 2018, the current administration took steps to reinstate the leases and, once secured in 2019, the company will submit a formal plan for the mine. In other words, the fight is far from over.