BWCA Group Size exemption? Boundary Waters Listening Point - General Discussion
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07/27/2021 08:26AM  
I was recently informed that they will allow a group size of 10 for Boy Scout troops. Doesn't sound right to me but thought I would ask here. Anyone know if this is true?
 
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Banksiana
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07/27/2021 09:19AM  
Not true.
 
Michwall2
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07/27/2021 09:42AM  
Never heard of this one before.
 
Jackfish
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07/27/2021 12:12PM  
Michwall2: "Never heard of this one before."
^^^ What he said. ^^^ No exemptions allowed.

Cricket, who informed you?
 
07/27/2021 12:33PM  
What's the point of adding just one? You can't have 5 canoes so tandems won't work. If you've got 3 person canoes.....yeah it doesn't add up.
 
Savage Voyageur
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07/27/2021 04:20PM  
Where did you hear this, the Forest service, an outfitter? Please quote the source of your exemption.
 
07/27/2021 09:56PM  
NO
 
Gaidin53
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07/27/2021 11:32PM  
Not with Northern Tier in the BWCA or Quetico. Some of the Canadian trips further North out of Bissett can have larger groups but it’s per the regulations. 8 from a troop and 1 interpreter.

Ryan
 
07/28/2021 01:03AM  
Jackfish: "Michwall2: "Never heard of this one before."
^^^ What he said. ^^^ No exemptions allowed.

Cricket, who informed you?"


I heard this from a Scout leader who says they heard it from a unit commissioner last night that "the Northern Tier experience" makes exceptions to the 9 limit.

This didn't sound right at all to me...just thought I would ask here to confirm.

I'm wondering if there is some program where they do not go into the BWCA but stay just outside of it? I'm just guessing.

 
Stumpy
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07/28/2021 01:28AM  
I'm in favor of it.
Need more kids exposed to the wilderness.
I've done dozens of trips with 3 people in some of the 17 foot aluminums, and all had to paddle. Works well with the middle guy sitting on a well packed duluth pack.
My first trip ever had 11 of us & 4 Alumicraft canoes.
I once guided a family of 9 (Which kid was supposed to be told he/she couldn't come ??)
At camp, we had a designated kid who was supposed to run off in the woods & hide, if a ranger showed up.
Was a great trip.
 
missmolly
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07/28/2021 05:28AM  
Stumpy, you taught all the people in your over-sized parties that it's okay to cheat and deceive.
 
tumblehome
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07/28/2021 06:53AM  
The thing about Stumpy is he likes to get people riled up. If they say you can’t do it, he says ‘Go for it!’ He’s just an old curmudgeon.

Quetico has a limit, too, but the Atikokan school wilderness program has an exemption of some sort because I’ve seen 20 kids in flotillas and giant canoes in the Q.
 
sedges
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07/28/2021 07:39AM  
There are a few of us been tripping since before the current limits. Stumpy is old enough for that I am sure. Biggest group I traveled with was 11, Sag to Lake Superior 1971.

That said, I like the limits where they are.
 
Minnesotian
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07/28/2021 08:28AM  
tumblehome: "
Quetico has a limit too but the Atikokan school wilderness program has an exemption of some sort cuz I’ve seen 20 kids in flotillas and giant canoes in the Q. "


Yep, I have seen the same thing. I was on the south shore of Conmee on a solo trip and came across about 20 kids. Not having interacted with anyone for about 5 days, suddenly being surround by that many people all asking me questions about solo canoeing, what I ate, seeing any bears, etc... was a tad overwhelming but fun.
 
user0317
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07/28/2021 08:34AM  
tumblehome: "The thing about Stumpy is he likes to get people riled up. If they say you can’t do it he says ‘Go for it!’ He’s just an old cramudgeon.

Quetico has a limit too but the Atikokan school wilderness program has an exemption of some sort cuz I’ve seen 20 kids in flotillas and giant canoes in the Q. "


I've seen this in the Q as well. Massive canoes full of kids. I think we counted 27. My ears aren't shy but that must have been the most curses per minute that I have ever heard. We were leap-frogging this group and I was initially nervous about getting stalled behind them, or having someone inadvertently paddle off with one of my packs. They were very quick and efficient however. We parted ways on Maria and we saw no one else until the return leg of our trip.
 
