Vermont Journal of Environmental Law

Volume 21 (2019-2020)

What is Mined is no Longer Ours: Mining in Superior National Forest

Created in 1909, Superior National Forest spans more than three million acres of wilderness in northeastern Minnesota. Within the Forest’s borders lie countless waterways, lakes, and cultural sites, as well as three endangered species and many unique ecosystems. Yet, recent mineral extraction proposals located within the Forest have called into question the legality of mining operations on these protected lands. Federal mining laws typically provide primary guidance on such issues. But these generally applicable federal laws have little influence on most of the lands within the Forest. Ownership of the land within the Forest is split amongst the federal government, the State of Minnesota, and private individuals. Federal mining laws also created exceptions for Superior National Forest, making federally owned lands within it outside of the purview of such laws. As the State faces new issues of mineral ownership, leasing, and extraction, the differences in applicable law are essential to recognize and comprehend. Without an understanding of the mining laws at play in Superior National Forest, no legal claims by mining companies, individuals, the State, the federal government, or concerned parties will be successful.

What is Mined is no Longer Ours: Mining in Superior National ForestWhat is Mined is no Longer Ours: Mining in Superior National Forest