Future of the BWCA(W)

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.


7 comments to Future of the BWCA(W)

  • Mike Hillman

    Quite a few people were buzzing about the letter Mark Haarman send into the local papers in mid February about how we need to repeal the wilderness status of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. One of the main concerns expressed in the letter was that we need to go into the wilderness area with a major reforestation project in order to restore the pines that were taken away by the major logging operations that operated with a free hand starting in the 1890’s and ending in the early 1920’s when the area’s pinery was essentially logged off. In order to restore these majestic trees to the area, Mark Haarmon would get rid of the Boundary Waters wilderness status in order to implement a major reforestation project that would negate all the work that people like Sig Olson did in order to set the area aside as a wilderness area. Perhaps Mark would be better off lobbying our government to try some of the ideas expressed in his letter in the other nine million acres of the Superior National Forest and leave the wilderness to take care of itself by nature’s tried and true methods of time, wind, and fire to shape the area the way it was before man entered the picture. Mike Hillman March 8, 2011

  • Mike Hillman

    If Mark Haarmon’s intent was to stimulate people to think about the Boundary Waters Wilderness then his letter was a success. Knowing I know a little bit about the area’s history, a friend sent me an email that said while she was familiar with red, white and jack pines, that she had no idea what a lob pine was. She wondered if lop pines were a non native species that were introduced to the area during one of our reforestation projects. It is a very good question, and thought it was worth a buzz. The term Lob Pine goes back to the days of the voyageurs when colorful brigades from the Northwest Fur Company traveled the canoe country. Sometimes rich guests would travel with a brigade and in order to get an extra dram of rum at the end of the day, a voyageur or two would go up to the guest and tell them that they would be willing to mark their passage by choosing a large white pine standing on a high ridge and towered over the trees around it and tell the guest that it was their tree. In order to mark the pine, they would lob off all the branches except those on the very top of the tree. From then on the large pine stood out even more, and was named after the guest it honored. The guest felt honored, and the voyageurs got an extra bump of rum to put a glow on the end of the day. The reason why there are so few lob pines left is that no one has done this since the last voyageurs left the area in the nineteenth century. The next time you take a kid into the boundary waters ask them if they can name the five kinds of pines native to the area. The real answer is there are only three pines native to the area; red, white, and jack, the other two are a joke; lob pines and porky pines. Who says history can’t be fun. Mike Hillman March 10, 2011

  • Nancy McReady CWCS President

    I have had discussions with Mark Haarman about his ideas for the Boundary Waters and changing the 1978 BWCAW Act. I have also discussed these issues with the CWCS board and others. Surprise, urprise! We are in agreement with Kevin Proescholdt and do not support Haarman’s plans, which even included paving some of the portages! I’d like to comment on one thing Proescholdt said. That Haarman wants to open portions of the BWCAW to motor use. There IS motor use allowed with the 1964 Wilderness Act and the 1978 BWCAW Act on 16 of the larger lakes of the Boundary Waters. No one is asking for any more motors and we do not want to lose any more uses either. We all agree the Boundary Waters is a special and unique wilderness area. It is one that allows limited motor use and a vast area for solitude for more people to enjoy. Recent reports have the usage of the Boundary Waters decreasing and maybe the recent decrease in the reservation fee will encourage more people to visit what we, who live on the edges of the Boundary Waters, call our ‘backyard.’ We care for our backyard and we don’t want to see any more changes. Nancy McReady CWCS president

  • Kevin Proescholdt

    Much of what Mark Haarman asked for in his Feb. 19th letter to the Timberjay would require elimination of wilderness status for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Such an action is not wise, nor should it happen.

    The 1964 Wilderness Act defines wilderness in part as “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” Untrammeled, a somewhat arcane word, was nonetheless deliberately chosen for this definition because it essentially means un-manipulated by humankind. The 1964 law further defines wilderness and also emphasizes that the primary purpose of the law is to “preserve wilderness character.”