07/28/2021 10:09AM  
The only thing I could see NTier doing would be running trips in BWCA-adjacent areas where the 9/4 limit doesn't apply.... They're already in the SNF, Flash lake is just South of the base and not in the BW and they use it all the time in winter for high adventure.

It's not like Philmont where BSA owns the land and arbitrarily sets the crew size. Our troop had back-to-back trips where a dad last minute could go with his son but the crew was already at 12. Philmont happily took the dad's money and sent him on trail. It's amazing what pizza for the office staff can do.
 
07/28/2021 10:21AM  
Stumpy: "I'm in favor of it.
Need more kids exposed to the wilderness.
I've done dozens of trips with 3 people in some of the 17 foot aluminums, and all had to paddle. Works well with the middle guy sitting on a well packed duluth pack.
My first trip ever had 11 of us & 4 Alumicraft canoes.
I once guided a family of 9 (Which kid was supposed to be told he/she couldn't come ??)
At camp, we had a designated kid who was supposed to run off in the woods & hide, if a ranger showed up.
Was a great trip. "

And why should the Scouts be the only ones to get an exemption? Church groups will want it etc., etc., etc. It would open up a can of worms if it where allowed only for Scouts.
 
brp
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07/28/2021 11:48AM  
I went on a dog sledding trip in the BWCA winter of ‘99/00.
We had 12 people….9 college students, 1 professor and 2 guides.
This was through Outward Bound in Ely. My memory is that
there was some kind of exemption, I know we were legal.

I don’t know if OB had some special treatment, perhaps because
it was educational, or maybe in winter there is flexibility.
 
07/28/2021 12:00PM  
mirth: "The only thing I could see NTier doing would be running trips in BWCA-adjacent areas where the 9/4 limit doesn't apply.... They're already in the SNF, Flash lake is just South of the base and not in the BW and they use it all the time in winter for high adventure."

This is my thought also. There are a couple of campsites outside the BW on Snowbank and I think a few on one of the lakes south of Moose. This might be what was being referenced.

And for the record - I do not think there should be any exemption to the crew limit.

For some background, we are in a position where we divided up everyone that was interested to two separate crews of 6 and 7, going in on two different entry points a week apart. I will be helping with both crews. Now we have had a few drop out and it was ask if we can combine the crews but we would still be at 10.

 
THEGrandRapids
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07/28/2021 12:04PM  
A number of SNF campgrounds and backcountry campgrounds (outside BWCA) state there is still a 9 person maximum per site. I had interpreted that as its a SNF rule, not exclusive to BWCA. But not all the sites state that.
 
tumblehome
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07/28/2021 12:09PM  
I can say for certain there are no exemptions. Not for the scouts, church groups, stumpy. Nine is the limit. It's an easy violation for the USFS since it's easy to spot and there are no possible excuses.

Even two groups meeting up on a lake exceeding nine is a violation.
 
heavylunch
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07/28/2021 12:20PM  
It might just be someone who went a long time ago. When did it go from 10 to 9? Was it 1994? Anyone remember?
 
Banksiana
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07/28/2021 12:22PM  
brp: "I went on a dog sledding trip in the BWCA winter of ‘99/00.
We had 12 people….9 college students, 1 professor and 2 guides.
This was through Outward Bound in Ely. My memory is that
there was some kind of exemption, I know we were legal.


I don’t know if OB had some special treatment, perhaps because
it was educational, or maybe in winter there is flexibility.
"


The rule is nine. No exemptions. Good chance that you were probably in BWCA adjacent area. VOBS adheres to the rules; their continued existence depends upon it.
 
MikeinMpls
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07/28/2021 12:25PM  
tumblehome: "I can say for certain there are no exemptions. Not for the scouts, church groups, stumpy. Nine is the limit. It's an easy violation for the USFS since it's easy to spot and there are no possible excuses.


Even two groups meeting up on a lake exceeding nine is a violation."


Which I saw last summer on Fourtown. Clearly or two or three groups met at one campsite, 14 people that I could see and count. I assumed all the groups arranged to get at least two permits, maybe more, then hang out all together in the daytime. However, after hearing that many parties were entering the BWCA without permits, I have to wonder...

