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      Creating more campsites?     

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carmike
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07/03/2020 12:59AM
I was considering asking this question in the other thread discussing campsite availability and quotes, but I didn't want to hijack it...

Is there/Has there been any talk of increasing the number of campsites in the BWCA? Or has the Forest Service already done so on some lakes or in some areas?

I don't know what to think about changing permit policy or reducing the numbers to allow for less busy-ness (but less access), but I do wonder if one option is to leave the permit numbers the same but increase the number campsites, especially in popular areas (where, presumably, a few extra campsites wouldn't detract that much from the wilderness experience -- it's already pretty busy there). Just my tentative .02.

Any thoughts?
 
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andym
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07/03/2020 01:22AM
I see your point and would only do this on popular lakes that have sufficient space to keep the sites apart and are near an EP. The FS did create a couple of new sites on Lake One a few years ago. We enjoyed one of them with our niece and her family a couple of years ago. We were not in sight of any other site and so it seemed reasonable.
 
mjmkjun
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07/03/2020 05:57AM
Good Lord! I hope not.
 
airmorse
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07/03/2020 06:44AM
I don't think creating more campsites is the answer. Reducing the permits available would help though.
 
KarlBAndersen1
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07/03/2020 06:44AM
The day they do that I'll quit going.
 
carmike
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07/03/2020 05:48PM
Interesting responses...Would another site or two on Agnes or Ogish or Shell really detract from the "wilderness" experience there all that much? If the permits stayed the same, would it have that much of a difference, except to minimize the likelihood of needing to share campsites with others, camp at portages, etc.?

But yes, I can see the problem with creating new sites -- unless you create a lot of them, then they probably wouldn't make that much of a difference, and if you create a lot of them, then why not just camp at Sawbill or a state park instead.
 
salukiguy
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07/03/2020 07:08PM
My theory is there is only so many areas with suitable terrain for hosting a campsite. Like on points and flat areas that could have landings and suitable tent pads. There are probably limited locations that fulfill the requirements. Many of the campsites are probably historic, meaning they have been there in some form for a long time. I agree though that you would have to create a lot of them. When I have been a good distance in I’ve noticed some campsites that are barely used as there are better ones in the area.
 
cyclones30
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07/03/2020 07:09PM
There are definitely a few places where I wouldn't mind if there was another campsite. But I don't think it would be enough to make a huge difference. I'd rather see the permits go down, or have stronger enforcement of the current permits....
 
TomP
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07/04/2020 08:08AM
Interesting topic. Most of the pre-COVID threads about BWCA usage talk about the aging of the canoeing community and the lack of use. I wonder if the outfitters that serve primarily the BWCA will have a good year and those serving primarily the Q will have a poor year.

I personally am not opposed to creating a few more sites on popular lakes close to entry points. I feel the stress of not finding an open site detracts from the experience more than a few more campsites.

We don't have a trip planned for this year. However, we are seeing if we can line up some dates. With all of the threads indicating usage is way up and campsites are hard to find, we are thinking twice about going this year.
 
07/04/2020 10:58AM
KarlBAndersen1: "The day they do that I'll quit going."

Totally agree. What needs to happen is to decrease the number of permits available and charge per person per day as is the case in Quetico. The place is already vastly overused.
 
schweady
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07/04/2020 11:01AM
Frenchy19: "KarlBAndersen1: "The day they do that I'll quit going."


Totally agree. What needs to happen is to decrease the number of permits available and charge per person per day as is the case in Quetico. The place is already vastly overused. "

Agree. I don't mean that I'll quit going, but reducing the number of permits and charging a daily fee is the direction to go, NOT increasing the number of campsites.
 
unshavenman
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07/04/2020 11:42AM
schweady: "Frenchy19: "KarlBAndersen1: "The day they do that I'll quit going."



