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Former DNR commissioner becomes new director of Save The Boundary Waters

Tom Landwehr will continue the fight against the Twin Metals mining project.
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Tom Landwehr

Former DNR commissioner Tom Landwehr has a new gig heading up the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters.

The organization, part of the nonprofit Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness, announced that Landwehr will become its next executive director.

Landwehr spent eight years as Mark Dayton's DNR Commissioner, during which time he oversaw the approval of permits for the PolyMet mining near Hoyt Lakes.

But while he backed the PolyMet plan, he is completely opposed to proposals for the Twin Metals copper-nickel mine near Ely, on the cusp of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

In a statement released Tuesday, Landwehr said his "jaw dropped" when he learned of the Twin Metals plan "because of its proximity to the Boundary Waters, the Kawishiwi river system, Birch Lake and adjacent to my favorite Wilderness entry point."

"We wouldn't dig a huge mine next to Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon, and we shouldn't dig one next to the Boundary Waters," he added.

He'll now be able to oppose the project in earnest as part of the Boundary Waters campaign, which seeks to protect the water, air and forest around the BWCA, and keep the watershed free from pollution caused by nearby mining.

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The Trump Administration is seeking to clear the path for the Twin Metals project, in September canceling a planned moratorium on mining within a vast area of the Boundary Waters watershed, which is where Twin Metals wants to explore.

Landwehr's experience working on mining permitting processes could prove crucial to the opposition group, which said in a statement: "Now more than ever we need someone with Tom’s talent and expertise to lead us through the next steps in our fight to ensure that our children and their children’s children have the same unspoiled Wilderness that we do.

"Tom’s hiring comes at a critical juncture in the fight to preserve this one-of-a-kind-lake-land Wilderness."

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