The first humans migrate into the
boundary waters region, including the Clovis people of the Paleoindian
Tradition, also called the Big Game Hunters. They hunt woolly mammoths,
mastodons, giant ground sloths, muskoxen, camels, horses, giant beavers, giant
bison, saber-tooth tigers, and other megafauna or large Ice Age mammals.
Around 11,000 years
Hunting pressure and a warming
climate lead to the extinction of many large Ice Age mammals.
Voyageurs era," fur traders canoe the lakes and portage routes of the boundary
waters region transporting furs for French and British fur companies.
With the signing of
the Treaty of Paris at the conclusion of the American Revolutionary War, the
British surrender control over lands west of the Appalachian mountains, and
the United States gains sovereignty over the southern Great Lakes region.
Felt hats made from
beaver fur go out of style in Europe and are replaced by silk hats, ending a
fashion that lasted 300 years. By this time, the beaver population in the
boundary waters region is decimated. It doesn't fully recover for 150
international boundary through canoe country is established by the Webster-Ashburton
Treaty, signed by the United States and Great Britain.
Seven chiefs of the
Chippewa Indian Peace Commission travel to Washington, D.C., to sign the Treaty of LaPointe, ceding the entire Arrowhead region to the United States
government and opening it to exploration and development by white settlers. In
return, small reservations for the Ojibwe of Lake Superior are created at
Grand Portage, Fond du Lac, and Nett Lake, and they are promised monetary
payments for 20 years, annual food supplies, 80 acres of land to each head of
family, fishnets, guns and ammunition, agricultural teachers, and a
blacksmith for each reservation.
Red and white pine
are logged in the boundary waters area during "the big-pine logging era," with
the first significant logging occurring in the Trout Lake area north of Lake
Vermilion. Red pine is taken principally for timbers used in mining, and white
pine principally for lumber.
June 30, 500,000 acres of public
domain in Lake and Cook Counties in northeastern Minnesota, much of which is now
part of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, are set aside from logging,
mining, and homesteading by Minnesota's Forestry Commissioner Christopher
At the request of the Minnesota
Forestry Board, Congress grants 20,000 acres to the State for the Burntside
Forest Reserve. As stated in the 1905 Minnesota Forestry Commissioners
Report, "State Forest Reserves should be devoted not alone to the business
of raising timber, but to the pleasure of all the people."
to provide hydroelectric power for
With financing from Edward
Wellington Backus, the dam at Koochiching, now International Falls, is
completed to provide waterpower for Backus's Minnesota and Ontario Paper
Company. The dam is planned as the first in a series of dams that would affect
parts of present-day Superior National Forest, Voyageurs National Park,
Quetico Provincial Park, and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Spring, the Quetico
Provincial Forest Reserve is created by the government of Ontario, setting
aside one million acres as a forest and game preserve. Weeks later the
Superior National Forest is created as a reciprocal act when President
Theodore Roosevelt signs Proclamation 848, setting aside one million acres on
the U.S. side of the border.
Major fires are suppressed in the
boundary waters area during "the fire-suppression period," resulting in
unintended consequences. Fire suppression interferes with the natural cycle of
fires that create new stands of forests, curtails periodic elimination of the
tree-killing spruce budworm, and causes a buildup of dead trees in forest understories. These unnaturally high fuel loads increase the likelihood of
super hot fires that scorch the thin topsoil of the boundary waters area,
killing organic matter and the seeds of trees such as jack pine, black spruce,
and red pine, which normally reestablish themselves rapidly after fires.
Quetico Provincial Park is
established from the forest and game reserve created in 1909. Canada's
provincial parks are closed to hunting.
A recreation plan for the boundary
waters area is developed by the U.S. Forest Service in response to increasing
numbers of people seeking recreation.
A plan for
preserving the border lakes region as a canoeing area is proposed by Arthur Carhart,
a landscape architect hired by the U.S. Forest Service. Though the
plan is not implemented, it is the country's first proposal for managing and
protecting a wilderness area. It calls for a fully protected core area and
limited, controlled development in outer areas.
