Eighty Years in the Making
A Legislative History of Voyageurs National Park
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The new year began with more indications that Voyageurs National Park would be a hard sell, particularly to those residing near the boundaries of the proposed park. In early January, Agriculture Secretary Orville Freeman announced a 200,000-acre expansion of the no-cut zone around the BWCA, a move recommended by his special committee on management policies for the BWCA. The announcement came as a jolt to area loggers and the timber industry in general who saw this action as reinforcing their firm conviction that the federal government was determined to remove as much land from multiple-use management as possible. The timing of the no-cut announcement could hardly have been worse for those who were trying to promote a national park that would be located just west of the BWCA. The NPS, guided by a preservation management philosophy, would have to insist on no logging at all within the proposed park, and this would not be welcome news in a region where most residents had strong loyalties to the multiple-use philosophy.

At almost the same time as the no-cut policy was released, Boise Cascade shareholders were meeting in Boise, Idaho, where they would approve a board of director's recommendation to acquire the properties of the M&O Paper Company. It wouldn't be long before the NPS learned that the more cooperative stance of the M&O would be replaced by one which reflected industry-wide opposition to the expansion of national parks and wilderness areas at the expense of public lands managed under multiple-use policies.

During the first week of January 1965, NPS Midwest Regional Director Lemuel Garrison and Eliot Davis, Superintendent of Grand Portage National Monument, spent three days in International Falls and the village of Ranier explaining the park proposal and emphasizing the importance of planning for future recreational needs in America. Following his visit, Garrison wrote a letter to NPS Director Hartzog recounting the events of the trip and what he believed was a favorable reception of their message. In the same letter, he identified some of the problems then facing the proposal and concluded his report with a plan for renewed effort to push for acceptance of the Voyageurs proposal. Important components of Garrison's plan were the following:

  • Take steps to generate public support by increasing NPS contact with service clubs and other civic organizations, especially in northeastern Minnesota.

  • Continue close contact with Governor Rolvaag's office, staff people in the Minnesota Department of Conservation, and officials in the M&O Paper Company. [134]

It is significant that closer contact with Eighth District Congressman John Blatnik's office was not mentioned in this report even though authorizing legislation for national parks is almost always introduced and guided through the legislative process by the congressional representative in whose district the park may be located. It is true that Blatnik at this date had not yet formally announced his support of the NPS proposal. In public statements he said he was studying the issue. In correspondence with friends in his district, however, he said a national park could be economically beneficial to northeastern Minnesota and deserved careful study. He may have arrived at a decision to formally support the park had the NPS brought him into the information inner circle earlier. Leaving him on the margin of this circle was a tactical error on the part of the NPS. Officials clearly overlooked his seniority status in the House of Representatives and underestimated his power in the Congress and his influence within the Minnesota congressional delegation. Put quite simply, his cooperation was absolutely essential if the park was to become a reality. He proved that in dramatic fashion during the final months of the campaign for Voyageurs.

Garrison's blueprint for more aggressive promotion of the park was tacit admission by the NPS that the proposal was in trouble and that it required concerted action to get it moving. A few days after Garrison outlined the NPS strategy for reviving the proposal, former Governor Andersen launched a citizen effort for the same purpose in a speech to the International Falls Rotary Club. [135]

Andersen's speech was remarkable for the systematic manner in which he presented the case for a national park. He would give essentially the same address dozens of times across the state over the next five years. Even his opponents would marvel at his ability to present the case for Voyageurs and none could doubt his sincerity. His Rotary Club speech began by describing the beauty of the Kabetogama Peninsula, calling it an enormous recreational resource which had provided vacation opportunities for many people, but now, "It should be made available for use by more people while preserving its wilderness character for posterity." The best way to guarantee its preservation, he said, was to turn it over to the NPS. At that point he expressed respect and admiration for the professionalism and dedication of NPS personnel, noting that the parks they administered were a great asset to our country. "I cannot imagine anyone seriously suggesting that having National Parks is bad policy for our country, that they should be abandoned and subdivided for sale to private interests..." He reminded his audiences that this peninsula in their backyard had been declared by the NPS as having national significance with natural and cultural assets worthy of national park status. He then asked, "Why settle for a state park, as some have proposed, when it qualifies for a National Park?"

