Latest BWCA lawsuit fails to recognize past failures

Any means possible is the first thought that comes to mind while reading the latest lawsuit involving the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Getting motors out of the BWCA has been a goal for groups like the Friends of the Boundary Waters and now Wilderness Watch.
Yet this latest salvo makes no sense when you look at the big picture. Going after towboats will have a direct impact on canoeists who are trying to get further into the park during their trip.
Eliminate the towboats and areas like Moose Lake will look like I-35 going north out of the Twin Cities on a Friday afternoon. Towboats help to disburse people throughout the BWCA and the Quetico.
So if you don’t want towboats, there must be two things you do want: a paddling traffic jam at several entry points and/or the elimination of all motors, which is not what the 1978 Wilderness Act called for.
So where did this come from? And who is Wilderness Watch?


And now the voters decide

Set an alarm on your cell phone, circle the date on your calendar, just don’t forget to cast your ballot in Tuesday’s special primary election. It’s time for the voters to have their say.
We’ve been watching the race to fill the seat last held by David Dill with great interest. But we don’t know who will have their name on top when the keys are turn on the ballot counters Tuesday night.
Here’s the field of DFL candidates in case you’ve been out in the BWCA for the past year:
• Koochiching County Commissioner Rob Ecklund
• Tofte canoe outfitter Bill Hansen
• International Falls’ businessman Eric Johnson
• Ely council member Heidi Omerza
Also on the ballot will be former Ely mayor and current Republican Roger Skraba. This is a primary election so each of the two major political parties are represented. It’s no secret Skraba’s name is there in case Hansen wins the primary.


Remembering Mike Weinzierl

The Ely area lost a special person this past week when Mike Weinzierl drowned in a boating accident on Fall Lake. He was coming back from a day of fishing on Basswood, a trip he had made hundreds of times. Something went wrong and Mike didn’t make it home.
More than a successful business owner, Mike was an accomplished pilot, a great musician and a wonderful family man. His passing was a shot to the heart for the people who were fortunate enough to have known him.
We sat down with one of his former employees, Bob Artisensi, who was willing to share some of his memories with Echo readers.
Bob was the salesman and the face of Mike Motors for 19 years. That was okay with Mike and Jim Weinzierl, the owners of the company. They had a unique ability to allow employees to succeed.
“Mike was the kind of guy who believed in everybody. He gave everyone a fair chance, but you had to prove yourself. If you didn’t prove yourself, you weren’t there,” said Bob.


Name on garage a fitting tribute to Forsman; his impact was immense

St. Louis County commissioners did the right thing this week by renaming the joint public works garage on Ely’s east end in honor of their former colleague - now-retired commissioner Mike Forsman.
It’s truly fitting that the massive building will now be known as the Michael F. Forsman Public Works Facility.
After all, if it wasn’t for Forsman the garage wouldn’t be there today.
The project faced several obstacles, but Forsman was persistent and almost always out front flinging one barrier or the other to the side and keeping it on track.
It was Forsman who lobbied the late Jim Oberstar and helped secure funding that offset some of the construction costs and made the overall price tag more palatable to the major players - St. Louis County and the city of Ely.


School bus safety a two-way street

by Sgt. Neil Dickenson
of the Minnesota State Patrol
With school starting this will be entirely focused on the safety of the most precious cargo in the world – our children. Traffic safety is a two-way street and everyone has an investment.
School Bus Safety Tips for Motorists:
• Motorists must stop at least 20 feet from a school bus that is displaying red flashing lights and/or its stop arm is extended when approaching from the rear and from the opposite direction on undivided roads.
• Red flashing lights on buses indicates students are either entering or exiting the bus.
• Motorists are not required to stop for a bus if the bus is on the opposite side of a separated roadway (median, etc.) — but they should remain alert for children.
• Altering a route or schedule to avoid a bus is one way motorists can help improve safety. In doing so, motorists won’t find themselves behind a bus and as a result, potentially putting children at risk.


Land exchange, not purchase

The U.S. Forest Service is pushing ahead with a proposed land exchange to remove state lands from inside the BWCA. As long as an exchange is all that is being considered, we believe this is a step in the right direction.
This is only the first step in this attempt to right a wrong. There is a total of 83,000 acres of school trust land that were taken into the BWCA where they won’t generate a dime for the state’s school trust fund.
The land exchange is for 30,000 acres, leaving 53,000 acres the Forest Service is proposing to purchase instead of exchanging land.
However, word is out that there continues to be opposition to an all-out exchange which we believe is the only option available under federal law. The opposition comes from the Friends of the Boundary Waters with fears of the state logging and mining on the newly acquired land.


Dill: Loyal friend, persistent advocate

David Dill didn’t come across as a typical politician.
Perhaps that’s why he was so good at politics.
There’s little doubt that the Ely area, as well as northeastern Minnesota as a whole, lost a loyal friend and a persistent, relentless advocate when Dill passed away last weekend at the far too early age of 60.
As tributes, accolades, stories and memories came forward in the days since Dill’s passing, common themes have emerged.
Dill was both a tenacious and studious legislator, one who wasn’t afraid to buck his own party if it was for the betterment of his spacious district.
He was both congenial and compassionate, generous and kind, frank and straightforward, and not afraid to share a laugh or have a good time.
We agree on all counts and would add a tale or two.


Relay for Life: How do you know that you are making a difference

by Mary Ann Lekatz
Many people participate in the Ely American Cancer Society Relay for Life either as a survivor or walker.
This year the Relay is scheduled for Friday, August 21, from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Most northern Minnesota Relays have switched to this time frame.
Come and join in the festivities – there will be a booth selling fresh popcorn, flasher rings, rings that light up, and many other items for you to purchase and help the fight against cancer.
Survivor and team participants work for an event T-shirt which have become a badge of honor worm only by those who have dedicated their time, talent, resources, and therapies (whether it was radiation or chemotherapy) to personally helping the American Cancer Society Fund the fight to end cancer.
We believe your participation demonstrates that you have gone the extra mile to save lives and fight back against cancer.


Two sides far apart in mining debate

The chances of finding common ground in the debate of copper nickel mining in the Ely area are slim and none, whether you’re talking about surface and underground common ground.
Sure, we all can agree on the importance of clean water but from there the histrionic behavior gets a bit ridiculous at times, especially for those in opposition.
For some people, there is no chance for a mining operation to exist without decimating the water. If that’s what you believe, fine, there’s no common ground for you to stand on.
Conversely, to say that it’s impossible for a mine built today to pollute also leaves you with very little common ground.
We believe the time is now to draw the line on rhetoric and continue the quest of finding what is the truth and what is simply hogwash.
Starting this week we will no longer include the term “sulfide mining.” This is used by the opposition groups to incite and bias the reader. It is not based in truth or fact.


LETTER: ... Will other environmental groups come to the table and be a partner in such an agreement?

Dear Editor,
My husband and I attended the Save the Boundary Waters presentation on sulfide mining at Vermilion Community College. It was a nice slide presentation of the layout of the area, depicting the Boundary Waters, what makes it special, the watershed, the mineral deposits, the aquatic and forest ecology, etc. Many of us who support the proposed copper/nickel mining projects have heard similar presentation several times before by Becky Rom and her friends.
What was different this time, before a group of about 100 people, was that the question period was literally shut down by Rom at 7:30 after two questions. Was she intimidated by the dozen or so supporters of mining projects and what questions they would ask? I talked to Dave Marshall who schedules events at Vermilion and he said the theater was booked until 9:30.


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