April 23, at the
first of many conferences to resolve differences regarding management of the
Superior National Forest, Will Dilg, first president and founder of the Izaak
Walton League of America, makes an impassioned plea opposing a U.S. Forest
Service plan to bisect the core of the "roadless area" with a road linking Ely
and the Gunflint Trail. The county governments and local chambers of commerce
advocate development, adopting as their slogan "A Road to Every Lake." The
Superior National Forest Recreation Association is organized with Paul Riis as
its president to oppose construction of roads in the "roadless areas" of the
Superior National Forest.
Lumber baron and
industrialist Edward Wellington Backus proposes building a series of seven
dams along the boundary waters lakes to create four main water storage areas
to provide hydroelectric power for his papermills. The dams would affect the
14,500-square-mile Rainy Lake watershed by significantly raising water levels
above natural levels (Little Vermilion Lake by 80 feet, Loon Lake by 33 feet,
Lac La Croix by 16 feet, and Saganaga and Crooked lakes by 15 feet).
Conservationist and explorer
"Ober" Oberholtzer – with support from
attorneys Sewell Tyng, Frank Hubachek, Charles Kelly, Frederick Winston, and
many other conservationists – wage a five-year battle to defeat the plan.
September 17, the
Little Indian Sioux, the Caribou, and the Superior "roadless areas" of the
Superior National Forest are designated as a 640,000-acre roadless wilderness
area under a policy issued by the U.S. Forest Service under U.S. Agricultural
Secretary William Jardine to "retain as much as possible of the land which has
recreational opportunities of this nature as a wilderness," curbing an
ambitious road plan to push "a road to every lake." The policy allows
construction of the Ely-Buyck road (now the Echo Trail), the Ely to Fernberg
road, and the extension of the Gunflint Trail to Sea Gull Lake, but prohibits
a connection from Fernberg northeast to Gunflint and spurs from the Ely-Buyck
northwest to Lac La Croix and to Trout Lake, roads that would have further
segmented the present Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
January 27, the
Quetico-Superior Council holds its first meeting, with
"Ober" Oberholtzer as its president, for the purpose of promoting an International
Peace Memorial Forest on both sides of the border, encompassing the entire
July 10, 1930, the
Shipstead-Newton-Nolan Act, the first statute in which Congress
expressly orders land be protected as "wilderness," is signed into law by
President Herbert Hoover at the urging of a group of conservationists led by
"Ober" Oberholtzer. The Act withdraws all federal land in the boundary waters
region from homesteading or sale, prevents the alteration of natural water
levels by dams, prohibits logging within 400 feet of shorelines, and preserves
the wilderness nature of shorelines. The regulations apply to a
4,000-square-mile area extending from Lake Superior on the east to Rainy Lake
on the west. Passage of the Act represents a defeat for Edward Wellington
Backus's plan to build a series of dams in the Rainy Lake watershed to create
storage basins for industrial waterpower.
The General Logging
Company ceases its railroad logging operations around Brule and Gunflint
lakes, bringing to an end the railroad logging era in the boundary waters
April 19, despite
vigorous opposition by Minnesota Power and Light, legislation applying the
protections of the Shipstead-Nolan Act to state lands is passed by the
Minnesota Legislature. The bill is titled "An Act To Protect Certain Public
Lands and Waters Adjacent Thereto Owned by the State of Minnesota."
The National Industrial
Recovery Act (NIRA), one of the first acts signed by President Franklin Delano
Roosevelt on taking office, creates work camps directed by the U.S. Forest
Service in the boundary waters area to put people back to work. In the fall of
1933 two permanent camps are built at Lake Three and Alice Lake. During the
brutal winter that follows, several workers become ill, and the foreman dies
at the Lake Three camp, apparently the result of sewage seeping into the water
supply. The program ends a short time later, and workers are transferred to
the newly formed Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).
Conservation Corps (CCC) enlists thousands of unemployed men to plant trees,
rebuild and improve portages, build canoe rests, install landing docks, post
direction signs, build four lookout towers, fight forest fires, and do other
conservation projects in the boundary waters area. Fourteen major camps, each
housing approximately 200 young men and dozens of highly skilled outdoorsmen,
are constructed in and around the wilderness areas of the Superior National
Forest. The docks, signs, and rests are later removed to comply with the 1964
Wilderness Act, but still evident today are the raised walkways, the rocks
placed to reinforce trails, the canoe landings (now mostly submerged), and
other signs of trail improvements.
