TPL Acquires “Chainsaw Sisters” Saloon Site (MN)

St. Paul, MN, 12/21/2006 – The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness (Friends) announced the acquisition today of the well-known “Chainsaw Sisters Saloon” site, adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). The sale will ensure continued access to the popular Mudro Lake BWCAW entry point located off the Echo Trail 18 miles north of Ely, Minnesota.

“This is a transaction where TPL, working in close partnership with Friends of the Boundary Waters, was able to buy the U.S. Forest Service time to coordinate the sale and meet the requirements of the landowner,” said TPL Senior Project Manager Shaun Hamilton. “Without TPL and the Friends of the Boundary Waters being able to act in a timely manner, this opportunity for continued public access would more than likely be lost.”

Superior National Forest District Ranger Mark Van Every stressed that maintaining public access for more than 72 permit holders a day is the critical component of the acquisition. “More than 200,000 outdoor enthusiasts visit the Boundary Waters each year. It’s always preferable to preserve and protect established entry points rather than create new ones.”

Friends’ Board Chair, Carolyn Sampson, added that protecting land on the edge of the wilderness from private development is a high priority. “As private, near-wilderness land becomes available, we will use our partnership with TPL to make strategic acquisitions.”

TPL’s ability to acquire this property was made possible by an innovative collaboration with the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness. In July, the Friends transferred its revolving “Edge of the Wilderness Fund” to TPL. The new partnership will create opportunity for the two organizations to work together to protect and conserve land and water in and around the BWCAW.

The popular 25-acre Chainsaw Sisters location will eventually be owned and managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The saloon and other buildings on the property will eventually be removed. The current parking lot, however, will remain and parking will be free to the public. The natural features will stay untouched.

In the tradition of the Boundary Waters “root beer lady” Dorothy Molter, the Chainsaw Sisters Saloon is a legend in the Northwoods. To many, the Mudro Lake entry point is simply known as “the Chainsaw Sisters.” The saloon was so named for twin sisters and former U.S. Forest Service employees Marlene and Michele. TPL purchased the land from the current owners, “Chainsaw Sister” Michele and her husband, Mark Richards.

Over the years, paddlers, hunters, anglers, snowmobilers and the curious stapled $1 bills with messages of goodwill to the walls and ceilings. The saloon was decorated in “fur pelt and chainsaw chic” with dozens of antique chainsaws on the property. The owners are cataloging the $1 bills and looking for a permanent home for the chainsaws.

The “Chainsaw Sisters Saloon” had a lively, 18-year run. This past fall, owners Marlene and Mark Richards decided to close the saloon and sell the property for a less rustic lifestyle.

“It was time,” Chainsaw Sister Michele Richards said. “I loved living in the woods for 20 years, but I was always working. Now that I live in town I will have running water and electricity at the flick of a switch. I will also be able to enjoy the woods more frequently.”

About The Trust for Public Land
The Trust for Public Land (TPL), established in 1972, is a national nonprofit land conservation organization specializing in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law, to conserve land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Across the nation, TPL has helped protect more than 2.2 million acres.

Through its Northwoods Initiative, a regional conservation program focused on northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, TPL is assisting communities and public agencies in identifying and protecting sensitive and threatened lands. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve its land for people mission.

About Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness
Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness was founded in 1976 with the mission to protect, preserve and restore the wilderness character of the BWCAW and the Quetico-Superior ecosystem. The organization has nearly 4,000 members nationwide.