LT alum on mission to save BWCA


Hayden Claesson, Reporter

In late autumn of 2015 on Vera Lake in northern Minnesota, just a mile south of the Canadian border, the water on the lake was beginning to freeze for the winter.  Dave Freeman ‘95 was cooking in his tent in a campsite, when he heard a rustling in the woods outside of the tent.  It was followed by echoing and howling.  As a pack of timberwolves ran through his campsite, he looked out the small window of his tent to see a pack of animals which few are lucky to see in their entire lives.

This experience happened during Freeman’s year long trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness-or BWCA-a national wilderness area in northern Minnesota.  Him and his wife, Amy Freeman, embarked on a year long trip from Sept, 23 2015 to Sept, 23 2016. The purpose of the trip was to raise awareness to copper mining in the area that would pollute the water in the boundary waters.

“We did it to shed light about the importance of wilderness and public land and a need to appreciate places like the boundary waters,” Dave said.

The duo then sprang into action. During another trip around North America, they stopped traveling for a winter and began to go on dogsledding trips in northern Minnesota to ask people to sign a petition to block the mining rights for a time. They then got in touch with a group called save the boundary waters, which had the same intention of protecting the BWCA from mines and pollution.

“When we got back home, the campaign was just starting up,” Amy said.  “They started this thing called sustainable Ely which is a house in Ely that puts information up so people can visit and learn more about the issue.”

Dave Freeman graduated from Lyons Township in 1995.  He was in a gym class where the teacher had an outdoor program which consisted of climbing, archery, and cross country skiing in the winter, he said.

“That really got me interested in the outdoors,” Dave said.  “That’s one of the reason’s why I got into wilderness travel.”

The Freemans have seen many adventures throughout their careers. On top of their year in the BWCA they did a trip dubbed “The North American Odyssey” where they traveled roughly 11,000 miles over three years.  They began in Seattle, kayaked to Alaska and dog sledded to the Great Lakes, only to sail across them to get to Lake Champlain in Vermont.  They then headed south to get to the Atlantic Ocean.  From there they headed south and finished the expedition in the Florida Keys.

This trek landed them to be selected as one of recipients of National Geographic’s Adventurers of the year in 2014.

“It was really exciting,”  Amy said.  “It was really quite an honor.”