Totally agree. What needs to happen is to decrease the number of permits available and charge per person per day as is the case in Quetico. The place is already vastly overused. "

Agree. I don't mean that I'll quit going, but reducing the number of permits and charging a daily fee is the direction to go, NOT increasing the number of campsites.
"

+2.
 
07/04/2020 02:39PM
Most of the “possible sites” are likely sites that are closed to regenerate from overuse.
I’m hoping the next generation will embrace what is there. At some point solitude will mean something totally different I’m afraid.
 
x2jmorris
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07/04/2020 03:13PM
I am also of the mindset to increase permit prices but I would keep the sites as is. Too many people up there nowadays. It isn't even just the covid time. The past 10 years has been increasing every year. I would also like to see much more patrolling by dnr/forest service. I'm sick of seeing all the garbage and rule breaking that destroys the area.
 
carmike
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07/04/2020 10:24PM
Well, I guess when the official Forest Service survey comes out, my idea of creating more campsites won't get much mileage. :)

I also fully support raising the prices (reasonably) -- nothing like Quetico, but enough to fund appropriate enforcement at the least.

 
lindylair
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07/05/2020 05:31AM
I also agree that there should be no increase in permits, it's plenty busy already. Perhaps the quota system could be tweaked to be more effective somehow but the funding for that would be hard to come by. I am also fine with an increase in the fees if the money is kept there for things that enhance the BWCA like more patrols, maintenance and enforcement.

Unlike most though, I feel there is an opportunity for more campsites. There are some lakes that i have paddled with no campsites that would be prime candidates for even one site. And some larger lakes that have but a few campsites and could support another one or two. Adding campsites while keeping permits at the same level would not increase traffic but it could, if even a bit, address the issue of folks who spend a lot of time, money and energy to come up for their yearly vacation and can't find a campsite. It could also spread usage out a little and extend the usable life of the existing campsites some.

I am not one who is bothered by seeing a few canoes a day while i am up there and have been lucky enough to avoid the experience of a massive traffic jam at a portage or seeing dozens of canoes every day. Nor have I ever had the experience of not being able to find a campsite. But I read about it enough to know it happens and that's a shame. I would be devastated to have to cancel my once a year trip due to lack of campsites in an area that is supposed to be managed via a permit/quota system to avoid that exact situation.
 
MidwestFirecraft
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07/05/2020 06:37AM
I am adamantly against raising fees. I go three times a year for one week at a time. I have purchased used canoes and gear for years so that I can take new families. Most of these families or kids could never afford to go on their own. Raising prices so only the wealthy can go is not the answer. I am also not in favor of increasing campsites, as a big part of the reason I take people there is for solitude and introspection. The only time I have had trouble finding a site was our last night of a trip in October of 2015 on Oyster. We arrived as the sun was setting and found the last available camp site. Since then I have tried to ensure we get to our site well before dark. Until this year people were complaining that only old people went and that we needed new people to go and fall in love with the BWCA so it would remain protected. Let's not lose site of the goal and embrace the opportunity to teach a whole new generation how to love, care, and protect this place we so cherish.
 
andym
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07/05/2020 07:05AM
I agree with keeping fees low so that it is affordable for people from all walks of life to experience the wilderness.
 
x2jmorris
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07/05/2020 09:54AM
16 dollars per person for as long as they want is pennies though. Just because we ask for it to be raised doesn't mean only wealthy can go.
 
Savage Voyageur
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07/05/2020 10:16AM
I have said for years that the permit fee is too low. I challenge anyone here to give me an example of a vacation spot that is cheaper to enjoy. Increasing the fees would be used in a lot of ways. One would be to hire more rangers to patrol the area.

Also another question for the people who don’t want the permit fees increased, or increased campsites. What would you suggest to elevate the crowded BWCA? Maybe keeping the same numbers but adjustments during the year? Something or nothing, what is your call if you were in change???
 
MidwestFirecraft
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07/05/2020 10:26AM
x2jmorris: "16 dollars per person for as long as they want is pennies though. Just because we ask for it to be raised doesn't mean only wealthy can
go."


