The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW or BWCA) is a 1,090,000-acre (4,400 km2) wilderness area within the Superior National Forest in a northeastern part of Minnesota. A mixture of forests, glacial lakes, and streams, the BWCAW's preservation as a primitive wilderness began in the 1900s and culminated in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act of 1978. While a destination for canoeing, hiking, and fishing, it has also been a focus and debate for its resources in both the forest and mining industries.
Notable Minnesota figures tied to the BWCAW area include conservationist Sigurd Olson, resident Dorothy Molter ("Rootbeer Lady"), and outdoorswoman Justine Kerfoot.
September 3, 1964 - U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson speaks at signing of the 1964 Wilderness Act, creating the National Wilderness Preservation System and setting aside 9.1 million acres as forever protected from development, including about 1 million acres in what was then the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
June 17, 1973 - Part seven of the MER documentary series, A Sense of Place. Program is titled “More Than One Wilderness” and profiles living in Minnesota, from city to cabin.
May 24, 1974 - A discussion concerning open-pit and underground copper-nickel mining operations which International Nickel has proposed to begin near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and the Town of Ely, Minnesota. Panel members include John Herman, Sierra Club attorney; Victor Arnold, State Planning Agency; William Bryce, Department of Natural Resources-Division of Mines; Miron Heinselman, US Forest Service; and Dean Ramstad, of International Nickel.
September 18, 1974 - MPR’s Greg Barron reports on an injunction halting lumbering in Minnesota's Boundary Waters Cannoe Area was granted by Minnesota District Court Judge Miles Lord.
October 15, 1975 - MPR’s Dick Daly interviews U.S. Representative Jim Oberstar about his proposed idea to expand the Boundary Waters Canoe Area that would comprise both a wilderness and a national recreation area by act of Congress.
October 16, 1975 - MPR’s Tom Steward reports on Minnesota Congressman Jim Oberstar's proposed bill prohibiting the removal of natural resources in BWCA, including logging. It also states no snowmobiling except in designated areas. A similar bill was submitted by Representative Doug Johnson.
November 3, 1975 - Ed Finklea, of the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, discusses the potential impact of Representative Jim Oberstar's plan to change the status of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area from a wildnerness designation to a recreation one. Also discussed is private mining rights and related court cases in regards to the same area.
December 13, 1975 - The Northern Environmental Council, a federation of more than fifty environmental groups in five upper Midwest states wants the federal government to cancel International Nickel Company’s lease for copper and nickel mining in the state near the BWCA.
March 26, 1976 - Reflections of the North documentary presents two Minnesota naturalists and artists, writer Sigurd Olson and Photographer Les Blacklock, who offer readings and personal commentary on life in the “North.”
June 3, 1976 - MPR’s Claudia Hampston reports on formation of group called Friends of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Hampston interviews two members of group on it’s purpose in preserving the wilderness designation of BWCA.