BWCA Tow boat article in Star Tribune Boundary Waters Listening Point - General Discussion
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eagle98mn
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06/13/2022 10:42AM  
Somehow I missed that the forest service is looking at the use of tows in the wilderness. I'm not sure how I feel about it. I've used tows twice on Sag, once to get a jump to Cache Bay and a pretty big loop we were doing over 5 days. It wouldn't have been possible to do the loop in the time off we had without the tow. The second time was the same idea, but with the aim to get to the South arm of Knife and loop back through Sea Gull. So I have appreciated the jump start to the trip.

At the same time, the Moose Corridor definitely creates a mental boundary in my mind when trip planning. I don't want to deal with motor traffic mid-trip, so travelling East/West through that area is less desirable for me. I tend to view potential routes as East or West of that corridor, rather than including the corridor itself (excluding the detached portions of the wilderness that sort of automatically lend themselves to their own trips).

Then there are other lakes that I never use a tow on like Clearwater. It isn't all that big really.

I guess I generally prefer some access to tows, even though I wouldn't be personally devastated to lose some of them.

Here is the article on the Star Tribune: Article Link

Full Text:

IN THE BOUNDARY WATERS CANOE AREA WILDERNESS — Two men in a canoe paddled fiercely to steer away from the swollen headwaters of a dangerous set of rapids flowing out of Splash Lake.

With panic in their faces, they rammed into the shore — perpendicular to the rapids. Unable to hold the bank, the back end of the canoe swung into the flow. Within seconds, the backward vessel capsized on its way into big rocks. As camping gear spilled into the waves, one of the men went under. He popped up, gulped for air and lunged for the canoe. Somehow he grabbed it and pulled it to shore.

"Are you OK?'' I yelled. "Are you OK?''

One of the two paddlers gave a thumbs up. They were both cold and wet, but four other canoeists were in their group to help them recover and — presumably — restart their trip.

That was the scene at the outset of our own BWCA trek late last month to Ensign Lake, about 25 miles northeast of Ely. Our group consisted of my 15-year-old son, Joe; my brother Patrick; nephew Colin Burris; and brother-in-law Greg Powers, who was solo in a mahogany plywood canoe he built at home years ago.

We chose Ensign Lake for our four-day trip because of its reputation as a good, early-season fishing location with ample campsites. More importantly, I wanted Joe to experience hitching a ride into the wilderness on a towboat. As part of pending litigation from an environmental group that alleges overuse of the motorized jon boats, the U.S. Forest Service is in the process of deciding their future.

Motors and wilderness
"We're looking at motorized use pretty hard,'' said Connie Cummins, supervisor of the Superior National Forest. "We know with towboats there is a lot of interest in how we manage them and where we go from here.''

The timeline of the review and eventual decision is uncertain. But sometime next spring, the Forest Service plans to start a "pre-scoping'' exercise to gather feedback from stakeholders and the public. From there, the agency will produce a draft proposal on future towboat service. After feedback is received on the draft, the Forest Service will settle on a formal proposal that could possibly cut towboat availability.

"From a wilderness standpoint, we don't think they are needed,'' said Kevin Proescholdt, conservation director for Wilderness Watch, the nonprofit group that filed the litigation.

His organization strives to maintain wilderness characteristics throughout the national wilderness preservation system.

In the BWCA, he said, towboat use was capped under the 1978 federal law that expanded the wilderness area beyond its original borders, which were established in 1964. The intent in 1978, Proescholdt said, was to phase out towboats after five years. The lawsuit seeks to reign in their use, alleging the Forest Service allowed towboats to expand beyond statutory limits.

The legal case already has produced a settlement agreement under which the Forest Service completed a needs assessment on all kinds of commercial services in the BWCA and the remainder of the Superior National Forest. The assessment was to determine whether commercial services are necessary, and if so, to what extent. The need for towboat services was listed as "moderate.''

"The lawsuit isn't finished,'' Proescholdt said. "It's only on hold.''

Saving strokes
Superior National Forest public services staff officer Susan Catton said towboat usage has been on the rise inside the BWCA. In 2012, before record keeping was rigorous, outfitters reported 2,550 annual trips. The number swelled to 3,643 in 2015 when reports became more accurate. Five years later, during the first year of COVID-19, towboat trips rose 6% to 3,865.

The service is available through 18 specially permitted outfitters on two rivers and 14 lakes. Prominent among those waters are Saganaga Lake, Seagull Lake, Lac La Croix, Crane Lake, Snowbank Lake, Clearwater Lake, South Farm Lake, Basswood Lake and the Moose Lake chain leading into Basswood, Birch and Ensign.

For the purposes of our own trip to Ensign, we eliminated about five hours of paddling through the Moose Lake chain by booking rides to and from the back country from Ely native Willy Vosburgh, a Moose Lake resort owner and BWCA outfitter who has been operating towboats inside the wilderness area for 17 years.

With an 8 a.m. departure from Willy's dock, we reasoned the tow would give us a better chance at nabbing an open campsite and grant us more time to fish on Day 1 — the Thursday before Memorial Day. After a 20-minute ride at a cost of $28 per paddler, we arrived at the portage trail into Splash.

The five of us, our packs and three canoes filled two towboats. High water at the entry landed us tight to the trail. In less than 10 minutes, we were carrying our gear to the canoe launch at the other end of the portage. Joe and I were the last to launch, hugging the north shoreline to avoid the rapids. We viewed the canoe accident from a distance of less than 100 yards — sighing with relief that both paddlers escaped serious injury.

Once on Ensign, we followed Willy's advice to look for a campsite along the south shore. The best ones were taken, but we found a site nearby — high and dry on the lake's big peninsula. Hewing to our time-sensitive plan, we were fishing by midafternoon.

Helping or hurting?
Inherent in the Forest Service analysis of BWCA towboats is the problem of overcrowding. Cummins said usage currently exceeds the wilderness standard for solitude or seclusion — an experience measured by encounters between groups. To address the issue, the agency last year reduced the availability of entry permits by 13%.

In deciding the fate of towboats, the agency will evaluate whether motorized assists add to encounters. Cummins said it's a complicated question because towboats also help to reduce encounters by taking visitors deeper into the boundary waters than they could otherwise manage during a short trip.

"I don't see how it could do anything but help,'' Vosburgh said of towboat rides.

If towboats were outlawed on the Moose Lake chain, he said, campsites on the route would be regularly jammed with paddlers on trips to and from lakes like Basswood, Knife, Birch and Ensign, he said.

"The towboats do a hell of a job of dispersing people,'' he said.

Deb Mark and Dave Truehart of Seagull Outfitters on the Gunflint Trail agree. They operate three towboat routes, helping people safely cross the big water on Saganaga Lake, a 25,000-acre waterway. Truehart said eliminating tows to distant entry points would effectively close those entry points and add to congestion on the BWCA's perimeter.

Shorter trips are the norm these days and most people don't have time to paddle all day in one direction, Mark said.

"It's just common sense,'' she said. "The wilderness is still the wilderness.''

But Proescholdt of Wilderness Watch said towboats have turned the Moose Lake chain, Saganaga and other BWCA travel routes into "wilderness sacrifice zones.''

"Moose Lake and Sag alone can offer great wilderness experiences,'' he said.

Walleyes were biting
Once we were fishing on Ensign Lake, other groups were still arriving or passing through the lake to other destinations. With the water high, Joe and I headed to a choke point between two islands to jig for walleyes in the flow. Three kayakers were already there, marking fish on their sonar screens.

