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Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness (NMW) is a locally-based national organization with strong ties to the wild public lands of northern Minnesota and Canada. We advocate for the life-sustaining values of wilderness. We are inspired by the beauty, resilience, and priceless ecological and social values that wilderness provides, and we take action to defend our most exceptional wild places, especially the world-class Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW or Boundary Waters) of Northeastern Minnesota.

NMW’s central effort is the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters.

The Campaign is a national coalition we founded with the goal of protecting the Boundary Waters and downstream areas of Canada’s Quetico Provincial Park and Minnesota’s Voyageurs National Park from proposed sulfide-ore copper mining on the Wilderness edge – immediately upstream from the interconnected and pristine waters of the BWCAW, Quetico, and Voyageurs. 


Visit the Save the Boundary Waters website and get involved.

America’s most popular Wilderness is at risk and needs your support today!

Our mission

Boundary Waters Connect is another program Of NMW's.

Boundary Waters Connect is the economic and community development program of NMW.  Boundary Waters Connect fosters sustainable Wilderness-edge communities where you can live, work, and play. 

Visit the Boundary Waters Connect website to learn more.




We unite people to advocate for the protection of wilderness and wild places, especially the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the greater Quetico-Superior Ecosystem.


Our Vision 

We envision a future where people understand the value of wild protected lands, and are unified to forever protect the greater Boundary Waters Wilderness and the greater Quetico-Superior Ecosystem as vital components of a healthy and resilient planet.


Our Values

Education - Guided by sound science and policy, we educate people and leaders about the value of the Boundary Waters, the greater Quetico-Superior Ecosystem, and their wilderness character.


Collaboration - We value a network of coalition partners, and the mutual benefits of developing diverse, respectful relationships among businesses, organizations, agencies and other allies.


Local Roots - We value the knowledge of local issues, drivers and trends that develops from being a national organization grounded by local leadership.


Leadership - We provide local and national leadership for the Boundary Waters and the greater Quetico-Superior Ecosystem to the conservation movement, and are unwavering in our advocacy efforts and in building the next generation of wilderness protectors.


Inclusion - We believe the Boundary Waters, the greater Quetico-Superior Ecosystem, and other wild places, and the movement to protect them, should be accessible and open to everyone, and we value the perspectives that emerge from building and engaging a diverse community of advocates.


Sovereignty - We recognize Indigenous peoples as the longest standing stewards of the land, and strive to honor their inherent sovereignty, and treaty rights, and seek to effectively advocate for Indigenous values in protecting wilderness and public lands.


Sustainable Economy and Prosperous Communities - We strive to play an active role in supporting sustainable, prosperous wilderness-edge communities around the Boundary Waters  and the greater Quetico-Superior Ecosystem, recognizing the unique qualities these communities offer alongside these iconic public lands. 



laws and policies

The guiding principles of NMW are founded on the Wilderness Act of 1964 (WA), which was enacted “to secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness” (WA, Sec.2.a). It named the BWCAW as one of the original units of our Wilderness Preservation System when the Act became law. 


The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act of 1978 expanded protection of the area as a natural forest-lakeland wilderness ecosystem of major esthetic, cultural, scientific, recreational and educational value to the Nation. The Act prohibited logging and placed restrictions on other uses incompatible with Wilderness such as motorboats, snowmobiles, and certain commercial activites.


There will always be challenges to the protections for the Boundary Waters established by numerous federal laws. NMW and our coalition partners are the first line of defense against these threats by building a national movement in support of the Boundary Waters – and taking action to defeat harmful legislation and development when it arises.


NMW has formally adopted the following Policy Goals:


  1. Permanent protection of the BWCAW and its watersheds.

  2. Public policy that supports Wilderness and public lands protection nationwide.

  3. Better public understanding of the benefits and values of Wilderness and wild places for our communities and all life on earth.

  4. Stewardship and management of the BWCAW by the Forest Service, and other agencies and cooperators, consistent with the Wilderness Act of 1964 and Boundary Waters Act of 1978, and policy and guidelines created to implement those acts.

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