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adam
Moderator
 
11/24/2020 03:01PM  

Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete the 2020 Survey!

Below you will find a link to the initial survey results. There are some interesting results on the surface, and additional analysis work is being done.

Feel free to post your thoughts on the results in response to this message.

Survey Results Link

 
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JimmyJustice
distinguished member(655)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/24/2020 04:10PM  
Thank you Adam.

Without doing deep dive, my initial observations are:

1. Interesting that 1546 folks responded to the age category question but only 1543 resounded to the yes/no question about tripping in 2020. Wonder if the under 18 category or the over 65 category is responsible for this seemingly odd conundrum. Someone didn't take their time when completing the survey... :)

2. At least for those who participated in the survey, it appears that their trips were enjoyable and the overwhelming majority did not see leave no trace issue worse than normal. This by no means suggest there is not room for improvement but rather my take away is that the threads earlier this year about an increase in damage may have been observations of uniqueness rather than a pattern (I hope). Always room for improvement for sure but hopeful to see the responses on this subject.

3. A number of folks would apparently feel more comfortable with taking trips if they had some trip planning assistance. No better place for that then BWCA.com

Fun stuff Adam, thanks for presenting.
 
bojibob
distinguished member(3147)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/24/2020 04:41PM  
Recount!
 
Jackfish
Moderator
 
11/24/2020 04:52PM  
bojibob: "Recount! "
Boji, simply send $8,000,000 to BWCA.com for the recount and we’ll take care of it. If there’s any money left after the recount, we’ll send you a refund check in the mail. :)
 
thegildedgopher
distinguished member(1056)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/24/2020 05:33PM  
Interesting stuff. At first glance it seems that some of the alarm about over-crowding and LNT violations this year may have been a bit blown out of proportion. The permit study showed significant increase in usage, but overall people still seemed to get what they wanted and enjoyed their trips according to the survey.

Certainly doesn't mean there weren't problems this year, but I'd love to see the same survey results from say, the past 5 years for comparison.
 
bojibob
distinguished member(3147)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/24/2020 05:53PM  
Jackfish: "bojibob: "Recount! "
Boji, simply send $8,000,000 to BWCA.com for the recount and we’ll take care of it. If there’s any money left after the recount, we’ll send you a refund check in the mail. :)"


Do you accept Bojicoin?
 
scramble4a5
distinguished member(557)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/24/2020 08:36PM  
I wonder how many permit holders and their group members are not members of this online community and how their input would have changed the results. I suspect a much higher percentage of them would have used a full outfitting service rather than partial or totally self outfitting. Interesting stuff to digest.
 
bulldogtwo
member (15)member
 
11/24/2020 09:46PM  
With everyone's comment about LNT, basically stating that here didn't seem to be that much of an issue or blown out of proportion, I can only conclude, from my experiences, that many of the groups it is either not an issue or they don't know what they are seeing. I recall one time going into a camp to say hello and seeing a tree cut down and commenting on it. The group seemed confused by what I was saying. I left thinking they didn't know what I was talking about.

At the risk of over reacting, I do think this is a serious problem. And to be clear this is not a case of only lakes that are easily accessible from the first entry points. Like Moose Lake, some of those sites are terrible. Frazer, Thomas, Insula, etc.. As prevalent as I see these trashed sites and as many trees and saplings I've seen cut down, I can't believe I am the only one. I know I am not the only one who feels this way, so sorry for being so out spoken.

My next trips, I need to do a better job of documenting what I see.
 
11/25/2020 08:09AM  
bojibob: "Recount!
"


Too funny!!!
 
ockycamper
distinguished member(553)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/25/2020 08:45AM  
a couple of observations:

The largest group tripping in the BWCA was 55-64. Second was 45-54. When you add up the 45-54, 55-64 and 65+ over 67% of the trippers are seniors.

This age group also would account for 58.6% of the trippers are fully outfitted in that in the experience of our groups (we take 10 to 20 men up each year) the older trippers have the most/best gear.