"Got one,'' Joe said, only minutes after he first sank his lure to the bottom.

To the surprise of the friendly kayakers, the walleye was hefty by our own boundary waters standards: 17 inches. They had been enjoying a hot walleye bite, but most were smaller fish in the range of 10 to 12 inches.

We started a stringer and drifted here and there between the two shores. No matter where we floated, the fish would tug at our minnows. For several hours, we enjoyed a catch rate quite unlike the mediocre norm or nonexistent bite of BWCA trips in the recent past.

Joined by Colin and Patrick and blessed with enough keepers to fry for dinner on the following night, we caught and released walleyes under calm, fishing-friendly conditions until 9 p.m. The pleasantries and a good (not great) bite continued throughout the next day. Rain and high wind kept us stranded in camp on Saturday, but Sunday's weather bounced back and we enjoyed the luxury of fishing on the way home knowing our tow wouldn't arrive until 1 p.m.

"I haven't had fishing like this in the boundary waters for a very long time,'' I told Joe.

The consensus in our group was to return to the same area in 2023, with canoes mounted on the racks of a Willy Vosburgh towboat.
 
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straighthairedcurly
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06/13/2022 12:31PM  
Thanks for posting the article. I hadn't heard about this either. I am lucky enough to take multiple trips every summer ranging in length from 1 night to 14 nights and everything in between.

I have never used a tow and on principle, I never will. I am unwilling to cut into my own or other people's wilderness experience. I come to paddle, so why wouldn't I paddle.

Personally, I think it is time for motorboat use (especially tows) to be severely curtailed or eliminated all together. They don't belong inside a designated wilderness where chain saws, snowmobiles, and all other motorized things are banned. There are thousands of motorized lakes in MN for those that need a motorized experience. I have paddled Moose multiple times. I paddled Basswood last year. After my time in the Moose/Basswood area last summer, I swore never again as long as there are that many motorboats...it was horrible and really started to stress us out. Even when we got a lake or two away, we could still hear them. I have been on Sag and Seagull...Sag wasn't quite as bad since the lake is much, much wider and I feel like there were definitely fewer tows. I have never visited Lac La Croix and after last summer's annoyance with motorboats, I doubt I will. You will find me paddling as far from motorized lakes as possible.

 
Kendis
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06/13/2022 01:16PM  
I would happily give up the opportunity for a tow if it meant severe reductions or complete elimination of motorboats within the BWCA.
 
06/13/2022 01:39PM  
I am pretty sure that the WIlderness Act that was enacted in 1978 had a provision for towboats/motor boats. I know someone in the article was quoted that they originally going to be phased out but I don’t think that is 100% accurate.

With that being said I’ve always been under the impression that to change motor usage it would take an act of congress. It isn’t something the FS can just change. Any lawyers on here? If it does take an act of congress do we really want to do that. What if your chosen party comes into power and now a precedent is set—-couldn’t they now change it back to more motors or open it up for lease? Too often people think of their own personal preference and not the repercussions down the road.

If they did phase them out of Moose and Sag for example it definitely would lead to overcrowding at the entry points in those area and less camps available. With a tow you can get to Sarah, Kawnippi in a day. With out them more people would need to stage closer to the entry on the way in and out. So if people don’t like crowds now at the entry point lakes good luck with out tows :)

I think some people forget that the BWCAW was created…it wasn’t always a wilderness. People were displaced, jobs were lost, properties were taken with imminent domain…to do such a dramatic thing the current motor usage was some of the negotiation as I stated above. Without the current motors in the BWCAW there most likely never would of been a BWCAW created.

T
 
06/13/2022 02:06PM  
All across the nation one can find examples of wilderness areas with "cherry-stemmed" roads, trails, and/or waterways. Most of the cherry-stems I'm familiar with were part of a compromise in the formation or expansion of wilderness areas, and allowed the continuation of activities (motorized use, mountain bikes, etc) not consistent with wilderness policy, but having a history of use along the cherry-stemmed road/trail/waterway. Like straighthairedcurley, I visit the BWCA/Q to paddle, so I paddle. In almost 45 years of Canoe Country visits, I've used a tow service one time. If tow services disappear, I'll only miss the smell.

TZ
 
OMGitsKa
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06/13/2022 02:13PM  
I don't really understand, the motor boats are used in areas of the lake where boats are allowed. So unless they ban motors on those lakes I don't see how they would ban "Tow boats" lol.
 
MReid
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06/13/2022 02:17PM  
timatkn: "I am pretty sure that the WIlderness Act that was enacted in 1978 had a provision for towboats/motor boats. I know someone in the article was quoted that they originally going to be phased out but I don’t think that is 100% accurate.T"
Always go to the enabling legislation. BWCA Wilderness Section 4 (c) {Page 2} discusses motorboats.
Also some good information and links BWCA facts
 
06/13/2022 02:34PM  
MReid: "timatkn: "I am pretty sure that the WIlderness Act that was enacted in 1978 had a provision for towboats/motor boats. I know someone in the article was quoted that they originally going to be phased out but I don’t think that is 100% accurate.T"
Always go to the enabling legislation. BWCA Wilderness Section 4 (c) {Page 2} discusses motorboats.
Also some good information and links BWCA facts "


So reading that it looks like motor boats are allowed in the current areas as part of the BWCAW act? There were areas where motorboats were planned to be phased out over time such as Crooked, Brule and they were.

I am just not in favor of opening this up for congress to change… hey lets throw some mining and logging back in while we adjust this motor boat thing…or why not just pull these lakes out of the BWCAW? Think it can’t happen? There are lobbyists on both sides and opening back up to Congress is taking a chance I don’t want.

T
 
Northwoodsman
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06/13/2022 03:45PM  
I have never used a tow, nor would I. The joy for me is the journey getting there. People talk about which canoes are faster. Again, I'm sure that's important to some, I like to paddle along and take in the scenery and the smells. The longer it takes the better. Perhaps the permit system can be adapted for folks using a tow and they have to camp only on specific lakes? Maybe the permit costs more or their is a daily fee? Maybe there is a hard exit date? There are ways to adapt or change without eliminating them altogether. I don't mind the sounds of boat motors or the smells. I don't think that people that use tows are lazy. I don't think that people should be able to "car camp" by using a tow. They should have to take at least one portage to another lake after being dropped off. This would hopefully reduce the impact and reduce the amount of equipment carried in and set-up (gas grills, charcoal grills, smokers, large wheeled coolers, picnic tables, etc.)The only thing that would bother me is if they were to come zooming past me and making a wake. I have a physical disability that effects my balance that already makes me feel unstable in a canoe.
 
alpinebrule
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06/13/2022 05:36PM  
So, if you're fishing a motor would be ok but not if heading in to canoe?
There is government logic for you.
 
Finnboy
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06/13/2022 06:11PM  
I hope tow boats get left alone. They have a purpose and their use was negotiated already. End of story in my opinion. Let’s not go there. It could open up topics we aren’t even aware of.
 
06/13/2022 06:57PM  
Why weren't daily tow boat numbers capped in the first place? Increasing numbers make no sense. So a group that can afford a tow gets first crack at campsites?

Reduce and cap tow boat numbers. If crowding is a problem, reduce quotas. The Moose Chain daily quotas are ridiculously high anyway.
 
RunningFox
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06/13/2022 08:44PM  
I’ve used a tow several times. I support Save the Bw and Friends of the Bw. I don’t like the sound or smell of motor boats and I don’t own one.

But I would not support a change to eliminate them.

