A goal of our program at Conserve School is to give students the tools they need to make their voices heard on issues that they care about. CS16 alum Noah Miller recently joined a contingent of young people on a trip to the halls of power in Washington D.C. to speak to decision-makers about the current proposal for mining near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota. Here, in his own words, Noah describes the experience:
“Recently, I was given the opportunity to fly into Washington DC on behalf of the Kids for the Boundary Waters Association to lobby for the protection of the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area. With 40 other kids from across the country, I met with high-ranking officials of the House and Senate, as well as heads of the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, and officials within the US Forest Service.
As you may know, recent decisions by the Departments of Agriculture and Department of the Interior have been made to reinstate long-expired federal mineral leases, and prematurely end the environmental study of the area while simultaneously opening the area to mining. These decisions had no basis in fact or science, and instead appear to be made out of political interest and for the profit of the foreign mining conglomerate Antofagasta. Furthermore, these decisions contradict previous conclusions reached by the U.S. Forest Service in 2016 as well as the will of ninety-eight percent of the 181,000 Americans who participated in the study.
I, as well as many others, are extremely disappointed that these departments have chosen to ignore both their duties to the American people as well as to American wilderness. To make our voices heard, I joined 40 other young people, led by Joseph Goldstein, and flew to Washington. This trip gave me an inside look at what it is like to lobby on Capitol Hill and a chance to speak of my connection to the wilds. During my time in the Boundary Waters, I found a sense of peace and belonging that no other place in the world had offered me before. It has given me lessons on perseverance and strength and it was my memories of the Boundary Waters that I drew upon for strength in times of sorrow and reflection. The Boundary Waters truly is a place of reflection, offering its purity and pristine characteristics to those who wander within its boundaries. It must remain in its purest form so future generations will get to experience its purity and peacefulness just as I and many others have.
I will be heading back to Washington in the spring with the same 40 kids as well as many others to continue this fight. I also hope to work for the Save the Boundary Waters Campaign out in Washington once I graduate in January. Our generation of kids have a duty and responsibility to preserve and protect the natural world for future generations to come. We will not let up on this fight for the protection of such lively wilderness areas.”
Photos contributed by Noah Miller