June 30, the
President's five-member Quetico-Superior Committee is established by
executive order by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, with
as its chair. The other members are Charles Kelly, Robert Marshall, Sigurd
Olson, and Sewell Tyng. The Committee's purpose is to consult with and advise
the State of Minnesota and the several federal departments and agencies
operating in the Superior National Forest area.
October 29, Edward
Wellington Backus, lumberman and industrialist, dies of a heart attack in
his hotel room in New York City, ending a nine-year struggle with
"Ober" Oberholtzer and other conservationists for control of the Quetico-Superior
Forest's three wilderness areas are renamed the Superior Roadless Primitive
Areas under a plan formulated with the help of Robert Marshall, then in charge
of recreation in the Washington office of the U.S. Forest Service. The
designation protects the areas from development but allows timber cutting and
Improved and less
costly outboard motors, including small, easily portaged models that are
usable on canoes, are now available.
The Izaak Walton
League of America establishes a fund to purchase private lands and resorts in
the boundary waters area to be turned over to the government. From 1945 to
1965, the League purchases nearly 7,000 acres.
Nearly 20 resorts serviced by pontoon-equipped planes are operating on Basswood, Crooked, Knife,
La Croix, Saganaga, and Seagull lakes. Some offer amenities such as bars, slot
machines, and motorboats, with Ely now serving as the largest inland seaplane
base in North America.
Act, Public Law 733, is passed by Congress, directing the Secretary of
Agriculture to acquire resorts, cabins, and private lands within the boundary
waters area and prohibiting any permanent residents after 1974. The Act
provides for in-lieu-of-tax payments to Cook, Lake, and St. Louis Counties for
federal wilderness land. It is extended and funded with an additional $2
million for acquisition of private property in 1956 and an additional $2
million in 1961. The amendments are denounced by the commissioners of Cook,
Lake, and St. Louis counties and by the Ely Chamber of Commerce as "another
ruthless inroad on the economy of affected counties."
Railroad tracks are
laid to Lake Isabella and construction begins on Forest Center, a logging town
carved out of the southern edge of the roadless area, in preparation for
logging by the Tomahawk Kraft Timber Company. A large turnaround and sawmill are
built by the lake, and eventually more than 50 homes – as well as a church,
restaurant, school, store, and recreation hall – are built, along with five
smaller camps in the area. Logging by Tomahawk ends in 1964, when loggers
reach a buffer zone created by the Shipstead-Nolan Act. By 1965 the town is
gone, though the alteration in the southern boundary of the present Boundary
Waters Canoe Area Wilderness remains.
March 27, the Ely
Rod and Gun Club reconfirms its support for an airspace reservation over the
boundary waters at a meeting in which Forest Ranger Bill Trygg faces down
angry opponents. Later that night a homemade bomb explodes outside the house
of Bill Rom, an outfitter who supports the ban, but it causes little damage.
April, Friends of
the Wilderness is founded by William "Bill" Magie, Frank Robertson, and other
conservationists, to represent organizations supporting a ban on airplanes
over the boundary waters area.
Executive Order 10092 is signed by President Truman creating an "airspace
reservation" that bans private flights below the altitude of 4,000 feet above
sea level, in part as a result of the work of activists Sigurd Olson, Charles
Kelly, Frank Hubachek, William "Bill" Magie, and others.
Truck portages into
Basswood Lake, Lac La Croix, and Big Trout Lake are established, providing
easy access to these lakes and their connecting waters by large, high-speed
Aluminum canoes and
boats are now widely available, making travel easier and resulting in dramatic
increases in the number of canoeists accessing remote lakes.
designed to control both the amount and type of recreational activities in the
Boundary Waters, visitor use increases nearly threefold.
The U.S. Forest
Service prohibits the storage of boats on national lands within the BWCA, a
common practice by Cook County and Lake County resorts.
Agriculture Secretary Orville Freeman, a former Minnesota governor, appoints
George Selke to head a special Boundary Waters Canoe Area Review Committee to
recommend changes in BWCA management.
September 3, the
Wilderness Act, U.S. Public Law 88-577, is signed by President Lyndon Baines
Johnson, establishing the U.S. wilderness preservation system and prohibiting
the use of motorboats and snowmobiles within wilderness areas except for areas
where use is well established within the Boundary Waters, defining wilderness
as an area "where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man .