Mike
 
heavylunch
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07/28/2021 12:27PM  
I couldn't resist googling it. Pretty interesting chronology. Go to 1994 to see the change from 10 to 9. Site has good info even though it is really old.

http://www.wilbers.com/ChronologyLong.htm
 
07/28/2021 12:44PM  
heavylunch: "I couldn't resist googling it. Pretty interesting chronology. Go to 1994 to see the change from 10 to 9. Site has good info even though it is really old.


http://www.wilbers.com/ChronologyLong.htm"


Yes seems like yesterday to us oldtimers when those discussions took place and number of canoes per permit were also decided.
 
brp
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07/28/2021 01:55PM  
Banksiana: "brp: "I went on a dog sledding trip in the BWCA winter of ‘99/00.
We had 12 people….9 college students, 1 professor and 2 guides.
This was through Outward Bound in Ely. My memory is that
there was some kind of exemption, I know we were legal.



I don’t know if OB had some special treatment, perhaps because
it was educational, or maybe in winter there is flexibility.
"



The rule is nine. No exemptions. Good chance that you were probably in BWCA adjacent area. VOBS adheres to the rules; their continued existence depends upon it."


I am 99.9% sure that I have all of my facts correct. I will check the journal I made when I get a chance.

So, if you have a group of 9 then you cannot get a tow because you’d be at at least
10….are the “no exemptions” people saying that is correct?
 
Banksiana
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07/28/2021 02:18PM  
brp: "

So, if you have a group of 9 then you cannot get a tow because you’d be at at least
10….are the “no exemptions” people saying that is correct?"


Unlikely that any 25hp boat could accommodate 10 people and three canoes. But yes, you would be out of compliance if you crammed 9 people and three canoes + driver on tow boat.
 
Savage Voyageur
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07/28/2021 02:39PM  
brp: "Banksiana: "brp: "I went on a dog sledding trip in the BWCA winter of ‘99/00.
We had 12 people….9 college students, 1 professor and 2 guides.
This was through Outward Bound in Ely. My memory is that
there was some kind of exemption, I know we were legal.

I don’t know if OB had some special treatment, perhaps because
it was educational, or maybe in winter there is flexibility. "

The rule is nine. No exemptions. Good chance that you were probably in BWCA adjacent area. VOBS adheres to the rules; their continued existence depends upon it."

I am 99.9% sure that I have all of my facts correct. I will check the journal I made when I get a chance.

So, if you have a group of nine then you cannot get a tow because you’d be at at least 10. Are the “no exemptions” people saying that is correct?"

About ten years ago, we had a group of eight guys. No way could we put four canoes, eight guys and gear in one boat.

The johnboats are not rated for that many passengers or the weight. We needed two tow boats. That means two drivers and eight campers for a total of ten. We still could have had another guy. This is because tow operators are not considered part of your group. They are licensed to tow groups. If you look on the side of any tow boat, you will see a tow boat sticker. This is the only exception to the rule because they are not part of a group.

It’s no different than a group of nine campers going over a motorized portage. Someone has to operate the motorized portage machine. They are licensed to do it. Kind of a gray rule.

Another example is two rangers showing up to check permits at your campsite of nine campers. That makes eleven people. Then a game warden shows up at the same time. That makes twelve. All is good because they are doing their job and not part of your group.
 
Zulu
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07/28/2021 05:49PM  
A group of 25 is possible and legal if 9 members were expecting, some with twins and triplets. Unlikely but possible.
 
07/28/2021 05:56PM  
The subject is getting spider branches I see. That is okay, I guess.
 
tumblehome
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07/28/2021 06:27PM  
Zulu: "A group of group 25 is possible and legal if 9 members were expecting, some with twins and triplets. Unlikely but possible."

And that Zulu, is indeed the ONLY exception!

But then we get into when is a fetus a human. And let me certainly assure you, we ain't going there.

Tom
 
billconner
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07/28/2021 06:37PM  
Back on topic a little, IIRC I have read at the time they reduced from 10 to 9, the plan was to reduce to 6 (and I'd guess 3 canoes) but the Scouts fought it - kind of would make their trips difficult - so compromised on 9 and 4. IIRC.
 
