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Boundary Waters Canoe Area History Center™

1920-1940 History

1922, Congress
Passes Act authorizing Secretary of Interior to trade lands for consolidation purposes.

1922, Land Developers
Press for roads into future BWCA.

1922-26, USFS
Builds Echo Trail, Fernberg Road and upper end of Gunflint Trail into previous roadless areas of SNF.

1922-26, Conservationists
Riis and others protest to Forest Service about road building with no relief so bring complaints to Agriculture Secretary Jardine.

1926, Dept. of Agriculture
Sec. Jardine issues proclamation establishing 640,000 acres wilderness area. He promises: No roads, no recreational development, preservation of scenic tree "screens", but allows logging. "The Forest Service will leave not less than 1000 square miles of the best canoe country in the Superior without roads of any character.

1925, Industrialists
Bacus proposes series of dams in the heart of future BWCA for power generation which would have almost obliterated area as a wilderness. Proposes to pay for construction by extensive logging.

1925, Conservationists
Riis and then Oberholtzer of the IWLA protest strongly. He managed campaign for 5 years against heavy odds and at great personal sacrifice. (Note: It appears the entire Northern "Establishment" supported Bacus, a millionaire, who fought a vicious battle with every resource at his disposal.)

1930, Congress
Passed Knutson-Vandenberg Act allowing USFS to levy charges on timber sales to cover part of all costs of reforestation.

1930-41, USFS
Acquires tax delinquent land in wilderness. Builds portages, foot trails in SNF. (Much of this work was done by CCC labor under Roosevelt program to recover from depression.)

1932-34, Industrialists
Bacus tries to have S-N Bill repealed and to get approval for his big dam program. Conservationists fight back, with IWLA leading battle.

1934, Executive
Int'l. Joint Commission denies Bacus petition. Roosevelt creates Quetico-Superior Committee to advise President of SNF affairs.

1934, State
Passes State bill equivalent to the S-N bill.

1937-40, Industrialist
Bacus applies for permission to build power plant near Grand Portage. IWLA (Conservationists) conduct campaign to block Bacus.

1938, USFS
Establishes Superior Roadless Primitive Area (SRPA) with boundaries similar to present BWCA.

1940, Executive
Int'l Joint Commission denies Bacus petition. (This ended the battle, finally.)

Written by H.C. Johnson, M.L. Heinselman, E.M. Sitz.

An outline of Boundary Waters Canoe Area History

Main History Page | 1895-1919 | 1920-1940 | 1941-1958 | 1959-1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979 | 1980

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Published from the edge of the Boundary Waters
Canoe Area by Chad Jones

Updated Aug 26, 2016

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