. . an area of undeveloped . . . land retaining its primeval character and
influence without permanent improvements." This date is considered by many to
be the birth of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
Many of the Selke
Committee's recommendations for restrictions on visitor permits, motor
use, and logging are implemented by Secretary of Agriculture Orville
Freeman in a new management plan for the Boundary Waters.
One recommendation is that
permits be required for entrance. In addition, the plan divides the BWCA into
an Interior Zone of 600,000 acres, which is closed to logging, and a Portal
Zone of 400,000 acres, which is open to logging. The plan also calls for the
immediate addition of 150,000 acres to the no-cut zone, with another 100,000
acres to be added by 1975 as existing logging contracts are completed. This
would bring the total no-cut area to 612,000 acres by 1975.
A mandatory permit
system for visitors (with no fee) is instituted by the U.S. Forest Service
following the Selke committee hearings, the Wilderness Act of 1964, and the
Freeman Directive of 1965.
June 21, the
Superior National Forest Advisory Committee is formed to advise the U.S.
Forest Supervisor on policies, programs, and management of the Superior
National Forest and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
The gray wolf
the lower 48 states is listed as "endangered" under the 1966 Endangered
Species Preservation Act.
A maximum group
size limit of 15 persons for visitors is instituted by the U.S. Forest
Park is established by Public Law 91-661, as amended by Public Law 97-405,
enacted by Congress on January 8 and signed by President Richard Nixon, to
"preserve, for the inspiration and enjoyment of present and future
generations, the outstanding scenery, geological conditions, and waterway
system which constituted a part of the historic route of the Voyageurs who
contributed significantly to the opening of the Northwestern United States."
The park is officially established under these laws by the Secretary of the
Interior on April 8, 1975.
A rule limiting
visitors to "designated campsites" on heavy-use routes is instituted by the
U.S. Forest Service. Cans and glass bottles are prohibited from the Boundary
Waters. According to the U.S. Forest Service, the measure is expected to
reduce refuse by 360,000 pounds, saving $90,000 per year on cleanup.
A limited moose
hunt is authorized for the first time since 1922.
Interest Research Group, a student group at the University of Minnesota, files
a lawsuit to prohibit logging of old growth forest in the BWCAW until an
Environmental Impact Statement is completed by the U.S. Forest Service.
Species Act is passed by Congress, declaring timber wolves an endangered
species and affording federal protection. Since 1965, when the last bounty was
paid on a wolf in Minnesota, approximately 200 animals were killed annually.
Park is given full wilderness protection. All logging is permanently banned,
snowmobiles are banned, and a motorboat phaseout is begun.
The rule limiting
visitors to "designated campsites" that was instituted by the U.S. Forest
Service on heavy-use routes in 1966 is extended to the entire Boundary Waters.
The maximum group
size limit for visitors is lowered from 15 to 10 persons by the U.S. Forest
Logging of old
growth forests is banned in a ruling by Federal District Judge Miles Lord.
ruling is reversed on appeal in 1976.
District Representative James Oberstar (D-MN) introduces a bill that if passed
would have established a Boundary Waters Wilderness Area of 625,000 acres and
a Boundary Waters National Recreation Area (NRA) of 527,000 acres, permitting
logging and mechanized travel in the latter area and removing from wilderness
designation a number of large scenic lakes such as La Croix, Basswood,
Saganaga, and Seagull. The bill is strongly opposed by environmentalists.
May 7, Friends of
the Boundary Waters Wilderness is formed with Miron "Bud" Heinselman
in opposition to Representative James Oberstar's 1975 bill, which would remove
land from a designated wilderness for the purpose of creating a recreational
area that would allow logging and mechanized travel. Its purpose is advocating
greater protection of the Boundary Waters and "promoting the biological,
intrinsic, aesthetic, economic, scientific, and spiritual values of
wilderness." Other founding members include Fern Arpi, Chuck Dayton, Dan
Engstrom, Dick Flint, Jan Green, Herb Johnson, Jack Mauritz, Steve Payne,
Chuck Stoddard, Paul Toren, Herb Wright, and Dick Wyman.
sophisticated visitor distribution system, using entry-point quotas on visitor
numbers as a mechanism to redistribute visitor use and impacts throughout the
wilderness, is instituted by the U.S. Forest Service.
