Keeping Northern Minnesota Beautiful

“The best of view on the Gunflint Trail.”

Charlie and Petra Boostrom

The view looking northeast across Clearwater Lake from Clearwater Lodge on the Gunflint Trail is arguably one of the best views in the entire Boundary Waters region. The two palisades that guard the southeast shore of the lake are like a pair of natural sentinels guarding the entrance to the BWCAW canoe country. Paddling next to those palisades in a canoe was one of the most awesome and exhilarating experiences I’ve had in the canoe country as we pounded into whitecaps crossing the lake. It certainly made my son and I feel we were only a small part of the big and beautiful landscape.

It is this big and beautiful landscape that has been drawing people to the area we know as the Boundary Waters for centuries. The most recent inhabitants to be drawn to the region to earn a living have been a group of small independent entrepreneurs providing a multitude of services to experience what this exceptional outdoor region offers. Arguably some of the first of these entrepreneurial souls opening the wilderness to American travelers was Charlie and Petra Boostrom.

Charlie arrived in the area in 1909 as a prospector for some of the early failed mining endeavors. He soon realized that the location at the southwest end of Clearwater Lake not far off the wagon trail, which would later become known as the Gunflint Trail, was one of the most breathtaking views ever seen. Charlie and his wife Petra started running fishing camps at Clearwater Lake in 1915, and eventually developed a permanent lodge — which would be considered one of the first lodges on the trail – and opened it for business in 1926.

Since that time one of the most sustainable economies in northern Minnesota known as tourism has been chugging along. Because of the small entrepreneurial nature it has evolved and responded to changing times with amazing resilience. This is a due in large part to the exceptional beauty and diversity of opportunity that exists in this North Country of our great state. In addition to the natural beauty, this ecosystem offers first-rate camping, wildlife watching, hunting and fishing. This economic engine has fostered many great entrepreneur efforts in the region that have respected and sought to protect the ecosystem they depend on. These entrepreneurs have succeeded without needing government subsidies or special regulations at the expense of the rest of their neighbors.

Unfortunately the region is again being threatened by a natural resource extractive economy as new mining operations seek to draw minerals from sulfide ore out of the region. This is not the iron ore mining of the past, but a much more dangerous mining process for this ecosystem. Wherever this mining has taken place in the past it has produced toxic waste that could irreversibly damage the region’s fragile lakes, rivers and natural resources. If this mining is done wrong it could forever damage one of the most stable economies in northern Minnesota for short term gain that will mostly benefit foreign corporations.

These large corporate interests have hired expensive lobbyists and lawyers to seek special benefits and changes the laws that protect us from pollution. They have argued that it is necessary for the economic benefit of the region to roll back these important rules that everybody else has to live by in the state. Their arguments simply do not hold water.

Therefore it is important to know the truth about this mining. That is why Conservation Minnesota has collaborated with the Friends of the Boundary Water Wilderness and Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy to provide an educational tool through a website known as “Mining Truth”. Click here to learn more about this important issue facing Minnesota and our economy.

About John Tuma

John is a former state legislator and litigation attorney. He served in the Minnesota House of Representatives for eight years from the Northfield area, beginning in 1994. Elected as a Republican, John was known for his independent thinking and ability to work across party lines. He is well-known in Minnesota state government circles.
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