Lake Saganaga


The deepest and largest lake in Minnesota’s BWCA, Lake Saganaga, lies on the Canadian border and is protected by the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota, Quetico Provincial Park and Verendrye Provincial Park in Ontario.  At a depth of 280 feet with a surface area of 13,832 acres, this lake lies in Cook County of the Rainy River Watershed and the Hudson Bay Drainage Basin.

The highly sensitive environments of both this drainage basin in the watershed of the Rainy River and the Lake Superior Drainage basin in the watershed of the St Louis River are under threat of copper mining. Deposits lie along the boundary of the BWCA and in the area of Babbitt where Polymet proposes its NorthMet Project (copper mine).

Exploratory drill sites are already in operation along the southern boundary of the BWCA, in Birch Lake, and surrounding Birch Lake and the Kawishiwi River.  These waterways are part of the Rainy River Watershed and share their waters with the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area.

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Chequamegon Bay Sunrise

It was beautiful this past Sunday even as wintry breath chilled the morning air, and brisk breezes stirred what was a mostly sunny day. Hours before the library doors were open, as I waited in the warmth of the sun, I was reminded of the sands at Big Bay on Madelaine Island, water lapping on the shore and the chill off Lake Superior. Lying on a bench in an empty ball field, I felt transported to the shores of Chequamegon Bay and Lake Superior once again, when the children were young and time seemed suspended.

There were days we would hike looking for blueberries in the woods, and raspberries along the abandoned railroad tracks before it was converted to a hiking trail. There were swims in the water so cold your lips would turn blue. The pink glow of morning light over the bay, the memory of a kite flown so high we thought it was lost in the clouds, the brown bat in our cabin, the cold swim in water so clear you could drink it, huge moths like small birds in the night … all of these memories flooded over me in detail as if they had occurred only a moment before.

The moonrises and the sunrises, the thunderstorms approaching from across Superior were experiences so deeply impressed. Visions of the natural world, the colors, life so real, so profound, the silences to think, to recall, to meditate, to breathe….

Too soon the city calls, though, the sounds of traffic, engines grinding their way to one event or another, one task or another beckons; and soon all but the sounds of silence can be heard. We survive, we make a living and all too soon forget to live. It gave me peace, if only for a moment, to recall what life can be. As a friend once asked: “If not for joy, then what?”

Chequamegon Sunrise