Here's an item which we really need comment on. Although there are probably good intentions in renaming Minnesota's Eagle Mountain for BWCA champion Congressman Bruce Vento, my knee jerk reaction is that it would not be a good idea. In any event we need to act quickly:
Here is the article that appeared in the April 22 Star-Tribune:
Oberstar wants to name state's highest point after Vento
Greg Gordon / Star Tribune Washington Bureau Correspondent
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Rep. Bruce Vento, D-Minn., carried legislation 22 years ago to expand the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the pristine wonderland of lakes and forest straddling the Minnesota-Canadian border.
Now, as Vento battles the lung cancer that has forced his early retirement, a colleague is drafting a bill to honor his environmental legacy by renaming 2,301-foot EagleMountain, Minnesota's tallest peak, after him.
Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., conceived the tribute, even though he and Vento have been adversaries for decades over the BWCA because Oberstar's northern Minnesota constituents wanted fewer restrictions on motorized uses of the wilderness.
"As [Vento's] service in Congress draws to a close, a grateful nation should memorialize [his] contributions in this truly appropriate way, and to that end, we will name our state's highest point on the eastern edge of the BWCA in his honor," Oberstar said.
Vento said in a statement that he is "honored and touched" by the proposal. The BWCA, he said, "has always been a special place for me."
Despite their differences over the BWCA, the two men are close friends and have voted together on many issues.
Oberstar praised Vento as being "an effective and relentless advocate" for national parks and forests.
EagleMountain is 17 miles northwest of Grand Marais at the eastern edge of the BWCA, one of the areas designated as federally protected wilderness under the 1978 legislation.
Because the peak is located on U.S. forest land, congressional approval will be required to rename it.
Oberstar doesn't expect resistance. He said that Rep. George Miller, the ranking Democrat on the House Resources Committee, has endorsed the bill and that he anticipates the support of the entire Minnesota congressional delegation. He said he would introduce the legislation shortly after Congress' Easter recess.
Vento has mesothelioma, a rare and often lethal form of lung cancer. He underwent surgery several weeks ago for removal of his left lung and now is undergoing chemotherapy.
While Congress frequently honors retirees or other famous Americans by naming ships, post offices, federal buildings and airports after them, mountains are a less-frequent choice.
Oberstar's staff director, Bill Richard, said the dean of the state's congressional delegation thought hard about ways to officially and appropriately honor Vento, also considering naming a lake or a couple of lakes after him.
"This one everybody loved," he said.
Ginny Yingling, a longtime activist with the Minnesota chapter of the Sierra Club, called it "a tremendous idea" and praised Oberstar for overlooking past differences and making "a very fitting and generous tribute."
She said she supports "anything that we can do to honor the work that Bruce has done for this country. And particularly something within the Boundary Waters has so much significance, because that's an area that . . . he has worked so long and hard to protect."