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Comment period opens for environmental review of sulfide-ore copper mining

Environmental review will determine whether sensitive lands should be removed from the federal mining program

Recently, the U.S. Forest Service announced a two-year pause on mining activities in approximately 234,000 acres of the Superior National Forest, a vital portion of the Rainy River Watershed, which flows into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Voyageurs National Park. The announcement starts a 90-day public comment period on the Forest Service’s application for withdrawal of these lands and minerals from the federal leasing program. This period will help determine the scope for the two-year science-based environmental study of the region’s unique water-based ecosystem. The environmental review will guide the decision by the Secretary of the Department of Interior on whether to approve the U.S. Forest Service’s application for a 20-year withdrawal. A public meeting for citizen input will be held during the 90-day comment period on March 16, 2017, in Duluth, MN, at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center.

The review period will ultimately help determine whether our watershed is the wrong place for sulfide-ore copper mining.

Submit your comment during this critical watershed environmental review by April 15, 2017. Comments may be addressed to Connie Cummins, Forest Supervisor, Superior National Forest, 8901 Grand Avenue Place, Duluth, MN 55808-1122, via e-mail to comments-eastern-superior@fs.fed.us, or via fax to 218-626-4398.

A 2015 hydrology study commissioned by National Parks Conservation Association and Voyageurs National Park Association found that pollution from sulfide mines in the Rainy River Watershed as far away as 100 miles will flow into Voyageurs impacting its waters and wildlife. A two-year environmental review of the proposed withdrawal is essential to allow federal agencies and the public to examine science to determine whether copper-nickel mining should be allowed in this watershed.

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