You may recall the BW was called a roadless area at one time. Is there a purist among us that would support eliminating the Fernberg or Echo Trail? Or eliminating automobile usage on these roads? It’s great that you came to paddle, but I’ll bet it wasn’t on foot.

The highly restricted motor boat usage thing has been with us for a long time, and now you want to change it. And the Ely outfitters with invested assets . . . What do they do?

Again, anyone for eliminating automobile usage on the Fernberg or Echo? You can hear automobiles on Wood Lake you know. Anyone?
 
eagle98mn
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06/13/2022 09:07PM  
Northwoodsman: "I have never used a tow, nor would I. The joy for me is the journey getting there. "

I actually share your sentiment for the most part. I love paddling and I am more than content paddling all day. Fishing is second for me in canoe country to simply traversing and seeing what is around the next corner. When I've used tows, it wasn't because I wanted to avoid paddling. It was because I wanted to get deeper into the wilderness than my short 4-5 day trip would otherwise allow. On my trip to Quetico through Cache Bay, we paddled from shortly after dawn to a late dinner a couple days, including our entry date . I just didn't have the time to paddle Sag too. So I appreciated that the tow made Quetico more accessible to me. I guess my point is that it isn't just people trying to avoid paddling that take tows. We just may want to paddle in more remote places, rather than log our miles on the larger entry lakes.

Also, taking the tow on Sag was a way of improving the odds that we don't get windbound on Sag. In both cases, a morning tow had us on the water well before the winds kicked up for the day. Even if the winds don't become dangerous, they can definitely slow you down on big water and impact the rest of the trip.

All that said, I'll be happy either way. I'll paddle long days regardless. I do wish there was a way to cross the Moose Lake corridor without going through motor traffic though.
 
thegildedgopher
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06/13/2022 10:53PM  
Kevin p can’t be trusted in my opinion. Once he gets rid of towbots he will have all motors in his sights.

Save the tow!
 
Minnesotian
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06/14/2022 07:25AM  
thegildedgopher: "Kevin p can’t be trusted in my opinion. Once he gets rid of towbots he will have all motors in his sights.


Save the tow!"


Wilderness Watch isn't just trying to eliminate the motorboats in the BWCA. They are also trying to eliminate aircraft from flying and landing in the Frank Church - River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho, for the exact same reasons. Think of an airplane in the Frank as a tow for backpackers.

I see both sides to this issue. I have taken tows which have aided me in getting into Quetico deeper on a shorter timeframe. However, I have also stayed on Basswood and Moose and been annoyed by the amount of motorized boats, not to mention the wakes I had to surf.

After seeing the reduction in permits that occurred this last year, I think a limit cap on tows will be forthcoming. Maybe they will only be able to operate during 9am to noon, or be limited to 10 tows in a day, or can only tow every other day. But I am certain there will be a limit of some sort.

They won't eliminate the the tow. The fees that come from it might be minimal, but still an income. And the compromise fight that occurred in the 1970's that allowed restricted motor access is a can of worms I don't think the FS wants to get into.
 
06/14/2022 09:01AM  
timatkn: "I am pretty sure that the WIlderness Act that was enacted in 1978 had a provision for towboats/motor boats. I know someone in the article was quoted that they originally going to be phased out but I don’t think that is 100% accurate.


With that being said I’ve always been under the impression that to change motor usage would take an act of congress. It isn’t something the FS can just change. Any lawyers on here? If it does take an act of congress do we want to do that? What if your chosen party comes into power and now a precedent is set—-couldn’t they now change it back to more motors or open it up for lease? Too often people think of their personal preferences and not the repercussions down the road.


If they did phase them out of Moose and Sag for example it definitely would lead to overcrowding at the entry points in that area and fewer camps available. With a tow, you can get to Sarah, Kawnippi in a day. Without them, more people would need to stage closer to the entry on the way in and out. So if people don’t like crowds now at the entry point lakes good luck without tows :)



I think some people forget that the BWCAW was created…it wasn’t always a wilderness. People were displaced, jobs were lost, and properties were taken with imminent domain…to do such a dramatic thing the current motor usage was some of the negotiations as I stated above. Without the current motors in the BWCAW there most likely never would have been a BWCAW created.


T"
Now because of Towboats, you get overcrowding just up a few miles like Birch-Knife lake area and there becomes no interior BWCA where people can truly put the effort in and get away when others motor right by you.
 
06/14/2022 09:06AM  
Minnesotian: "thegildedgopher: "Kevin p can’t be trusted in my opinion. Once he gets rid of towbots he will have all motors in his sights.



Save the tow!"



Wilderness Watch isn't just trying to eliminate the motorboats in the BWCA. They are also trying to eliminate aircraft from flying and landing in the Frank Church - River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho, for the exact same reasons. Think of an airplane in the Frank as a tow for backpackers.


I see both sides to this issue. I have taken tows which have aided me in getting into Quetico deeper on a shorter timeframe. However, I have also stayed on Basswood and Moose and been annoyed by the amount of motorized boats, not to mention the wakes I had to surf.


After seeing the reduction in permits that occurred this last year, I think a limit cap on tows will be forthcoming. Maybe they will only be able to operate during 9am to noon, or be limited to 10 tows in a day, or can only tow every other day. But I am certain there will be a limit of some sort.


They won't eliminate the the tow. The fees that come from it might be minimal, but still an income. And the compromise fight that occurred in the 1970's that allowed restricted motor access is a can of worms I don't think the FS wants to get into."


You hit it right-at least for Moose lake it would be nice to even have a 3 hour window with no motors so canoeist has a chance to go up the Moose chain without being capsized. This won't happen tho.
I think Saganaga is different and it is wider and your less likely to get swamped by certain Tow boat operators or other motor boat use.
 
06/14/2022 09:17AM  
Either way I won't stop going to the BWCA. When I started going up there I was a paddler purest. But as time progressed I wanted to go further into the interior but didn't have the vacation time as I spent two full days traveling just to get to the bdub and back home, so I decided to use tows. The tows enabled me to get to the more remote lakes and also enabled me to experience Quetico. So I guess I'm in favor of continuing tow service.
I agree that no tows would make the interior more of a wilderness experience, which would be nice.
 
06/14/2022 09:30AM  
Pinetree: "Minnesotian: "thegildedgopher: "Kevin p can’t be trusted in my opinion. Once he gets rid of towbots he will have all motors in his sights.



Save the tow!"




Wilderness Watch isn't just trying to eliminate the motorboats in the BWCA. They are also trying to eliminate aircraft from flying and landing in the Frank Church - River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho, for the exact same reasons. Think of an airplane in the Frank as a tow for backpackers.



I see both sides to this issue. I have taken tows which have aided me in getting into Quetico deeper on a shorter timeframe. However, I have also stayed on Basswood and Moose and been annoyed by the amount of motorized boats, not to mention the wakes I had to surf.



After seeing the reduction in permits that occurred this last year, I think a limit cap on tows will be forthcoming. Maybe they will only be able to operate during 9am to noon, or be limited to 10 tows in a day, or can only tow every other day. But I am certain there will be a limit of some sort.



They won't eliminate the the tow. The fees that come from it might be minimal, but still an income. And the compromise fight that occurred in the 1970's that allowed restricted motor access is a can of worms I don't think the FS wants to get into."



You hit it right-at least for Moose lake it would be nice to even have a 3 hour window with no motors so canoeist has a chance to go up the Moose chain without being capsized. This won't happen tho.
I think Saganaga is different and it is wider and your less likely to get swamped by certain Tow boat operators or other motor boat use."


