BWCA Forest Service to reduce quota numbers for BWCA in 2022 Boundary Waters Listening Point - General Discussion
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      Forest Service to reduce quota numbers for BWCA in 2022     

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OMGitsKa
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12/02/2021 04:30PM  

"Ten out of the 34 entry points on the Gunflint District and six of the 13 entry points on the Tofte District will see a reduction in permit quota numbers in 2022. The Forest Service declined to say the specific entry points the quota reduction will impact. All districts across the BWCA will see a quota reduction next year.

“This change will be implemented in the upcoming 2022 permit season,” Gilkeson said. “We're optimistic that some reductions in quota will improve the overall visitor experience, and, of course, benefit the wilderness"

https://www.wtip.org/forest-service-reduce-quota-numbers-bwca-2022
 
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12/02/2021 05:02PM  
I have mixed feelings about this. It will be interesting to see the results of this at the end of the season. For those of you that plan ahead, it probably won’t be a problem. Also, how does this address people entering without a permit? Which seemed to be the problem the last two years.
 
tumblehome
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12/02/2021 07:03PM  
It’s about time. How many years have we had to hear the stories of occupied lakes with no open sites, traffic jams at portages, people paddling well into dark trying to find a site? I avoid the place all together most months of the year only finding solitude when ice is forming. I probably haven’t seen the forest in full foliage for more than a decade.

However, we don’t know to what degree the quotas Will be reduced and we don’t know specifically which ones.

Profit and politicians are the reason the USFS has to sit on its hands year, after year. I hope reason prevails.

Tom
 
jillpine
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12/02/2021 07:07PM  
I regard this as a win-win for the visitor experience and the impact on the wilderness. I was surprised to hear the news, as we have commented frequently here that the USFS would never have the moxie to do it. I’m glad. I know others aren’t, but I am. I’ve been traveling there since the mid-80’s and the crowds are out of control. Huge flotillas, groups of 18 “splitting up”…. Sigurd probably didn’t envision a day when every single permit would be pulled for every EP, days on end.

We returned to our campsite at the far end of Banadad after a long day of fishing on Rush last season, only to hear a loud splashing behind us. Here were four men, two canoes, racing behind us. One canoe broke off at the obviously open site in the middle of the lake, while the second canoe raced past us to go check out the favored far west site, at which we were already camped. While comical to see the pasty dudes race by, knowing they’d be greeted by our cozy campsite, it was just a real buzzkill. And this wasn’t the first time being “raced to a site”. Forget it.

I will always love the BWCA, invest to protect it from threats, and visit it for many shorter trips. But any longer trips are done for now. Too crowded. All the reasons stated in the article. Longer trips will be farther north, pending Omicron. :(
 
Savage Voyageur
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12/02/2021 08:23PM  
Win for campers, win for wilderness, loss for outfitters and merchants, motels, restaurants in the area. I’m glad they finally addressed this.
 
JWilder
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12/02/2021 08:50PM  
tumblehome: "It’s about time. How many years have we had to hear the stories of occupied lakes with no open sites, traffic jams at portages, people paddling well into dark trying to find a site? I avoid the place all together most months of the year only finding solitude when ice is forming. I probably haven’t seen the forest in full foliage for more than a decade.


However, we don’t know to what degree the quotas Will be reduced and we don’t know specifically which ones.


Profit and politicians are the reason the USFS has to sit on its hands year, after year. I hope reason prevails.


Tom"


I agree this is a move in the right direction. To what effect it will have, time will tell. In theory, less human traffic is less stress on the BWCA and a helping hand towards preservation.

JW
 
dschult2
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12/02/2021 08:52PM  
I think this is a good move but I would have liked to have seen them do away with the open ended reservations as well. You should give a hard date when you plan to leave the BWCA and stick to it. Then the Forest Service could base their quota numbers on that.
 
12/02/2021 08:53PM  
An enforcement of the existing rules would be beneficial.
 
HangLoose
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12/02/2021 09:10PM  
This is definitely one small step in the right direction. I applaud the Forest Service on this decision. Of course more work needs to be done but this is a good start.
 
TreeBear
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12/02/2021 09:36PM  
It will be interesting to see how this pans out. I'm not entirely convinced this will really fix much of the problem. There are enough campsites in the BWCA to more or less house ten days of completely booked permits BUT people clog up near the entries so that ideal doesn't work out. As we see trends pushing towards more and more base camping close to popular entries, loads of empty campsites sit with just a handful of visitors each year deeper into the wilderness. The popular sites will still get hammered and the entry lakes will still be more or less full but there will be just fewer groups fighting for them. The clogging near the entries hurts every style of tripper since the moving groups struggle to get a campsite their first and last nights, the less physically able groups struggle to get sites they can get to, and on and on. But none of the ways to fix that part of the system would be very popular and I would hate to see the BW turn to things like that. That said, I was guiding groups all summer again this year and I saw how busy things could get. The popular routes clog up and it can be miserable, but I can say that there were more nights than not that my group couldn't see or hear another group and had the bwca wilderness experience we all love so much.

The other thing I couldn't quite figure out this summer was why some areas were packed when others were empty for no rhyme or reason. I had one group that Gabi was full but one campsite, Tusc was full, but Crooked in between was completely empty with our choice of sites. Same thing on a different trip where the normally packed Ogish was empty, but Alpine a couple lakes away was overflowing.
 
12/02/2021 09:46PM  
Time for shoulder season trips now
 
12/02/2021 09:57PM  
It is interesting to me from a PR perspective. The FS makes the announcement but with very little detail. The devil is in the detail. They state that they worked with the outfitters. I wonder what the outfitters say about that. It is a complex issue. Reducing permits alone does not solve the primary problem to me, which is how do you get knuckleheads to follow the rules.
 
12/02/2021 10:23PM  
About time; now they need to jack the prices to Quetico levels.
 
12/02/2021 11:01PM  
Frenchy19: "About time; now they need to jack the prices to Quetico levels. "
Agreed.
 
YaMarVa
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12/03/2021 06:40AM  
TomP: "…Reducing permits alone does not solve the primary problem to me, which is how do you get knuckleheads to follow the rules."

Well, allowing fewer knuckleheads into the bwca means fewer will have the chance to not follow the rules.

When I was in my college years, 2000-2004, we always ran into rangers and got our permits checked and had a general conversation with them. I think that helps. Since then I don’t think I’ve had a Ranger check my permit in the 12+ trips I’ve taken since 2011.
 
Minnesotian
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12/03/2021 06:52AM  
While I greeted this news with approval upon hearing it, ultimately I don't see this changing much in the BWCA when it comes to overcrowding, racing to sites, and reducing knucklehead behavior at campsites. Until I start seeing a greater presence of enforcement and education surrounding the rules of the BWCA, bad behavior will continue. In fact, I see an increase in people camping without permits happening because there will be less permits to be had at certain areas. Some entry points will become like State Park's here in Minnesota where you have to book out your campsite a year in advance. I applaud the USFS on doing something to address the issues from the impact an increase of visitors over the past two years has had, but call me pessimistic on expecting any major improvement.
 
12/03/2021 07:05AM  
YaMarVa: "TomP: "…Reducing permits alone does not solve the primary problem to me, which is how do you get knuckleheads to follow the rules."


Well, allowing fewer knuckleheads into the bwca means fewer will have the chance to not follow the rules.


When I was in my college years, 2000-2004, we always ran into rangers and got our permits checked and had a general conversation with them. I think that helps. Since then I don’t think I’ve had a Ranger check my permit in the 12+ trips I’ve taken since 2011."


Since 1985, I have taken 80+ trips, and have been checked by rangers about 6 times. The last time was on Lac La Croix in 1996. In Sept. 2020, I did meet a couple of rangers at the entry point at Seagull Lake, when I was on a solo, but they said hello, and never checked me for a permit.
 
Duckman
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12/03/2021 07:12AM  
OMGitsKa: "https://www.wtip.org/forest-service-reduce-quota-numbers-bwca-2022 "


I'm in the wait and see camp to decide if this is good.

Someone smarter than me would have to figure out the logistics, but I'd like to see some "no camping on entry point lake the first night" permits brought into the equation.

Say a lake has ten permits a day. Condition half of them on not camping on that lake the first night.
 
Canoearoo
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12/03/2021 10:35AM  
unshavenman: "Frenchy19: "About time; now they need to jack the prices to Quetico levels. "
Agreed."

I disagree. No need to limit it to only those who can afford it. Why make it a destination only for the rich?
 
Chuckles
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12/03/2021 11:01AM  
Duckman: "OMGitsKa: "https://www.wtip.org/forest-service-reduce-quota-numbers-bwca-2022 "

Someone smarter than me would have to figure out the logistics, but I'd like to see some "no camping on entry point lake the first night" permits brought into the equation.

Say a lake has ten permits a day. Condition half of them on not camping on that lake the first night."


This seems like a great fix. You could also ban specific lakes for a given permit which might alleviate popular lakes that aren't technically entry lakes. Aren't there already permits with restrictions around the Lake One area? There are probably more. It is more work for the FS, but it solves the actual problem of too many people in the same places, not too many people overall.
 
schwartyman
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12/03/2021 11:04AM  
Glad to see this. Someone is listening and actions are being taken. I would also like to see permit fee increase, with that revenue being used for additional rangers/resources to help enforce rules.
 
12/03/2021 11:58AM  
Canoearoo: "unshavenman: "Frenchy19: "About time; now they need to jack the prices to Quetico levels. "
Agreed."



I disagree. No need to limit it to only those that can afford it. Why make it a destination only for the rich?"


The rich? That is a rather dramatic statement. I am far from rich yet I can afford trips to Quetico.

Let's say it is $25/person/day to travel to Q via PP. That is $175 (Canadian) per person, or $700 (Canadian) for a group/family of 4. I hardly consider that a fee that only the rich can afford.

Charging per person per day will reduce the traffic the BWCA sees, and that is the point of the FS decision to reduce quota numbers.
 
Wispaddler
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12/03/2021 01:32PM  
Finally! Oddly the BW is a wilderness area that many people avoid in the summer because it can be such a degraded experience. Can feel like a very busy state park without reservable sites. I, like so many others, have become fall only. Unfortunately, long before the pandemic, an entire infrastructure has developed around what feels to me to be gross overuse. At least the USFS is trying. Maybe it will help in the worst spots. I also understand that they will be attempting to add rangers. Wish it wasn’t so dang far to get to Quetico.
 
EddyTurn
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12/03/2021 01:36PM  
Frenchy19: "Canoearoo: "unshavenman: "Frenchy19: "About time; now they need to jack the prices to Quetico levels. "
Agreed."




I disagree. No need to limit it to only those that can afford it. Why make it a destination only for the rich?"



The rich? That is a rather dramatic statement. I am far from rich yet I can afford trips to Quetico.


Let's say it is $25/person/day to travel to Q via PP. That is $175 (Canadian) per person, or $700 (Canadian) for a group/family of 4. I hardly consider that a fee that only the rich can afford.


Charging per person per day will reduce the traffic the BWCA sees, and that is the point of the FS decision to reduce quota numbers. "

$700 on top of gas, food and equipment for a whole family is more than many people can afford. We might try to add $80/day in canoe rent money and do the math again. So, basically it's an idea that makes canoeing more comfortable for more affluent at the expense of less affluent. The fact that Canada moves in the same direction is sad.
 
12/03/2021 01:42PM  
I just like to see the FS responding to changes in circumstances with good intentions...seems fairly rare for government agencies.

As far as raising fees...I'm fine if they wanted/needed to raise permitting fees to help protect the resources, but doing it to price unseedy people out of the market (which is what it sounds like some people here are hoping it would do)...not so much.
 
Minnesotian
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12/03/2021 01:45PM  
Frenchy19: "Canoearoo: "unshavenman: "Frenchy19: "About time; now they need to jack the prices to Quetico levels. "
Agreed."




I disagree. No need to limit it to only those that can afford it. Why make it a destination only for the rich?"



The rich? That is a rather dramatic statement. I am far from rich yet I can afford trips to Quetico.


Let's say it is $25/person/day to travel to Q via PP. That is $175 (Canadian) per person, or $700 (Canadian) for a group/family of 4. I hardly consider that a fee that only the rich can afford.


Charging per person per day will reduce the traffic the BWCA sees, and that is the point of the FS decision to reduce quota numbers. "


"Rich" is subjective. $700 ($545 USD) might be affordable for your circumstances and means. But that is just for the permit. But lets say a family of 4 that wants to go to Quetico for a week but doesn't have the gear already. Using Sawbill Complete Outfitting costs ( https://sawbill.com/outfitting-packages/ ) a family of 4 on a complete canoe trip is $100 per day. $2800 for them for a week. Even if the permit of $700 CAN ($545 USD) is baked into that cost, (which I don't think it is) a family is still talking $2255 USD for a full outfit to canoe.

Canoe tripping can be a very cheap option, but it takes years of gear acquirement and a knowledge of food preparation, and that is just for the people who want to do this year after year.

I disagree with raising entry prices as a barrier for limiting people to national wilderness areas and parks that were set aside and meant to be accessed by every American, regardless of their monetary situation. Nature should not be an exclusive commodity meant only for the "rich."
 
PeaceFrog
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12/03/2021 01:57PM  
I will be interested on which entries this will affect. I look at it like hunting regulations. You have a starting point and then it is tweaked a bit every year until the desired result is achieved.
 
jhb8426
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12/03/2021 01:59PM  
EddyTurn: "$700 on top of gas, food and equipment for a whole family is more than many people can afford. We might try to add $80/day in canoe rent money and do the math again. So, basically it's an idea that makes canoeing more comfortable for more affluent at the expense of less affluent. The fact that Canada moves in the same direction is sad."

I agree on this as well.
 
Jackfish
Moderator
 
12/03/2021 02:15PM  
I think a price increase is warranted. It can still be a "trip fee" like it is now, but bump it up about $15 or $20. I doubt that there are many people who really, truly think the $16 trip fee is a FAIR price for the BWCAW experience, especially with no consideration for the number of people in the group or the number of days.

The extra dollars could cover ranger expenses, portage trail maintenance, fire ring and latrine upkeep... any number of things that will help better the BW experience.

I'm not suggesting to raise the BW fees to Quetico level pricing. We sat around camp one night a number of years ago - there were six in our group - and we figured out that we had paid $15 per person per night entering from a northern entry point. (It's about $22 pp pn from the south.) That meant that we were paying $90 per night to camp on a rock with nothing there but a spot to camp. And we had to dig our own hole for a toilet. (It would have been $132 per night from the southern EPs.) Pretty crazy when you think of it, but it certainly keeps the experience level high for those who go.
 
blutofish1
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12/03/2021 02:34PM  
Yes sir.
 
12/03/2021 02:41PM  
Jackfish: "I think a price increase is warranted. It can still be a "trip fee" like it is now, but bump it up about $15 or $20. I doubt that there are many people who really, truly think the $16 trip fee is a FAIR price for the BWCAW experience, especially with no consideration for the number of people in the group or the number of days.

The extra dollars could cover ranger expenses, portage trail maintenance, fire ring and latrine upkeep... any number of things that will help better the BW experience. "

Agree on the price increase and rule it still goes to the BWCA and not back to other areas.

More than anything, we need more enforcement present and checking for campers without permits and hopefully end the vandalism to camping sites, like littering and live tree cutting.
 
12/03/2021 02:53PM  
This is a good thing. Glad they made the hard decision on this. There is more to do, but a step in the right direction.
 
bombinbrian
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12/03/2021 02:59PM  
I’m going to reserve judgement until I see the new permit numbers. I do agree that monitoring the entry points would help tremendously, for people entering without a permit.

Two years ago, we went in Gabbro for a quick weekend getaway, that we had planned. Two permits a day and three groups there when we were heading to the water. I know I had a permit so one of the other groups didn’t. I made a comment about three groups and two permits, but I wasn’t the permit police.
 
12/03/2021 03:11PM  
bombinbrian: "I’m going to reserve judgement until I see the new permit numbers. I do agree that monitoring the entry points would help tremendously, for people entering without a permit.


Two years ago, we went in Gabbro for a quick weekend getaway, that we had planned. Two permits a day and three groups there when we were heading to the water. I know I had a permit so one of the other groups didn’t. I made a comment about three groups and two permits, but I wasn’t the permit police. "


I think Gabbro area is abused by people with no permit as much as any area in the BWCA.
 
brp
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12/03/2021 03:15PM  
Regarding raising the prices….I would be happy to pay an additional, optional fee. Something like, “Would you like to contribute an additional $25, all proceeds for BWCA enforcement, education and preservation?”

I imagine that a very high percentage of people on this board would happily pay that “fee” if they were confident in its use.

The same fund could accept donations, money from estates and other sources.
I’d happily and proudly contribute to such and option in my will and before that as well.

There isn’t really a way to donate to the BWCA outside of the mining debate.

I know it is not the job of the BWCA to support the area economy, but it sure would help if it did. Nothing will insure the preservation of the area more that it being viewed as economically relevant. Therefore, I like ideas such as interior entry points, or other mechanisms that help to disburse the density, but still allowing for higher numbers of visitors.

Finally, how about someone checking permits at entry points? NF campgrounds have the hosts, usually a retired couple that stays all summer and just generally attends to the campground.

Entry points could have the same type of thing. The hosts might become legends like Dorothy Molter. They’d check your permit, maybe give you a bug report, let you know where fish are biting, have some snacks for sale. I’d love that “job” once my work days are over and my kids are grown. Set up a small camper and spend most of the summer there….no better group of people to shoot the breeze with than BWCA trippers.


 
12/03/2021 03:21PM  
OneMatch: "Time for shoulder season trips now "

Yup, this is just another reason why winter in the BWCA is the best!
 
schweady
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12/03/2021 04:08PM  
So far, this is the only tangible data provided: "Ten out of the 34 entry points on the Gunflint District and six of the 13 entry points on the Tofte District will see a reduction in permit quota numbers in 2022."

Then, they contradict themselves, or perhaps just haven't yet identified the extent of any unstated reduction in the Kawishiwi District: "All districts across the BWCA will see a quota reduction next year."

Before anyone thinks this is a blockbuster move, recall that there are approximately 269 permits available for every day of the 153-day paddle permit season. What we've heard so far it that this number will be reduced by 16 per day. Maybe it will be somewhat more. ?? That's only a 6% drop in daily permits.

Although I am generally in favor of daily permit reduction -- I believe that it is long overdue -- I'll want to see a detailed list of the affected EPs and their new numbers for 2022 before jumping in with my wholehearted support.
 
12/03/2021 04:33PM  
airmorse: "An enforcement of the existing rules would be beneficial."
I agree with quota reduction, and raising the user fee may also be helpful.
With some of the stuff of the stuff that I've read about, and witnessed myself, enforcement of the rules, and accountability is sadly lacking. I realize that additional enforcement is very expensive, but maybe revenue can be raised by extra fees.
 
tumblehome
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12/03/2021 05:11PM  
In regard to raising fees: the government heavily subsidizes our wilderness trips. They spend millions more annually than they receive.
They pay local governments heavy fees in taxes for the schools.
Long story..

If you are unhappy with paying more in user fees, remember that uncle Sam is helping you out.

I am in favor of raising fees to assist in paying down government costs to run the place. A per person per day fee.

And limiting base camping nights.
Tom
 
thegildedgopher
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12/03/2021 05:19PM  
The real problem is almost total lack of enforcement. Nobody out checking permits, let alone checking groups for LNT violations. They’re taking the lazy road by dropping permit numbers. Think that will make a difference to the people who already don’t bother getting a permit? I realize they don’t have the budget to increase enforcement but that doesn’t make it less frustrating for those of us who follow the rules and are good stewards of the resources. I’d wager that a the majority of BS is happening on entry lakes or lakes within a portage’s reach. Shouldn’t be that hard to get some canoes in the water to deter the riff-raff.
 
Savage Voyageur
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12/03/2021 05:59PM  
Jackfish: "
The extra dollars could cover ranger expenses, portage trail maintenance, fire ring and latrine upkeep... any number of things that will help better the BW experience.


The problem with your idea is the extra dollars goes into the general fund and then they dole out the cash to wherever they want. It never gets to the correct thing.

The only way is see your plan working is to make each camper get a stamp like they do with ducks, pheasant or walleye. You buy a separate stamp when you buy a hunting or fishing license and every cent goes to that exact thing. Then that stamp money would be used for the BWCA rangers, maintenance, or camp items. Stamps are not another tax, they actually help the sport or activity you are involved in. Stamps are a user fee, you use it you pay it.
 
12/03/2021 06:00PM  
MPLS Tribune
2022-fewer-permits-ely-tofte-gunflint-tSusan Catton, a Forest Service spokeswoman, said Friday that the agency will specify the reduction sometime before visitors start reserving permits on Jan. 26. Not every BWCA entry point will see a reduction in permit availability, she said, because the cutbacks are aimed at areas suffering from overuse.

"There are just too many people'' in some areas of the wilderness, Catton said.

She said a surge in visitor traffic that started in 2020 continued last summer with additional complaints of campsite competition, congestion at canoe portages, noise, soil erosion, garbage left behind, camping at undesignated sites and cutting of live trees at campsites.

Ginny Nelson of Spirit of the Wilderness Outfitting in Ely said the change will be beneficial to the wilderness, but could block would-be paddlers who don't plan ahead. People who reserve a permit early in 2022 should still be able to book a trip to their liking, she said.


 
12/03/2021 06:32PM  
schweady: "So far, this is the only tangible data provided: "Ten out of the 34 entry points on the Gunflint District and six of the 13 entry points on the Tofte District will see a reduction in permit quota numbers in 2022."

Then, they contradict themselves, or perhaps just haven't yet identified the extent of any unstated reduction in the Kawishiwi District: "All districts across the BWCA will see a quota reduction next year."

Schweady, I don't see this as contradicting themselves as this report was given by WTIP and they are only addressing the WTIP area which, of course, does not include Ely, Echo Trail, etc. WTIP is just addressing their home turf.
 
12/03/2021 06:56PM  
I do think raising the fee is warranted. And the current move I believe is for the good. Is it enough? Maybe not, but they can better know what is by trying something.
 
12/03/2021 07:41PM  
OneMatch: "Time for shoulder season trips now "

Exactly. From right after ice out before fishing opener and mid to late October. And during the week.
 
Harv
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12/03/2021 07:45PM  
Sad deal in my opinion. The FS will NEVER give those permits back. Take, take, take.
Is there a better answer? I don't know. More education, more rangers and higher fines, raise the cost on permits?

Sad for the towns/cities who depend on tourism due to restrictions put on mining, etc.

Great for the Becky Romms of the world.
 
schweady
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12/03/2021 09:41PM  
OneMatch: "schweady: "So far, this is the only tangible data provided: "Ten out of the 34 entry points on the Gunflint District and six of the 13 entry points on the Tofte District will see a reduction in permit quota numbers in 2022."

Then, they contradict themselves, or perhaps just haven't yet identified the extent of any unstated reduction in the Kawishiwi District: "All districts across the BWCA will see a quota reduction next year."

Schweady, I don't see this as contradicting themselves as this report was given by WTIP and they are only addressing the WTIP area which, of course, does not include Ely, Echo Trail, etc. WTIP is just addressing their home turf."

Fair enough. I read the quote as coming from Forest, and see now that it was WTIP. So, add in this tidbit from the STrib article: "On the west side of the BWCA served by entry points around Ely, the new restrictions will erase about 1,350 opportunities to camp during the five months when permits are required." -- Ginny Nelson of Spirit of the Wilderness Outfitting in Ely... That's 9 permits a day for the Kawishiwi District.

For those keeping score at home:
Gunflint District - 10
Tofte District - 6
Kawishiwi District - 9
Total - 25
Total percentage reduction - 9.3%
 
straighthairedcurly
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12/03/2021 09:56PM  
Reservation fees definitely need to be higher than now. The permits are ridiculously cheap compared to any other overnight travel. I would like to see any increases be allotted directly to enforcement. In the past 6 years, I have never once had a ranger check my permit. It used to be much more common when I was tripping in the 80s.

I think if they are decreasing the quota for popular base camping entry points, it will be helpful. I have only run into crowding on certain lakes. There are still plenty of places to find privacy for those willing to work or think outside the "popular review" spots.
 
OutThere
member (11)member
 
12/03/2021 11:06PM  
Maybe a lifetime limit on visits? Incoming!!! Now that we're looking at 70 and me with a bad knee I'd like to do some much deprecated "base camping" with some peace and quiet and privacy, and feel we deserve a few days without being scorned. I've seen plenty of wilderness and never saw such worn-out campsites and portages as here, although with some bush whacking you can prove me wrong, but the natural tendency to feel like a lake or nice spot is your own tends to build over repeated visits and leads one to mistakenly feel some ownership. I know, after seeing my favorite remote places overrun to the point I'll never go back. I've intentionally been here only 3-4 times in the last 45 years despite loving the place and having a deep sort of romantic connection. For those who've been here a few hundred times or who live nearby I wouldn't want to harsh your buzz and intrude on "your" place. I suppose the real problem is we shorted ourselves and fight tooth and nail to keep this anthropocentric system from devouring everything. Reminds me of the well-known Sting song lyrics - If you want to keep something precious, your got to lock it up and throw away the key.
 
scottiebaldwin
member (46)member
 
12/04/2021 01:16AM  
Frenchy19: "About time; now they need to jack the prices to Quetico levels. "

Yup. Totally agree. Triple the price and it's still affordable. Maybe then more money could be spent on enforcement. I need more Nancy Moundalexis in my life. ;-)
 
scottiebaldwin
member (46)member
 
12/04/2021 01:19AM  
Canoearoo: "unshavenman: "Frenchy19: "About time; now they need to jack the prices to Quetico levels. "
Agreed."

I disagree. No need to limit it to only those who can afford it. Why make it a destination only for the rich?"


That's laughable. A permit for two people is $38. That's what one good lunch costs. Let's be real - EVERYONE can afford that!
 
scottiebaldwin
member (46)member
 
12/04/2021 01:27AM  
thegildedgopher: "The real problem is almost total lack of enforcement. Nobody out checking permits, let alone checking groups for LNT violations. They’re taking the lazy road by dropping permit numbers. Think that will make a difference to the people who already don’t bother getting a permit? I realize they don’t have the budget to increase enforcement but that doesn’t make it less frustrating for those of us who follow the rules and are good stewards of the resources. I’d wager that a the majority of BS is happening on entry lakes or lakes within a portage’s reach. Shouldn’t be that hard to get some canoes in the water to deter the riff-raff."

Yup.
 
billconner
distinguished member(8139)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
12/04/2021 06:19AM  
Always an interesting topic. The only thing I'm sure of is that any increase in fees will not result in additional budget for the USFS. Sad because more rangers in the wilderness is the one change sure to improve the situation.
 
MidwestFirecraft
distinguished member(731)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/04/2021 07:03AM  
The hard reality is that no amount of money will "fix" the problem. Until parents step up and teach young men and women hard work, respect, and that the world does not revolve around them, the destruction you see in the BWCAW and society in general will always be a problem.
 
jillpine
distinguished member(740)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/04/2021 07:38AM  
billconner: "Always an interesting topic. The only thing I'm sure of is that any increase in fees will not result in additional budget for the USFS. Sad because more rangers in the wilderness is the one change sure to improve the situation."
true, all parts
 
Mocha
distinguished member(7613)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
12/04/2021 07:53AM  
Remember earlier in the season some videos posted of people doing seriously wrong things in the bwca.... Wonder what became of those incidents?

Limiting permits will not eliminate these in incidences.
More in person education is must.
Keep the videos online as a learning tool but go back to In person permit issuance, along with the quiz, for the ENTIRE party.
 
DougD
distinguished member (140)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/04/2021 08:41AM  
"Nothing dollarable is safe" John Muir

While I have personally experienced many of the sad events covered in this thread, at the same time I have always managed to find peace, quiet, fish, campsites, and beauty even with the challenges of late. At times, I have also headed north, way north, to escape the crowds.

I understand the frustrations, but I also understand that to protect the place we love we need users, voting users, and the money that use brings to the community. It is a difficult balancing act with many opposing views weighing in their two cents, I have empathy for those trying to implement the proper rules and regulations. Without users who will stand up for the BWCA, without outfitters who make a living from the BWCA standing up for the BWCA, then it will eventually, slowly and deliberately, be taken away from us. However with overuse many on this forum will probably stop being the supporters.....its a complex issue.

I hope this move helps and turns out to be a benefit to the BWCA and the communities that surround it. I have not given up on the place and will continue to take trips.
 
12/04/2021 09:23AM  
It's an interesting exercise for the FS to determine the maximum capacity of the BWCA at any given point in time and EP. At least, the USFS is thinking about it.
 
12/04/2021 09:40AM  
Number one way to improve most conditions is peer pressure and when that doesn't work badly needed funds for enforcement.

Their actually is some don't care if the BWCA exists, they go there to fish only and will trash a place just to discourage others from using that site and a mind set they can do what they want.

Much overdue enforcement needed and cooperation with enforcement from us-the eyes in the field.
 
Mocha
distinguished member(7613)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
12/04/2021 10:42AM  
Wonder if the permit system could be made to offer more permits in shoulder seasons and fewer permits in the congested areas in the main season
 
12/04/2021 11:11AM  
I hope they follow up and see where adjustments to their proposed permit allocations are made this next year.
Work with outfitters and others to fine tune it. Maybe increase in permits in some area, less in others.

I think campers overall do a much better job of clean sites etc.. than a decade ago. But sadly a few are very ignorant and some whom don't really care, they would just as soon the BWCA disappear.
 
1JimD
distinguished member(522)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/04/2021 11:49AM  
Frenchy19: "About time; now they need to jack the prices to Quetico levels. "

Then only the RICH can afford to enjoy it. Sad !
 
12/04/2021 12:50PM  
1JimD: "Frenchy19: "About time; now they need to jack the prices to Quetico levels. "
Then only the RICH can afford to enjoy it. Sad ! "

What a great incentive to work to become rich though!
 
12/04/2021 12:56PM  
That's laughable. A permit for two people is $38. That's what one good lunch costs. Let's be real - EVERYONE can afford that!"

Exactly
 
12/04/2021 01:12PM  
EddyTurn: "Frenchy19: "Canoearoo: "unshavenman: "Frenchy19: "About time; now they need to jack the prices to Quetico levels. "
Agreed."

I disagree. No need to limit it to only those that can afford it. Why make it a destination only for the rich?"

The rich? That is a rather dramatic statement. I am far from rich yet I can afford trips to Quetico.

Let's say it is $25/person/day to travel to Q via PP. That is $175 (Canadian) per person, or $700 (Canadian) for a group/family of 4. I hardly consider that a fee that only the rich can afford.

Charging per person per day will reduce the traffic the BWCA sees, and that is the point of the FS decision to reduce quota numbers. "

$700 on top of gas, food and equipment for a whole family is more than many people can afford. We might try to add $80/day in canoe rent money and do the math again. So, basically it's an idea that makes canoeing more comfortable for more affluent at the expense of less affluent. The fact that Canada moves in the same direction is sad."

Those fees you mentioned apply to a trip to the BW as well. I maintain that $700 for a week is pretty affordable. Other than staying at State Park, where else will you find an outdoor value like that?
 
jhb8426
distinguished member(1406)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/04/2021 01:27PM  
Jackfish: "I think a price increase is warranted. It can still be a "trip fee" like it is now, but bump it up about $15 or $20. I doubt that there are many people who really, truly think the $16 trip fee is a FAIR price for the BWCAW experience, especially with no consideration for the number of people in the group or the number of days."

I could agree to something like this but not a per day charge like Quetico levels.
 
Prospector
member (19)member
 
12/04/2021 01:39PM  
Maybe off topic, but instead of cutting visitors, why not expand the BWCA? More wilderness is needed, not fewer wilderness experiences.

As population grows, land use intensifies--land for living, resources or for recreation. Since 1978 (BWCA act) the US population has grown by 50%. Because of high levels of immigration, numbers will continue to increase into the future.

Due to demand designate more of the Superior Forest as wilderness. Reconnect protected lands in areas like the Echo Trail. Expand the wilderness boundaries. This will enable as many people as possible enjoy the wilderness while protecting wilderness values.
 
jillpine
distinguished member(740)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/04/2021 02:54PM  
Interesting how, on the one hand, folks want more enforcement yet on the other, resist a raise in cost to access the wilderness.

BWCA is a place like none other. I think it’s worth protecting - through effective education (I’ve long advocated a “Do this, not that” realistic film in lieu of the gentle guitar ballad - Ranger Nancy - you are awesome but the education needs to be harder hitting), more aggressive enforcement (publish the fines at the EP kiosk, and then leverage those fines abundantly - let users know USFS is serious), limiting the group numbers and size (nine and three is too much for LNT), and supporting all this through funding. Wishful thinking, and I regard the recent action as one small step.

I don’t really hop on the “families won’t be able to afford it” bandwagon. Families afford water parks, soccer and hockey costs, and lots of expensive pre-packaged foods. My two sons each got a picture of a loaded canoe with a fake permit for the coming year, wrapped up under the Christmas tree. They still talk about it.

Experiential gifts are priceless. It’s worth protecting the places providing them.
 
jillpine
distinguished member(740)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/04/2021 03:08PM  
Also support Prospector’s idea of expansion!
:)
 
billconner
distinguished member(8139)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
12/04/2021 06:20PM  
I don't have a strong opinion on raising fees but please don't believe raising fees brings more budget for enforcement. That's a private industry concept, not US federal government. Which could bring up the concept of contracting the operation of the BWCAW to a private business, which would assure an increase in fees. Just look at the Skyway and the parking meters in Chicago, or speed and red-light cameras.

Expansion is interesting. Would be interesting to see a little more on that too like which private landowners would be displaced and/or enriched.
 
Gaidin53
distinguished member (197)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/04/2021 07:50PM  
Expansion is an interesting idea! Don’t think it will happen but I’m all for more land allocated.

From what I’ve read I think what they are doing is a reasonable approach. They have had this allocation for a long time I assume but it was never getting used this heavily. Now that we’ve seen the issues after two summers of epic use they are reducing the available permits. Won’t affect me since I’ll be pulling permits opening day in January. I plan ahead for these trips. Heck I plan all year!

I’m all for more enforcement in all ways! I’d love to get checked once or twice on every trip!

I’ve tripped through some busy areas the last few years. Challenge is not knowing if you can get a campsite which forces being in camp by really early afternoon. We had multiple days when we saw people trying to find campsites and we probably got the last worst campsite in The South Arm of Knife by 10 minutes. Had at least 5 dejected crews paddle by us that day when they saw the campsite was full. Other than that we got great campsites the other 6 nights that trip.

That being said I’m doing a two week Quetico trip next year and yeah it’s going to add up with the per night fee. Will be pretty epic though having fewer crews to compete with and in some ways worth it. I do think what Canada charges is a bit excessive though but alas I am willing to pay it. Must be rich or by god I just think it’s worth it! I think that the BWCA should raise the permit fee but not make it per night. Maybe raise it to $50 and make it non refundable no matter when you cancel it. Key thing would be that permit fee funding the BWCA and especially paying for some rangers out checking permits, LNT, and group size! First few trips definitely added up with full outfitting. Last year only had to rent canoes and a few items. This year it’s just canoes.

Good lord we ran into a youth group last year that had to be 3 full crews all coming through the knife portages together! One leader kind of rodeoing them. We just looked for a hole in the wall of canoes since they were going to gaggle for a while. Had to be extra careful staging gear further forward so they wouldn’t accidentally grab ours as they were loading and we were double portaging. My thought is they didn’t camp together but we’re probably all heading back in that day and just gaggled up. That was a not great example but I’m sure it got some kids out camping that had never been out which I’m all for so I didn’t think it was a big deal.

Ryan
 
12/04/2021 11:02PM  
scottiebaldwin: "Canoearoo: "unshavenman: "Frenchy19: "About time; now they need to jack the prices to Quetico levels. "
Agreed."

I disagree. No need to limit it to only those who can afford it. Why make it a destination only for the rich?"

That's laughable. A permit for two people is $38. That's what one good lunch costs. Let's be real - EVERYONE can afford that!"

Scottie, a permit for the BW is $38 for 2 people for unlimited days. Quetico levels (as stated above) are currently $21.47 per person per day. So that means if you have two people on a five day trip to Quetico, that permit would be $214.70. Hardly laughable.
 
Hammertime
senior member (74)senior membersenior member
 
12/05/2021 12:37AM  
Sounds good to me.

I have noticed much more congestion in the past 5 years. Hopefully this will help in that respect.

This could potentially have the unintended consequence of preserving the wilderness and following LNT guidelines.

It seems logical that groups who are willing to plan ahead to reserve their trip are more likely to respect the place enough to take care of it compared to groups who book last minute. Exceptions will be abundant on both sides obviously but on the margins I think we will see improvement.
 
tumblehome
distinguished member(2272)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/05/2021 05:32AM  
Prospector: "Maybe off topic, but instead of cutting visitors, why not expand the BWCA? More wilderness is needed, not fewer wilderness experiences.
."


This is a very desirable thought for many thousands of people. It was tried around the mid 1990’s or so by our late MN congressman Bruce Vento. It was named something like the Bruce Vento Boundary Waters Expansion act. I’m going off memory. I think he was trying to increase the BWCA by 40,000 acres or so.

It was met with wide-spread support by many and fierce opposition by many more. It never got off the ground.

There were many northern MN citizens who already abhorred the Government for creating the BWCA because it was seen as a land grab. It removed logging, mining, and recreational opportunities locals had enjoyed prior to its creation.

The mere fact that the BWCA exists at all is nearly a miracle. Many younger people don’t know how many times it almost never happened, or how many people fought its creation. It could never, ever happen today. The BWCA we see today was a compromise by both sides and neither felt they got a fair deal. However, the wilderness WAS created and the opposition felt they lost completely. Motors on bigger lakes, group size, and quotas were all part of the compromise.

A wilderness advocate needs to be vocal, irritating, and heard by government repetitiously to keep the place. There are as many people on the opposition that are doing all of that to remove rules, quotas, motor restrictions. Who will win? Finally, we will soon hear from the opposition as they denounce the quota reduction. There are forums just like this out there with 180’ difference in opinion.
Tom
 
carbon1
member (28)member
 
12/05/2021 06:37AM  
For those who believe that that government taking land and forcing others off of it for their own peroneal pleasure.

Is a good idea never have had it happen to them.
 
casualbriday
senior member (99)senior membersenior member
 
12/05/2021 08:07AM  
I'd be ok with a fee bump. Per day I wouldn't like, but I'd understand. Right now my plan B when I can't do a trip is a fall grouse hunting/fishing trip where we stay in a motel, and a costs about triple what my last bwca trip did. Right now vacation availability at work is my biggest hurdle to tripping.

It would be nice to see more SNF canoe routes. Near the road, they could be a place for those who dont like the permit game, want to fly drones, etc., and farther in, it could still be pretty remote. Who knows, maybe there are a ton that just aren't publicized. My buddies and I "stumbled across" a ~70,000 acre non motorized rec area in a different national forest that, when googled specifically, barely exists on the internet.
 
jillpine
distinguished member(740)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/05/2021 09:32AM  
There are earmark funds from fish and game stamps, license plate purchases and lottery. Why can't there be line item BWCA permit costs earmarked for enforcement?

 
thegildedgopher
distinguished member(1271)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/05/2021 10:08AM  
jillpine: "There are earmark funds from fish and game stamps, license plate purchases and lottery. Why can't there be line item BWCA permit costs earmarked for enforcement?


"


The critical license plate fund has been a boondoggle with the DNR allowing the fund to balloon above $25M while spending on habitat has dropped off. And politicians see that money and want to change the rules to get their hands on it.

https://m.startribune.com/critical-habitat-license-plate-program-veering-from-its-dedicated-mission/600019950/
 
12/05/2021 10:19AM  
thegildedgopher: "jillpine: "There are earmark funds from fish and game stamps, license plate purchases and lottery. Why can't there be line item BWCA permit costs earmarked for enforcement? "
The critical license plate fund has been a boondoggle with the DNR allowing the fund to balloon above $25M while spending on habitat has dropped off. And politicians see that money and want to change the rules to get their hands on it.

https://m.startribune.com/critical-habitat-license-plate-program-veering-from-its-dedicated-mission/600019950/"

It's still a good program. It's just that politicians can't leave it alone. That is what happens often when politicians get involved with natural resources. Often the resource loses.
 
NotLight
distinguished member(1247)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/05/2021 10:44AM  
I wonder if we've passed the high water mark - for now - on wilderness crowding. No more WFH. No more $700/wk unemployment. No more stimulus checks. Now over half the population is BOTH vaxxed and had covid once already, and no longer afraid to take a more conventional vacation.
Plus you can't really put corn on the cob or a watermelon into a bear vault.

 
TreeBear
distinguished member (181)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/05/2021 11:42AM  
Expansion of the BWCA has always been a complicated issue as others have mentioned, but I also think, like the permit reductions, it wouldn't solve all of the problems. Our issue isn't space or numbers it's spreading people out. When the PMA's were created, a fair number of routes were closed. Those could have been used, in theory, to spread people out BUT people are funny. They concentrate into the iconic routes while others nearby stay quiet either because they are more difficult, less scenic, or have less fish (other reasons too.) One great example of this is south of Knife Lake. In the summer, Knife Lake can become really busy with groups dumping in from both the Gunflint and Ely. South of Knife is Kekakabic which also can see a bunch of traffic making a loop out of their Knife Lake route. Sandwhiched between Knife and Kek is a chain of lakes stretching from Vera to Sema that sees way less traffic. Why? Because it isn't as iconically pretty as Knife or Kek, doesn't have as many big fish, and it has a couple longer portages. This happens all over the BW where some routes see the bulk of the traffic while their neighbors don't. Truly I believe, as much as those of us who love wildernes would love to see it, that expanding the BW would run into more of the same. It may take a few visitors off the other routes, but most of the people would still flock to the busiest areas. The vegetable chain, for instance, was once discussed as an addition. But how many people, besides the hardcore quiet enthusiasts, would voluntarily choose a trip through the veggie chain instead of Clearwater or Bearskin nearby?

One other question that comes up with expansion is the definition of wilderness. The BWCA is already unique as wilderness goes as an artifact of how it was created. US wilderness regulations demand that a wilderness area is free of motors (and a lot of human infringement), and also demands a buffer zone around the wilderness to isolate it further. When the BWCA was created, it was created with a ton of allowances (such as motor use, grandfathered in cabin use, snowmobiles for a time...) for certain activities and uses to continue that aren't allowed in wilderness areas elsewhere (a great number of these have been scaled back or removed to the disdain of many locals and the celebration of the conservationists.) But the BWCA still does not have anywhere near the buffer that most wilderness areas do with private land running right up to within a half-mile of the wilderness line in some cases. If the wilderness were to expand it would need to grow somewhere. The era of the government taking private land away to create wilderness areas is probably over so the only way it would expand is to eat up its own buffer, further diluting the "wilderness character" of the outer edge of the BWCA.

But, as much as some of us would still theoretically love the idea of an expansion, history has shown us that NO legal action taken to benefit the BWCA is won without a very long and taxing fight. This wilderness was hard won and taking care of it into the future will always be difficult.
 
Mocha
distinguished member(7613)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
12/05/2021 12:22PM  
Not in favor of adding more land to the wilderness area. There is already a million acres that the USFS can’t manage in a way that is line with their own rules and regulations.

It used to be that the permit fee went to the agency with the contract, still is I suppose. Used to be that a percentage of the user fee collected went back to the district where it was collected (tofte, gunflint, kawishiwi, lac la croix…) and a percentage went to “administration”. Could be administration in The district or the administration in DC.

It would be great to think that our opinion matters or that we could bargain like a union and say we are for raising user fees to $25 a person per trip, $15 youth (example only) and the increase from the original user fee amount went directly to hiring and training more wilderness rangers, whether USFS or common folk like us who would love to spend the paddling season in the bwca making visitor contacts, educating and perhaps writing warnings only that could be followed up by USFS law enforcement if warranted.

In a perfect world, There would be a citizen advisory board with members who would collect info and ideas from the public and present it to the USFS for consideration.

I doubt the cooperators were involved in the decision to eliminate permits and could really be an excellent “think-tank” for possible solutions to the overcrowding issues.

I’m not at all surprised this is coming to a head again. Back in the early 90’s there was the change to number of watercraft and party size. Throughout the 90’s and early 00’s there have been entry point changes, permit allotment changes and always In the background was the “organization” that wanted no motors, and less of everything else. That is still happening. The USFS has to make radical changes somewhere since they have less money. Are they laying off or early retiring staff to accommodate for less money in the actual forest? Are they silently bowing to the “organization” and leading the bwca into a wilderness for a different type of privileged people?

 
mschi772
distinguished member(726)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/05/2021 01:35PM  
Ultimately, everyone has to remember that the health of the wilderness itself is the highest priority for the USFS, not satisfying the desires of tourists and visitors. That they made this decision and appear to be headed toward making stricter food storage rules permanent gives me some hope that they still have their priorities in order.
 
tumblehome
distinguished member(2272)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/05/2021 02:45PM  
mschi772: "Ultimately, everyone has to remember that the health of the wilderness itself is the highest priority for the USFS, not satisfying the desires of tourists and visitors. That they made this decision and appear to be headed toward making stricter food storage rules permanent gives me some hope that they still have their priorities in order."

Oh God no that is not the case. I wish it was but it's not. Think sulfide mine and the direction of the watershed leaving the mine.
 
gravelroad
distinguished member(583)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/05/2021 06:14PM  
tumblehome: "mschi772: "Ultimately, everyone has to remember that the health of the wilderness itself is the highest priority for the USFS, not satisfying the desires of tourists and visitors. That they made this decision and appear to be headed toward making stricter food storage rules permanent gives me some hope that they still have their priorities in order."


Oh God no that is not the case. I wish it was but it's not. Think sulfide mine and the direction of the watershed leaving the mine."


Lest we forget (without intending to impugn the lower ranks in Grand Marais and Duluth):

"PolyMet completes 6700-acre land exchange with U.S. Forest Service

Title transfer unites surface and mineral rights for the NorthMet ore body

St. Paul, Minn., June 28, 2018 – The U.S. Forest Service and Poly Met Mining, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of PolyMet Mining Corp. (together “PolyMet” or the “company”) TSX: POM; NYSE AMERICAN: PLM – today exchanged titles to federal and private lands, completing an administrative land exchange that is central to development of Minnesota’s first copper-nickel-precious metals mine.

“With land title from the Forest Service, we now have the secure foundation on which we can complete development of this project,” said Jon Cherry, president and CEO.

The transfer of surface rights to approximately 6,650 acres of federal lands to PolyMet gives the company control over both surface and mineral rights in and around the NorthMet ore body, which is near an area historically used for mining and associated infrastructure. Likewise, PolyMet’s transfer of title of four tracts of private land to the Forest Service totaling 6,690 acres further consolidates the Superior National Forest’s land holdings in northeast Minnesota.

With the exchange, PolyMet has total surface rights, including ownership and other use and occupancy rights, to approximately 19,000 contiguous acres (30 square miles) of land including the land at the mine and processing sites, the transportation corridor connecting those sites, and buffer.

Title transfer comes 17 months after the Superior National Forest issued a Record of Decision authorizing the land exchange, determining it was in the best public interest.

PolyMet completes 6700-acre land exchange with U.S. Forest Service
 
billconner
distinguished member(8139)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
12/05/2021 06:19PM  
NotLight: "I wonder if we've passed the high water mark - for now - on wilderness crowding. No more WFH. No more $700/wk unemployment. No more stimulus checks. Now over half the population is BOTH vaxxed and had covid once already, and no longer afraid to take a more conventional vacation.
Plus you can't really put corn on the cob or a watermelon into a bear vault."

I wonder the same. With air travel almost back to pre-pandemic levels and cruises coming back, I'd expect at least no growth in wilderness travel and perhaps some decrease.
 
Duboly
distinguished member (350)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/05/2021 07:23PM  
I think that the user fees should be lowered. Where else can I pay such outrageous rates to go lay on the ground with rocks and roots driving into my back, endangering my life with trees falling on my tent and /or getting eaten by a bear or trampled by a moose much less the mice and other critters eating up my survival supplies? Yup, the fees should be lowered.
 
Speckled
distinguished member (397)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/05/2021 09:05PM  
I'm in for the quota reduction. These last couple trips were ridiculous. 20+ years of trips and I've never seen the congestion and damage to campsites that we came across recently.

In regards to the calls for increased enforcement, I have mixed feelings about that. At the entry points, I'm all for it. Ensure proper permits, ask a few key questions and send the camper on his/her way. Out in the park - I'd like to see minimal enforcement, perhaps only if misuse or an illegal action has been witnessed. I'm not in favor of a range coming into camp to inspect everything, not that i'm doing anything wrong, i just don't feel like the intrusion. Perhaps my feelings are still bitter from an overly aggressive ranger 12 years ago on a family trip on Isabella. That guy was a T-bag on a power trip. Ultimately it amounted to nothing, as I knew the correct things to say.

Expansion. I can think of a few areas where, at least in my opinion incorporating them into the BW would have minimal impact and only add opportunities to the BW.

Increased Fees - It's so cheap now - ya, they could increase it alot before it would be burdensome to the majority of campers. Even our first trip - poor college students, By the time we split the fee's amoungst the 5 of us...I think I paid less than $10. As a poor college student...It could have been 5x that and I wouldn't have thought it out of line.
 
andym
distinguished member(5204)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
12/05/2021 09:52PM  
Interesting news and lots of interesting ideas here. I'd be in favor of reducing permits for basecamping in the areas near the EPs. Maybe some permits should be required to move beyond a certain area, perhaps by the second night. I think some EPs already have restrictions on some of the permits.

I'll stay away from the pricing debate, except to say that you want people to get some refund for canceling. Otherwise, they might not bother and then the permit slot might just go unused and unavailable to anyone else.

I'll be watching to see the final decisions. It could push me into booking my permit earlier than usual and maybe even participating in the first day rush.
 
Mocha
distinguished member(7613)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
12/06/2021 05:39AM  
As long as there are people here who experienced the problem, what lakes were you camping and traveling?
 
12/06/2021 08:41AM  
Cited above, but my take is reducing permits will require advance planning and reservation and this will reduce crowding, resource damage, etc we have seen recently all over the wilderness, not just the BWCA. It probably will reduce spontaneous tripping, a luxury I have enjoyed in semi-retirement.
I would hope someone in the Forest service reads this thread. The single variable planning ahead to get a permit overlooks all the variables cited here. Enforcement comes up every time. And in my experience rule breakers are good planners, they don't want to get caught. I would gladly pay a surcharge for more rangers.
 
12/06/2021 11:18AM  
You know most of the change would not have to happened if people would of followed No Trace rules and other regulations. Many of what is happening is due to a few ignorant and some just bad apples. Not caring what goes on.

Yes over crowding has taken place and that also has to be addressed. I would like to see a severe crackdown on over night people without permits. How big of issue is it really? I don't know. But it would be good to know from a BWCA user and for Outfitters viewpoint.
 
bpaddle
senior member (88)senior membersenior member
 
12/06/2021 12:31PM  
I think the quota reduction would theoretically have the desired impact to reduce the overcrowding issue (as well as the mentioned fee increase), but that is only in a perfect world where everyone follows the rules. I think a big issue is people going into the BWCA without permits. I have personally seen that myself (I entered on a 1 permit per day entry point only to see groups enter after I had set up camp, on more than one occasion), so it does happen. It may have been worse these last years of Covid, but I think it happens quite a bit. It can be hard to enforce as it is such a large area, but I don't think it would be needed to have rangers out there roving the BW to check permits. They could just check the entry points and check permits there. Of course only a small fraction of entries could be checked, but it may catch some offenders, and the penalties would need to be substantial.
 
Portage99
distinguished member(626)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/06/2021 02:19PM  
I am SO happy. This is much needed. A great Christmas present.

OMGitsKa: "
"Ten out of the 34 entry points on the Gunflint District and six of the 13 entry points on the Tofte District will see a reduction in permit quota numbers in 2022. The Forest Service declined to say the specific entry points the quota reduction will impact. All districts across the BWCA will see a quota reduction next year.

“This change will be implemented in the upcoming 2022 permit season,” Gilkeson said. “We're optimistic that some reductions in quota will improve the overall visitor experience, and, of course, benefit the wilderness"

https://www.wtip.org/forest-service-reduce-quota-numbers-bwca-2022 "
 
TechnoScout
distinguished member (399)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/06/2021 03:21PM  
NotLight: "I wonder if we've passed the high water mark - for now - on wilderness crowding. No more WFH. No more $700/wk unemployment. No more stimulus checks. Now over half the population is BOTH vaxxed and had covid once already, and no longer afraid to take a more conventional vacation.
Plus you can't really put corn on the cob or a watermelon into a bear vault.

"

Yup, I think you hit the nail on the head!
 
billconner
distinguished member(8139)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
12/06/2021 07:09PM  
Pinetree: "You know most of the change would not have to happened if people would of followed No Trace rules and other regulations. Many of what is happening is due to a few ignorant and some just bad apples. Not caring what goes on."

+1 on this.

On airplanes, in restaurants especially fast food places, on the roads, etc - many people have become very antisocial. More rules and restrictions won't help. I just hope they find other places to go.
 
schweady
distinguished member(7559)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
12/06/2021 08:04PM  
Just trying to keep up on the numbers here, while we wait for actual data:

A Wilderness News article provides a bit more in the way of number guesstimates:
"24 of the wilderness’s 74 entry points will be affected, with most reductions being 1-2 quota per day." So, let's average that out and guess that there will be 36 fewer daily permits available... 233 vs the previous 269, a 13% reduction. This means (perhaps) 5,508 fewer permits during the 5 month paddling season. Starting to look significant.

And, a couple of specific Ely side EPs were mentioned:
"...popular entry point Moose River North will be reduced from seven permits per day to five, and the Little Indian Sioux River North entry point will have daily permits reduced from six to four."
 
martian
distinguished member (141)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/06/2021 09:00PM  
 
tumblehome
distinguished member(2272)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/06/2021 09:49PM  
schweady: "Just trying to keep up on the numbers here, while we wait for actual data:

A Wilderness News article provides a bit more in the way of number guesstimates:
"24 of the wilderness’s 74 entry points will be affected, with most reductions being 1-2 quota per day." So, let's average that out and guess that there will be 36 fewer daily permits available... 233 vs the previous 269, a 13% reduction. This means (perhaps) 5,508 fewer permits during the 5 month paddling season. Starting to look significant.
."
"


I don’t understand your math. 36 fewer daily permits x 5 months= 1080
Tom
 
billconner
distinguished member(8139)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
12/07/2021 07:22AM  
tumblehome: "schweady: "Just trying to keep up on the numbers here, while we wait for actual data:


A Wilderness News article provides a bit more in the way of number guesstimates:
"24 of the wilderness’s 74 entry points will be affected, with most reductions being 1-2 quota per day." So, let's average that out and guess that there will be 36 fewer daily permits available... 233 vs the previous 269, a 13% reduction. This means (perhaps) 5,508 fewer permits during the 5 month paddling season. Starting to look significant.
."
"



I don’t understand your math. 36 fewer daily permits x 5 months= 1080
Tom"


They promised no math but 36 per day is 1080 in a month - 30 days - and it seems 5508 is for 153 days.

I'm trying to recall how many permits were pulled in a season previous to the pandemic years. I think the new reduction might just spread it out a little - until groups without permits are factored in.

Maybe each vehicle in the parking lots should have a permit displayed. Much easier to check parking lots every couple of days than each group in the wilderness. Would seem easy to print out vehicle tags with permits.
 
tumblehome
distinguished member(2272)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/07/2021 07:55AM  
Oops.my bad. Now I don't understand my own math ;(
 
mjmkjun
distinguished member(2963)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/07/2021 08:02AM  
tumblehome: "It’s about time. How many years have we had to hear the stories of occupied lakes with no open sites, traffic jams at portages, people paddling well into dark trying to find a site? I avoid the place all together most months of the year only finding solitude when ice is forming. I probably haven’t seen the forest in full foliage for more than a decade.


However, we don’t know to what degree the quotas Will be reduced and we don’t know specifically which ones.


Profit and politicians are the reason the USFS has to sit on its hands year, after year. I hope reason prevails.


Tom"


Well-stated.
Especially the part about profit and politicians and, I'll add, knuckleheads in high places.
 
12/07/2021 09:09AM  
Mocha: "As long as there are people here who experienced the problem, what lakes were you camping and traveling?"

Mocha,
The last two years I've based camp several trips out of Sawbill (ie camping at Sawbill campgrounds, going into a route for 5+ days and returning) I experienced campsite availability problems on Sawbill, Smoke and Burnt as well as Alton and Beth Lakes. Last year, Polly (Kawishiwi EP) was completely occupied and we had to continue further north. On the way back we found one Polly site opened and experienced a loud drunken testosterone camp nearby. Upon exiting the next day we saw one of those campers exiting to go get more liquor and return to the camp.

I haven't really seen campsite destruction but lots of crowding. More in 2021 than in 2020.

I also couldn't get a permit out of Sawbill at all (completely unheard of previously) and only a smattering of permits available nearby. It was July and August, admittedly a busy time, but clearly busier than before.
 
Mocha
distinguished member(7613)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
12/07/2021 09:40AM  
Wondering if those people with permits for areas closed due the various fires this past summer was a big influencer in overcrowding in other areas.

Perhaps some people felt that since they had ' a permit' then they could use it anywhere.
 
12/07/2021 11:42AM  
I get why they reduced the quota. I think the quota was set with a certain % use in mind. People reserve more permits on the weekends and less during the middle of the week so if you average those out, usually the previous quota was fine. But recently, almost all the permits have been booked regardless of the day of the week so the actual traffic has increased beyond the projected numbers. So a slight reduction on certain entry points does make sense.

For the price increase argument, they could increase the cost by 50% and I'd be fine with that, but going to a per night charge would be too much. I'm sure that some people on this site that travel a long ways or reasonably well off don't see why it is a big deal at all, but $500 in extra cost is going to be a big burden to me. I would definitely plan shorter trips and maybe not be able to afford to go every year. $500 is more than what I spend every year on camping gear and the trip combined.

Just saying, when you have the money it's easy to say that increased costs don't matter. To those of us that don't have disposable income, that mentality is pretty callous and in some cases insulting. If I can't afford my trip, I don't get to do something else instead, everything else is more expensive than I can afford.
 
mike2019
member (39)member
 
12/07/2021 12:23PM  
airmorse: "An enforcement of the existing rules would be beneficial."

I wonder if the FS can tell us exactly how many permit/campsite checks were completed in 2021, and how many citations were processed.
 
Harv
distinguished member (261)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/07/2021 03:43PM  
Sad, sad deal reducing the number of permits. I mean come on, those permits will NEVER be given back. Take, take, take is all this is.

Why not raise the permit fees a bit and put more FS personnel in the woods to check on permits and parties. I mean the entry points they are reducing means that's where the most "damage" or where the problems were; so put some more people in those entry points patrolling.

Do more education with people whether that on line or in person.

The towns, outfitters, restaurants and the ones that will suffer.
 
homers
member (44)member
 
12/07/2021 03:46PM  
Is the BWCA overcrowded and harming the environment? If yes, then what is causing this? (1) Too many permits, and/or (2) people entering without permits

If those are the 2 root causes, easy solutions solve both. Reduce the number of permits as appropriate will solve (1). Having adequate checking and enforcement of permits at entry points will solve (2).

Hopefully the FS has data and is taking that into account during their decision making process.
 
yogi59weedr
distinguished member(2547)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/07/2021 06:07PM  
Couple years ago I was standing on the dock at Prarie portage the the truck girl.
3 bass boats with 90s on them came flying up looking for the portage to Basswood. All of them had cans of beer in hand.
I was more polite than she was..

Now take moose lake. I was checked one time just around the corner going into Newfound by older FS guy with 2 youngsters in uniform. Just checked for my permit. Perfect ambush site.Let them get on the water then issue all the tickets you can
 
12/07/2021 07:37PM  
yogi59weedr: "Couple years ago I was standing on the dock at Prarie portage the the truck girl.
3 bass boats with 90s on them came flying up looking for the portage to Basswood. All of them had cans of beer in hand.
I was more polite than she was..


Now take moose lake. I was checked one time just around the corner going into Newfound by older FS guy with 2 youngsters in uniform. Just checked for my permit. Perfect ambush site.Let them get on the water then issue all the tickets you can"


Agree and Conservation officers and others should be observing how a certain amount of motor people will not move a inch and almost welcome you by swamping your canoe. Been paddling for 60 years and got more water over the bow from boats on Moose than anywhere else. It is known as a area where quite a few canoes are swamped by motor crowd. It doesn't have to be that way. I am glad to see the truck portage gal got mad.
 
schweady
distinguished member(7559)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
12/07/2021 08:39PM  
billconner: "I'm trying to recall how many permits were pulled in a season previous to the pandemic years. I think the new reduction might just spread it out a little - until groups without permits are factored in."
2019: 18,358 permits pulled out of 41,049 available over 153 days - 45%
2020: 26,298 permits pulled out of 36,584 available over 137 days - 72%
(COVID shortened the 2020 season by 16 days)
 
billconner
distinguished member(8139)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
12/08/2021 05:57AM  
Thank you!

So in the range of $900,000 in 2019 and maybe $1,250,000 in 2020, total fees, using 3 full fare persons per permit average. Im just guessing senior pass folks and youth are at least a significant number, so really 4 persons. I don't think 5 times this would cover current costs, maybe not 10, but really no idea of income from mining and timber.

Any other guessers?

In any case, I remain certain that any increase in fees will not be added to budget, no matter how logical or how desirable or how much we wish it would.
 
Harv
distinguished member (261)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/08/2021 06:29AM  
Is there any data on people entering without a permit? How does anyone know if this is truly happening?

Don't get me wrong, I believe there are some people doing this but my guess is that it's a very, very small percentage.

How can anyone know this for fact?
 
yogi59weedr
distinguished member(2547)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/08/2021 07:26AM  
I know those guys in bass boats at Prarie with 100% certainly not a clue about permits.
 
12/08/2021 08:48AM  
Harv: "Is there any data on people entering without a permit? How does anyone know if this is truly happening?


Don't get me wrong, I believe there are some people doing this but my guess is that it's a very, very small percentage.


How can anyone know this for fact? "
That is why need Enforcement and data just as you mentioned. I think it varies by area. I think Little Gabro area has a problem for one.
 
MikeinMpls
distinguished member(943)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/08/2021 09:09AM  
Harv: "Is there any data on people entering without a permit? How does anyone know if this is truly happening?


Don't get me wrong, I believe there are some people doing this but my guess is that it's a very, very small percentage.


How can anyone know this for fact? "


I don't think it can be measured in absolutes, though your question begs the obvious answer: enforcement. I learned in eighth grade social studies that every law must be accompanied by an enforcement clause. However, we won't know the scope of the problem until the permits are checked regularly and trippers know it.

I am very curious also as to what percentage of trippers don't have permits.

Mike
 
MikeinMpls
distinguished member(943)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/08/2021 11:16AM  
Pinetree: "Harv: "Is there any data on people entering without a permit? How does anyone know if this is truly happening?



Don't get me wrong, I believe there are some people doing this but my guess is that it's a very, very small percentage.



How can anyone know this for fact? "
That is why need Enforcement and data just as you mentioned. I think it varies by area. I think Little Gabro area has a problem for one."


Just station a ranger at the rapids between Little Gabbro and Gabbro and watch the circus begin. If you put a ranger on the right side of the rapids (as you enter Gabbro), just around the corner, there will be some surprised looks on faces!

Mike
 
Mocha
distinguished member(7613)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
12/08/2021 11:27AM  
some of the congestion is also likely coming from day trippers. i can think of a few spots...Duncan to rose falls and that portaging area and parking lot,
Johnson falls off the east bearskin loop, larch creek to magnetic or vv, cross bay to snipe to missing link or vv...

ii' sure there are some on the ely side or in the middle off sawbill.
 
12/08/2021 11:29AM  
MikeinMpls: "Pinetree: "Harv: "Is there any data on people entering without a permit? How does anyone know if this is truly happening?



Don't get me wrong, I believe there are some people doing this but my guess is that it's a very, very small percentage.



How can anyone know this for fact? "
That is why need Enforcement and data just as you mentioned. I think it varies by area. I think Little Gabro area has a problem for one."



Just station a ranger at the rapids between Little Gabbro and Gabbro and watch the circus begin. If you put a ranger on the right side of the rapids (as you enter Gabbro), just around the corner, there will be some surprised looks on faces!


Mike"

Yes excellent spot.
Once we went up thru the Moose Chain, up to Vera than Missionary. We got checked by a Game Warden with the DNR-for fishing license and if we were fishing the day before the opener. We were Okay and did nothing wrong.
But they did catch someone with walleyes the day before season started and pinched them. They checked others also. Everywhere we went people mentioned the game Wardens.
Point is a few people checked, word spreads like wild fire and many people cleaned up their act. Just a few visits by a Ranger or Warden goes a long ways and people act more proper.
 
schweady
distinguished member(7559)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
12/08/2021 03:21PM  
A lengthy Facebook post today contributed by by Voyageur North Outfitters contained some additional clues as to the reductions being made in the Kawishiwi District. Although it contained a lot of interesting additional tidbits that made for some between-the-lines reading, I will paraphrase here to isolate just the permit number info.

Kawishiwi District Ranger Aaron Kania announced the following reductions:

#4 Crab Lake down 1 permit per day (4 -> 3)
#8 Moose River South down 1 permit every other day (1 -> 1 / 0)
#14 Little Indian Sioux River North down 2 permits per day (6 -> 4)
#16 Moose River North down 2 permits per day (7 -> 5)
#23 Mudro Lake down 1 permit per day (6 -> 5)
#30 Lake One down 1 permit per day (14 -> 13)
The Lake One change includes removing the restricted permits where you had to camp in the numbered lakes and beyond and adding them to the Lake One permits. Previously there were seven for each but instead of going to 14, that number will drop to 13.
#33 Little Gabbro Lake down 1 permit every other day (2 -> 2 / 1)

(If this is a complete list, it's a total reduction of 8 permits per day for this Ely-area District.)

A footnote:
“There are no changes to the motor permits. We recognize it’s more complicated and more pieces to it. We’re anticipating going down that road and having a community wide conversation about that,” said Kania.
 
thegildedgopher
distinguished member(1271)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/08/2021 03:50PM  
schweady: "A footnote:
“There are no changes to the motor permits. We recognize it’s more complicated and more pieces to it. We’re anticipating going down that road and having a community wide conversation about that,” said Kania.
"


That should be an interesting "conversation." I would not be for any reduction in the number of total motor permits, but I would be in favor of a limit to the number any one person can secure in a year. Of all the complaints from the past 2 years, I don't recall motors being a significant contributor.
 
hfpedersen
member (26)member
 
12/08/2021 05:11PM  
thegildedgopher: "schweady: "A footnote:
“There are no changes to the motor permits. We recognize it’s more complicated and more pieces to it. We’re anticipating going down that road and having a community wide conversation about that,” said Kania.
"



That should be an interesting "conversation." I would not be for any reduction in the number of total motor permits, but I would be in favor of a limit to the number any one person can secure in a year. Of all the complaints from the past 2 years, I don't recall motors being a significant contributor."



I concur. While not being a huge fan of motors in the park I understand there are people who can't physically paddle or sit in a canoe and taking away access for them would be a shame.
 
Mocha
distinguished member(7613)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
12/08/2021 05:32PM  
schweady: "A lengthy Facebook post today contributed by by Voyageur North Outfitters contained some additional clues as to the reductions being made in the Kawishiwi District. Although it contained a lot of interesting additional tidbits that made for some between-the-lines reading, I will paraphrase here to isolate just the permit number info.
"


i really dislike that these important conversations take place on facebook. does everyone everywhere have facebook???
 
billconner
distinguished member(8139)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
12/08/2021 06:02PM  
Mocha: "schweady: "A lengthy Facebook post today contributed by by Voyageur North Outfitters contained some additional clues as to the reductions being made in the Kawishiwi District. Although it contained a lot of interesting additional tidbits that made for some between-the-lines reading, I will paraphrase here to isolate just the permit number info.
"



i really dislike that these important conversations take place on facebook. does everyone everywhere have facebook???"


I don't have Facebook.
 
schweady
distinguished member(7559)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
12/08/2021 07:40PM  
Mocha: "schweady: "A lengthy Facebook post today contributed by by Voyageur North Outfitters contained some additional clues as to the reductions being made in the Kawishiwi District. Although it contained a lot of interesting additional tidbits that made for some between-the-lines reading, I will paraphrase here to isolate just the permit number info.
"



i really dislike that these important conversations take place on facebook. does everyone everywhere have facebook???"

Here's the whole thing, mocha. I just thought it was a lot more than I cared to bring to this conversation. I was more interested in bringing the numbers. Perhaps Lynn (VNO) might chime in here with any further insight she has from her contact with Ranger Kania.

...............

USFS: Fewer permits for several
BWCA entry points

When Boundary Waters Canoe Area permits become available on Jan. 26, there will be fewer to go around.
Kawishiwi District Ranger Aaron Kania announced reductions of one permit per day at #30 Lake One and #23 Mudro and one permit every other day at #33 Little Gabbro.
Also, down one permit every other day is #8 South Moose River.
Other changes include #4 Crab Lake is down one permit a day to three; permits down two per day are #14 Little Indian Sioux North at four per day and #16 Moose River/Nina Moose at five per day.
“The key is we were seeing resource damage and complaints about the wilderness character of solitude,” said Kania.
The Lake One change includes removing the restricted permits where you had to camp in the numbered lakes and beyond and adding them to the Lake One permits. Previously there were seven for each but instead of going to 14, that number will drop to 13.
That number used to be as high as 23 in the past and later dropped to 18. This was also when the number of people dropped from 10 people and five canoes to nine people and four canoes.
After the 2011 Pagami Fire that number was reduced from 18 to 14 due to a loss of campsites.
Kania said the changes needed to be input into the rec.gov computer system in advance of Jan. 26.
“We want to get the word out to folks so they can do their planning in advance for Jan. 26,” said Kania.
“We have to get that in place and get the word out for people trip planning and so the cooperators can make the adjustments they need to make,” said Kania.
The Forest Service stayed away from making changes to the motorized permits, at least for now.
“There are no changes to the motor permits. We recognize it’s more complicated and more pieces to it. We’re anticipating going down that road and having a community wide conversation about that,” said Kania.
Before fire season took over this summer, the Forest Service had discussions with cooperators and customers about making changes to BWCA quotas.
“We heard about poor experiences, these were the ones we heard the most about and also from the public online or through rec.gov where they did not have a good experience. We want to make sure people have a good experience in the Boundary Waters so they will come back again,” said Kania.
When lockdowns were put in place due to the Covid pandemic, the BWCA became a very popular place in 2020.
“I would say here after 2020 the things we heard and saw the most were loud parties, trash, cutting trees and latrines overflowing. We responded to that in 2021 and put more staff out and we switched to in-person training for visitors.
“We had over 200 of what we call incident reports whether that’s a warning or a citation or a contact with a person about the rules. And we noticed in 2021 we had fewer search and rescues, fewer littering complaints, fewer reports of resource damage.
“We still had complaints about people not being able to find campsites and crowding on the lakes where they feel like they’re not having a wilderness experience. We also saw new campsites being developed because they couldn’t find one. Those kinds of things are what this is intended to address,” said Kania.
The Forest Service will continue to look for ways to reduce complaints heading in to 2022.
“We’re going to work with cooperators and the public about getting people to spread out across the wilderness, traveling more or camping outside the wilderness and taking some of the pressure off.”
Kania said he urges people to contact the Forest Service about these changes.
There wasn’t a formal public input process for the reductions in permits.
 
12/09/2021 08:15AM  
Mocha: "schweady: "A lengthy Facebook post today contributed by by Voyageur North Outfitters contained some additional clues as to the reductions being made in the Kawishiwi District. Although it contained a lot of interesting additional tidbits that made for some between-the-lines reading, I will paraphrase here to isolate just the permit number info. "
I really dislike that these important conversations take place on Facebook. Does everyone everywhere have Facebook???"

There is a BWCA FB group linked to this website BWCA.COM. It has 19K membership. The same issues that are on here are on there.
 
scotttimm
distinguished member(505)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/09/2021 09:22AM  
jhb8426: "EddyTurn: "$700 on top of gas, food and equipment for a whole family is more than many people can afford. We might try to add $80/day in canoe rent money and do the math again. So, basically it's an idea that makes canoeing more comfortable for more affluent at the expense of less affluent. The fact that Canada moves in the same direction is sad."
I agree on this as well."

+1.

Up until a few years ago, our annual BWCA trip was the only way our family could really guarantee to do for a big summer vacation on my salary. And we have all our own gear, stay in a bunkhouse on the way in, ate picnic on the way up, spend weeks dehydrating food. Just getting the Suburban up to snuff each summer, gas alone...I was never able to spend less than $1100 on a trip. And an $1100 vacation is tough when living month to month.

Now things have gotten easier as my wife settled into a great job, but I sure don't turn my nose up at those folks with old, heavy gear and kids in tow. I've been there. Public land is for everyone, that's the point.

I worry more about people who just go in without permits. If the FS is reducing the number of permits and therefore income, will this reduce Ranger activity as well?
 
schweady
distinguished member(7559)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
12/09/2021 02:49PM  
I wrote to SNF to ask, "When will a complete list be made public of the revised/reduced permit numbers for each BWCAW entry point for the 2022 paddling season?" The reply:

"Thank you for contacting Superior National Forest.

Permit quota for the 2022 season will be available when permit reservations are made available on January 26, 2022 at 9:00am Central Standard Time.

If I can clarify any information or be of any further assistance, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Best,
Luke Laaveg (he/him/his)
Visitor Services and Information
Forest Service
Superior National Forest
Supervisor’s Office
p: 218-626-4300
luke.laaveg@usda.gov
8901 Grand Avenue Place
Duluth, MN 55808
www.fs.fed.us"

It seems to me that it would be prudent to inform potential visitors of the changes prior to the moment that reservations open, and I have replied to Forest as such.
 
adam
Moderator
 
12/09/2021 03:24PM  
schweady: "I wrote to SNF to ask, "When will a complete list be made public of the revised/reduced permit numbers for each BWCAW entry point for the 2022 paddling season?" The reply:


"Thank you for contacting Superior National Forest.

Permit quota for the 2022 season will be available when permit reservations are made available on January 26, 2022 at 9:00am Central Standard Time.

If I can clarify any information or be of any further assistance, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Best,
Luke Laaveg (he/him/his)
Visitor Services and Information
Forest Service
Superior National Forest
Supervisor’s Office
p: 218-626-4300
luke.laaveg@usda.gov
8901 Grand Avenue Place
Duluth, MN 55808
www.fs.fed.us"

It seems to me that it would be prudent to inform potential visitors of the changes prior to the moment that reservations open, and I have replied to Forest as such.
"


I think I read that they plan to publish the new quotas by the end of December, but the Forest Service has not publically communicated anything in writing as far as I have seen. It is all based on interviews they have given or private communication.
 
schweady
distinguished member(7559)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
12/09/2021 04:47PM  
adam: "I think I read that they plan to publish the new quotas by the end of December, but the Forest Service has not publically communicated anything in writing as far as I have seen. It is all based on interviews they have given or private communication."
That is welcome news.
 
scottiebaldwin
member (46)member
 
12/09/2021 04:54PM  
OneMatch: "scottiebaldwin: "Canoearoo: "unshavenman: "Frenchy19: "About time; now they need to jack the prices to Quetico levels. "
Agreed."

I disagree. No need to limit it to only those who can afford it. Why make it a destination only for the rich?"

That's laughable. A permit for two people is $38. That's what one good lunch costs. Let's be real - EVERYONE can afford that!"

Scottie, a permit for the BW is $38 for 2 people for unlimited days. Quetico levels (as stated above) are currently $21.47 per person per day. So that means if you have two people on a five day trip to Quetico, that permit would be $214.70. Hardly laughable."


Good point, OneMatch.
 
scottiebaldwin
member (46)member
 
12/09/2021 05:01PM  
It's worth taking a listen to the latest episode #171 of the Tumblehome Podcast. Erik and Adam have some candid takes on the permit reductions being basically a public relations move done by the forest service. No real substance or proof as to how or why it will alleviate and mitigate overcrowding and misuse in 2022. It seems like the forest service is kind of winging the whole reduction thing until they get done pulling their wet finger from the air to see how long-time users, outfitters, and residents feel about the announcement. It's going to get a whole lot more interesting...
 
HayRiverDrifter
distinguished member(795)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/09/2021 10:10PM  
Pinetree: "Harv: "Is there any data on people entering without a permit? How does anyone know if this is truly happening?

Don't get me wrong, I believe there are some people doing this but my guess is that it's a very, very small percentage.

How can anyone know this for fact? "
That is why need Enforcement and data just as you mentioned. I think it varies by area. I think Little Gabro area has a problem for one."


On our way out of Little Gabro last year, there were at least three groups coming in. There was a man and his wife at the lake, and at least two other groups coming in. So, it does happen. Don't know if some did not have permits, or if some had a permit for a different entry point and were just coming in at EP33. I could see someone doing that. For example, pull an Angleworm permit and enter at Mudro.
 
YetiJedi
member (11)member
 
12/09/2021 10:31PM  
Mocha: "As long as there are people here who experienced the problem, what lakes were you camping and traveling?"

My three daughters (ages 13, 9, and 7) and I entered Wood Lake a few days before fishing opener. We visited all but one site on the lake, it was occupied, and filled a large garbage sack with debris. Each site had different kinds of garbage that ranged from empty dehydrated meal packets to beer/chile cans to fishing tackle/wrappers to clothing/damaged gear. It was sad and there was a lot. We cleaned it up and made an extra portage during the middle of our trip but it was a lesson I wish could have been taught by a good example of LNT instead of the ugly side. We tripped over through Hula, Good, and Indiana and those sites were completely clean.

A few weeks later two other daughters (ages 19 and 15) and I entered LISN for 5 days and we carried garbage out of two sites but those weren't as bad. We traveled through a dozen lakes or so and the further we went, the cleaner the campgrounds/portage trails.

Same experience the previous year...on a 120 mile trip with two daughters we saw the biggest problems at the front of our trip (Knife) and the last lake (Ensign) but the middle 40+ lakes were pretty much left in excellent condition.

I will note we previously lived out west and our trips into the wilderness were similar...the more you leave large groups behind, the more you find people more committed to LNT. I could be wrong, but I don't think it is a numbers game.

I would support small but regular increases to user fees, increasing enforcement and substantially raising fines, revoking future access of violators for a period of time, and emphasizing education.
 
MagicPaddler
distinguished member(1416)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/10/2021 06:46AM  
Be real careful about how much and what you complain about. Remember government agencies hear complaints and FIX THE PROBLEM. Example is Quetico and complaints about toilet paper left in the woods uncovered. Well they FIXED THAT PROBLEM. You now find that dirty toilet paper at least the part that is soiled to the point it will not burn easily where you want to cook your food. PROBLEM DECLARED FIXED!
 
schweady
distinguished member(7559)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
12/10/2021 11:55AM  
schweady: "It seems to me that it would be prudent to inform potential visitors of the changes prior to the moment that reservations open, and I have replied to Forest as such.
"

Here is Forest's entire response, received today:
"Although the final permit quota numbers are still being decided, quotas only for a few of the busiest entry points might see a reduction of one to two fewer permits per day."

So, he's basically saying, 'It's not changing that much; you can wait until January 26.'
 
Stumpy
distinguished member(1793)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/10/2021 09:20PM  
MagicPaddler: "Be real careful about how much and what you complain about. Remember government agencies hear complaints and FIX THE PROBLEM. Example is Quetico and complaints about toilet paper left in the woods uncovered. Well they FIXED THAT PROBLEM. You now find that dirty toilet paper at least the part that is soiled to the point it will not burn easily where you want to cook your food. PROBLEM DECLARED FIXED!"

Agree
 
mgraber
distinguished member(1277)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/11/2021 12:29AM  
As far as the fee increase, why can't it be increased by simply having every person entering pay a fee? Or at the very least, every adult. I don't really want people to be priced out of a trip, and a per night fee takes away the freedom of the BW and makes it like Quetico (which I do love), but why shouldn't everyone that enters pay the fee?
 
billconner
distinguished member(8139)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
12/11/2021 10:25AM  
Anyone know if hiking permits are being reduced as well? Don't recall reading of trail problems but probably happened.

Just read an article where an outfitter said this would reduction would cost him a lot of business, but seemed to me it would just push a few to less popular eps. Was there a day last year when there were no permits available for any ep?
 
schweady
distinguished member(7559)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
12/11/2021 10:37AM  
billconner: "Was there a day last year when there were no permits available for any ep?"
Maybe not 100%, but it was close when fire and smoke closed down a number of options. Seems like there was always a Big Lake or maybe an occasional Snowbank. August was especially hard - when there was only a partial re-opening and demand for the remaining EPs was high from those scrambling to switch. Our Mudro was canceled on us, but VNO found a Farm Lake for us from a user cancellation. Other than that, we were ready to throw in the towel after seeing nothing but Big Lake and Crane Lake.
 
billconner
distinguished member(8139)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
12/11/2021 06:08PM  
Yeah. It just seemed that without the fire closures, there would have been enough permits. It seems that this will simply reduce a few entries on popular eps that seem to have 4 or more.
 
12/11/2021 07:44PM  
scottiebaldwin: "OneMatch: "scottiebaldwin: "Canoearoo: "unshavenman: "Frenchy19: "About time; now they need to jack the prices to Quetico levels. "
Agreed."

I disagree. No need to limit it to only those who can afford it. Why make it a destination only for the rich?"

That's laughable. A permit for two people is $38. That's what one good lunch costs. Let's be real - EVERYONE can afford that!"

Scottie, a permit for the BW is $38 for 2 people for unlimited days. Quetico levels (as stated above) are currently $21.47 per person per day. So that means if you have two people on a five day trip to Quetico, that permit would be $214.70. Hardly laughable."



Good point, OneMatch."


$38 for 2 for unlimited days is laughable in terms of it providing any meaningful means of sustaining an area the size of the BWCA. And the token reductions planned in permits available will do nothing to help the current issue of overcrowding either.
 
billconner
distinguished member(8139)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
12/12/2021 05:43AM  
"$38 for 2 for unlimited days is laughable in terms of it providing any meaningful means of sustaining an area the size of the BWCA. "

I don't believe the permit fees were ever intended to do more than pay for the actual costs of the permitting process. Any excess just goes into the US Treasury no different than income tax receipts, and has no impact on the USFS budget.
 
outsidethebox
distinguished member (151)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/12/2021 06:18AM  
My view is that of, pretty much, an outsider-my brother and I, in our 60s, entered for the first and only time in September of '20...we were guided. We got a tow to Splash with the plan to "base camp" on Ensign. Ensign was a zoo...looked at our options and went to Vera-good decision. What we observed traversing Ensign was not within anything that we were anticipating relative to this being a pristine wilderness experience.

Clearly there are too many permits-from every perspective that does not include a theme park POV.

I believe there are many reasonable solutions to the issues that have been cited here. From lowering permit numbers and length of stay-including per visit and per year, to making sites reservable, limiting sites to entry lakes like Ensign to two nights per visit-one at a time and having the entry and exits sites regulated with official enforcement presence-with significant fines for violations. Exceptions to the rules could be offered for a fee-a significant fee.

The portage from Ensign to Vera is significant. Our stay on Vera was great. We day-tripped to/through three small lakes to the east of Vera. We had a world-class fishing experience :)
 
tumblehome
distinguished member(2272)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/12/2021 07:07AM  
When I worked for an outfitter on Moose Lake as a teenager, I towed groups up to Ensign Lake every Day. I once had a group of guys with a keg of beer that I towed up there. It was a madhouse all summer at the portage and I found it rather disgusting to imagine what that lake must have been like on the other side of the portage.

to this day, 30+ years later, I have never been to ensign.

There are indeed far too many daily permits on many entry points and as I’ve mentioned, the quota numbers are based purely on money and politics.

Groups unable to find a campsite, having to bushwhack sites, flotillas of canoes, traffic jams at portages, these are not a wilderness experience.

Tom
 
scottiebaldwin
member (46)member
 
12/12/2021 07:20AM  
This thread is ten days old at this point and I've used all ten days to think about all of the concerns/solutions that could come up and be implemented to both alleviate congestion and mitigate destruction to the park that we so obviously love (seeing that we are all on this website). Raise fees? Sure, but the money doesn't go directly to the USFS. Quota the permits? Yeah, but what about people coming in for free, or congesting sites closest to entry points, or eating up sites by staying in for longer trips. So let's get more enforcement?! Great, but where are you going to get the money for that? Maybe volunteers at entry points to check permits? That's what the DNR does here the Twin Cities by staffing boat launches with volunteers to check for invasive plant species and it's been a complete and utter failure.

So...

I've humbly concluded that a better way to curate a pleasurable experience in the BWCA is to get a permit and go in - deep into the park, where there is less use and is harder to get to than other lower hanging fruit, and get away from all the issues. This is not a great idea, maybe not even a good one. But it's a guarantee that we can find the solace and experience for which we are looking.

I plan on starting my foray into PMA trips this year. I'm not necessarily happy about this but feel it will be a guarantor of a worthwhile trip.

That's just my two cents.

 
Hammertime
senior member (74)senior membersenior member
 
12/13/2021 11:11PM  
scottiebaldwin: "This thread is ten days old at this point and I've used all ten days to think about all of the concerns/solutions that could come up and be implemented to both alleviate congestion and mitigate destruction to the park that we so obviously love (seeing that we are all on this website). Raise fees? Sure, but the money doesn't go directly to the USFS. Quota the permits? Yeah, but what about people coming in for free, or congesting sites closest to entry points, or eating up sites by staying in for longer trips. So let's get more enforcement?! Great, but where are you going to get the money for that? Maybe volunteers at entry points to check permits? That's what the DNR does here the Twin Cities by staffing boat launches with volunteers to check for invasive plant species and it's been a complete and utter failure.


So...


I've humbly concluded that a better way to curate a pleasurable experience in the BWCA is to get a permit and go in - deep into the park, where there is less use and is harder to get to than other lower hanging fruit, and get away from all the issues. This is not a great idea, maybe not even a good one. But it's a guarantee that we can find the solace and experience for which we are looking.


I plan on starting my foray into PMA trips this year. I'm not necessarily happy about this but feel it will be a guarantor of a worthwhile trip.


That's just my two cents.

"


You couldn’t be more correct, in my opinion. When you are deep in the Bwca you have your pick of sites (for the most part) and when you camp close to an entry point you will have company.

It has always been this way. Hopefully less permits will help in the latter scenario.

Happy travels!!
 
Stumpy
distinguished member(1793)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/14/2021 05:03AM  
tumblehome: "When I worked for an outfitter on Moose Lake as a teenager, I towed groups up to Ensign Lake every Day. I once had a group of guys with a keg of beer that I towed up there. It was a madhouse all summer at the portage and I found it rather disgusting to imagine what that lake must have been like on the other side of the portage.


to this day, 30+ years later, I have never been to ensign.


There are indeed far too many daily permits on many entry points and as I’ve mentioned, the quota numbers are based purely on money and politics.

Groups unable to find a campsite, having to bushwhack sites, flotillas of canoes, traffic jams at portages, these are not a wilderness experience.


Tom"


Ensign is a doorway.
Don't expect a perfect wilderness experience in a doorway.
I was towing people up there over 40 years ago. It's always been a busy portage, and yet I've had good & wild experiences on Ensign too.
I've only camped there on one night get aways while working in outfitting, and a few last night camps on way back.
Enter, and MOVE ON.
 
12/14/2021 11:18AM  
Wilderness is relative. To those of us who have been to Quetico or something like it we are spoiled. But my grandkids who are between 2 & 17 think they are voyagers when up there, even though flotillas of canoes go by. As far as they’re concerned we are in the middle of Labrador or as remote as the Amazon.
Those who have never left the city, are in the same boat and we have one more person who has an appreciation of the treasure that we have in the bwca.
If I need to get away from the crowds I know I need to do at least a couple of longer portages.
That’s being said I think we need to up the fees but only if the $ go towards more enforcement.
 
Porkeater
distinguished member (192)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/14/2021 01:31PM  
Captn Tony: "Wilderness is relative. To those of us who have been to Quetico or something like it we are spoiled. But my grandkids who are between 2 & 17 think they are voyagers when up there, even though flotillas of canoes go by. As far as they’re concerned we are in the middle of Labrador or as remote as the Amazon.
Those who have never left the city, are in the same boat and we have one more person who has an appreciation of the treasure that we have in the bwca.
If I need to get away from the crowds I know I need to do at least a couple of longer portages.
That’s being said I think we need to up the fees but only if the $ go towards more enforcement."


Well said.
 
12/14/2021 06:15PM  
While business for restaurants and outfitters will likely decrease, a small reduction in overall visitors will not reduce their sales by as near as much as the increase over the last two years. If they were making a profit before 2019, then they should be able to continue making a profit when their business drops due to the quota reductions.
There should be some adjustments in outfitting inventory and reductions in staff to offset the slightly slower traffic in people.

Overall, I think these businesses will do just fine. I will be checking for closures if I am misreading this. Sales of businesses could be increased to bolster that line of thought. Having said this, I hope each will prosper as well as before Covid 19. And more so wish good management.
 
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