Judge Upholds Motorized Boat Limit at Boundary Waters
September 9, 2004
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness encompasses one million acres of forested lake land on the Minnesota-Ontario border, and together with neighboring Quetico Provincial Park provides the habitat for hundreds of species in a system of nearly 3,000 lakes. In 1978, Congress passed a law to protect this unique wilderness area, including a limit on motorized boats allowed on the remote lakes. Although the original legislation specified that this cap should remain permanent, in 2002 the Bush administration sought to increase motorized boat use in the wilderness by over 400%.
In a recent victory, Judge Tunheim sided with environmental groups including the Sierra Club, who had challenged the Bush administration’s proposed increase. In his ruling, Judge Tunheim held that the Forest Service had no authority to increase the use of motorized boats. Further, the judge found that the administration’s use of homeowner “surveys” was suspect and did not support the proposed 400% increase. The decision is significant because it requires the Bush administration to comply with the original wilderness legislation and to continue strict limits on motorboat users in this treasured national wilderness.
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