PINE CITY, Minn. (WCCO) — The rewards of their hard work come in a bowl of food and water. You might call it an example of, “canine activism.”
“We’ve been on the trail 280 miles already here in Pine City,” said musher, Frank Moe.
Moe, along with his support team and dogs, has been on the mush for the past five days. They are enduring a 350-mile trip from Ely to Grand Marais, down the north shore to Duluth and south to the state capitol in St. Paul.
The trip is necessary to deliver a strong message to Gov. Mark Dayton and state lawmakers. Moe and his dog team are carrying a bag full of petitions opposed to a proposed precious metal mining operation near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).
“There are almost 10,000 petitions already signed by people who are concerned about expanded mining, sulfide mining and the pollution that would come from it,” said Moe.
The proposed PolyMet mine would be located in Hoyt Lakes at the edge of the BWCAW. Proponents say it would bring roughly 360 badly needed jobs. However, opponents say the reward isn’t worth the risk of potential pollution from the runoff of acids leaking from tailings. The proposed mine is currently undergoing extensive environmental analysis.
Environmentalists contend that the damage to the pristine wilderness would jeopardize the jobs of 30,000 people who depend on tourism for their livelihoods.
Adam Harju is part of the sled dog’s support team.
“I’m doing this not only for this generation, but also for generations to come,” said Harju.
Traveling through the typical wilderness by dog team is one thing, but navigating a trail in the southern part of the state is far different. Moe and his team are challenged by countless roads and farms, traffic and melting trails. Tuesday’s afternoon temperatures were in the mid to upper-40s and turning the packed snowmobile trails to a soft mush.
Fortunately for them, strangers have been pitching in to help the team find the best routes around towns and unsafe rivers.
At the end of a long day Moe and his dogs are getting closer to the steps of the state capitol, with a message that matters.
“This is how we make a living up there. And to compromise 30,000 jobs for a few hundred for 20 years and leave a legacy of pollution behind, that sounds like a bad trade to me,” said Moe.
Moe and his dog team plan to arrive on the steps of the capitol by 11:00 a.m. Thursday. There will be some brief comments to the crowd and then they will deliver their petitions to Dayton.