Andersen explained that tax revenue generated from existing private holdings in the park area was very small and that it would be more than offset by tax dollars resulting from new private investments to accommodate the anticipated increased tourist traffic in the area. Emphasizing a theme frequently advanced by environmentalists in the early 1960s, Governor Andersen advocated meeting the increased recreational needs of a growing population by spending public funds to preserve public recreational facilities for all to enjoy now and in the future. He concluded his talk by stating, "My interest in pursuing this project comes under the heading of 'unfinished business.' I had a hand in starting it, I would like to see it through." [136]

Governor Andersen's address had a positive impact on the business and professional leaders in International Falls. Within two weeks of his appearance, the board of directors of the International Falls Chamber of Commerce and the city's Retail Merchants Association voted in favor of a national park for Kabetogama. However, this positive local response was tempered by Mando's (Boise Cascade's name for M&O since the merger) announcement on February 18 that they could not support the suggestion that a national park be established in an area where private ownership was predominant—meaning of course, the Kabetogama Peninsula. [137] Mando's news release on the subject also referred to Agriculture Secretary Freeman's directive to expand the no-cut zone around the BWCA, thereby removing 200,000 acres of forest land from production. Unfortunately for the NPS and park supporters, as time would tell, the company's statement also said they favored a national park but it should be located on federal lands in Superior National Forest east and north of Crane Lake including BWCA lands near Lac La Croix. [138]

Mando's public stance on the national park was crafted to place them on both sides of the controversy. They favored a national park for Minnesota and they advocated a broad multiple-use program for the Kabetogama lands, involving both state and private owners on the peninsula. This alternate site strategy, while extremely useful to the company and the timber industry in general, proved to be one of the most troublesome issues the NPS had to deal with in advancing the Voyageurs proposal. John Kawamoto said, "I think that was probably as good a public relations diversionary tactic that Boise Cascade ever came up with. It really set us on our heels..." [139] And it contributed to a lengthy, almost four year delay for the NPS in issuing its second report on Voyageurs, Master Plan for Voyageurs National Park, dated 1968.

Supporters of Voyageurs now had to fend off repeated calls by park opponents for studies that would compare the two sites and show why the alternative site in Superior National Forest was not suitable for national park status. In rebuttal, park advocates acknowledged that the vegetation and geology of Mando's alternative site were similar to the Kabetogama area and both were part of the boundary waters region. However, the lakes of the proposed park (Rainy, Kabetogama, Namakan, and Sand Point) were much larger than those in the designated canoe country to the east and could support heavier recreational use without destroying scenic qualities. Also, in contrast to the isolated alternative site, the Kabetogama area was more accessible by automobile and already had private resort facilities in place to accommodate park visitors. But most importantly, the alternative site in the Lac La Croix area was already designated wilderness canoe country managed by the USFS, and the terms of the agreement between the secretaries of the Agriculture and Interior departments prevented the NPS from conducting independent studies in Superior National Forest. Of course, the USFS would resist any effort by the NPS to remove territory in the BWCA for designation as a national park.

About a week after Mando announced its preference for an alternative site, a Duluth planning firm released a report prepared by one of its partners, Charles Aguar, that advocated continued multiple-use management of the Kabetogama Peninsula with an emphasis on recreation. The report said that designation as a national recreation area rather than a national park could best achieve this objective. The planning boards of the two counties in which the proposed park would be located commissioned the study. Both boards had previously adopted resolutions opposing a national park on Kabetogama. [140] The company that conducted the study for the planning commissions acknowledged that time limitations had not permitted an exhaustive study of the question and therefore, recommended more research at several points in their brief report. Nevertheless, this report combined with Mando's position statement, generated a lot of press coverage and many letters to Congressman Blatnik expressing opposition to the park on Kabetogama and favoring a management approach based on the principles of multiple use.

As these events were occurring in Minnesota, the NPS in Washington D.C. was reviewing the status of the Voyageurs proposal and several others around the country. Part of that process required a meeting with Interior Secretary Stewart Udall. After hearing the report on Voyageurs, Udall requested that it be completed and that preparations be made for authorizing legislation in 1966. [141] One month later the NPS Midwest regional director submitted to Director Hartzog what his park planning officials called their final recommendations for the Voyageurs National Park proposal. [142] The recommendations dealt with policy issues such as hunting access roads, minor boundary adjustments to exclude private resorts, etc. However, the report contained recommendations on three issues which, in retrospect, are of special interest.

