By Jennifer Mayerle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Two of Minnesota’s rivers are considered some of the most endangered in the country, according to environmental advocacy group American Rivers.

The group put a stretch of the Mississippi River on its 2018 “most endangered rivers” list and also included is a river in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

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The Kawishiwi River flows in and out of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

“Water so clean you can just drink it right out the lake,” Dave Freeman said.

He and his wife, Amy, live near Ely and have spent the past few years advocating for the BWCA.

The explorers spent 366 days in the wilderness and want the area permanently protected.

“The threat has to do with sulfide-ore copper mining being proposed just upstream from the wilderness area,” Amy Freeman said.

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“And I think this designation is showing the nation that this is a national threat,” Dave Freeman added. “Decisions that will be made in 2018 will have ramifications for decades to come.”

In the Twin Cities, the Army Corps of Engineers is currently studying a stretch of the Mississippi River from St. Anthony Falls to the Ford Dam.

An outdated lock and dam system along the Mississippi is listed as a threat by American Rivers, which says getting rid of the dams would revitalize the river.

“These dams have created pool like conditions, very un-riverine like conditions,” said Whitney Clark, the executive director nonprofit Friends of the Mississippi River.

Clarks said any changes would be years down the road but he calls it an opportunity that could restore the rapids, ecosystem and add more recreation on the river.

“If there’s a threat it’s that we would somehow miss this opportunity to fully investigate the potential benefits as well as the costs of restoring the river,” Clark said.

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Next week, the Freeman’s will ‘Pedal to DC.’ On April 20, they will begin a 2,000 mile bike and book tour across nine states to Save the Boundary Waters.

Jennifer Mayerle