I haven't had a problem with tow operators, almost all of the tows that pass by me slow down their boats so as to not cause a wake, now fishing boats are a different story!
 
uqme2
senior member (91)senior membersenior member
 
06/14/2022 01:07PM  
No one goes there anymore, it's too crowded.
 
Chieflonewatie
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06/14/2022 01:15PM  
I would say just leave it alone. Why is there always the need to slowly nip away at this or that?

 
Kendis
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06/14/2022 01:18PM  
Captn Tony:
I haven't had a problem with tow operators, almost all of the tows that pass by me slow down their boats so as to not cause a wake, now fishing boats are a different story!"


+1
 
papalambeau
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06/14/2022 01:38PM  
Captn Tony: "Either way I won't stop going to the BWCA. When I started going up there I was a paddler purest. But as time progressed I wanted to go further into the interior but didn't have the vacation time as I spent two full days traveling just to get to the bdub and back home, so I decided to use tows. The tows enabled me to get to the more remote lakes and also enabled me to experience Quetico. So I guess I'm in favor of continuing tow service.
I agree that no tows would make the interior more of a wilderness experience, which would be nice."


For almost 30 years I too was a paddler purest and said our crew would never use a tow. As time and age progressed we did a one way tow in and then paddled out to the entry point where the truck was moved to by our tow outfitter. This past week we were towed both ways for the first time. We experienced the portages on day trips and had a great week in the BW. As voyageurs age the tow gives them the opportunity to continue enjoying all the aspects of the BW. I will be supporting our outfitters and all the services that they provide.
 
MReid
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06/14/2022 02:12PM  
papalambeau:
For almost 30 years I too was a paddler purest and said our crew would never use a tow. As time and age progressed we did a one way tow in and then paddled out to the entry point where the truck was moved to by our tow outfitter. This past week we were towed both ways for the first time. We experienced the portages on day trips and had a great week in the BW. As voyageurs age the tow gives them the opportunity to continue enjoying all the aspects of the BW. I will be supporting our outfitters and all the services that they provide."

I don't paddle BWCA, so I don't have a dog in this fight (Quetico, yes, and a variety of other places).

To be Devil's Advocate, I used to climb ice, rock, and mountains, and backcountry ski at a pretty decent level. As I've aged, my fitness levels have declined, as well as my motivation level. I can no longer do these things at the same level as I've aged--I'm still active at all these things, but I'm nowhere near the skier/climber (and canoeist!) I once was--I can't climb 7000 feet up a mountain in a few hours like I used to, and I don't ski slopes where a fall could kill me.

Should I expect others to settle for a reduced experience to allow me to continue doing these things? Should I support (say) snowmobile accessed skiing to get to the slopes I want to ski in remote areas? Or do I make my own adjustments, by going to other areas, climbing easier routes, or using lighter canoes that I can portage more easily.

There are a lot of neat things I've done in my life that I'll never do again. And that's life.
 
IowaGuy
senior member (100)senior membersenior member
 
06/14/2022 02:22PM  
Out of 10,000+ lakes in Minnesota, there aren't many without motorized access.

Those that want to use a motor or tow service have many other lakes to choose from besides the BWCAW.

Those of us looking for a paddle-only experience pretty much only have the BWCAW.
 
Chieflonewatie
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06/14/2022 02:52PM  
IowaGuy: "Out of 10,000+ lakes in Minnesota, there aren't many without motorized access.


Those that want to use a motor or tow service have many other lakes to choose from besides the BWCAW.


Those of us looking for a paddle-only experience pretty much only have the BWCAW."



Or you could choose an entry lake that does not allow boats.
 
06/14/2022 04:39PM  
MReid: "papalambeau:
For almost 30 years I too was a paddler purest and said our crew would never use a tow. As time and age progressed we did a one way tow in and then paddled out to the entry point where the truck was moved to by our tow outfitter. This past week we were towed both ways for the first time. We experienced the portages on day trips and had a great week in the BW. As voyageurs age the tow gives them the opportunity to continue enjoying all the aspects of the BW. I will be supporting our outfitters and all the services that they provide."

I don't paddle BWCA, so I don't have a dog in this fight (Quetico, yes, and a variety of other places).

To be Devil's Advocate, I used to climb ice, rock, and mountains, and backcountry ski at a pretty decent level. As I've aged, my fitness levels have declined, as well as my motivation level. I can no longer do these things at the same level as I've aged--I'm still active at all these things, but I'm nowhere near the skier/climber (and canoeist!) I once was--I can't climb 7000 feet up a mountain in a few hours like I used to, and I don't ski slopes where a fall could kill me.

Should I expect others to settle for a reduced experience to allow me to continue doing these things? Should I support (say) snowmobile accessed skiing to get to the slopes I want to ski in remote areas? Or do I make my own adjustments, by going to other areas, climbing easier routes, or using lighter canoes that I can portage more easily.

There are a lot of neat things I've done in my life that I'll never do again. And that's life."

very well said
 
Maiingan
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
 
06/14/2022 04:53PM  
A million acers 2000 lakes...if you can't deal with boats why would you go to a motor lake??
Boundary Waters Canoe
Area Wilderness Act of 1978
Public Law 95-495 92 Stat.
1649


(1) On the following lakes, motorboats with motors of no greater than twenty-five horsepower shall be permitted: Fall, Lake County; Newton, Lake County; Moose, Lake County; Newfound, Lake County; Sucker, Lake County; Snowbank, Lake County; East Bearskin, Cook County; South Farm, Lake County; Trout, Saint Louis County; Basswood, except that portion generally north of the narrows at the north end of Jackfish Bay and north of a point on the international boundary between Ottawa Island and Washington Island; Saganaga, Cook County, except for that portion west of American Point; Provided: That, on the following lakes, until January 1, 1984, the horsepower limitations described in this paragraph shall not apply to towboats registered with the Secretary: Moose, Lake County; Newfound, Lake County; Sucker, Lake County; Saganaga, Cook County, as limited in this paragraph.

Maybe this was a lie...take what we can now. Then we will come back later to take more from you. Chuck Dayton played a part in writing this. He bragged about tricking (lying to) the people of the area. "feasible".

How many of you remember that? Chuck said the local people are stupid, as does Becky Rom.

They lied to us and took snowmobiles. Tried to take motor portages. Burned our homes and resorts.

To be fair the government did the same to the Indians but in a different way. 1918 the government "removed" the Indians from the bwca so it could be logged. What the ruling class wants in this country they take.


 
straighthairedcurly
distinguished member(1515)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/14/2022 05:38PM  
In reading through the 1978 agreement, I noticed that Alder and Canoe lakes were originally planned to be motor lakes. Does anyone know when that got changed?

I think it is very reasonable to put caps on the quantity of tows. I find it ridiculous that one of the most common reasons I hear people arrange a tow on Moose is they want to get a campsite first.
 
doorbluff84
member (32)member
 
06/14/2022 05:57PM  
Maiingan: "A million acers 2000 lakes...if you can't deal with boats why would you go to a motor lake??
Boundary Waters Canoe
Area Wilderness Act of 1978
Public Law 95-495 92 Stat.
1649



(1) On the following lakes, motorboats with motors of no greater than twenty-five horsepower shall be permitted: Fall, Lake County; Newton, Lake County; Moose, Lake County; Newfound, Lake County; Sucker, Lake County; Snowbank, Lake County; East Bearskin, Cook County; South Farm, Lake County; Trout, Saint Louis County; Basswood, except that portion generally north of the narrows at the north end of Jackfish Bay and north of a point on the international boundary between Ottawa Island and Washington Island; Saganaga, Cook County, except for that portion west of American Point; Provided: That, on the following lakes, until January 1, 1984, the horsepower limitations described in this paragraph shall not apply to towboats registered with the Secretary: Moose, Lake County; Newfound, Lake County; Sucker, Lake County; Saganaga, Cook County, as limited in this paragraph.


