Bull moose in the Boundary Waters. Photo by Kevin Kramer
Kevin Kramer

Environmental issues bring attention to 1854 treaty rights

Dozens of bull moose in northeastern Minnesota will likely be harvested this year during a moose hunt by three Chippewa bands in northeastern Minnesota, according to local wildlife officials.

The Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa will take a combined total of 20 bull moose across the approximately 5 million acres of 1854 Ceded Territory Lands of northeastern Minnesota, according to Seth Moore, director of biology and environmental services for the Grand Portage Band. Additional bull moose will also be harvested in 2021 by the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

The hunt will again take place this fall and the early part of winter.

In more outdoor and environmental news from the region, Lutsen Mountains would like to expand by adding more skiing opportunities to the recreation area. To grow, however, would mean use of U.S. Forest Service land. Lutsen Mountains is asking the Forest Service to consider a special use permit for the ski hill to allow it to expand.

On Sept. 10, the U.S. Forest Service published a draft environmental impact statement. This action opens a 45-day public comment period. After the public comment period, the Forest Service will revise the draft version of the environmental impact statement into a final version. The final document will be issued with the selection to allow an expansion of the ski resort or not, specifically Superior National Forest Supervisor Connie Cummins’s decision about whether or not to grant the special use permit.

The development of the proposed lifts, terrain, and guest services at Lutsen Mountains would require the authorization of an approximately 495-acre special use permit on Superior National Forest lands. If approved, the expansion would nearly double the size of the skiable area at the North Shore skiing destination.

While drafting the environmental impact statement, the Forest Service developed a list of concerns associated with the request from Lutsen Mountains. Included among the concern areas is that issuing the permit to Lutsen Mountains could decrease, inhibit, or remove tribal access to resources reserved under the 1854 Treaty. The document reads that “construction of the proposed projects may reduce the extent and productivity of mature maple stands (sugar bush stands), wild rice waters, and hunting/fishing resources.”

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Moore about the intersection of treaty rights, the 2021 moose hunt and the possible expansion of the local ski resort.