Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Rangers don’t want to become sherpas

Posted 9/28/12

I see one of our new immigrants to Ely, Mr. Reid Carron, is putting our more misinformation on the proposed BWCA/state/federal land exchange. Let me enlighten your readers.

First, Mr. Carron …

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Rangers don’t want to become sherpas


I see one of our new immigrants to Ely, Mr. Reid Carron, is putting our more misinformation on the proposed BWCA/state/federal land exchange. Let me enlighten your readers.

First, Mr. Carron states “current law adequately provides for dealing with school trust lands, no additional legislation is necessary.” If so I ask Mr. Carron whey, after 35 years, has no exchange taken place? I’ll tell you my opinion why, because the feds, DNR, and most environmental organizations have never wanted an exchange. It’s too big a headache for the feds and the DNR. And, as for the environmentalists, the real truth is that they don’t want federal land to become state land because they know they’ll have a tougher time suing in state court than in federal court over activities they don’t like, such as logging, snowmobiling, and ATV use.

Next, let’s talk about this absurd statement in Mr. Carron’s letter claiming the bill is “a giveaway to multinational mining companies.” The 93,000 acres of school and University trust land in the BWCAW will become federal land, and the 93,000 acres of federal land in the Mesabi Purchase portion of the Superior National Forest will become state trust land and will be managed in perpetuity to raise income for public education. What bogeyman do you see under your bed here, Mr. Carron? An acre for acre exchange where state land becomes federal land and federal land becomes state land will result in no net loss of public ownership. Why is this such a hard concept for the environmental community to grasp? It certainly isn’t a giveaway to any mining company.

Next, let’s talk about Mr. Carron’s claim that “Ely area residents…will lose scores of thousands of acres of Superior National Forest land that are now available for hunting, snowmobiling, hiking, snowshoeing, and many other recreational pursuits.” While many of the “old immigrants” from the Ely and Tower area must be thinking that he’s talking about the original Boundary Waters Act, Mr. Carron, let me assure them that this claim about the land exchange is an absolute lie. In fact, Ely and Tower area residents will have an easier time recreating on the new state land. But that’s really why environmentalists oppose this bill— because they know it will be easier to put in a snowmobile trail or cut down a tree on state land than on federal land.

Mr. Carron’s letter, to put it in Range-speak, is just a bunch of BS. To imply that any member of the Iron Range delegation is supporting this legislation because we are stoolies for “multinational mining companies” is nuts. I am always going to be on the side of the miners and our mining communities, and not the big companies. But while I am no economic genius, I know that without mining and mining companies, we have no Iron Range.

Ely, tower, Winton, Cook Grand Rapids, and the North Shore couldn’t exist without our taconite industry. And the truth is, we are currently mining in the Superior National Forest, and we haven’t harmed it, have we? Minntac, Arcelor Mittal, North Shore Mining, and Mesabi Nugget are all currently operating in the Superior National Forest and it’s their taconite taxes that keep all our communities, including Duluth, alive.

So while Mr. Carron is worried about the Range turning into a “banana republic,” I’m worrying about a bunch of hypocritical environmentalists who want to turn our proud, productive, mining-based Iron Range into a Bangladesh where we can all be “sherpas” carrying bags and canoes for tourists, and existing on their tips and leftovers!

Tom Rukavina

State Representative

District 5A


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Here are some things to think about. 1) A map of the Mesabi Purchase Unit shows that it would be a give-away to PolyMet, Teck Cominco, Twin Metals, and Encampment Resources--allowing multi-national mining companies to open pit mine by removing Federal restrictions. 2) How did the Mesabi Purchase Unit get inserted into Minnesota SF 1750 and where did it come from? 3) If the purpose of a land exchange is to facilitate mining, then area residents and the public will lose access to that land for hunting, hiking, snowmobiling, etc. 4) Mining cannot currently be taking place in Superior National Forest and still be considered as Superior National Forest because mining land is blocked off to the public for safety reasons. 5) A land exchange is not really about expanding the Iron Range; it's about opening up a sulfide mining district in what is now Superior National Forest. 6) The amount of money from such mining that would actually go into the school trust fund is only a guess; if the mineral rights are held by private interests (such as Rggs Land Minerals), no money goes into the school trust.

There seems to be a misconception that a land exchange will give local residents more control over the area when in fact the purpose is to turn the land over to multi-national mining companies, displacing local businesses and recreational opportunities in the process.

If we are going to be making decisions regarding the future of this area, we need a clear picture of exactly what it is that we are doing--and what we really want that future to be.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012