Cans and glass
bottles are prohibited from Quetico Provincial Park.
"Ober" Oberholtzer (born February 6, 1884) dies at age 93. Explorer,
photographer, student of Ojibwe legend and oral tradition, authority on the
Minnesota-Ontario boundary lakes region, lifetime President of the
Quetico-Superior Council, and one of eight founders of the Wilderness Society,
Ober devoted his life to preserving wilderness and protecting the Boundary
Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
July 8, an effigy
identified as Sigurd Olson and Miron "Bud" Heinselman
is hung outside the Ely
High School, where approximately 1,000 people gather to participate in a
Congressional hearing. Amid boos and catcalls, Olson speaks in favor of
Congressman Don Fraser's bill that becomes the Boundary Waters Canoe Area
Wilderness Act of 1978. "This is the most beautiful lake country on the
continent," Olson declares. "We can afford to cherish and protect it. Some
places should be preserved from development of exploitation for they satisfy a
human need for solace, belonging, and perspective. In the end we turn to
nature in a frenzied chaotic world, there to find silence – oneness –
wholeness – spiritual release."
The Eastern timber
wolf is reclassified from "endangered" to "threatened" by the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, the agency that administers the Endangered Species Act of
1973. The law still prohibits the killing of wolves with the exception of
problem animals causing agricultural damage. The Fish and Wildlife Service
also adopts a recovery plan (revised in 1992) for the purpose of increasing
the number and range of timber wolves to ensure the animal's survival in the
eastern half of the U.S. The recovery plan sets a population goal for
Minnesota of 1,251 to 1,400 wolves by the year 2000, a goal that is achieved
in the early 1980s. In 1989 a wolf population survey estimates the statewide
population at between 1,550 and 1,750 animals.
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act, U.S. Public Law 95-495, is signed
by President Jimmy Carter. The act adds 50,000 acres to the Boundary Waters,
which now encompasses 1,098,057 acres, and extends greater wilderness
protection to the area. The name is changed from the Boundary Waters Canoe
Area to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The Act bans logging,
mineral prospecting, and mining; all but bans snowmobile use; limits motorboat
use to about two dozen lakes; limits the size of motors; and regulates the
number of motorboats and motorized portages. It calls for limiting the number
of motorized lakes to 16 in 1984, and 14 in 1999, totaling about 24% of the
area's water acreage.
All logging in the
wilderness ceases under the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness Act, U.S.
Public Law 95-495, ending some 85 years of logging in the Boundary Waters.
A $5 reservation
fee for entry into the Boundary Waters is implemented.
January 13, Sigurd
Olson dies at age 82 after suffering a heart attack while snowshoeing with his
wife Elizabeth near his home in Ely. Canoe outfitter, guide, educator,
conservationist, wilderness advocate, and elder statesman of the Minnesota
environmental movement, one-time president of the National Parks Association
and of the Wilderness Society, eloquent and outspoken advocate of wilderness
values, Sig published 9 books and more than 100 articles.
February 5, Calvin Rutstrum
dies at age 86. A conservationist who worked with his friend Sigurd
Olson in the successful campaign to restrict airplane travel above the
Boundary Waters, Calvin published 15 books on wilderness, nature, and
March 4, William
"Bill" Magie dies at age 79. Bill was a canoe guide in the waters around Ely
from 1962 to 1978, a co-founder of Friends of the Wilderness, and a lifelong
advocate of wilderness protection.
March 8, the 1978 BWCA
Act is upheld when the Supreme Court decides in an 8-1 decision (with
Sandra Day O'Connor casting the dissenting vote) not to review lower court
rulings in a three-year legal battle by the State of Minnesota and others
challenging the constitutionality of the 1978 law.