After recommending that the final boundary be the same as proposed in the preliminary report, i.e. only the Kabetogama Peninsula area, the report then recommended that, "The matter of a joint study between the NPS and the USFS of the Crane to Namakan Lakes area be pursued until a determination can be made as to whether the area will be studied or whether it will not. If it can be studied, we feel that the final boundaries of the Voyageurs National Park should be outlined above with the provision for addition of the Crane Lake to Namakan Lakes area should this be feasible." [143] The intent of this recommendation was to call attention to the initial report on Voyageurs that envisioned a park from Crane Lake to Rainy Lake as the strongest proposal the NPS could make. Another recommendation stressed that the Mando alternative site be rejected as a substitute for the NPS's proposal and that it not be included as part of the final report. Finally, the regional director's report recommended that no legislation be introduced until the final report was prepared and released. The reason stated for this recommendation was that public approval was building and that delay would provide additional time for even greater support. The report specifically pinned its hopes for increased support on an organization just forming—the Voyageurs National Park Association (VNPA). [144]

In retrospect, Andersen's January Rotary Club speech in International Falls marked the beginning of a seven-year campaign to build popular support for congressional action authorizing and establishing Voyageurs National Park. Beginning with his term as governor, Andersen had already devoted four years to the cause. However, what momentum the project had in those early years was lost because of the long delay in getting an approved, official proposal from the NPS, emergence of strong local opposition, and the shift in Mando's position from one of cooperation to one of opposition regarding the Kabetogama site for the park. Andersen was convinced that nothing short of a prodigious effort focused on generating statewide public support could rescue the proposal from certain demise.

Andersen's strategy for building support was to encourage organizations of all kinds—civic, labor, religious, political—to pass resolutions endorsing Voyageurs National Park. It was a method, which from 1963-1964 proved remarkably successful. He used it to secure statewide support for a proposition to amend the Minnesota state constitution in ways that would encourage new economic development on the Iron Range. Its passage in November 1964 assured the emerging taconite mining industry that it would be taxed on the same basis as that of other manufacturing corporations. The amendment passed with over eighty-five percent of the votes in favor. With the assurance of tax stability, millions of dollars for construction of new iron ore treatment facilities came to northeastern Minnesota over the next decade. [145]

Governor Andersen led that successful statewide campaign, and he was convinced that this same strategy would result in overwhelming public acceptance of a proposal for a national park in Minnesota. He would call on Rita Shemish, his energetic and capable executive director of the taconite amendment campaign, to head the Voyageurs effort. And he would once again enlist the aid of a number of prominent Minnesotans to lend their good names, energies, and financial support to the park cause. But first he would need an organization to provide the leadership, structure, and continuity required for what he envisioned could be a lengthy campaign. In February 1965 he informed the NPS that he had taken initial steps that would lead to the formation of the VNPA. [146]

This would become the second statewide campaign organized and led by Andersen since he left the governor's office in March of 1963. Both campaigns sought support for propositions that were targeted specifically for development in northeastern Minnesota. It was a region facing a difficult transition from an iron mining industry built upon rich natural ores to one utilizing low-grade taconite ores requiring extensive upgrading to meet market demands. Andersen, an activist governor, was deprived of the opportunities and advantages to pursue these objectives from the governor's office, but that didn't dissuade him from working to achieve these goals as a private citizen.

Formal incorporation of the VNPA took place in the spring of 1965. However, the first organizational support for Voyageurs in Minnesota actually came on February 16, 1965, when the United Northern Sportsmen organization in Duluth passed a supporting resolution for the park. [147] And two days later the Greater Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce formally endorsed Voyageurs with a resolution that also emphasized the statewide economic benefits to be derived from national park designation. [148] On March 24, 1965, International Falls businessman Wayne Judy sent Conservation Commissioner Wayne Olson a letter with the names of eleven business and professional men from the International Falls area who were designated by the Chamber of Commerce as the National Park Promotion Committee. Judy said this committee might serve as the nucleus of a statewide Voyageurs National Park committee. [149]

