Press Release Sep 6, 2018

Voyageurs National Park Threatened by Plans to Allow for Toxic Mining

Even small amounts of contamination from this toxic mining will threaten public health and the park's fish, plants, wildlife and entire ecosystem for decades to come. 

BACKGROUND: Today the Trump Administration announced their plans to cancel a proposed 20-year ban on mining activity in the watershed of the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area, near Voyageurs National Park. Today’s announcement comes after abruptly ending the environmental assessment of sulfide-ore copper mining in the watershed, after thousands of comments were submitted in favor of protecting the watershed. Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) made their decision to allow mining in the watershed behind closed doors, and without publicly sharing the results of the environmental assessment or any additional materials that support how they made their decision.

Statement by Christine Goepfert, Associate Director, Midwest Region for National Parks Conservation Association

“Withdrawing federal lands from the mineral leasing program has been a valuable tool in the protection of places like Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Parks. Voyageurs and the Boundary Waters are just as valued as those iconic parks and withdrawing lands within these critical watersheds is the right step to ensure they are protected now and for future generations. To reverse course now paves the way for harmful mining and cuts the American people out of the decision-making process over public lands we all own.

“A recent hydrology study commissioned by NPCA and the Voyageurs National Park Association found that acid pollution from sulfide mines as far away as 100 miles will flow into the waters at Voyageurs National Park. Even small amounts of contamination will threaten public health and the park’s fish, plants, wildlife and entire ecosystem for decades to come. Yet Secretary Purdue stated that no new scientific information was revealed in their analysis.

“The USDA must follow through with what they said they would do, which is conduct an environmental assessment to determine the threats this toxic mining would have on the watershed. To do otherwise is a betrayal of the American people and an abandonment of our collective responsibility to care for our public lands and waterways.”


About National Parks Conservation Association Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit

Read more from NPCA