May 29-June 24, a
small island on Lake Two is set on fire by a careless camper, resulting in a
major forest fire. For the first time in 76 years, a significant fire in the
Boundary Waters is allowed to burn without intervention by the U.S. Forest
banned from Brule Lake. In response to strong opposition to a motor ban
on Brule, an exception was written into the 1978 Boundary Waters Canoe Area
Wilderness Act providing that motors could be used on Brule until January
1994, or until businesses already in operation in 1977 were terminated. With
the closing of the last business on Brule, the Sky Blue Water Resort,
the motor ban goes into effect. In subsequent years, use by canoeists
administrative appeal is filed by four groups – the Friends of the Boundary
Waters Wilderness, the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society, and Defenders of
Wildlife – on 12 issues in U.S. Forest Service's new land and Resource
management Plan for Superior National Forest, including an appeal for the
Forest Service to close three truck portages in compliance with the 1978 BWCA
March 20, following
the 1986 Lake Two fire, a new prescribed natural-fire-management program
adopted by the U.S. Forest Service and implemented in the Boundary Waters. The
policy allows lightning-ignited fires that pose no threat to people or
property to burn themselves out naturally. This departure from the policy of
suppressing all fires ends the "fire-suppression period" of management that
began in 1911.
April, the Izaak
Walton League, with four other groups, goes to court to stop the National
Guard from conducting training flights as low as 2,500 feet over the Boundary
Waters by F-4 Phantom Jet Fighters, which create sonic booms.
August, a 611-foot
radio tower, proposed by Connecticut developer Timothy Martz to be constructed
on a ridge near Esther Lake in Cook, is blocked by temporary injunction
granted by County Ramsey County District Judge Donald Gross. The judge accepts
the argument of environmentalist Harry Drabik, who sued on behalf of the
state, arguing that the tower would ruin the scenic quality of an unspoiled
October 15, a
compromise regarding rebuilding of the Sawbill Trail is developed by the
Sawbill Trail Consensus Committee, facilitated by Forest Service Tofte
District Ranger Larry Dawson. The original plan calls for widening the trail's
clearance for construction of a 55-mile-an-hour two-lane paved highway. When
the bulldozers start clearing the first segment from Tofte in 1990, there is
an uproar of protest. Many people believe the rebuilding will alter the
trail's primitive character. The compromise results in special variances being
sought from state and federal highway administrations, so that after the first
3 miles from Tofte the road is left unpaved and calcium chloride is applied
for dust abatement. Road clearance is widened from 45 to 56 feet (rather than
the 64 feet originally proposed) for a 45-mile-an-hour, 9-ton road with
12-foot driving lanes, 2-foot shoulders, and 3-foot ditches, with trees
cleared an additional 10 feet on the ditch slopes on both sides of the road.
The road is rerouted near Plouff Creek, known as Dead Man's Curve because of
its many accidents, reducing the overall length of the Trail from 24 to 23
miles. Clearance for the last six miles is not altered, so that the Sawbill
Trail now has an increasingly rustic feel as it approaches Sawbill Lake.
November 6, as a
result of a 15-year effort on the part of the Friends of the Boundary Waters
Canoe Area truck portages that were to have been phased out as stipulated by
the 1978 BWCA Wilderness Act are closed when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
Eighth District reverses the decision of a lower court to allow them to
November 17, a
BWCAW draft management plan is released to the public via a news conference.
Many people object to some of the provisions, especially the proposal to
reduce the group size limit from 10 to 6 persons.
A new BWCAW
management plan is implemented by the Superior National Forest, reducing
visitor-group size limit from 10 to 9 persons, limiting the number of
watercraft per group to 4, and operating the visitor distribution program at
67 percent rather than 85 percent campsite occupancy.
After a series of
cuts in the Boundary Waters wilderness management budget, a $10 per-person
user fee, in addition to the $12 registration fee, is authorized under the
User Fee Demonstration Project, a three-year pilot program passed by Congress.
In 1997, the first year the fee takes effect, about $1 million is generated to
help fund portage and canoe landing maintenance, campsite rehabilitation, and
law enforcement. The funds make up for the shortfall in the $2.5 million
called for by the U.S. Forest Service plan to properly manage the Boundary
A federal mediation
process is initiated by U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone to resolve issues relating
to three motorized portages. The process, which lasts nearly nine months, is
concluded on April 28, 1997, with recommendations for reducing airborne
mercury pollution but without consensus on the core issues, losing an
opportunity, in the words of Bill Hansen, for "the healing effect of a broad
community consensus on wilderness policy."
