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Boundary Waters Canoe Area Controversy: Overview

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Who owns the land, water, forests, and wildlife in the wilderness area along the international boundary between Minnesota and Canada? Whose right is it to determine the use and disposition of its rich resources? To what purpose, in whose interests, and by what authority should mandates be created? Disputes about these and related issues, some of which remain in contention even after the creation of national parks in the area, reach back for many years. Opposing advocates with firm convictions about the private vs. the public good, recreation vs. industry/trade, freedom vs. control, motorized vs. non-motorized recreation have been unwavering in their efforts to prevail in winning public and legislative support for their respective campaigns for nearly a century. Major figures in these ongoing efforts included such men as Christopher C. Andrews, Edward W. Backus, Ernest C. Oberholtzer, and Sigurd F. Olson.


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