You have to account for canoe, travel, equipment, fishing license, etc. Not so cheap after that.
 
MidwestFirecraft
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07/05/2020 10:29AM
Savage Voyageur: "I have said for years that the permit fee is too low. I challenge anyone here to give me an example of a vacation spot that is cheaper to enjoy. Increasing the fees would be used in a lot of ways. One would be to hire more rangers to patrol the area. "

If your not counting the $3,000 canoe, $500 tent, etc. then sure. There is no guarantee the money would be used they way you would want, as in more rangers.
 
merlyn
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07/05/2020 11:22AM
The cost of a permit is $16 about the same as coffee and a muffin at Starbucks. A campsite at a Wisconsin state forest campground (fire ring, picnic table and shared outhouse) is $16 a night plus having a park sticker. If you can find a motel room under $100.00 a night it is probably named Bates.
The BWCA is by far the least expensive (and best) vacation destination I know. Hypothetically a $5.00 a night charge could be used by the FS to open the closed campsites or improve poor quality sites and portages affected by blowdowns, fire or misuse. More sites just not new ones.
I have camped in the BWCA from mid MAY to early Sept. and yes I have had to wait at a portage for other groups to finish or had to take a campsite other than the one I hoped for but crowded, congested? No. Waiting in line 2 hours to ride 2 min. at Space Mountain is , a $5 bottle of water is. I can live with seeing a few canoes going by while enjoying the BWCA.
 
Savage Voyageur
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07/05/2020 11:54AM
MidwestFirecraft: "Savage Voyageur: "I have said for years that the permit fee is too low. I challenge anyone here to give me an example of a vacation spot that is cheaper to enjoy. Increasing the fees would be used in a lot of ways. One would be to hire more rangers to patrol the area. "


If your not counting the $3,000 canoe, $500 tent, etc. then sure. There is no guarantee the money would be used they way you would want, as in more rangers. "



I will disagree with you. $3000 dollar Kevlar canoes are not needed. I’ve been to the BWCA 50 plus times and I rent my canoe. I’ve only rented a Kevlar canoe a few times. I have never owned a canoe.
We have used mostly aluminum canoes. They were used for many years up there just fine. I like aluminum much better than Kevlar for our groups. Rental prices of aluminum canoes are not usually under $20 a day. My tents have never been $500. Mostly in the $250 range that last for years. So if you spread out the price of a $250 tent over ten years that is cheap. That goes for all you other gear too. Food is a wash because you need to eat anyway. Once you buy it it’s yours for as long as it works. If you only take one trip and don’t like camping or canoeing you can sell your equipment. A BWCA trip is the cheapest vacation trip you will take.

I do agree on your point about the money not going to hire more rangers. It drives me crazy that the state uses our money for different things.
 
OtherBob
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07/05/2020 12:34PM
Maybe we need more sites adjacent to the BW, like Crescent Lake. Lots of those Numbered Lakes base campers aren't looking for solitude and silence - they wouldn't mind neighboring sites with only a few hundred feet of separation - they want lakeside, ease of entry, and low cost. If these sites were more easily patrolled, there might be more education and enforcement of LNT and fire safety.
As for fees, we should have an affordable daily use fee to help with maintenance and protection.
End of opinion. Back to scientific discussion of hanging vs. ground (food or sleeping bodies?), dip or drip, and bent vs. straight.
 
scotttimm
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07/05/2020 01:13PM
MidwestFirecraft: "x2jmorris: "16 dollars per person for as long as they want is pennies though. Just because we ask for it to be raised doesn't mean only wealthy can
go."



You have to account for canoe, travel, equipment, fishing license, etc. Not so cheap after that."