Following up on former Governor Andersen's declaration to form a statewide VNPA, Robert Watson and Archie Chelseth, who worked for Andersen's H.B. Fuller Company, brought together a group of people to plan the formation of the VNPA. The meeting was held on April 12, 1965, at the North Star Center in Minneapolis. Attending the planning meeting were Wayne Judy and George Esslinger from International Falls and Conservation Commissioner Wayne Olson, Glenn Ross of the Nature Conservancy, and Martin Kellogg, Sam Morgan, and Tom Savage from the Twin Cities. [150] Sam Morgan, a St. Paul attorney, drew up the articles of incorporation, which were filed with the Secretary of State on May 5, 1965. On May 10 the first meeting of the incorporators and directors was held at the general offices of the H.B. Fuller Company in St. Paul. [151]

Listed as incorporators were:

Elmer L. Andersen
Edwin P. Chapman
Wayne Judy
Thomas Savage
Lawrence Vaubel

Listed as directors were:

Elmer L. Andersen
Edwin P. Chapman
Wayne Judy
Sam Morgan
Thomas Savage
Lloyd Brandt
George Esslinger
Martin Kellogg
Glenn Ross

Officers elected at this meeting were:

Edwin P. Chapman, President
Wayne Judy, Vice President
Thomas Savage, Secretary
Martin Kellogg, Treasurer

The first organizational meeting was followed a week later by a general membership meeting. Howard Stagner, NPS's acting assistant director for resources studies, and officials from the Midwest regional office, were featured speakers at this meeting. Stagner emphasized that, "The name National Park is a mark of distinction, recognized and respected throughout the world. The status that attends the name National Park very quickly generates a very real measure of local pride, a close identity with the community..." [152]

Mr. Stagner's remarks were warmly received by the members of the newly formed VNPA, most of who were residents of the Twin Cities area. However, it is doubtful that residents in the border communities where the park would be located would have been similarly impressed. For example, in casual conversation following the meeting, Stagner learned that the state legislature was considering a moratorium on land exchanges that would prevent exchange of state lands from outside the proposed park for Kabetogama lands owned by Mando. The legislation was being pushed by the lumber and paper industries including the Mando division of Boise Cascade.

At the same meeting, former Governor Andersen told Stagner that, "He believed the paper company, once favorable to exchange of these realizes that their [Kabetogama] lands have a much higher value to them for recreation when leased, sold, or developed far above the market value of the timber." [153] George Amidon alluded to this a month later at a hearing of the Minnesota Outdoor Recreation Review Commission when he testified that the Mando company owned about 2,700,000 feet of lake frontage in the proposed national park. He felt this land should be left for private development. [154] Lemuel Garrison later recalled that when George Amidon represented the old M&O, he gave the impression that his company would not oppose the park, but when M&O became a division of Boise Cascade, there was a complete reversal of position. Garrison said, "It was no surprise to me...we had met Boise Cascade before and did later and they are anti-parks and recreation. Amidon made this clear." [155]

In the spring of 1965 a new organization, the Northland Multiple Use Association, joined Boise Cascade in advocating an alternative site for a national park. In a clear reference to controversial park and wilderness expansion underway in the western states at that time, the association sent position statements to Minnesota legislators and President Johnson declaring that they, "Opposed a further extension of the 'one use' concept eastward to the remaining Lake and Forest section of Minnesota which is presently enjoyed and utilized by people of all ages under the multiple use concept." [156]

It was evident that by mid-1965, opposition to the park proposal was coalescing around Mando and several borderland organizations that were opposed to any further federalization of the border lakes region—especially if it meant locking up lands under the single-use concept, e.g. wilderness and national parks. It was also evident that the leadership in these organizations looked to Boise for direction. Thus in the summer of 1965, with the VNPA in place and a sharper focus on the groups opposing the park, the contest had begun for public support on both sides of the national park issue.

Boise Cascade's position favoring a national park, but only if carved out of existing federal lands, was quickly adopted by other organizations opposing the park on Kabetogama, including segments of the media in northeastern Minnesota. All said that they favored a national park and the national park concept so long as it could be realized on existing federal lands. And the only way the issue could be resolved, they said, was to do a thorough feasibility study of the alternative site initially proposed by Boise, the region east of Crane Lake including lands and waters in the Lac La Croix area. Their commitment to these positions was communicated frequently and energetically to the appropriate government officials, but especially to Congressman Blatnik and the state's two U.S. Senators.