Maybe this was a lie...take what we can now. Then we will come back later to take more from you. Chuck Dayton played a part in writing this. He bragged about tricking (lying to) the people of the area. "feasible".


How many of you remember that? Chuck said the local people are stupid, as does Becky Rom.


They lied to us and took snowmobiles. Tried to take motor portages. Burned our homes and resorts.


To be fair the government did the same to the Indians but in a different way. 1918 the government "removed" the Indians from the bwca so it could be logged. What the ruling class wants in this country they take.

"


Interesting stuff. In all honesty I’d love to see the entire BWCA returned to surrounding Ojibwa sovereignty and hopefully we could still paddle it.
 
06/14/2022 11:11PM  
Pinetree: "timatkn: "I am pretty sure that the WIlderness Act that was enacted in 1978 had a provision for towboats/motor boats. I know someone in the article was quoted that they originally going to be phased out but I don’t think that is 100% accurate.



With that being said I’ve always been under the impression that to change motor usage would take an act of congress. It isn’t something the FS can just change. Any lawyers on here? If it does take an act of congress do we want to do that? What if your chosen party comes into power and now a precedent is set—-couldn’t they now change it back to more motors or open it up for lease? Too often people think of their personal preferences and not the repercussions down the road.



If they did phase them out of Moose and Sag for example it definitely would lead to overcrowding at the entry points in that area and fewer camps available. With a tow, you can get to Sarah, Kawnippi in a day. Without them, more people would need to stage closer to the entry on the way in and out. So if people don’t like crowds now at the entry point lakes good luck without tows :)



I think some people forget that the BWCAW was created…it wasn’t always a wilderness. People were displaced, jobs were lost, and properties were taken with imminent domain…to do such a dramatic thing the current motor usage was some of the negotiations as I stated above. Without the current motors in the BWCAW there most likely never would have been a BWCAW created.



T"
Now because of Towboats, you get overcrowding just up a few miles like Birch-Knife lake area and there becomes no interior BWCA where people can truly put the effort in and get away when others motor right by you. "


Not really right by me or wrong by me…first of all my experience and pretty sure the FS statistics don’t support that area referenced is overcrowded. It’s the periphery. Really the way the BWCA is carved up I don’t think you can name a lake a decent paddler can’t get too in a day if they pack right. So interior is a relative term.

We can argue forever though…the big thing is that this was all part of the Wilderness Act. The people in the area already gave up a lot…their land, homes, business, and jobs to create the BWCAW. The carrot thrown to them was some lakes still were granted motor access. It’s called a compromise…you get something…I get something…we both win we both lose. In the real world this is how adults get things done. I have no appetite in the current political environment to open the Wilderness Act back up for congressional action just so a few people aren’t inconvenienced by tows. The risks of something worse than tows being unleashed are too great and I also do feel for the people in the area whose businesses could be affected.

(Pintree this isn’t directed at you, just the very first statement that I disagree the interior is crowded)

T
 
06/15/2022 02:32AM  
Most of the lakes that allow motors up to 25HP are pretty decent in size. Sag and Basswood come to mind. People are allowed to use a service (that sometimes saves peoples' lives ) in tows that may help them in their journey. I got no issue with it as it seems properly designed by size of lake. If you don't want motors- choose a different entry plain and simple.
 
Grizzlyman
distinguished member(748)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/15/2022 06:23AM  
I always figured that motors (and tows by extension) were a safety issue.

I’m sure we’ve all seen gnarly weather days. Now imagine a group of people trying to cross one of the huge BWCA lakes like sag, trout, basswood with bad weather and wind that progressively worse as you try to cross miles of open water.

We had an experience on trout that was barely safe with a motorboat- would have been deadly in a canoe (had we tried it). We wouldn’t have tried it but I would bet that someone would have.

You could almost guarantee rescues/deaths would increase in the bwca.

Motors on those big lakes keep people in a safe boat and tows do the same for crossing some of those areas- like sag.

Some (like Clearwater) could probably lose the motor but most are necessary.
 
TimC
member (15)member
 
06/15/2022 04:29PM  
I have yet to see a good reason for the elimination or reduction of tows on this thread other than "I don't like it"
 
Savage Voyageur
distinguished member(14167)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished membermaster membermaster member
 
06/15/2022 05:18PM  
I would be interested in finding out how many on these people quoted in this article that are making this decision have actually taken a tow, much less a BWCA trip? I’d be willing to bet the wilderness watch person that said tows are not necessary have never been on Moose with 2 foot whitecaps from the south. The system works, leave it alone.

 
06/15/2022 05:46PM  
Said above and validated by my experience, tow drivers steer wide and slow down, not all fishing boats are so courteous. Tow boats offer a valuable service and I hope they continue to do so.
 
thefourofus
distinguished member (183)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/15/2022 06:52PM  
bhouse46: "Said above and validated by my experience, tow drivers steer wide and slow down, not all fishing boats are so courteous. Tow boats offer a valuable service and I hope they continue to do so."
Steer wide: good. Slow down: maybe not so good. I always hate it when a boat on plane slows down as it passes and they wave like they are doing us a favor. A boat coming off of plane throws the biggest waves possible. I prefer they just stay on plane and fly on by.
 
06/15/2022 07:09PM  
I have used a tow a grand total of zero times and I don't think I ever will..... I learned from my Dad to Never say Never ;).

Even though I don't personally use them, I think that tows serve a great purpose and should not be messed with. It spreads people out quickly and gets more people away from the EP on the big motorized lakes. As others have stated.... there are sooooooo many places that you can paddle and enter the BWCA if you don't want to see a tow boat or even a motor boat for that matter.

I've done over 20 overnight trips plus many daytrips and the only lakes I've been on that allow motors are Poplar(several times), Clearwater (twice), East Bearskin, and West Bearskin. I didn't encounter a motor on East Bearskin or West Bearskin and only one the 2 times on Clearwater. I've only seen motor boats a couple of times while paddling across Poplar.

If you don't like seeing tow boats and motor boats it is so easy to pick one of the many EP's that are on non-motorized lakes. There are a lot of them.
 
shock
distinguished member(4097)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
06/16/2022 11:18AM  
straighthairedcurly: "In reading through the 1978 agreement, I noticed that Alder and Canoe lakes were originally planned to be motor lakes. Does anyone know when that got changed?


I think it is very reasonable to put caps on the quantity of tows. I find it ridiculous that one of the most common reasons I hear people arrange a tow on Moose is they want to get a campsite first. "
my first series of maps (early 90';s) had alder and canoe motorized. i think (i think) those were changed the same time seagull went motors only down 3-mile island (1996 ?)
 
TaylorRN
member (37)member
 
06/17/2022 08:37PM  
Okay this article is hilarious for me. First I met the writer of this article on my way out from ensign. We were both waiting for our tows out and boy did they have a stringer of walleyes. They took a picture of my dog on the tow boat but I’m not sure if they used the picture.

Secondly I know personally who they are referring to when he writes about the two men who dumped their canoe. That was my brother and friends I was meeting up with on ensign after my solo.
 
cyclones30
distinguished member(3987)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/18/2022 08:37AM  
What's the point of messing with tow boats if you're going to leave the fishing motor boats? The tow boats are flat bottom boats that leave very little wake on plane. The fishing boats I see are usually deep v with too much stuff and they make a GIANT wake. So if it's a safety concern....the fishing boats are far worse offenders.

