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About Boundary Waters Connect

Boundary Waters Connect was founded in 2019 as the economic & community development task force of Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness. The task force began by researching rural trends and learning from civic leaders, legislators, and local businesses. What we found reinforced our understanding that rural communities and wilderness enjoy a unique and mutually beneficial relationship. 


Overwhelmingly people choose to move to rural northeastern Minnesota because of the high quality of life available to residents. In fact, only about one-third of recent newcomers chose their location primarily for a job. A majority of new residents chose our Wilderness-edge communities, in part, to live where they have easy access to outdoor recreation, and within a community that values closeness to nature. 


Recreation drives varied economic benefits; counties with recreational amenities do better economically than other rural counties. Furthermore, remote access to work and education can accelerate a growing “brain gain” in the population of residents ages 30 - 49  in rural Minnesota. These newcomers have significant education, skills, connections, spending power, and children.


Thus, highlighting the welcoming nature of our Wilderness-edge communities is essential for economic growth. Boundary Waters Connect is an economic and community development program designed to do just that.

Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness

Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness (NMW) is a locally-based national organization with strong ties to the wild public lands of northern Minnesota and Canada. NMW advocates for the life-sustaining values of wilderness. We are inspired by the beauty, resilience, and priceless ecological and social values that wilderness provides, and we take action to defend our most exceptional wild places, especially the world-class Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) of Northeastern Minnesota.


Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness unites people to advocate for the protection of wilderness and wild places, especially the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the greater Quetico-Superior Ecosystem.


We envision a future where people understand the value of wild protected lands, and are unified to forever protect the greater Boundary Waters Wilderness and the greater Quetico-Superior Ecosystem as vital components of a healthy and resilient planet.


Sustainability & Prosperity

We strive to play an active role in supporting sustainable economies on the edge of the Wilderness, recognizing the unique qualities and histories of the communities that have long existed alongside these iconic public lands.


We believe the Boundary Waters, the greater Quetico-Superior Ecosystem, and their Wilderness-edge communities should be welcoming and accessible to everyone. We value the perspectives that emerge from a diverse community, and seek to foster diversity and inclusion. 


We provide opportunities to engage in lifelong learning, offering free access to experts in a range of topics. Guided by rural economic development research, we educate people about northeast Minnesota's Wilderness-edge communities as a strategy for economic growth.

Local Roots

We understand that the best way to address global problems is with local solutions. We maintain our local roots with strong personal relationships and residential ties to the Wilderness-edge communities of the Boundary Waters and greater Quetico-Superior Ecosystem.


We value strong partnerships that allow the whole of our efforts to be greater than the sum of their parts.  We recognize mutual benefit in developing relationships of respect among a diverse range of businesses, organizations, agencies and other allies.


We recognize Indigenous peoples as the longest standing stewards of the land, and strive to honor their inherent sovereignty and treaty rights, and seek to effectively advocate for Indigenous values as we celebrate the history and heritage of our Wilderness-edge communities.


We provide local and national leadership for the Boundary Waters and the greater Quetico-Superior Ecosystem to the conservation movement, and are unwavering in our advocacy efforts and in developing a stronger economy and investing in vibrant communities along the edge of the Wilderness.

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