The call for a study of the alternative site was quickly taken up by a number of individuals and organizations on both sides of the park issue. Even the newly organized VNPA asked for the study, confident that its results would vindicate the NPS's earlier studies and site analysis, thus settling the question so that the proposal could go forward. Given the demand for action on the Boise Cascade proposal, the NPS moved with uncharacteristic speed and vigor to defend its earlier studies and judgement that led to the selection of the Kabetogama site.

Midwest Regional Director Garrison best expressed the NPS position in a detailed letter of explanation to Robert Faegre, vice president of Boise Cascade. [157] He stressed that justification for a truly "Nation's Park" was always subject to "intense and searching scrutiny" by the public and Congress and he felt confident that the NPS report, which represented a synthesis of much study and thought over many years, would stand the test of such scrutiny. He said the Lac La Croix alternative site proposed by Boise was already, "Dedicated to the preservation of wilderness canoe country. As such, this area is an entirely separate matter from the VNP proposal. However, these two areas can complement each other to the benefit of Minnesota and the Nation." [158]

Over the next few months many of the points advanced by Garrison would be used by NPS officials in countering the demands for study of the proposed alternative site. Meanwhile, USFS officials and Agriculture Secretary Freeman rejected the Boise proposal, which would require removal of BWCA territory to accommodate the establishment of a national park in the border region.

As noted earlier, the USFS was successful in preventing NPS incursions into USFS lands proposed in the initial report on Voyageurs, and now they were confronted by a highly publicized proposal originating outside the government which would have the same effect. In this instance, Secretary Freeman quickly dismissed the proposal. In letters to the president of the Kabetogama Lake Association and the chairman of the Minnesota Outdoor Recreation Resources Commission, he said that the Lac La Croix site comprised a significant part of the BWCA and that other adjacent lands also included in the Boise Cascade proposal were already appropriately managed by the USFS. "We believe this management is the most desirable and beneficial from the public standpoint, and that establishment of a national park in the Superior National Forest is neither desirable nor necessary." [159] With similar emphasis, Interior Secretary Udall was rejecting the notion of an alternative site in letters to citizens and public officials. In a letter to Minnesota Senator Walter Mondale, Udall's tone expressed impatience with this attempt to divert attention away from the Kabetogama site. Implying that it was time to formalize the Voyageurs National Park proposal, he told the Senator that he was asking the NPS to complete its final report and recommendations. [160]

Boise Cascade's alternative site proposal was interpreted by Minnesota's Conservation Commissioner Wayne Olson as being in harmony with a nationwide campaign launched by timber producer groups that was designed to prevent further land acquisitions for recreational purposes. [161] Others, knowledgeable about Boise's corporate agenda at the time, saw it as a way of retaining valuable lakeshore property for eventual development by a newly acquired recreation development subsidiary, the U.S. Land Company. Whatever the motive or motives, Boise's action quickly generated expressions of support for a Voyageurs National Park on the Kabetogama Peninsula from the highest officials of the two affected federal departments—Agriculture and Interior. Within six months both departments had firmly rejected the proposal for studies of alternative sites and at the Interior Department, Secretary Udall asked for completion of the Voyageurs proposal in its final form so that the legislative phase could begin. The two Secretaries, in keeping with the spirit and intent of the cooperative agreement, signed their actions in 1963.

In the opinion of Regional Director Lemuel Garrison, all that remained was a joint public statement explaining why the Lac La Croix area should remain a part of the BWCA, the attributes of the Kabetogama Peninsula site for a national park, and a declaration that no further studies were necessary or desirable. Garrison and Sigurd Olson drafted an appropriate statement that was to be a part of a joint press release at the time the final Voyageurs report was distributed by the Interior Department in September 1965. [162]

The NPS hoped that with the release of the report, Congressman Blatnik's office could begin preparing the necessary authorizing legislation, hearings could be scheduled, congressional action taken, and Voyageurs National Park would become a reality. But it didn't work out that way. Shortly before the scheduled public release of the report and the joint statement, Congressman Blatnik called the NPS to say he was upset over the timing and the way the report was to be released. He said he would be contacting the two secretaries to tell them that, "He and other members of the delegation should have an opportunity to review this more thoroughly before any public announcements are made." [163] The Interior Department withheld the report as Blatnik requested. It would be over two and one-half years before another formal report on Voyageurs would be published and released to the public by the NPS.

