Priority Campaign 2022

Boundary Waters

Photo: Alex Falconer

The Conservation Alliance represents a coalition of businesses that fund and advocate for the protection of North America’s wild places. Through our work, we consolidate and redistribute power in the form of financial grants and political influence to grassroots environmental organizations working to permanently protect the outdoor spaces we love.

This year, we are investing additional advocacy resources in four priority campaigns – to protect the Boundary Waters in Minnesota, Bristol Bay in Alaska, Castner Range, and the Dolores River in Colorado,  in Texas. Each campaign addresses settling competing demands for natural resources, adapting to a changing climate, recognizing the rights of Indigenous communities, and protecting habitat in places that are also valued for human recreation.

We announce our Advocacy Priority Campaigns once a year. In collaboration with our grantees, we work to identify land and water conservation opportunities that are urgent, vital, and need national attention. This year, we are proud to work with members of our inaugural Confluence Program as well as members of our flagship multi-year grant program to secure permanent protection of these threatened natural spaces.


Boundary Waters, Minnesota

What’s at stake?

The environmental health of the most visited wilderness area in the United States, home to 4.3-million-acres of wilderness comprising parks and wild lands, stretching north across the Canadian border. Each year thousands of people go to the Boundary Waters to camp, fish, paddle, dogsled, hunt, and hike. This healthy Wilderness supports 4,500 direct jobs and a $16 billion economy. Currently, However, the Boundary Waters is threatened with proposals for sulfide-ore copper mining on neighboring land, which would cause irreversible harm to water quality, wildlife, public health, and the sustainable outdoor recreation-based economy.

What’s the solution?

Permanent protection for the Boundary Waters Canoe Areas that would save the area for current and future generations. And there’s a pathway to make that happen: on January 26, 2022, the Biden administration announced it had canceled the two mining leases for a proposed sulfide-ore copper mine right next to the Boundary Waters. While this move addressed the immediate mining threat, a permanent protection is still not finalized.

The Conservation Alliance joins groups advocating for permanent protection for the Boundary Waters through:

  • Finalizing a proposed federal 20-year ban on copper mining in this watershed, and
  • Passing permanent protection bills in Congress and the Minnesota legislature.
Who is The Conservation Alliance’s partner?

The Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters is led by Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness and was organized by local residents in and around Ely, Minnesota. The Conservation Alliance has been a proud supporter of Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness since 2015.

Photo: Alex Falc
Photo: Nate Ptacek