BWCAW – The Future of,

FW: Public Law 95-495: The Future of the BWCA(W)

To all that love the Quetico-Superior:

With the recent death of F W (Bill) Hubachek (Wilderness Research Foundation, Ely MN) in Chicago, another historically significant figure passes into memory only. Just as his father and his friends like Earnest Oberholtzer, Sigrud Olson, Frederick Winston and Charles Kelly passed, the candor and wisdom with which he (they) spoke so deliberately, and with such eloquence and piercing intensity has stopped. But not their life and how they lived. Many will carry that on here near the BWCAW.

Bill was a mentor and then friend, and each trip to Chicago over the years proved unique, enlightening and educational. Our discussions of the history of Saving (the) Quetico-Superior, the legal battles, the loveliest camp site on a favorite Quetico lake, and the research of the Wilderness Research Foundation always pointed to what the future holds for our Boundary Waters, and what we hold necessary to BE necessary. Reforestation of Superior National Forest is “a tough nut to crack” Bill would say when dialogue about amending federal laws was on the table. Do-able I suppose he commented, reminding me how long it took in decades past. But as he, and his father before him knew, natural growth of our pines will not succeed without man’s interaction. The foresters and ecologists agree, as Cliff and Isabel Ahlgren to this day agree, restoration forestry inside our wilderness will work and why it is necessary. It should be mandatory. Remembering Aldo Leopold’s research, work ethic and wisdom, we look no further than his words “the health of a land depends on its ability to restore itself”. (Sand County Almanac) All of us that know and often remember the history of this region know what is necessary, what is truly right and just.

Public Law 95-495 must be amended quickly and with no trepidation. The issues of what is right and just are about reclamation, reconciliation and restoration. In October 1978, we lost on those issues, then in ’93’, the door to future dialogue closed. It slammed shut, and that sound still echoes with the wind through the limbs of what few “lob pines in the wilderness” remain.

To RECLAIM ethical values and redevelop our land ethics to the more modern and futuristic approach is simple. All past and current conservationists, scientists, and peoples passionate about our wilderness know preservation is the key to that closed door. And reclaiming what again, was taken and deprived to all of us should be returned, most significantly, the lands surrounding 4 MILE PORTAGE, northeast of Ely. Allowing that road to come back as a world class visitor attraction creating hundreds of LOCAL jobs, boosting tourism 12 months a year, including light rail to Hoist Bay is a beginning of the reclaimation. The motor route down to Basswood, its river and into and through Crooked Lake should REOPEN. Especially now with tomorrows technology, and the clean quiet mechanics that would enable those less fortunate to experience these historic lands and waterways. And it is done today successfully in European environments.

To RECONCILE means recognizing the past and what was forgotten, lost, or swept under the tables of dialogue and lawsuits past.. Developing more easily accessable entry’s, portages and campsites for the physically challenged into nearby border lakes must happen. To allow horse trails on selected routes will provide a most unique way of travel to all who seek it. Unique, for hundreds of years past. And then, reclaim the local, regional and national history that must not remain buried under tons of bio-mass and go unnoticed. Reclaim the ability to do so. The hands on the wheel that drove the so called environmental bus should let go now, and if necessary ask for directions. The ecologists, foresters, loggers, patriots, fire fighters, authors, outfitters, guides, educators, and boards of ethically moral organizations will offer those directions.

And finally, but not, RESTORE not only our wilderness, but our heritage and faith in government. Peoples have lived here over ten thousand years. Visit our local museums and historical societies. Visit Bois Fort on Lake Vermilion and other native peoples lands. Restore the visions and the eccentrics of the earliest of conservationists by recalling their passionate and educated warnings of mismanagement, misuse and overuse. Remind ourselves that man is in management, and man must manage closely its wild lands. Land should be loved and respected, and not treated so much as a commodity. Restore and revamp the current permit system, and reduce the degradation of anchient trails and camps. As F W (Hub) Hubachek once said, “Let us replant the trees and seeds for the next generations”. Begin this dialogue. Amend PL 95-495 in 2014. We shall all be good stewards and remodel the Boundary Waters, one acre at a time, for our next generation. Reclaim. Reconcile. Restore.

Mark Haarman
near Ely MN.