In a Nov. 27 article ("Loved and loathed, she's drawn line in BWCA"), anti-mining activist Becky Rom claimed that when she meets with members of Congress and officials at the Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Land Management, or Department of the Interior, she and her fellow advocates "always say, 'Hi, we're from Ely.' "

Well, Ms. Rom: Hi, I'm from Ely, too!

Ely was founded as a mining town. The Lake Vermilion gold rush brought many pioneers to the area in 1865. Although hardly any gold was found, it was discovered that the area did contain large deposits of iron ore. Thousands of new immigrants came to America at this time. Soon they came to the Minnesota Iron Range looking for work.

When the Duluth, Mesabi and Iron Range Railway extended its rails from Tower to Ely in 1888, Ely began mining operations with the opening of the Chandler Mine. Ore was shipped to docks on Lake Superior in Two Harbors and Duluth.

Those opposed to mining have no interest in these historical facts. But it was the miners and their families who made Ely thrive, which allowed businesses to develop like Ace Hardware, barbershops, drug stores, Penney's, Wards, Sears, etc. — and even Canoe Country Outfitters!

Ely is my hometown. I grew up there and moved away for school and work. It was founded as a mining town. Mining and the Boundary Waters have co-existed for more than 100 years. Now a political decision has been made by the Obama administration ("A victory for BWCA that could backfire," Dec. 18) taking leasing rights from companies that have been testing for large mineral deposits in the area — not in the Boundary Waters.

In addition, a proposal to withdraw a quarter million acres in the Superior National Forest from future mining will affect taconite mining as well.

Those against mining exploration know that Ely and many surrounding towns depend on mining jobs to survive. They are plagued with empty storefronts; houses and businesses are for sale because there is not the population to support the local economy.

Mineral leases were granted to prospecting companies through the Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Interior. These leases are not considered mining.

Twin Metals is years away from having a mining plan, yet its leases were canceled. Anti-mining people say it is impossible to mine from sulfide rock without polluting even though there are mines doing it. The Eagle Mine in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is mining safely with regard to the environment.

We need to see the science behind the effort. And if it shows no pollution, the mining process should be allowed to move forward. Right now all taconite mines are operating in sulfide rock formations and all meet standards.

My concern is for the people of Ely and surrounding communities. I'm from Ely, too!

Larry Musich lives in Appleton, Wis.