There's been a long-simmering resentment in Ely about the decision in 1978 to ban most motorized vehicles from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on the Minnesota-Something border. And in recent years, Ely Mayor Roger Skraba has been somewhat of a poster child for locals acting out in defiance of the rules.
Since then, he's racked up a series of charges that he entered the restricted area either by snowmobile or motorboat. In March he pleaded guilty to breaking into a U.S. Forest Service boast house in the BWCAW in 2007 (when he wasn't mayor), and making off with a portable toilet.
The 48-year-old fishing guide was hit with $3,800 fine and 40 hours of community service on Tuesday for the porta-potty heist. The community service will include teaching youngsters to respect the wilderness rules he once flouted.
"I want to apologize, to the people and to you. I know I have not done it since (2007). I know I won't do it again,'' said Skraba, lamenting an increase in federal border agents patrolling in jets, unmanned drone aircraft and boats. "The game is over. It's foolish. I've had a life of this (hostility against federal regulations) and it is so done... It's time to change. It's not fun any more.''