Had the final report on Voyageurs been distributed to members of the Minnesota congressional delegation by the Secretary of the Interior, it would have been truly embarrassing to Congressman Blatnik. In his phone conversation with the NPS he said he was hearing of strong opposition from local interests, especially the timber products industry. He told them that these local interests remained upset with the Freeman directive expanding the no-cut zone of the BWCA and they also wanted additional studies regarding alternative sites for the proposed park. In light of these circumstances, Blatnik said he had not decided what his position would be on the national park proposal. [164] This combination of bureaucratic mishandling of the final report and at least the perception of strong opposition at home in the Eighth District, meant that the Blatnik office would be in no hurry to introduce authorizing legislation on Voyageurs National Park.

Figure 6: Proposed Voyageurs National Park Boundaries, 1965. (click on image for a PDF version)

Throughout the 1960s when the park issue was being debated around the state, it was clear that the real energy and force behind the proposal came from public officials in several state government agencies, the governor's office, a few influential legislators, and the citizen-based VNPA. It was the VNPA that produced and disseminated the literature and helped organize the educational effort on the park issue, and most of those in leadership positions in the VNPA were from the Twin Cities area. Most of the organized opposition, some of it vehement, came from Blatnik's Eighth District just as it had on numerous occasions in the past when controversial conservation issues came to the fore. And, just as in earlier years, many in northeastern Minnesota harbored resentment that once again the people from the Twin Cities were pushing programs and legislation that they believed would interfere with their freedom to engage in recreational use of the natural resources in their region. Blatnik was expected to resist this Twin Cities-inspired effort to federalize even more borderland territory. Even though Blatnik saw some possible economic benefits to a national park in northeastern Minnesota, he couldn't ignore the opposition at home. A cautious man, especially when making judgements on political matters, Blatnik chose to go very slowly on the park proposal.

The reasons for Congressman Blatnik's cautious posture on the Voyageurs issue are really more complex than just responding to opposition from the wood products industry and a few sportsmen's groups in the border communities. In conversation with the congressman, one gained the feeling that he was not philosophically comfortable with the management concepts of the NPS that stressed preservation over the multiple-use practices of the USFS. [165] His experience with the northwoods country came from his work as an education officer with the Civilian Conservation Corps during the late 1930s. He spent several years with the CCC in the Ely area of Superior National Forest, and he expressed great pride in his association with the CCC. Much of his political support came from individuals whose livelihood was closely linked to the timber and wood products industry. And so, when some of his friends and constants would warn against supporting a management proposal that would "lock up" some of the natural resources of his district, Blatnik paid close attention.

Another reason for Blatnik's "go slow" attitude on Voyageurs relates to the strained relationship his office had with the NPS. Also, for some unexplained reason, Congressman Blatnik's office had minimal contact with the state administration in St. Paul on the issue of Voyageurs between 1963-1966. This was true even though Democrats controlled the governor's office. The NPS worked primarily with state officials in the Andersen and Rolvaag administrations and continued this practice after the change in administration in 1967 and until the authorizing legislation was first introduced in 1968. Governor Rolvaag's conservation commissioner, Wayne Olson, was the public official the NPS relied upon most during the period between 1963 and the middle of 1966. Careful review of NPS files shows only sporadic reference to Blatnik's office. National Park Service planner John Kawamoto admitted that seeming avoidance of the congressman, was a mistake. And Jim Oberstar, Blatnik's administrative assistant in the 1960s, chided the NPS over its lack of communication with the congressman's Eighth District constituents. He suggested that they, "Send representatives to meet with individuals to solicit their support and quiet their fears that park establishment would have some adverse effects," [166] What Blatnik apparently wanted was some effort on the part of the NPS to explain benefits—especially economic—of a national park in his district, thus countering the arguments of the individuals and organizations fighting establishment of the park.

Finally, Blatnik's reluctance to move aggressively on the Voyageurs issue had something to do with the fact that this was, after all, one of Elmer Andersen's pet projects. Andersen, a Republican, was primarily responsible for launching the national park proposal on Kabetogama while he was governor. He made it a high priority project during his administration. Later, as a private citizen, he devoted much energy, time, and money to the organized statewide campaign to build support for the park proposal. He regarded it as unfinished business. Andersen and Blatnik were leaders of their respective parties and thus had their philosophical differences. For his part, Andersen harbored some resentment over Blatnik's apparent participation in what Andersen felt were unfair campaign tactics employed by the Democrats in his 1962 reelection campaign against Karl Rolvaag. However, it is both interesting and significant that in the last few months of the park campaign, these two political leaders set aside their differences and pulled together to see the authorizing legislation through Congress.