In our trips, most of the men that go are 50 years in age or older. We go exclusively to the Gunflint area, and during the last week of September. This probably accounts for why we see mainly older trippers.

 
drmau1
member (28)member
 
11/25/2020 08:46AM  
Can't seem to open the actual survey but got the jist of it from the comments. Can't believe LNT IS NOT CONSIDERED A GROWING PROBLEM!
Like you, I will be taking photos and doing better documentation next year. I don't want 100,000 rangers out in force but something has to be done.
 
ockycamper
distinguished member(553)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/25/2020 09:08AM  
I think LNT is a bigger issue depending on when and where you go. You can't have the traffic the ELY area does in the summer and not have LNT issues. That is why our groups go last of September, and in the Seagull/Gunflint area. We have been doing this for years and have yet to encounter a LNT issue.
 
thegildedgopher
distinguished member(1056)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/25/2020 09:15AM  
Something to keep in mind for future surveys -- it'd be cool to be able to break down the results a bit further. For example, comparing all responses from users of the Ely side or Gunflint side might show that LNT is a bigger issue in certain places.
 
schweady
distinguished member(7263)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
11/25/2020 09:53AM  
I don't understand how one might conclude that concerns regarding an upsurge in LNT violations in 2020 expressed in forums here over the past few months have somehow been proven by this survey to be out of proportion with reality when 38.2% indicated that they noticed issues. PLUS, another 26.6% noticed stuff, but "no more than usual." Total: 64.8%...

Certainly, seeing remarks noting ANY blatant violation of LNT in 2020 is discouraging. Perhaps even more so: an apparent resignation to always seeing such behavior, simply at levels "Not more than I normally see."
 
JimmyJustice
distinguished member(655)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/25/2020 11:42AM  
Schweady

My observation was: "At least for those who participated in the survey, it appears that their trips were enjoyable and the overwhelming majority did not see leave no trace issue worse than normal. This by no means suggest there is not room for improvement but rather my take away is that the threads earlier this year about an increase in damage may have been observations of uniqueness rather than a pattern (I hope). Always room for improvement for sure but hopeful to see the responses on this subject."

So I presume your comment: "I don't understand how one might conclude that concerns regarding an upsurge in LNT violations in 2020 expressed in forums here over the past few months have somehow been proven by this survey to be out of proportion with reality when 38.2% indicated that they noticed issues. PLUS, another 26.6% noticed stuff, but "no more than usual." Total: 64.8%.." was directed to someone else.

Here is how the math lead me to my observations of the survey:

Question 1 asked how many folks took a trip in 2020. 1,543 responded and 76.5% in the affirmative. Thus 1,180 respondents took a trip in 2020 (gives us a baseline for the LNT question).

Question 3 asked how many respondents had been to the BWCA before. 948 responded with 94.5% in the affirmative, thus 896 had been to the BWCA before. (so 94.5% of respondents to this question can speak to prior LNT observations...more on this later).

Question 4 asked how many trips respondents took in 2020. 994 responded and more than 1/3 took multiple trips in 2020 (more intel for the LNT question).

Question 10 asked if trippers had trouble finding sites. 1,181 responded with 15.8% (187) in the affirmative. Now we don't know what the makeup of these respondents are (greenhorns, seasoned vets, busy time trippers, multi 2020 trippers etc) but the response information is useful anecdotally. A reasonable conclusion can be that if trippers are fining it hard to secure a site, then the BWCA is crowded and is being used more heavily and as a result it would be expected to have more LNT issues.

Question 11 asked if respondents "noticed" LNT issues. 1,183 responded with 38.2% in the affirmative, 35.2% saying no and 26.6% saying the "same". Assuming all of the respondents to Question 3 answered this question as well, 896 of these respondents have been to the BWCA before and can speak personally to the "same" option if it pertained to their LNT experience. The question did not allow for a "worse than" answer, nor did it dive into quantity or quality of LNT observations. So, we cannot by this question alone determine that the LNT issue grew worse in 2020. We can surmise for sure that nearly 2/3 saw issues of LNT, but we cannot surmise, from this question, that it was "worse" than prior years.

Question 12 asked if trippers found the BWCA crowded this year. 1,180 responded with only 390 stating they thought is was. Compare with Question 10. There is a difference between "feeling" crowded and being able to find a site. LNT is effect more by campsites actually being full than a "feeling" of being crowded.

Question 13 had 86.6% of all 2020 trippers having a Very Good or Excellent trip.

So...if 94.5% of respondents had been to the BWCA before and 994 of them took trips in 2020 and of those, 61.8% found no LNT issues or the "same" LNT issues as they have in the past (not worse) and only 15.8% of 2020 trippers had trouble finding sites and if 86.6% of the trippers had a Very Good or Excellent trip and 90% of respondents intend to go in 2021, I was led to my initial observation found way back in paragraph 1.

I enjoyed the survey information and found it interesting. LNT is an important topic, a practice that is open to interpretation but a concept we should all embrace for the betterment and long term health of our wilderness.

Happy Thanksgiving!



 
schweady
distinguished member(7263)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
11/25/2020 01:00PM  
Jimmy
Thanks for the detailed analysis. I do remember filling out the survey and recall thinking that the LNT question ought to have included a "worse than" answer. I certainly would have chosen that.
 
ockycamper
distinguished member(553)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/25/2020 01:06PM  
Again, it all depends on location and time of year. If you are experiencing LNT issues, don't go in the summer and don't go to the Ely area. Join us off the Gunflint in late September/october. No people, no bugs, no LNT issues
 
thegildedgopher
distinguished member(1056)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/25/2020 01:59PM  
schweady: "I don't understand how one might conclude that concerns regarding an upsurge in LNT violations in 2020 expressed in forums here over the past few months have somehow been proven by this survey to be out of proportion with reality when 38.2% indicated that they noticed issues. PLUS, another 26.6% noticed stuff, but "no more than usual." Total: 64.8%...


Certainly, seeing remarks noting ANY blatant violation of LNT in 2020 is discouraging. Perhaps even more so: an apparent resignation to always seeing such behavior, simply at levels "Not more than I normally see."
"


I am one who suggested that the survey results don’t match up with the alarming posts of the past months, so I’ll try to explain my line of thought a bit.

Without baseline data from users answering the exact same questions in previous non-pandemic “normal” years, the entire thing is very subjective/anecdotal. And I think it’s important to consider herd mentality and confirmation and/or recency bias. We’ve all been reading all summer along about the Bwca being crowded and trashed by newbies with no idea of LNT. That is likely tucked into the brains of many who took the survey whether they admit it played a role in their responses or not.

I believe the negative voices are almost always the loudest. Someone posting “I had a great trip, everything was surreal and incredible in every way!” doesn’t really regisyer for folks. We flock to drama and controversy. Reports of negative experiences seem to get the most replies and stand out, in my experience.

Again, I’m not saying there were not issues, or that the issues weren’t amplified by the pandemic this year. I’m merely offering my perspective that the survey results do not seem commensurate with the level of outcry around here this summer.



 
schweady
distinguished member(7263)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
11/25/2020 03:32PM  
ockycamper: "Again, it all depends on location and time of year. If you are experiencing LNT issues, don't go in the summer and don't go to the Ely area. Join us off the Gunflint in late September/october. No people, no bugs, no LNT issues"
The evidence of some of the most egregious LNT violations lasts for years, not just during the heavily-used summer months.







Clear Lake Site #1691 Sept 17, 2020
Twin 70-90 year old jack pines in camp at shoreline
Evidence of having been cut in the past week
 
Portage99
distinguished member(553)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/25/2020 03:39PM  
Before reading this thread (just survey results), my first thought was wondering how people were interpreting the concept of "LNT". In retrospect, it would have been more helpful to ask specific questions, such as, "Did you see live trees cut?; "Did you see people camping at non-campsites?"; "Did you see garbage at your site?"; and then have space for "other concerning things". This is probably outside the scope of this survey and not really the primary purpose for BWCA survey.

It would be interesting to see a government agency do this type of survey. Maybe track it for a few years. E-survey follow up after permit, etc.

Anyway, interesting results. I was surprised so few people reported no trouble finding a campsite.
 
beanpole
member (19)member
 
11/25/2020 08:34PM  
ockycamper: "Again, it all depends on location and time of year. If you are experiencing LNT issues, don't go in the summer and don't go to the Ely area. Join us off the Gunflint in late September/october. No people, no bugs, no LNT issues"

We were on the Gunflint side the second week of September. One night we did not get our expected campsite (2 additional portages, no big deal). Several portages had what looked to be toilet paper on them (I don't remember exact locations). Our campsite on Meeds had strewn toilet paper in two different locations. And there were damaged birch trees on Meeds, Winchell and one other campsite we were at. There was also a live tree cut down on Meeds.
 
mschi772
distinguished member(575)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/25/2020 09:10PM  
schweady: "ockycamper: "Again, it all depends on location and time of year. If you are experiencing LNT issues, don't go in the summer and don't go to the Ely area. Join us off the Gunflint in late September/october. No people, no bugs, no LNT issues"
The evidence of some of the most egregious LNT violations lasts for years, not just during the heavily-used summer months.







Clear Lake Site #1691 Sept 17, 2020
Twin 70-90 year old jack pines in camp at shoreline
Evidence of having been cut in the past week
"


This is one of the most frustrating forms of vandalism because, they don't even cut the stump down or clear the tree. I can only imagine that they must have cut this tree to "improve" the view since they clearly didn't harvest it for its wood, nor did they clear it to improve access since it is actually more of an obstacle now that if it was still standing. Since this must be for the view, what kind of utter moron prefers to have a downed tree and a stump as part of their view instead of a healthy tree? I really wish we could talk to these people not just to punish them but to hear directly from them what the heck they're thinking when they do stuff like this because I'm tired of speculating.
 
gymcoachdon
distinguished member(569)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/25/2020 09:34PM  
Portage99: "...
Anyway, interesting results. I was surprised so few people reported no trouble finding a campsite. "


In my instance, I had more problems finding a site because I needed to hang a hammock and was travelling through a burn, than because sites were taken by other campers. BUT...I started looking early, like around noon, because it was so busy. I witnessed others having difficulty finding sites, but the survey didn't ask me that. It asked if I had problems, and I did not. It did take longer than usual though, on average. The more experienced travelers realize that they need to start looking earlier.

As far as LNT, I did see some issues, but I have seen them on every trip I have taken. So, answering no worse than previous doesn't mean I was happy with what I saw.

I also had difficulty answering the question about the satisfaction with the trip. It did not turn out how I expected, but it was still a good trip overall, and was a lot better than 2 more weeks locked down at home! ( I went in June 5th) So I gave it a good rating, but I was expecting great.

 
h20
distinguished member(2998)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/25/2020 11:29PM  
bgooodojibob: "Recount!
"
good to see youre still here boji....and still blunt!
 
JWilder
distinguished member (247)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/26/2020 07:03AM  
Maybe I am not doing something right.

When I am viewing the survey, it states there are 487 comments. For some reason I can only see the first few. Is there a way to read all of the comments provided?

Thanks,

J
 
11/26/2020 09:54AM  
schweady: "
The evidence of some of the most egregious LNT violations lasts for years, not just during the heavily-used summer months.



Clear Lake Site #1691 Sept 17, 2020
Twin 70-90 year old jack pines in camp at shoreline
Evidence of having been cut in the past week
"


Odd to see trees cut like that by someone who had minimal tools of the trade, they were cut by someone who knew what they were doing and have the four basic principles of felling.

Face Cut
Back Cut
Stump shot
Hinge wood

Its strange that someone who knows those principles, would seemingly not know and or care about LNT.
 
Boppasteveg
senior member (90)senior membersenior member
 
11/27/2020 12:50PM  
Nice job! Some interesting results.
 
JimmyJustice
distinguished member(655)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/29/2020 09:27AM  
I just posted this on another thread regarding LNT -thought it pertinent to Schwedy's (and others) prior comments. My cousin owns/operates a fishing/hunting lodge in Wyoming and this is a bullet point from his annual year in review email. It seems the ignorance of some regarding LNT reached all across the land.

• Some folks don’t belong in the outdoors. With many amusement options across the country closed this year quite a few people tried alternate forms of entertainment. A small percentage of them made it clear to outdoor communities and providers that their business doesn’t offset the damage and disrespect they perpetrate. To the vast majority of Wyoming’s visitors, we can’t thank you enough!
 
jcheese
member (25)member
 
11/29/2020 08:20PM  
schweady: "The evidence of some of the most egregious LNT violations lasts for years, not just during the heavily-used summer months.







Clear Lake Site #1691 Sept 17, 2020
Twin 70-90 year old jack pines in camp at shoreline
Evidence of having been cut in the past week
"


A friend and I were on Clear Sept 18th. Campsite #1689 had a ~14 to 16" diameter red pine right in front of the site recently cut down into the water and just left there. Shore fishing off that big rock face stinks with a giant tree in the water. I took my bow saw and cut a couple feet off the trunk end to make a seat/small table. Took me forever and a couple older guys paddling around saw me as I was cutting it off. I was suddenly mortified at the thought that they maybe figured I was the one that cut the tree down in the first place. If that was you, Schweady- it definitely wasn't us!

Campers at that site before us left whole, charred rounds from another tree in the fire pit because they were too stupid/lazy/unprepared to split them. Trail to the west had other mature (live) pines cut down and in water down the shoreline in a bay were the rotting carcasses of something like 8 walleye that some rocket scientists figured would just magically disappear (or didn't care if they did).

We saw some 'soiled' women's underwear on a portage landing and men's underwear behind our camp site on another lake. Besides that, the only thing that really phased us was the 10 mile first day that turned into about 15 miles because about every campsite on the NE corner of the Kawishiwi Triangle was taken.
 
schweady
distinguished member(7263)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
11/29/2020 10:11PM  
jcheese: "...A friend and I were on Clear Sept 18th. Campsite #1689 had a ~14 to 16" diameter red pine right in front of the site recently cut down into the water and just left there...
That's a nice site. No, I didn't notice you cutting. :-) I did notice the guys hanging out in front of your place, tho. That's a pretty good fishing spot.

I also spent time cutting up and hauling away the two trees downed on our site, and had some of the same thoughts about having to tell my story. The one in the water was a bit of a challenge, getting it out completely without wading into the frigid water. Pull it up as far as you can, cut a section, haul the cut piece into the woods, repeat. Hauled off two other fresh trunks littering camp, too. Took some effort, as those were nearly large enough to replace the rotting sitting logs. (Insert Silky Big Boy 5-star endorsement here.) And the half-burned ones sticking into the grate. You spend half of the time cleaning up and half of the time hoping you're doing the right thing. And, you know that somebody's bound to just haul that stuff back into camp and hack a few marks into it before trying to set it ablaze...
 
jcheese
member (25)member
 
11/30/2020 07:31AM  
Thanks for taking the time to clear that away, Schweady. We packed a few things out that we didn't bring in and I think/hope there are more people doing the right thing to offset the bad ones. Unfortunately the damage done by some takes a lifetime to be reversed.

Also- the fishing was lousy for us that trip (or maybe it was the fishermen). Hope you had better luck than we did. You might have seen us on trolling along the N shoreline that evening. I did notice the NE site taken when we paddle into Clear from the south portage on the 18th but we only spent one night there.
 
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