As for the tow itself, I've used one on one trip. We drive 9 hours to get there one way, I will gladly spend $30 to get me farther away from the entry point and not have to worry about wind. If it takes 4 hours one way to paddle across that initial distance I just saved myself a precious extra day in the BW counting the way back too.

I say either take all motors away......day and overnight motor permits. And the towboats....or nothing.

Take away the "towboats" and pretty soon you'll have day permit fishing people putting racks on their boats to get paid for the trip they're already making.
 
thegildedgopher
distinguished member(1390)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/21/2022 09:54AM  
cyclones30: "What's the point of messing with tow boats if you're going to leave the fishing motor boats? The tow boats are flat bottom boats that leave very little wake on plane. The fishing boats I see are usually deep v with too much stuff and they make a GIANT wake. So if it's a safety concern....the fishing boats are far worse offenders.


As for the tow itself, I've used one on one trip. We drive 9 hours to get there one way, I will gladly spend $30 to get me farther away from the entry point and not have to worry about wind. If it takes 4 hours one way to paddle across that initial distance I just saved myself a precious extra day in the BW counting the way back too.


I say either take all motors away......day and overnight motor permits. And the towboats....or nothing.


Take away the "towboats" and pretty soon you'll have day permit fishing people putting racks on their boats to get paid for the trip they're already making. "


Even though I think it's an awful idea to make any changes to the motorboat or tow policy -- I will say that with the tows it's the sheer volume. Going up and down the Moose chain or the Sag corridor I would estimate a 10:1 towboat to fishing boat ratio. This lawsuit/argument from Proescholdt and WW has been around for quite some time -- since at least 2015 and possibly before.
 
cyclones30
distinguished member(3987)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/21/2022 12:46PM  
thegildedgopher: "cyclones30: "What's the point of messing with tow boats if you're going to leave the fishing motor boats? The tow boats are flat bottom boats that leave very little wake on plane. The fishing boats I see are usually deep v with too much stuff and they make a GIANT wake. So if it's a safety concern....the fishing boats are far worse offenders.



As for the tow itself, I've used one on one trip. We drive 9 hours to get there one way, I will gladly spend $30 to get me farther away from the entry point and not have to worry about wind. If it takes 4 hours one way to paddle across that initial distance I just saved myself a precious extra day in the BW counting the way back too.



I say either take all motors away......day and overnight motor permits. And the towboats....or nothing.



Take away the "towboats" and pretty soon you'll have day permit fishing people putting racks on their boats to get paid for the trip they're already making. "



Even though I think it's an awful idea to make any changes to the motorboat or tow policy -- I will say that with the tows it's the sheer volume. Going up and down the Moose chain or the Sag corridor I would estimate a 10:1 towboat to fishing boat ratio. This lawsuit/argument from Proescholdt and WW has been around for quite some time -- since at least 2015 and possibly before."


Right, but I paddled Moose once and had no issues w/ tow boats. They kept their distance and stayed on plane and were gone and little waves for us.

Then a 14' or 16' deep v with too much gear and people comes by plowing a huge wave. That happened a few times. I could have had 100 towboats go by and not had a problem. Every single fishing boat that went by required skills to deal with their wakes
 
thegildedgopher
distinguished member(1390)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/21/2022 12:59PM  
cyclones30: "thegildedgopher: "cyclones30: "What's the point of messing with tow boats if you're going to leave the fishing motor boats? The tow boats are flat bottom boats that leave very little wake on plane. The fishing boats I see are usually deep v with too much stuff and they make a GIANT wake. So if it's a safety concern....the fishing boats are far worse offenders.



As for the tow itself, I've used one on one trip. We drive 9 hours to get there one way, I will gladly spend $30 to get me farther away from the entry point and not have to worry about wind. If it takes 4 hours one way to paddle across that initial distance I just saved myself a precious extra day in the BW counting the way back too.



I say either take all motors away......day and overnight motor permits. And the towboats....or nothing.



Take away the "towboats" and pretty soon you'll have day permit fishing people putting racks on their boats to get paid for the trip they're already making. "




Even though I think it's an awful idea to make any changes to the motorboat or tow policy -- I will say that with the tows it's the sheer volume. Going up and down the Moose chain or the Sag corridor I would estimate a 10:1 towboat to fishing boat ratio. This lawsuit/argument from Proescholdt and WW has been around for quite some time -- since at least 2015 and possibly before."



Right, but I paddled Moose once and had no issues w/ tow boats. They kept their distance and stayed on plane and were gone and little waves for us.


Then a 14' or 16' deep v with too much gear and people comes by plowing a huge wave. That happened a few times. I could have had 100 towboats go by and not had a problem. Every single fishing boat that went by required skills to deal with their wakes "


We go out of our way in our 16' boat to not throw a wake at paddlers, but I have unfortunately observed this as well.

In the end this lawsuit isn't about the experience of the average paddler. It's about reducing the total number of motor trips per year on any given motor lake in the BWCA, and towboats are an easy target to achieve that. And in terms of PR they can frame it all by blaming the USFS and outfitters, painting an inaccurate picture of both those groups in my opinion.
 
OldGuide2
member (42)member
 
06/21/2022 08:55PM  
Not sure what to make of towboat complaints on the Moose Lake chain. There are other ways "out" of Moose if you don't want to go all the way to Prairie Portage. Then there is the Birch Lake liftover if you are headed for Knife.
 
Heyfritty
distinguished member (144)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/22/2022 09:08AM  
timatkn: "Pinetree: "timatkn: "I am pretty sure that the WIlderness Act that was enacted in 1978 had a provision for towboats/motor boats. I know someone in the article was quoted that they originally going to be phased out but I don’t think that is 100% accurate.



With that being said I’ve always been under the impression that to change motor usage would take an act of congress. It isn’t something the FS can just change. Any lawyers on here? If it does take an act of congress do we want to do that? What if your chosen party comes into power and now a precedent is set—-couldn’t they now change it back to more motors or open it up for lease? Too often people think of their personal preferences and not the repercussions down the road.



If they did phase them out of Moose and Sag for example it definitely would lead to overcrowding at the entry points in that area and fewer camps available. With a tow, you can get to Sarah, Kawnippi in a day. Without them, more people would need to stage closer to the entry on the way in and out. So if people don’t like crowds now at the entry point lakes good luck without tows :)




I think some people forget that the BWCAW was created…it wasn’t always a wilderness. People were displaced, jobs were lost, and properties were taken with imminent domain…to do such a dramatic thing the current motor usage was some of the negotiations as I stated above. Without the current motors in the BWCAW there most likely never would have been a BWCAW created.



T"
Now because of Towboats, you get overcrowding just up a few miles like Birch-Knife lake area and there becomes no interior BWCA where people can truly put the effort in and get away when others motor right by you. "



Not really right by me or wrong by me…first of all my experience and pretty sure the FS statistics don’t support that area referenced is overcrowded. It’s the periphery. Really the way the BWCA is carved up I don’t think you can name a lake a decent paddler can’t get too in a day if they pack right. So interior is a relative term.


We can argue forever though…the big thing is that this was all part of the Wilderness Act. The people in the area already gave up a lot…their land, homes, business, and jobs to create the BWCAW. The carrot thrown to them was some lakes still were granted motor access. It’s called a compromise…you get something…I get something…we both win we both lose. In the real world this is how adults get things done. I have no appetite in the current political environment to open the Wilderness Act back up for congressional action just so a few people aren’t inconvenienced by tows. The risks of something worse than tows being unleashed are too great and I also do feel for the people in the area whose businesses could be affected.

