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Boundary Waters Canoe Area Controversy: Overview

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The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is a 1,090,000-acre wilderness in northeastern Minnesota.  The protection and conservation of the BWCA has been an issue since the turn of the 20th century. 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? Battles over the private vs. the public good, recreation vs. industry/trade, freedom vs. control, motorized vs. non-motorized recreation have been waged over the BWCA for over 100 years.  Major figures in these ongoing efforts included people like Christopher C. Andrews, Edward W. Backus, Ernest C. Oberholtzer, and Sigurd F. Olson.


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