Court Ruling Protects Echo Trail Forest in Minnesota

Big Lake sunrise near Ely, Minnesota. Photo by Flappin Mothra.

If a court ruling protects roadless forests can anyone hear it? There’s a bright spot in the legal struggle that started almost a year and a half ago to protect national forests in northern Minnesota. A federal district court recently decided that the Forest Service violated a major national environmental law (National Environmental Policy Act) by failing to evaluate the effects of logging on water quality in the Echo Trail area adjacent to the Boundary Waters Wilderness.

“This court victory is important because it will help protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, as well as the nearby roadless areas in the Superior National Forest,” says our Senior Resource Analyst Michael Anderson.  “As the largest wilderness area east of the Rocky Mountains, the Boundary Waters deserves special attention to maintain its superlative water quality, wildlife and recreational values.”

Working with the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness and others, we sought to stop 12,700 acres of trees from being cut and sold. Stopping the timber sale also eliminates the need for 74 miles of new logging roads to be built in the forest.

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area was set aside in 1926 to preserve its primitive character. This wilderness offers freedom to those who wish to experience an array of outdoor experiences. Echo Trail is a particular favorite for backcountry canoeing – giving people the chance to travel the lakes in the spirit of the French voyageurs who explored the region 200 years ago. 

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