I hear both sides of the argument, but also think its important to keep wilderness areas accessible for all. If it is a family trip, and we're traveling...here's the bare minimum for my wife to consider it a vacation: overnight in a bunkhouse or hotel the night before ($135), permit for our family ($56) family fishing license ($67) food during the trip ($200), any equipment replacement or fishing tackle (always at least $100), nice burger dinner in Ely with beers and dessert on our way out ($130), gas ($250). That alone is $938, not accounting for things like sunscreen, bugspray, first aid supplies, any of the little things that add up. This was the first summer that nothing was wrong with our Suburban when I had it checked before departure, though I did have to replace a trailer tire. I usually figure there will be a $300 problem between the truck and trailer. Now what if kids want t-shirts, ice cream, pizza, ANYTHING else...it isn't a crazy expensive trip but for folks with a more humble income, I'm sorry, it's not cheap. I mean our household salary was much more humble 10 years ago when my wife was caring for the kids, and I pinched every penny possible, but when all was said and done a trip for our family of five was at least $800 bringing our own crappy canoes, and I just started saving a year ahead of time to make sure I had $1000 in the bank for the trip. I'd make sure our trip had my payday land right before we came out. And we were eating sandwiches at rest stops, bottles of tap water in the Suburban, etc, not going crazy. This June's trip to Polly was probably our cheapest ever, as we finally have all of our gear lined up after ten years, gas was cheap, and we didn't want to eat out on the way up or on the road...and we didn't stay overnight in Tofte, just entered Kawishiwi Lake. We still spent over $600 when all was said and done (stupid trailer). If you look at the financial reality of many now a days, the majority of the country can't handle a $400 emergency...so in that reality, a $1000 minimum trip isn't cheap.
 
mjmkjun
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07/05/2020 03:12PM
BWCA ($$) vs Disney World ($$$$).
BWCA ($$) vs Yellowstone National Park ($$$$)

 
scotttimm
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07/05/2020 04:20PM
mjmkjun: "BWCA ($$) vs Disney World ($$$$).
BWCA ($$) vs Yellowstone National Park ($$$$)


"

I’ve never been able to fly my family to Disney. When we went to Yellowstone, we had saved for two years but also Car camped the whole time and didn’t break the bank. All I’m saying is, entering a wilderness area shouldn’t cost too much, and to say it’s super cheap isn’t the reality for many, especially families. But it’s our annual tradition because we can afford it. I wouldn’t be against a modest increase, but we don’t take the family of five to Quetico for a reason.

I like the idea of perhaps increasing campsites in popular lakes right near the EP for the weekend warriors, might take the pressure off for those of us who venture further.
 
billconner
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07/05/2020 05:56PM
I'm kind of astounded that anyone believes an increase in fees would ever go to hiring more rangers. Thats private industry thinking, not US Federsl Govennent. Fees don't pay for the current rangers. Not for or against raiding fees - just not based on this unusual year - but i know it will never go vack to the BWCA in any form for anything.
 
MidwestFirecraft
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07/05/2020 06:09PM
billconner: "I'm kind of astounded that anyone believes an increase in fees would ever go to hiring more rangers. Thats private industry thinking, not US Federsl Govennent. Fees don't pay for the current rangers. Not for or against raiding fees - just not based on this unusual year - but i know it will never go vack to the BWCA in any form for anything."
Could not have said it better!
 
mjmkjun
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07/05/2020 07:07PM
billconner: "I'm kind of astounded that anyone believes an increase in fees would ever go to hiring more rangers. Thats private industry thinking, not US Federsl Govennent. Fees don't pay for the current rangers. Not for or against raiding fees - just not based on this unusual year - but i know it will never go vack to the BWCA in any form for anything."
Enlighten some of us who naive enough to think so. Wait. Does it get entangled into politics? Nevermind. ;)
 
Pinetree
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07/05/2020 07:08PM
MidwestFirecraft: "billconner: "I'm kind of astounded that anyone believes an increase in fees would ever go to hiring more rangers. Thats private industry thinking, not US Federsl Govennent. Fees don't pay for the current rangers. Not for or against raiding fees - just not based on this unusual year - but i know it will never go vack to the BWCA in any form for anything."
Could not have said it better!"