07/28/2021 07:51PM  
billconner: "Back on topic a little, IIRC I have read at the time they reduced from 10 to 9, the plan was to reduce to 6 (and I'd guess 3 canoes) but the Scouts fought it - kind of would make their trips difficult - so compromised on 9 and 4. IIRC."

They talked a long time for 3 canoes and 8 people,but don't remember 6.
 
Stumpy
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07/28/2021 11:37PM  
Do all of you stay under the speed limit, while driving to the BWCA ?
 
Stumpy
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07/28/2021 11:43PM  
billconner: "Back on topic a little, IIRC I have read at the time they reduced from 10 to 9, the plan was to reduce to 6 (and I'd guess 3 canoes) but the Scouts fought it - kind of would make their trips difficult - so compromised on 9 and 4. IIRC."

This is true...I was part of that fight.
 
billconner
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07/29/2021 06:51AM  
Stumpy: "billconner: "Back on topic a little, IIRC I have read at the time they reduced from 10 to 9, the plan was to reduce to 6 (and I'd guess 3 canoes) but the Scouts fought it - kind of would make their trips difficult - so compromised on 9 and 4. IIRC."


This is true...I was part of that fight."


I probably read it in one of your posts. :)
 
07/29/2021 07:31AM  
I took a number of groups of ten(including myself) back in the day. And I realized within a couple years the impact this size group had on a campsite. I like stumpy a lot, but I disagree a lot on the group size thing too. I think worse then the environmental impact is the difference I saw in group dynamics. I found a group of six to be a much greater experience hands down. I found kids and adults alike to be more engaged in every aspect of the trip. And participants more apt to come back.
In sept 2012 on my forty day trip there were three groups of nine, 27 people traveling together. I think it was a collage deal. (I think the course was on if you can drive 65 in a 60 how many people can travel together without getting fined... haha.)
 
cmanimal
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07/29/2021 01:48PM  
I do understand how the misinformation on group size happens with Boy Scouts, as most won't look into the details, and see the "up to 11" for crew sizes and assume there is an exemption, and as other have stated there isn't an exemption for the BSA in the BWCA. They are following the rules for their programs that apply to all of us.

If you want to understand the numbers more and see how this BSA BWCA exemption myth happens, keep reading.

All of the programs under the Northern Tier umbrella for the BSA do their registration through Charles L Sommers canoe base (Ely), but they also operate programs out of Atikokan, ON, and Bissett, MB.

This gets you 4 different sets of land use regulations, and 2 seasons (simplified as liquid water, and solid water) which gets some changes in land use regulations, between those seasons.

From my experience the make-up for most trips in MN is 1 staff member, 2 adults, and up to 6 scouts. and for Dog sled trips its 2 staff member, 2 adults, and up to 5 scouts.

From the Norther Tier web site for canoe trips:
"Crew size at Northern Tier is often determined by the location you are paddling. In Ely, MN – crews can be from 6-8 participants. In the Atikokan, ON and Bissett, MB, crews can be up to 11 participants. "

From the Norther Tier web site for winter trips:
"You can choose to have a large crew, 9-11 participants or small crew, 6-8 participants for all of our standard Okpik programs. Dog Sled program crews are limited to 6-7 participants."

The large crews for the winter program either stay on base or typically on flash lake or other adjacent lake not in BWCA.

 
yogi59weedr
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07/29/2021 06:47PM  
And that's the name of that tune.. BAM
 
yogi59weedr
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07/29/2021 06:47PM  
 
Stumpy
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07/29/2021 08:12PM  
 
Stumpy
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07/29/2021 08:17PM  
tumblehome: "The thing about Stumpy is he likes to get people riled up. If they say you can’t do it, he says ‘Go for it!’ He’s just an old curmudgeon. Q. "

If you like, but I am not a misanthrope.
 
yogi59weedr
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07/29/2021 08:21PM  
Humor me without google...
What is a misanthrope?
My quess is a lady ant whose last name is hrope
 
07/29/2021 09:01PM  
Stumpy: "tumblehome: "The thing about Stumpy is he likes to get people riled up. If they say you can’t do it, he says ‘Go for it!’ He’s just an old curmudgeon. Q. "


If you like, but I am not a misanthrope.
"


Stumpy is a people lover.
 
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