    Many of the things Mr. Haarman proposed – construction of a light rail line to Basswood Lake, opening portions of the BWCAW to motor use, etc.
    – would directly degrade the area’s wilderness character and require extensive manipulation of the wilderness. Even the restoration forestry he proposed would involve extensive human manipulation of the wilderness at the expense of the BWCAW’s wild character. Rather we should let the forests of the Boundary Waters function on their own, without humans imposing our will or even our favorite tree species on the wilderness.
    That’s why the U.S. Forest Service does not permit such forestry work in the BWCAW.

    The BWCAW is a world-class resource and destination for thousands across the country who come to the area because it is a Wilderness. As a nation, we have made a series of decisions going back to at least 1926 to preserve this area as a wilderness, including passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act and the 1978 BWCAW Act. We need to steward it well into the future, but as “an enduring resource of wilderness” and not as Mr.
    Haarman proposed.

    Kevin Proescholdt
    St. Paul MN

  • Ed Horvat

    I have read Mark Harmanns letter and have to say I agree. We need more portages paved and mechanized.Growing up in Ely and not the cities, I saw first hand how closing off the BWCA to motors and shutting down the resorts affected Ely. When I returned from serving our country I decided to try the get back to nature thing and found it to be unrealistic. You want me to enjoy and pretend. Sorry this did not happen. All I could do was think about the good family time we had when I was growing up, snowmobiling on Basswood Lake, Bon-fire alongside Basswood river, trout fishing on Knife Lake. These were just a few. Now you have quotas, permits and idiots all over the BW. What Proescholdt and his cronies did behind closed doors was unlawful and they should be found guilty and rot in jail.

  • Mike Hillman

    Strange Synergy; I wish Ron Walls would have lived long enough to read the editorial pages in both the Ely Echo and Timberjay that dealt with proposed changes in policy suggested in an editorial written by Mark Haarman that would essentially call for a repeal of the 1978 Wilderness Act which governs over a million acres of land along the U.S.; Canadian Border. Ron Walls was the City attorney for Ely when the Wilderness was being hammered out back in the early 1970’s. It was a time when the battle for the Boundary Waters had gotten quite hot in and around Ely. One of the Dayton Brothers represented the pro-wilderness interests and Ron Walls represented the interests of the local area. It was one of the bravest things I ever saw. The two men went into a room and after many hours of give and take, they came out with what was a compromise agreement that essentially became known as the Dayton-Walls Compromise. Like most compromises; neither side really liked it, but like it or not it was the best that could be achieved at the time, and the Wilderness Bill has lasted for over thirty years now. I don’t know what it cost Mr. Dayton, but I think his decision to represent local interests cost Ron Walls a lot. I wish here were still alive so I could say thank him for his courage and conviction to the canoe country. This winter Mark Haarmon provided unlooked for synergy for two different philosophies of Wilderness Management to come together when he suggested that we scrap the Dayton Walls Compromise and, re-write the Wilderness Bill. Much to the relief of many who love the Boundary Waters; both Kevin Proescholdt of the pro-wilderness people, and Nancy Mc Ready, a spokesperson for local interests both agreed to keep things in the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area just as they are. I think Ron Walls would have been proud to know that the wisdom of his compromise is standing the test of time. Blessed are the peace makers.

    Mike Hillman
    Ely, MN

  • Mr. Proescholdt, dialog on wilderness land ethics and the future of a sustainable forest inside our Boundary Waters is a topic to be avoided if you choose not to keep your ego in check. Your last words to me personally will not be forgotten, a lasting impression indeed. You all have forgotten the basic concept of restoration. One day we will replant the pines since our current Singing Wilderness has lyrics of lament. The 50 year anniversary of the 1964 Wilderness Act approaches, good timing for the dialog to commence. Amending PL 95-495 and its rule makers will need to brush up on Leopold land ethics, somehow missing from the equation. Perhaps it will be best to allow things to evolve and prepare for nothing to fight. I speak for many, simply as a messanger.

    Mark Haarman
    aNewNorth Group

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