(Pintree this isn’t directed at you, just the very first statement that I disagree the interior is crowded)


T"


This may be a bit off-topic, but the way the thread has evolved, I think this entry is relevant. I’m going from memory so I may be off a little on some of the details.

I just finished reading “Troubled Waters-The Fight for the BWCAW”. I’m an admitted political junkie and found the incredibly detailed description of the process of getting the BWCAW legislation passed incredibly fascinating.

It was written by 3 men deeply involved in the process. One political consultant, one environmentalist, and a scientist. One author, Miron Heinselman(a Friends of the BWCA founder)was a USFS scientist who spent his career studying the ecology of the area. He retired just so he could advocate for the wilderness. His character was unimpeachable and he was incredibly knowledgeable. Both camps respected him tremendously. Much of the wilderness preservation aspects of the law were included or enhanced because of him. The level of restrictions on logging, snowmobiling, mining and motor use are due in significant part to him.

There were major battles over the years on each these issues(and many crazy stunts by both sides), as well as other less contentious issues. Minneapolis liberal Rep. Don Larson sacrificed his career and the Minnesota delegation in St. Paul and D.C. essentially flipped from the DFL to the GOP.

The description and strategies of each side showed the good and bad side of politics. The intimate look at some of the committee machinations gave me new respect for having experienced members of congress.

In the house, it resulted in getting the bill into a much more sympathetic and motivated subcommittee. That chairman, an environmental advocate with decades of experience, used every maneuver to box out the anti-wilderness coalition. For instance, in the last opportunity to finalize the bill, he used the House rules to replace the entire anti-wilderness bill because they made the mistake of presenting their final bill first. He just substituted the whole thing with what became law.

The number of times that the bill was on the verge of getting scuttled was unbelievable. At the very end, Heinselman was in tears because motors would be allowed. He said that was the final straw and wanted the bill killed. The political expert, consoled him and reminded him that compromise was at the heart of politics. He had to convince him that this was the last, best hope for getting as much protection of the BWCA as possible.

Given those negotiations, opening up the BWCAW Act would at best make minor tweaks to motor use, and more likely would water down the rules we want protected or expanded. I can’t imagine trying to change it knowing the passion on each side. If I remember right, in the end it passed on the last possible day of the Senate’s session in 1978.

Even then, it was nearly blocked. The anti-wilderness side had a house insider literally hide the final official version. There was a mad scramble late in the day to find it and get it to the Senate. There, another savvy politician slipped it in such that it avoided last minute scrutiny. Just the final intense phase lasted a couple years, not to mention all of the struggles from before 1964 and beyond.

Fritty
 
06/22/2022 09:50PM  
Thanks Fritty, very interesting and better described than what I could do…,that was the point I was trying to make.

T
 
pkrien
member (29)member
 
06/23/2022 03:29PM  
Kendis: "Captn Tony:
I haven't had a problem with tow operators, almost all of the tows that pass by me slow down their boats so as to not cause a wake, now fishing boats are a different story!"



+1"

+2 Tow boat operators have always been courteous, but fishing boats have gone out of there way to cut us off, every time I've seen one.
 
thegildedgopher
distinguished member(1390)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/23/2022 03:45PM  
pkrien: "Kendis: "Captn Tony:
I haven't had a problem with tow operators, almost all of the tows that pass by me slow down their boats so as to not cause a wake, now fishing boats are a different story!"




+1"

+2 Tow boat operators have always been courteous, but fishing boats have gone out of there way to cut us off, every time I've seen one."


I find that hard to believe but I guess your experience could be very different from mine. Even if they aren't being overly courteous, they are there to fish, not to heckle paddlers. Going out of their way to cut you off? Unlikely.
 
06/23/2022 11:37PM  
I’ve paddled Moose a lot of times. I’ve depended on fishermen to get us in in high wave conditions. My son (now forty) was three. I otherwise only took one other tow from Gunflint Lodge... tow and fishing boats have never been an issue. It’s been a good thing for all these years. Boats have always been respectful. The ability to have these motor boats around in emergencies is a big bonus. There’s plenty of “wilderness.”
 
tonecoughlin
member (40)member
 
06/27/2022 02:06PM  
I've never understood the tow to me it just seems lazy it only saves you 2 hours of paddling. I ran into a group of young capable men in their 30's hanging out at the end of Moose waiting for their tow to get out this last spring I took my time and had a snack and took some pictures. By the time I left the portage they were still standing in the rain clogging up the portage they could have been 3/4 of the way home.

It's just hard to believe you cannot go to the BWCA without a tow on the motorboat lakes. And the folks getting tows from Crane Lake all the way to LLC that's just ridiculous.

Wakes don't bother me at all if it's too dangerous to paddle then hang out until it's safe for your ability or go to a different entry point.

What would people do if they couldn't get a tow? Not go?

My 2 cents.
 
jhb8426
distinguished member(1355)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
07/03/2022 11:17PM  
papalambeau: "As voyageurs age the tow gives them the opportunity to continue enjoying all the aspects of the BW. I will be supporting our outfitters and all the services that they provide."

I see nothing wrong with tows across big waters. And eliminating them is a bit elitist in that it denies aging voyageurs the opportunities to venture deeper into the "wilderness."

doorbluff84: "Interesting stuff. In all honesty I’d love to see the entire BWCA returned to surrounding Ojibwa sovereignty and hopefully we could still paddle it."

So, what do you think about Lower Red Lake? You might never go to the BWCA again...

Grizzlyman: "I always figured that motors (and tows by extension) were a safety issue.


I’m sure we’ve all seen gnarly weather days. Now imagine a group of people trying to cross one of the huge BWCA lakes like sag, trout, basswood with bad weather and wind that progressively worse as you try to cross miles of open water.
"


Exactly...
 
HowardSprague
distinguished member(3238)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
07/05/2022 09:57AM  
WhiteWolf: "Most of the lakes that allow motors up to 25HP are pretty decent in size. Sag and Basswood come to mind. People are allowed to use a service (that sometimes saves peoples' lives ) in tows that may help them in their journey. I got no issue with it as it seems properly designed by size of lake. If you don't want motors- choose a different entry plain and simple. "

Pretty much my sentiment as well. I’ve only seen the towboats on Moose and Burntside (going to Crab) and the rough waters of Basswood, and can see how it would be the ideal way to go for some people on particular trips. I could see taking a tow on Snowbank to Disappointment in some cases too - conditions, time of day, the composition of one’s group, and so on. I’ve not used a tow so far, but do not subscribe to a “everyone must do the same as I” viewpoint. Crossing Moose solo last year to go to Wind, I did not find the towboats to be a nuisance at all ( though I did try to time it and wait or hurry it up at some point).
 
papalambeau
distinguished member (214)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
07/05/2022 11:48AM  
MReid: "papalambeau:
For almost 30 years I too was a paddler purest and said our crew would never use a tow. As time and age progressed we did a one way tow in and then paddled out to the entry point where the truck was moved to by our tow outfitter. This past week we were towed both ways for the first time. We experienced the portages on day trips and had a great week in the BW. As voyageurs age the tow gives them the opportunity to continue enjoying all the aspects of the BW. I will be supporting our outfitters and all the services that they provide."

I don't paddle BWCA, so I don't have a dog in this fight (Quetico, yes, and a variety of other places).