I think the present setup is that the fees at least some suppose to go back to the BWCA. But present fees fall way short.

In and around 1970 Superior National Forest had like 350 forest employees and now it is a fraction of that. Also with recent fires Nationwide much of the funds-majority of forest lands funds have been shifted to fighting fires. That is suppose to be corrected-will just say it has not happen yet.
 
Pinetree
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07/05/2020 07:12PM
Many of the present campsites were laid out with the idea many would be spaced and give a wilderness experience more. Yes also many are where people camped before regulations became more strict also.

The only place maybe I would like to see more is just a tradeoff and replaces camp sites abandoned because of recent fires.

 
straighthairedcurly
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07/06/2020 03:56AM
This is a tough issue. As a person who loves hard numbers, I do wish there was more data to look at trends regarding base camping near entry points versus traveling around. I think a crude effort is made by asking people their expected exit point, but that doesn't tell whether someone base camped or did a 60 mile loop and came out at the same place they entered. It would be more useful to ask for an approximate itinerary to get a rough head count of demand on specific lakes.

This year, I feel like more people are taking a weekend trip and just base camping 1-2 lakes into the BW. I don't have the facts to back that up, but a local outdoor supply store clerk was so surprised that we were going on an 8 day trip because we were the 1st people this year he had asked who were going longer than 3 days.

Whether this is a pandemic trend or a lasting trend, I don't know. I would rather see additional campsites added to a large entry point lake like Brule than to decrease permit availability for people who want to travel into less traveled areas.

 
ZaraSp00k
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07/06/2020 06:49AM
if you have been to Quetico or WCPP then you know non designated campsites do not relieve the pressure on popular sites, in fact it seems to me it concentrates campers on a smaller number of sites.

my question is, why do people always try to change the rules about BWCA, doesn't matter if it's the motor boat crowd or the tree huggers, I guess that's a political question, but then this thread is political, it's just that people haven't started throwing mud at each other

yet
 
07/06/2020 08:51AM
I'm for decreasing campsites not increasing.
 
07/06/2020 11:14AM
What about more strategic permits.

For example they have #22 Mudro restricted with no camping on horse.

What if they reverse that mentality and say they have Entry point # X
Which restricts campers to only one or two lakes.
If we are talking only about the popular lakes you could nail it down to number of days as well so you didn't paddle in only to find all of the sites were taken and you had to paddle back out.

There is a lot of talk of weekend warriors but I gotta say if I didn't live 14 hours away I would be there every chance I had even if it was only for the weekend and I could only go in a lake or two.

I don't know just trying to think outside of the box.
I would like there to be more rangers. I would also like to see suspensions of park access for major violations as well.

It's a wonderful place and I really just want to see it taken care of.
 
Pinetree
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07/06/2020 11:40AM
The more people the more restrictions usually needed.

You sometimes camp on a lake and campsites are full you go into a bay on the lake which still is wild-no campsites. You say that would be a nice place to put a campsite. Well people going into the BWCA even when camping on a popular lake it is nice to go to a certain part of the lake and it is not occupied at least by campers.

Some lakes you could add a few sites, but be careful. Someone's site for a campsite is someone's else quite spot. I for one don't like looking at a lake and all you see is campers.
That said lakes inside the BWCA maybe have a few more sites, but absolutely no more as you go inland.

If it is not broken, leave it alone.
 
billconner
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07/06/2020 05:30PM
I think many of us would like more rangers in the wilderness. Trend is fewer. Adding and maintaining more sites will take ranger time. Making permits mire complicated will take ranger time. Collecting useful statistics will take ranger time.

Id rather changes that put more of the too few rangers into the wilderness. I dont know if that is eliminating permits and putting the ranger station personnel in the field ir what, but please don't take rangers away from the wilderness.
 
