the Friends

Our mission

To protect, preserve and restore the wilderness character of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the Quetico-Superior Ecosystem.


The Boundary Waters region has rich and complex history that weaves together the lives and experiences of Native American communities, industry, cherished family businesses and passionate wilderness advocates. Its story is marked by controversy, sacrifice and the bold vision for long-term protection of a beloved landscape – a place where individuals can experience wild lakes and rivers and seek adventure, beauty, rejuvenation and solitude.

The Friend of the Boundary Waters Wilderness has been a part of this history since 1976, when the organization was established to help bring full wilderness protection to the Boundary Waters, culminating in the passing of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act in 1978.

Following the 1978 wilderness designation, the Friends emerged as a leading voice for the ongoing protection, preservation and restoration of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). In recent years, the Friends’ core work has focused on defending the BWCAW against activities that erode its wilderness character and working to ensure that the BWCAW, Superior National Forest and Quetico-Superior ecosystem are managed according to sound ecological principles.

Currently, a major focus of the organization is to prevent proposed sulfide mining projects from negatively impacting area waters, cultural resources, and human use and enjoyment of the region. The Friends also dedicates time and resources to preserving recreation resources within the wilderness, building conservation capacity in communities surrounding the BWCAW and fostering the next generation of wilderness enthusiasts through volunteer and youth engagement programs.

Learn more about our work:

Additional information about the history of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness:

Learn more about Our Team, Board of Directors, and Strategic Advisory Council.

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