The Boundary Waters is
nothing to take for Granted

Though the BWCAW is federally protected, it faces numerous threats. It depends on the work of people like you to keep it wild. Here are some ways you can help keep the Boundary Waters wild for this and future generations


Stand up for clean water

Water is at the heart of the Boundary Waters. Of the 762 Wilderness Areas in the National Wilderness Preservation System, it is the only one with a large lake-land ecosystem. At a time with clean, fresh water is becoming increasingly scarce, it’s more important than ever that we treasure this watery wilderness. Currently, the biggest threat comes from the proposed copper-sulfide mines. If opened, the toxic waste from these mines would pollute the water and cause irreversible harm to the wilderness.


bring someone new to the bwcaw

The future of the Boundary Waters depends on people cherishing and protecting this area. Therefore, it’s vital that a new generation of wilderness stewards get to experience the life-changing effects of the Boundary Waters. If you have a niece, a nephew, a spouse or coworker who has never been, start planning a trip!


make it a national issue

The pristine lakes and the stunning precambrian geology make the Boundary Waters one of the most unique areas in the United States. Because it is federally protected, it needs supporters from around the country to ensure it continues to enjoy this level of protection. That’s why we need more people, from all over the country, to defend it like they would defend Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon or Yosemite.


Volunteer on a trail maintenance crew

To keep the Boundary Waters accessible to visitors, we work with REI, the National Forest Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service to recruit volunteers to restore, maintain and tidy up the BWCAW through our Superior Wilderness Volunteers Connections program. Volunteers usually go out for a few days to clear trails, clean campsites and enjoy a highly rewarding experience. Whether you have a group or just yourself, learn more by contacting Jamie Lowe.


how we work to preserve the BWCA


Documenting the effects of Climate Change

In a warming world, iconic species, such as the Moose, Lynx, Timber Wolf, Common Loon, and White Pine may soon disappear from the BWCAW. The Friends has partnered with photographer and artist Benjamin Olson to document this change and raise awareness of the effects of climate change on the northern ecosystem.

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Olson.


Preserving wild horizons

One of the things visitors to the Boundary Waters cherish are wild horizons, free from signs of human civilization, such as cell towers and signal lights. While many people travel the BWCAW to get away from the demands of constant communication, we know that reliable emergency communications are needed for public safety. Much of our work to protect the wild horizons of the BWCAW happens behind the scenes. We work with local residents and officials to provide alternatives early in the planning process.


Fighting for Clean Water & Air

Fresh air and clean water are defining features of the Boundary Waters. In addition to fighting the toxic sulfide mines that would pollute millions of acres of of pristine water, Friends is part of a team of organizations pushing for stronger, science-based limits on the coal pollution that causes haze in the BWCAW and Minnesota’s National Park. In public hearings and testimony, we have provided science-based advocacy to help identify the complex contributors to regional haze and identify solutions that will have the greatest impact.

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Olson


Monitoring Invasive Species

Non-native species have spread to the BWCAW. Some of these invasive species seem innocuous, like dandelions at a campsite. Others, like zebra mussels, could dramatically alter the ecology of the BWCAW. Because visitors are the primary way that non-native species are spread, our outreach focuses on educating visitors. We have partnered with the Superior National Forest and REI to publish a booklet to help BWCAW users identify non-native invasive species and to prevent their spread.


Forest Management

The wilderness is not an island. Water, air, noise, and wildlife do not recognize human-drawn boundaries. The health of the wilderness depends on a surrounding forest that provides wildlife habitat, and protects air and water quality. The forest bordering the BWCAW allows for multiple uses and multiple forms of recreation. We actively monitor and participate in project planning that affects the BWCAW and the surrounding ecosystem.

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Olson.


more WAYS you can help keep the boundary waters wild


Become a member

Your Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness membership support this important work and ensures that the BWCAW will remain healthy and vibrant for decades to come. Make a contribution today.

Explore the wilderness

The Boundary Waters is part of a larger ecosystem that includes national and provincial parks. Taken together, these make up one of the most beautiful areas in North America. Plan trip your trip and learn more about this ecological treasure.

Get involved

The wilderness needs you. There are many ways you can give back to the wilderness and be the voice of the BWCAW. Learn about volunteer opportunities, stay informed by signing up for our email list and more.