07/07/2020 06:09AM
Frenchy19: "KarlBAndersen1: "The day they do that I'll quit going."


Totally agree. What needs to happen is to decrease the number of permits available and charge per person per day as is the case in Quetico. The place is already vastly overused. "


Agree. I've already "quit" going to the BW because of overcrowding but this year I'm going back out because of Covid. I would also be happy if the BW took Quetico's lead and banned live bait and barbed hooks. This is an area we seriously need to protect for future generations and it doesn't sound like we are doing it very well right now. We need to value this resource more with less people and higher fees. Now, get off my lawn! :)
 
Pinetree
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07/07/2020 08:38AM
TomT: "Frenchy19: "KarlBAndersen1: "The day they do that I'll quit going."



Totally agree. What needs to happen is to decrease the number of permits available and charge per person per day as is the case in Quetico. The place is already vastly overused. "



Agree. I've already "quit" going to the BW because of overcrowding but this year I'm going back out because of Covid. I would also be happy if the BW took Quetico's lead and banned live bait and barbed hooks. This is an area we seriously need to protect for future generations and it doesn't sound like we are doing it very well right now. We need to value this resource more with less people and higher fees. Now, get off my lawn! :)"



Not being a National Park fishing is controlled by Mn DNR and they would have to change regs
 
Blatz
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07/07/2020 11:48AM
You can camp anywhere in Quetico. Are the easier access lakes over run with campers? Like someone said. There's only so many suitable spots for camping. You might find a spot here and there that would make a nice additional campsite, but there's not too many.
 
Pinetree
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07/07/2020 11:54AM
Blatz: "You can camp anywhere in Quetico. Are the easier access lakes over run with campers? Like someone said. There's only so many suitable spots for camping. You might find a spot here and there that would make a nice additional campsite, but there's not too many."

One thing in Quetico it is so vast and the number of permits is so much lower per area than the BWCA.
 
tomo
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07/07/2020 12:14PM
It's such an interesting and hugely complicated question. There are thresholds of use that detract from the experience people seek by going into the wilderness in the first place. Too many people/campsites likely diminishes everyone's experience. Too little access/opportunity prevents people from going and having such experiences.

I don't know how the management agencies gauge or adjust use, but it seems like data collection and ongoing adjustments would be critical management tools, instead of, say, just keeping the same number of permits at each entry point because that's how it has historically been done.

I think in some instances the problem is as much about perception as reality. The psychological worry about whether or not campsites are going to be open impacts decisions and creates a low level of worry. I imagine the actual instances of not being able to find a campsite (excepting perhaps the desire to camp near your exit point on the last night) are somewhat few and far between.

One of the joys of the Quetico is seeing fewer people and feeling as though when you are ready to camp you can find a spot. This is freeing on a number of levels, and adds to the enjoyment. The relative crowdedness of the BWCA detracts from the experience, in my opinion. And yet, each of us that love and enjoy the BWCA contribute to the very issues we don't like, except we often think in terms of other people impacting on our experience, versus us impacting theirs.

On a somewhat related note, if campsites are going to be equipped with thunderboxes and firegrates, I think they should also include a safe place to store food. Sure would help with problem bears and the like.
Bear proof storage

I suppose irresponsible people would use them as garbage cans....
 
Blatz
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07/07/2020 06:21PM
Pinetree: "Blatz: "You can camp anywhere in Quetico. Are the easier access lakes over run with campers? Like someone said. There's only so many suitable spots for camping. You might find a spot here and there that would make a nice additional campsite, but there's not too many."


One thing in Quetico it is so vast and the number of permits is so much lower per area than the BWCA."
My point was actually directed to why people still camp at the same spots in Quetico even though they can camp anywhere. It's because those are suitable places for a decent campsite. Most other places would suck as a campsite.I rarely see a spot that looks like a good campsite that's not already a campsite in the BW.
 
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