Musher with a mission

Musher leads his team to the state capitol with message against sulfide mining

By Barbara Boelk

Special to the Post Review

Moe begins dishing out supper for his 10 sled dogs as the team took a break for the night Tuesday, March 3, at near the intersection of Forest Blvd. and Cedar Street.

When Frank Moe and his team mushed into North Branch, they were only about 45 miles from their final destination. Since Thursday, March 1, Moe and his team of 10 Alaskan huskies had traveled 300 miles from their launching point in Grand Marais on a mission to meet Governor Mark Dayton.

Moe, of Grand Marais, said his journey had two purposes: to raise awareness of sulfide mines and the potential pollution that is caused by them, and to deliver a petition of more than 10,000 signatures to the governor on the steps of the Minnesota State Capitol on Thursday at 11 a.m.

There are a number of international mining corporations interested in sulfide mining, or the practice of mining copper, nickel, and other metals and minerals, in Minnesota’s Arrowhead, Moe said. “The process they use to mine these metals and minerals causes pollution from sulfuric acid – that’s battery acid,” Moe said.

Mark Luttinen, a volunteer handler for Frank Moe, massages the dogs after their daylong, 60 mile mush on Tuesday. Luttinen said the massages help the dogs recover after a long run. Luttinen was among supporters of Frank Moe, who stopped in North Branch Tuesday on his way from Grand Marais to the state capitol on a mission to deliver a petition against sulfide mining in Minnesota’s Arrowhead. Photos by Barbara Boelk

Moe is a former DFL legislator from the Iron Range. He said his mission to protect the waters of Lake Superior, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and Voyageurs National Park serves more than his own self-interest.

“This state is so defined by the water,” Moe said. “And up in the Grand Marais area, we’ve got 30,000 Minnesotans who are dependent on tourists and recreation for their livelihoods. If the water is contaminated with sulfuric acid, who’s going to eat the fish or want to enjoy the waterways?”

Joined in North Branch by a group of about 10 supporters, Moe stayed overnight with hosts, and fellow mushers, John and Judi Vitek of North Branch.

“John and Frank met each other through networking, on Facebook,” Judi Vitek said. “We started following Frank’s movement and wanted to support him so we offered him and his dogs a place to stay, a shower, and a hot meal.”

Moe brought 10 of his 38 dogs on the journey from Grand Marais to the Twin Cities. The dogs range in age from two to nine years old. Moe races dogs in winter and is a canoe, kayak, and climbing guide the rest of the year.

Mushing, for Moe, is more than a mode of transportation. It’s a sport and passion that’s indicative of “Minnesota’s natural and cultural heritage. And that’s at risk with the type of mining process proposed.”

 

 

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