Congressman Blatnik's intervention in September 1965 with the Department of the Interior plan to release the Voyageurs report with the secretary's recommendation for congressional authorization contributed significantly to still another lengthy delay in the project's journey to final congressional approval. Meaningful and extensive debate on the issue would not resume until 1967. Individuals and groups on both sides of the question "dug in" for the long battle ahead.

For example, Boise Cascade reaffirmed its alternative site position on a number of occasions throughout 1966 and in one press release criticized the NPS for its proposal to establish a national park in an area where two-thirds of the land was in private, tax-paying ownership. The statement went on to warn that the federal government was apparently prepared to "acquire this land through condemnation, despite the fact that the National Park Service has repeatedly stated at public hearings and otherwise that it uses condemnation procedure only to acquire small parcels of land essential to national park development." [167] The very suggestion that condemnation might be used to achieve NPS objectives never played well in the borderland region where many were convinced there was already too much land under federal control. It was like waving a red flag—an aggressive term and procedure that the NPS and other government bodies typically avoided if at all possible.

During 1966, several northeast Minnesota sportsmen's clubs, newspapers, and resort associations joined Boise Cascade in its advocacy of an alternative site for Voyageurs and continued private management of the Kabetogama Peninsula. The most aggressive opposition to the Kabetogama site came from the Northland Multiple Use Association (Northland). Organized in May 1965, it sought membership support from residents of northern Minnesota who believed in the principles of multiple-use land management for their region. It claimed a paid membership of more than 300 by the summer of 1969 when congressional field hearings were held in International Falls. [168] (About a year after it was organized, the NPS considered it the major citizens group working against the Voyageurs proposal.) [169] The first significant indication that Northland meant to aggressively oppose the park came in the form of full-page ads appearing in the January 9, 1966 issues of the Duluth and International Falls newspapers. [170] The advertisement advocated an alternative site in the BWCA for Voyageurs and continued private ownership of the Kabetogama Peninsula. In an editorial three days later, the International Falls Daily Journal took the same position.

Aside from paid organizational pronouncements in the press and position statements by individuals and leaders of groups on both sides of the park issue, the year passed with only modest public involvement of interest in the park question. At the state level the Democrats were engaged in a very divisive family fight over who should be the party's candidate for governor in the 1966 election—Lieutenant Governor Sandy Keith or Governor Rolvaag. Rolvaag won the nomination, but the party entered the election in a divided, weakened condition and lost. Commissioner of Conservation Wayne Olson, the most knowledgeable person on the Voyageurs project in the Rolvaag administration, resigned mid-year to run for attorney general and lost the election in November to Douglas Head. And so, for the last half of 1966, there was essentially no strong voice for Voyageurs in the state administration. The VNPA had not yet developed a strategy for bringing the message about Voyageurs to the broader statewide public. Indeed, many had never heard of the Voyageurs proposal, and even fewer knew anything about the lead organization working for its establishment.

During 1966 in the offices of the higher officials in the NPS in Washington, Voyageurs was far from the top of the agenda. The NPS was busy with two park proposals in the west—North Cascades in Washington state and Redwoods in California. In the Cascades, the NPS and the USFS had reached an impasse over jurisdiction of some parts of the proposed park, and in California the same kinds of issues were slowing progress on the development of a final proposal for Redwoods. In both cases, opposition to the proposals was strongest at the local level with plenty of support nationally. And these proposals enjoyed the overt support of some of the highest officials in the land—President Johnson, Secretary of the Interior Udall, and Senator Henry Jackson, who was chair of the Interior and Insular Affairs Committee in the U.S. Senate. With boosters like that, the NPS quite naturally devoted major attention to the resolution of issues that would lead to forward progress on both western park projects. In late 1966 when someone asked the NPS about progress on a new Voyageurs plan to replace the 1964 model, the response was, "We continue to work on the revision."

Disturbed by the inactivity and flagging interest, Director of State Parks Hella wrote to the Interior Department asking for a speaker of stature to help restore enthusiasm for the proposed park. In responding, Assistant Secretary Stanley A. Crain at the Interior Department said top people were unavailable at the time, and that, "after the election would be a much better time." [171]

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Last Updated: 23-Jan-2009