Press Release Jan 26, 2023

Voyageurs National Park, Boundary Waters Protected from Toxic Mining

"Banning mining activities in the region’s watershed will protect the broader park ecosystem now and for years to come.” -- Christine Goepfert

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced the withdrawal of over 225,000 acres of federal lands from the mineral leasing program for 20-years, effectively putting a stop to new sulfide mining projects within the Rainy River watershed in Minnesota. This action comes after an environmental assessment demonstrated the risks sulfide mining poses to the watershed, which includes Voyageurs National Park and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. A NPCA hydrology report put a spotlight on the dangers mining activities pose to Voyageurs National Park, finding that sulfide mines as far as 100 miles upstream threaten the connected waterways in and around the national park.

NPCA has fought for long-term protections for this region for years and will continue to seek permanent protections against harmful mining through legislation.

Statement by Christine Goepfert, Campaign Director for the National Parks Conservation Association

“Toxic copper mining has no place within the Voyageurs National Park watershed. Secretary Haaland’s leadership and action today reinforces the importance of this place and the very reason the park was protected. This decision solidifies the work NPCA and so many park advocates have put in for years to protect Voyageurs National Park and the surrounding lands and waters. Acid pollution from sulfide mines as far away as 100 miles upstream threaten the park’s waters and all who visit. Even small amounts of this pollution is detrimental to public health and the world-class fishing, recreation and wildlife Voyageurs is known for. Banning mining activities in the region’s watershed will protect the broader park ecosystem now and for years to come.”


About the 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 1.6 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

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