The glaciated lake country of the north central United States represents an unusual and important recreation asset to the Nation. For many years it has attracted vacationists in untold numbers and where within reach of large population centers, there is heavy day and weekend use. Private enterprise--canoe outfitting establishments, resorts, summer cabins, and camps for boys and girls--is largely responsible for this growing use. The State and some of the counties and municipalities have also set aside a number of parks featuring lakes and their surrounding forests.
Of great significance was the establishment of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in the Superior National Forest and the adjacent Quetico Provincial Park in Canada just across the border. This outstanding wilderness country characterized by smaller waters, rivers, rapids, and gorges is largely limited by portages to canoes only.
A Voyageurs National Park would provide visitors the opportunity to participate in many other enjoyable activities. While canoes may be best suited to the narrow channels and the inland lakes, motorboats, launches, and even scheduled tour boats would be acceptable means of transportation and travel elsewhere.
Here along the Minnesota-Canadian border is an opportunity not only to preserve another magnificent portion of lake country, complementing what has already been done, but also to interpret the area's colorful human history and its unique scientific values.
The proposed Voyageurs National Park possesses a wide variety of significant values, but the one that will attract most visitors is its superlative scenery. The results of mountain building, erosion, and glaciation, plus an unusually beautiful forest and ground cover, it has no counterpart in the National Park System. Furthermore, no other section of the United States has such surface exposures of early Precambrian rocks. Here is the only remaining glaciated country of this character in the United States that is still relatively unchanged by man.
The atmosphere of the romantic and colorful days of the fur trade, the International Boundary Saga, and the spirit of the voyageur still prevail. History here is an intangible feeling and association, but no other part of the famous Voyageur's Highway was more influential than this one in the exploration and development of the United States and Canada.
The combination of its human history, the ancient rock exposures of the Canadian Shield, its superb wilderness scenery, the variety of plant and animal life, makes this area one of national significance and worthy of addition to the National Park System.
Fundamentally, this area is highly suited to preservation for public enjoyment. Most of it is free from manmade intrusions; the forests appear basically in a natural condition and the lakes are as beautiful as any between Rainy and Lake Superior. There is a good balance between unspoiled scenic beauty, scientific interest, and association with the history of the voyageurs.
This area lends itself uniquely to the interpretation and enjoyment of its physical as well as its historic features. In fact, these two aspects are so closely related that it is impossible to consider them separately. This is the type of country that made the voyageurs and their exploits possible. Without these waterways leading to the west, the stands of birch from which canoes were made, the beaver that both traders and explorers sought, the story of the opening up of the northwest would have been entirely different.
The proposed area is large enough to include the essential land and water needed for logical administration, development and protection, and for effective interpretation and use. In this proposal are opportunities for many other activities which do not conflict with basic preservation objectives.
The visitor can easily reach this interesting waterway by car, train or plane. Once at the shore of the lakes, he can quickly penetrate into the peaceful serenity of the interior by either motorboat or canoe. The boat will replace the car as the primary means of transportation throughout the park as no roads are intended or needed within this area.
A number of feasibility considerations are involved in the establishment of the proposed Voyageurs National Park. Foremost among these is the complex landownership as shown on the accompanying landownership map.
Over 75 percent of the land on Kabetogama Peninsula is owned by the Minnesota and Ontario Paper Company and the State of Minnesota. The Mando Paper Company has been cutting timber on the peninsula for the past ten years and plans to increase its pulpwood operations in the future on a permanent sustained yield basis. The Company has been asked to consider exchanging its holdings for State land of comparable timber value elsewhere. The State has indicated willingness to consider this land exchange for the purpose of establishing the national park. Scattered tracts of Federal lands now administered by the U.S. Forest Service within the proposed park area may be transferred to the National Park Service without cost.
The establishment of a Voyageurs National Park would assure the preservation of this significant and scenic area for public use and enjoyment and would supplement Minnesota s broad program to provide for the varied recreation and conservation needs of the State. It is anticipated that the economic benefits to the State and local communities would be much greater than any tax loss which would result from land being removed from the tax rolls. The inspiration and enjoyment gained by park visitors from all over the country are benefits which cannot reasonably be measured in terms of economics.
Last Updated: 03-Feb-2009