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H.R. 5598 Resources

Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act (H.R. 5598)

Minnesotans and visitors alike know this universal truth: The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is a special place. From the pristine, clear waters, to the stillness and quiet that’s nearly unmatched anywhere else in the nation – this place is a refuge and source of adventure for thousands of people. In fact, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is the most-visited federal wilderness area in the U.S.

The BWCAW is intact today because of more than a century of protections by the State of Minnesota and the U.S. government. But these protections are threatened by sulfide-ore copper mining, which risks polluting these waters – and once damaged, they can never fully be restored. There is no acceptable risk level for sulfide-ore copper mining just footsteps away from this fragile and vulnerable ecosystem.

Introduced in January 2020, H.R. 5598 is bipartisan legislation to establish permanent federal protections for the BWCAW.

Some places are simply too special to mine. It is our obligation to ensure these unique and valuable lands and waters remain intact for generations to come.



The Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act (H.R. 5598) permanently protects 234,328 acres of federal lands and waters within the Superior National Forest from risky sulfide-ore copper mining. The bill is bipartisan, and is supported by local, regional, and national advocacy groups in favor of permanently protecting these critical resources. 

H.R. 5598 is focused on sulfide-ore copper mining in the headwaters of the Boundary Waters and Voyageurs National Park.

The legislation:

  • Does not limit taconite or iron-ore mining anywhere in the State of Minnesota
  • Does not affect sulfide-ore copper mining projects outside the Rainy River Drainage Basin 
  • Does not interfere with state mineral leasing, state environmental regulations, or state permitting processes

View a fact sheet here with more information.



A timeline of important moments in the fight to keep the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness protected is available here.



H.R. 5598 is endorsed by a broad variety of stakeholders, including: 

  • American Canoe Association
  • American Rivers
  • Back Country Hunters
  • Crow River Trail Guards
  • EarthJustice
  • Environmental Protection Information Center
  • Friends of the Boundary Waters 
  • John Huston, Polar Explorer 
  • Klamath Forest Alliance
  • League of Conservation Voters
  • Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, including the Bois Forte, Leech Lake, White Earth, Fond du Lac, Mille Lacs, and Grand Portage bands
  • National Parks Conservation Association
  • National Resources Defense Council
  • Save the Boundary Waters
  • Sierra Club
  • Sierra Club North Star Chapter
  • The Conservation Alliance
  • The Wilderness Society
  • Voyageurs National Park Association
  • Winter Wildlands Alliance

H.R. 5598 also enjoys bipartisan support in Congress. Click here to see the most up-to-date list of co-sponsors.


Additional Resources

Coverage including news articles, opinion and editorial commentary, and issue briefs: 


Map Showing Proximity of Proposed Sulfide-ore Copper Mine to Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness