BWCA 5-Year permit usage numbers - USFS Boundary Waters Trip Planning Forum
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schweady
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04/27/2021 10:52AM  
In an earlier post, I cited comments made by Tuscarora Lodge about permit numbers. Those numbers were found to be in error, and so the post was rightly deleted.

So, here's a link to the original USFS document on permit use over the past 5 years which is quite interesting. I'll let folks sift through the extensive data and make their own findings. (Hint: 2020 saw a 25% increase in permits issued during the quota season and a 16% increase in the total number of annual visitors over the previous year.)

Permit & Visitor Use Report 2016-2020 - A USFS document
 
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Porkeater
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04/27/2021 11:39AM  
It looks like usage was declining steadily prior to 2020. By most accounts, 2021 will likely be busy too. It will be interesting to see what the trend does after this year.
cyclones30
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04/27/2021 12:34PM  
Porkeater: "It looks like usage was declining steadily prior to 2020. By most accounts, 2021 will likely be busy too. It will be interesting to see what the trend does after this year. "

That decline prior to 2020 looks like it's mostly due to less overnight motor permits. OP permits held very steady for those years in contrast...almost amazingly similar.

The exempt permits at the very bottom are intriguing. I wonder what lakes/lodges get exempt permits? For their owners and guests for certain lakes? Hmm
billconner
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04/27/2021 06:11PM  
Lots of interesting stats. Hiking nearly doubled and cancellations dropped in spite of more permits in 2020. Thanks for posting!
deerfoot
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04/27/2021 06:44PM  
Very interesting - thanks for posting.
schweady
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04/27/2021 07:09PM  
I don't mean to pile on, but if you prefer narrative over tables of statistics:
MPR News picks up the story.
billconner
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04/28/2021 06:29AM  
It will be interesting to see if the increase is sustained in 3 or 4 or 5 years.
gravelroad
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05/01/2021 06:35AM  
cyclones30: "Porkeater: "It looks like usage was declining steadily prior to 2020. By most accounts, 2021 will likely be busy too. It will be interesting to see what the trend does after this year. "


That decline prior to 2020 looks like it's mostly due to less overnight motor permits. OP permits held very steady for those years in contrast...almost amazingly similar.


The exempt permits at the very bottom are intriguing. I wonder what lakes/lodges get exempt permits? For their owners and guests for certain lakes? Hmm"


From the report:

What is an Exempt BWCAW Permit?
An exempt permit is exempt use from the quota system. In the BWCAW Act of 1978, an exemption to the quota system was provided to homeowners and resort owners (and their overnight guests), for day use and overnight trips on specific lakes named in the Act. “Each homeowner and his/her guests and each resort owner and his/her guests on a lake shall have access to that lake, and their use shall not be counted as
part of that lake’s quota” (PL 95-495). This exemption can come in the form of a written guest permit from the Forest Service or with a boat “sticker” to identify homeowner or resort owned motorboats. In the past, exempt permits were issued to authorized researchers, volunteers or other work groups for specific projects. As of 2019, these groups are required to reserve BWCAW permits on Recreation.gov as visitors do. Other government agencies or researchers working in partnership with the Superior National Forest may be exempted from paddle and motor quotas on a case-by-case basis.
gravelroad
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05/01/2021 06:44AM  
I suspect the big jump in overnight hiking permits can be traced to the various travel impediments in 2020. I’ll wager that much of that increase was among people who ordinarily would be headed to the western states for backpacking trips. I predict a substantial decline this year; one year of being “bugged” will be enough for them. :-)
 
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