March–April 2023

From the Editor

Undersung Heroes

A lesser-known conservationist helped preserve what would become the BWCA.

Talk of the modern conservation movement in Minnesota often centers around writer and teacher Sigurd Olson, whose environmental advocacy helped protect wilderness areas across America. Olson certainly deserves the props, but the spotlight that remains on him more than 40 years after his death often casts a shadow over lesser known, though no less influential, conservationists. Ernest Oberholtzer comes to mind. In the 1920s and ’30s, “Ober,” as he was known, successfully lobbied the U.S. Congress and Minnesota Legislature to prevent the construction of a series of dams in the Rainy Lake watershed. Had the projects moved forward, a vast swath of the Quetico-Superior wilderness would have been flooded and destroyed. 

Like Ober, Arthur Carhart was an early advocate for preserving wild spaces—including the area that would become the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. In 1921 Carhart, then a U.S. Forest Service engineer, traveled to Minnesota’s canoe country, a trip chronicled in this edition of the Volunteer by writer Ryan Rodgers. Carhart was in awe of the wilderness he encountered on that 1921 excursion and later fought to prevent development that would have forever altered the Arrowhead region. Rodgers’ article recounts his own experience paddling the “Carhart loop,” adding resonance to the century-old tale.   

In the decades since Carhart and his contemporaries shaped the modern notion of conservation, countless others have stepped in to carry on their legacy. Strong partnerships among tribal groups, government agencies, nonprofits, and individual citizens are key to the success of many conservation projects, one of which is outlined in Tom Hazelton’s turkey hunting narrative. Hazelton explains how the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Minnesota DNR tag-teamed a turkey restoration project in the state back in the 1970s. If you live in central and southern Minnesota, you don’t need me to tell you that our turkey restoration has been a huge success.  

As long as we’re talking partnerships, I’d like to again thank MCV’s readers, who continue to fund the magazine’s conservation education mission year after year. We are sincerely grateful for your support.

Chris Clayton, editor in chief