allowing three motorized portages to resume operation is introduced by Eighth
District Representative James Oberstar (D-MN) and Senator Rod Grams (R-MN) but
does not pass. In part as a result of the debates surround the issue,
membership in the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness peaks at 2,783
are permitted to continue transporting motorboats across two portages, Trout
and Prairie, by a rider on an unrelated transportation bill passed by
February 2001, the
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources develops a wolf management plan.
plan seeks to demonstrate that Minnesota is prepared to assume responsibility
for the Eastern timber wolf when delisting occurs and that Minnesota will
ensure the long-term survival of the wolf as required by the federal recovery
October 19, Mardy
Murie dies at age 101. Mardy was known as the "grandmother" and the
"matriarch" of the modern conservation movement for her work on garnering
support for the 1964 Wilderness Act and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
In her 1980 testimony before Congress in support of expanding the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) she said, "I hope the United States of America
is not so rich that she can afford to let these wildernesses pass by, or so
poor she cannot afford to keep them."
January 29, Deputy Secretary of
the Interior Lynn Scarlett announces that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
is "de-listing" or removing the western Great Lakes population of
gray wolves from the federal list of threatened and endangered species.
The Service is also proposing removal of the northern Rocky Mountain
population of gray wolves from the list. Both actions are taken in recognition
of the success of gray wolf recovery efforts under the Endangered Species Act.
Gray wolves were previously listed as endangered in the lower 48 states,
except in Minnesota, where they were listed as threatened.
traveling in two motorboats, five local men
Barney J. Lakner, 37, Jay A. Olson, 19, Zachary
R. Barton, 19, Travis J. Erzar, 20, and Casey J. Fenske, 19
and one 16-year-old juvenile, who come to be
known as the "Ely Six," go on a rampage on Basswood
Lake. During a night of drinking beer and discharging firearms, they terrorize and harass dozens of campers, including families with
children. They use foul
language, shoot a flare that explodes in
the air, on two occasions release gasoline onto the lake and set it on fire, and occupy one
campsite for 45 minutes, threatening to rape and kill the three
a retired schoolteacher from suburban Chicago,
his 26-year-old daughter, and his 11-year-old son, who hide deep in the brush
during the ordeal. During the spree the men are reported to have shouted,
"Fucking tourists . . . get the hell off our fucking property," and
using local slang for "environmentally
obnoxious" people ―
"go home, fucking enox tree-huggers."
After some of the campers report the disturbance by calling 911,
the five men and the teenager
within the hour
not far from Basswood Lake.
From the two boats authorities recover
a high-powered, semi-automatic
assault-style rifle with three 30-round clips, a .45 caliber semi-automatic
pistol, a .22 caliber rifle, a .22 caliber pistol, ammunition, spent shell
casings, fireworks residue, beer, and items stolen from one campsite.
authorities file 79 charges against the six including terroristic threats,
aggravated harassment, criminal damage to property, reckless discharge of
firearms, underage possession of firearms, and underage alcohol consumption.
The group also faces
felony counts and charges from federal and Canadian authorities because they
crossed into Ontario's Quetico Provincial Park, where they continued their
rampage. Newsweek and other publications link the night of terror to
deep-seeded resentment on the part of local people who oppose the 1978
restrictions limiting their access to the area. Some of these people were
forced to sell their resorts and cabins when the area was set aside as
protected wilderness. As reported by Larry Oakes in the Minneapolis Star
Tribune, "Lakner, a bread-truck driver, husband, and father, paid a $275
fine in 2004 for driving a snowmobile in the BWCA and [in July] Olson and
Fenske were fined $225 each for driving ATVs in the BWCA in May."
Perplexingly, five of the six members of the group were not yet born when the
area was set aside. Newsweek asks if the behavior was "just youthful
indiscretion or a troubling community character flaw?" Local outfitter Nancy
Piragis says, "They learned these attitudes." Mayor chuck Novak says, "If
what's in those complaints is proven true, I don't see any public support for
this around here." The Timberjay, the community newspaper, says in an
editorial, "While there has long been a tendency in our area to paint youthful
rebels who run afoul of the Boundary Waters regulations as folk heroes, this
is a different situation entirely . . . This wasn't . . . like motoring in a
paddle-only lake, or a late-night border run on a snowmobile . . . This isn't
folk hero material. Such actions should horrify everyone."