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Minneapolis, MN – September 28, 2012
Lake Superior looked like glass that morning and Grand Marais glittered on the horizon as I floated off-shore and dialed my mom’s cell phone number.
“Mom, you’re crazy,” I said as soon as she picked up. “You don’t have that kind of money.”
“I know,” she said.
I could almost see her grinning as I heard her voice.
“But it doesn’t matter,” she said. “This is important.”
That morning she read my story about meeting Rolf and decided that she’d match my donation to the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness.
“You know it’s $500, right?” I said.
My mom lives on a piece of land outside Tallahassee, Florida. She grows most of her own food and her house doesn’t even have air conditioning. For the first half-year she lived there, it didn’t even have a shower because she’d spent her money buying plants for her garden, but she wanted to help.
“I’ll find a way to come up with it even if I have to pay a bit every month,” she said. “I’ll just eat less or something.”
I thought of all the times my mom worried over spending a few dollars and the careful budgets she keeps. The way it hurt her when she had to replace some piece of equipment or a repair bill arrived.
“You don’t have to, you know,” I said. “You sure you want to do this? It’s a lot of money.”
“I’m sure,” she said. “It’s too important not to. I read about all the things they’re dealing with, the towers, the mines, it’s all happening right now and I have to do something.”
I smiled and stared out at Lake Superior, not sure what to say, knowing that she was right, things were changing.
From the moment the Looksha touched the water in Lake of the Woods to now, so many things have changed. AT&T won a court case to start building a cell tower along the border of the Boundary Waters that will turn unblemished skies into memories. Land swap bills reached the floor of congress that would remove federal protections on land around the Boundary Waters, opening it up to industrial use. Mining companies pursued permits to dig sulfide mines that have destroyed ecosystems everywhere they’ve been.
“It matters,” my mom said. “It matters now, not tomorrow, not next year.”
I looked out at Grand Marais and thought of driving through the town and up the Gunflint Trail on my first trip to the Boundary Waters two years ago. The next time I go, there will be a cell phone tower on the horizon, blinking next to the stars.
“I still think you’re crazy,” I said. “But you’re right.”
“You’ve always thought I was crazy,” my mom said. “And even if I never get to see the Boundary Waters in my life, I like knowing it’s there.”
I don’t expect everyone who reads this to go to the Friends of the Boundary Waters website and match my mom’s donation, but you should consider staying in one night, making your own coffee a few mornings, and donating what you can, even if it is just a few dollars. Every donation matters and it matters now. I guarantee you’ll feel great after you do because you’ll know you’ve helped protect one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Beyond donating, go to the Friends website and learn about the issues, watch the video above about sulfide mining, and follow Friends on Facebook and Twitter so you’ll know the latest. Stay informed and find ways to help like calling your representatives, talking with your neighbors, and understanding what is going on with the places we all love.
The Boundary Waters only exist today because people before us cared enough to protect it. Let’s hope, no, let’s work to make sure, the next generation can say the same thing.