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County board says no to wilderness expansion, July 21, 2003

County board says no to wilderness expansion
By Rhonda Silence
After only brief discussion about a proposal to expand the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), the Cook County Commissioners adopted a resolution opposing additional BWCAW land in Cook County.
Commissioner Bruce Martinson distributed information from the Friends of the Boundary Waters, an environmental organization which recently completed an inventory of Forest Service land. The inventory, completed by approximately 50 volunteers, was funded by the Friends organization, as well as the Sierra Club, the Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness, the Izaak Walton League, the Superior Wilderness Action Network (SWAN), and the Minnesotans for Responsible Recreation. The Friends group identified 90,000 acres of land which it believes should be designated as wilderness.
The Friends of the Boundary Waters website divides the land in question into units that meet the Wilderness Act's criteria to be designated as wilderness.
In Cook County, those units include Homer Lake in Lutsen; Willow Creek, near Crescent Lake in Lutsen; the Vegetable chain lakes (Cucumber, Bean, Squash, Carrot, etc); Hog Lake, 14 miles NW of Tofte; the Magnetic Rock Trail area; land around the Old Paulson Mine; the Lima Mountain area, including Lima, Sled, Fiddle & Dislocation Lakes and more.
Martinson said he had shared the proposal with Supervisors at the Tofte and Schroeder town meetings and had heard concern about the expansion. His colleagues on the county board appeared to share that concern.
Commissioners asked Land Commissioner Ted Mershon for his opinion. Mershon suggested that the commissioners attend an upcoming meeting with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the US Forest Service at the Forest Service office in Duluth at 10 a.m. on July 21. Mershon said that commissioners would need to talk about what they perceived as impact of wilderness expansion. "It's important to take a look at these areas," he said. "Some of them I've snowmobiled into and there wasn't much use. Why does it need wilderness designation?"
Martinson asked, "So, if a commissioner is there-should they take a stand against expansion of the Boundary Waters?"
Commissioners Walt Mianowski and Gene Erickson replied affirmatively. Erickson moved to adopt a resolution opposing additional BWCAW land in Cook County. Mianowski seconded and the motion carried unanimously.
Commissioner Fenwick, County Attorney Bill Hennessy and Mershon agreed to work on the language of the resolution, which will be delivered to the U.S. Forest Service.


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