A Sustainable
Wilderness Economy

WHAT WE KNOW

For the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to survive and thrive into the future, the communities neighboring the BWCAW need to thrive also. Economic success means a resilient economy with diverse industries, growing healthy gateway communities that support the BWCAW.

WHY IT IS CRITICAL FOR THE BOUNDARY WATERS

Communities surrounding the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness are essential to the longevity of the BWCAW. While the wilderness serves as an economic driver for tourism-based businesses like outfitters, resorts, and restaurants in gateway communities, it is also important to support sustainable economic growth in other markets as well. By transitioning away from natural resource extraction to stable economic opportunities that provide long-term employment, communities can flourish alongside the BWCAW.

HOW WE WORK TO DEVELOP A SUSTAINABLE WILDERNESS ECONOMY 

Northern Communities Program

Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness has a dedicated northern communities staff person who lives and works in the Northland, ensuring Friends is a member of northern communities and that community perspectives help drive our work. Many communities around the world near large areas of public lands depend upon tourism, especially after founding industries such as mining or timber production declined. Research shows that strong, healthy communities have diverse and sustainable economies. Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness supports initiatives that foster long-term, sustainable economic options for northern Minnesota.

Heart of the Continent Partnership

The Friends are an active member of the Heart of the Continent Partnership.  In collaboration with the National Geographic Society, HOCP launched the Travel the Heart geotourism site to promote tourism in the Quetico-Superior region. The development of a geotourism site incorporated community knowledge to showcase locally owned and unique lodgings, services, festivals, and scenic byways.

Economic Contribution Analysis

Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, in partnership with the Conservation Economics Institute, completed the first Economic Contribution Analysis for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Completed in 2017, the study found that out-of-region visitors spent $57 million in Cook, Lake, and St. Louis counties during the 2016 summer permit season. In addition, this spending led to an overall economic output of $77 million in one summer season. To read more about the BWCAW’s economic impact, download the full report.

TAKE ACTION

Donate – Your Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness membership supports programming and research that helps support the BWCAW and surrounding communities. Make a contribution today.

Travel the Heart – Support local economies by exploring the Heart of the Continent region. Find inspiration by visiting the Travel the Heart geotourism site.