Listen: BWCA with Jim Oberstar and Don Fraser

MPR’s Neal St. Anthony reports on debate between U.S. Congressmen Jim Oberstar and Don Fraser over the merits of their competing BWCA legislative bills in Congress. Report includes excerpts of both speaking during debate.

The 1964 Federal Wilderness Act apportioned the 1 million acre BWCA into two sections; an interior portion where only hiking and canoeing is permitted, and a portal zone where limited snowmobiling motor boating and commercial logging is allowed.

Oberstar’s bill would add to the BWCA an additional 150,000 acres from the adjoining Superior National Forest, declare 650,000 acres of the BWCA wilderness, and permit motor use and some logging in the exterior 500,000 acres.

Fraser’s bill would have the entire 1 million ccres classified as a wilderness area available only to the hiker and canoeist.


(00:00:00) The 1964 Federal Wilderness act apportion the 1 million acre BWC a into two sections and interior portion where only hiking and canoeing is permitted and a portal Zone where limited snowmobiling motor boating and Commercial logging is allowed at present. However, no logging is being conducted Lumber interest last winter bowed to over Stars request to hold off cutting until Congress moves a bill which will determine what activities will be permitted in the BWC a both the Fraser and Oberstar bills are Presently in committee, simply put Fraser would have the entire 1 million Acres classified as a Wilderness Area available only to the hiker and canoeist Oberstar would add to the BWC a an additional 150,000 Acres from the adjoining Superior National Forest declare 650,000 Acres of the BWC A wilderness and permit motor use and some logging in the exterior. 500,000 Acres the two squared off Sunday in a gentlemen's debate at an Area Community College. First are
(00:01:00) the area designated as Wilderness include 653 thousand acres. That includes virtually all of the Virgin timber in The Boundary Waters canoe area. There's a few little scattered plots outside of it and that will be protected by a management plan. It will be managed in in the tightest fashion of any Wilderness Area in the United States. Be no aircraft flying over the area, you know logging no Mining and no commercial activity 1,200 miles of exclusive paddle routes for paddle canoes throughout the Wilderness Area. Summary, then of this legislative attempt is that we're trying to do is to balance the uses recognizing the different characteristics of the land. And the different history of use in those areas. So that we don't take away from people what they have had and what has been committed to them for many years. So under our bill, we would give the full million Acres a true Wilderness status. We would ban motorized travel logging and Mining logging in the BWC a as generally involved clear cutting of large Timber sales blocks. Followed by bulldozing of the soils artificially reforesting applying herbicides and course sometimes neglecting to reforest at all. And this has resulted in severe changes in the balances of nature scarring of the landscape and the emergence of a network of roads of the 1 million acres in the BWC a over half or more accurate precisely five hundred and forty Thousand Acres still contain virgin forests. This is particularly troubling because of the fact that this virgin Forest Area represents the last extensive virgin area in the eastern part of the United States and therefore has considerable scientific and educational value. There are a hundred sixty-eight other areas. Scattered throughout the United States east and west north and south under consideration in various stages of consideration for Wilderness either awaiting enactment by Congress or under review by the land managing agency, whether it's the forest service and the National Park Service or the Bureau of Land Management. In addition The Carter Administration is proposing some 119 million acres in Alaska and various study forms. Wilderness consideration It's not as though we didn't have any Wilderness. I'm not arguing that we shouldn't have any more I'm saying is that the Boundary Waters canoe area has to be put in its perspective just as the argument is made that there are plenty of other areas for people to enjoy snowmobiles and motorboats. There are also plenty of other areas for people to enjoy Wilderness a problem with the motor boating is that when the forest service did a study through interviewing canoeists in the BWC a they got a 93 percent response from the canoeists indicating that encounters with motorboats had marred the kind of a Wilderness experience, which they were seeking. Another problem with the motor boats, is it because they do move rapidly. There's more of a sense of crowding as distinguished from the use of Simply of canoes to recognize that there is a national interest in Wilderness that there is a national interest in Wood fiber Supply that there is a national interest in multi recreational use 40% of the people. From outside the state who use the Boundary Waters canoe area you use motorized travel whether motor canoe or motorboat or snowmobile that in the wintertime months of December through first part of March that up to 90% of the use of that areas by snowmobilers very little way others. Now perhaps the most important Point here to make the loan is one that really needs to be underscored. And that is that there are all kinds of lakes open for motorboat use in this area not to mention the rest of the state. So if want someone wants to motor there are an enormous number of opportunities to do so, and of course the same is true snowmobilers. You can snowmobile all over the state you can use state parks their trails. But the BWC a is the only canoe Wilderness Area in the united lake lake canoe area in the United States. If you want a canoe based Wilderness experience, you have one place to go in the United States. And that's up
(00:06:14) here Congressman Don Fraser and Jim Oberstar each has offered a bill to Halt the controversy over the Boundary Waters canoe area hearings will soon start in Washington DC and in northern, Minnesota. I'm Nielsen Anthony.


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