To be Devil's Advocate, I used to climb ice, rock, and mountains, and backcountry ski at a pretty decent level. As I've aged, my fitness levels have declined, as well as my motivation level. I can no longer do these things at the same level as I've aged--I'm still active at all these things, but I'm nowhere near the skier/climber (and canoeist!) I once was--I can't climb 7000 feet up a mountain in a few hours like I used to, and I don't ski slopes where a fall could kill me.

Should I expect others to settle for a reduced experience to allow me to continue doing these things? Should I support (say) snowmobile accessed skiing to get to the slopes I want to ski in remote areas? Or do I make my own adjustments, by going to other areas, climbing easier routes, or using lighter canoes that I can portage more easily.

There are a lot of neat things I've done in my life that I'll never do again. And that's life."


Agreed. And I am adjusting by using a tow for the first time in 30 years so that I can continue to enjoy the BW. I may not be able to do it 20 years from now but I'm going to keep enjoying it as long as possible.
 
07/05/2022 01:30PM  
papalambeau: "MReid: "papalambeau:
For almost 30 years I too was a paddler purest and said our crew would never use a tow. As time and age progressed we did a one way tow in and then paddled out to the entry point where the truck was moved to by our tow outfitter. This past week we were towed both ways for the first time. We experienced the portages on day trips and had a great week in the BW. As voyageurs age the tow gives them the opportunity to continue enjoying all the aspects of the BW. I will be supporting our outfitters and all the services that they provide."

I don't paddle BWCA, so I don't have a dog in this fight (Quetico, yes, and a variety of other places).


To be Devil's Advocate, I used to climb ice, rock, and mountains, and backcountry ski at a pretty decent level. As I've aged, my fitness levels have declined, as well as my motivation level. I can no longer do these things at the same level as I've aged--I'm still active at all these things, but I'm nowhere near the skier/climber (and canoeist!) I once was--I can't climb 7000 feet up a mountain in a few hours like I used to, and I don't ski slopes where a fall could kill me.


Should I expect others to settle for a reduced experience to allow me to continue doing these things? Should I support (say) snowmobile accessed skiing to get to the slopes I want to ski in remote areas? Or do I make my own adjustments, by going to other areas, climbing easier routes, or using lighter canoes that I can portage more easily.


There are a lot of neat things I've done in my life that I'll never do again. And that's life."



Agreed. And I am adjusting by using a tow for the first time in 30 years so that I can continue to enjoy the BW. I may not be able to do it 20 years from now but I'm going to keep enjoying it as long as possible."


Your just a young pup still
 
07/05/2022 01:33PM  
pkrien: "Kendis: "Captn Tony:
I haven't had a problem with tow operators, almost all of the tows that pass by me slow down their boats so as to not cause a wake, now fishing boats are a different story!"




+1"

+2 Tow boat operators have always been courteous, but fishing boats have gone out of there way to cut us off, every time I've seen one."


I think over all motor people are getting more couteous, but still a fairly high group
don't care or are ignorant. ALL people motoring into the BWCA should have a orientation just like paddlers,but on emphasis on water saffty.

I will say Most Tow operators are pretty good. There is a couple of women running Tow boats and they are very courteous of others. I know Lynn before they sold at Voyaguers alway cared for other. WONDER WHY IT SEEMS WOMEN OPERATORS ARE SO MUCH MORE COURTEOUS AND HELPFUL? HUH BOYS.

About a decade ago and I don't know if he still works for Tourells but he would deliberately go close to a canoe. Yes he put water in many canoes.
Once we were paddling up to prairie Portage and he did it to us and we ended up with 4 inches of water in our canoe He had two canoes and 4 people he took to Prairie Portage. To my surprise when we got to Prairie Portage the people who took the Tow were waiting for us and they apologized for the action of the Tow Boat operator and after what he did they said they would never to take a Tow from that guy again.

It's possible for they two groups to get along but we need more enforcement by County Water Safety Patrol, Mn DNR CO's and BWCA rangers.

HAS ANYONE EVER SEE LAW ENFORCEMNET DOING BOAT SAFTY CHECKS ON MOTOR ROUTES? I HAVEN'T.
 
Savage Voyageur
distinguished member(14167)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished membermaster membermaster member
 
07/05/2022 05:16PM  
Pinetree: "About a decade ago and I don't know if he still works for Tourells but he would deliberately go close to a canoe. Yes he put water in many canoes.
Once we were paddling up to prairie Portage and he did it to us and we ended up with 4 inches of water in our canoe He had two canoes and 4 people he took to Prairie Portage. To my surprise when we got to Prairie Portage the people who took the Tow were waiting for us and they apologized for the action of the Tow Boat operator and after what he did they said they would never to take a Tow from that guy again.

HAS ANYONE EVER SEE LAW ENFORCEMNET DOING BOAT SAFTY CHECKS ON MOTOR ROUTES? I HAVEN'T."


I’ve taken lots of tows from LaTourells and I’ve never seen behavior like this. This is about the most dangerous thing you could possibly do on the water. I hope you reported them to the Forest service, or at least Jeep or Bob LaTourell.

I’ve never seen or had an inspection on Moose lake. About 10 trips.
 
07/05/2022 05:58PM  
Savage Voyageur: "Pinetree: "About a decade ago and I don't know if he still works for Tourells but he would deliberately go close to a canoe. Yes he put water in many canoes.
Once we were paddling up to prairie Portage and he did it to us and we ended up with 4 inches of water in our canoe He had two canoes and 4 people he took to Prairie Portage. To my surprise when we got to Prairie Portage the people who took the Tow were waiting for us and they apologized for the action of the Tow Boat operator and after what he did they said they would never to take a Tow from that guy again.


HAS ANYONE EVER SEE LAW ENFORCEMNET DOING BOAT SAFTY CHECKS ON MOTOR ROUTES? I HAVEN'T."



I’ve taken lots of tows from LaTourells and I’ve never seen behavior like this. This is about the most dangerous thing you could possibly do on the water. I hope you reported them to the Forest service, or at least Jeep or Bob LaTourell.


I’ve never seen or had an inspection on Moose lake. About 10 trips.
"

Like I said this was like 10 years ago and I seen the same person a few years in a row. Maybe he is gone now? That guy I seen 0.5 miles away see a canoe and he would almost go 90 degrees so he could go by canoes. I think he was making a statement you canoe people won't stop motor people and I will show you.
Like many things a bad apple can spread. Hope he got thrown out.
I still say where is the various agencies for water safety patrol. Word gets around fast they are up there. Do it once in awhile all ummer it effects how people act.

I did see Lynn from Voyagues standing on the Canadian side with tow boat on the otherside. She was waiting for canoe party coming across Bailey bay on a extremely windy day. When we landed she was concerned and very polite and told us to be safe on our finish at the Moos lake landing. I many others miss how much she did for the BWCA.

Moose lake is by far where most motorboat and canoes interact. Saganaga has so much area to separate each other on eaches trip.
 
Maiingan
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
 
07/05/2022 07:28PM  
Maybe Four Mile Portage should have never been closed. Also, the Newton portage is poorly maintained and not as easy for portage wheels as it was.

Before the feds started calling the area the bwca there was a boat ramp on the Range River. These enter areas should have never been eliminated, they did an excellent job of dispersing people.

So now the forest service has moved the motor traffic to Prairie Portage.
 
Chilly
distinguished member(1845)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
07/06/2022 11:29PM  
timatkn: "I am pretty sure that the WIlderness Act that was enacted in 1978 had a provision for towboats/motor boats. I know someone in the article was quoted that they originally going to be phased out but I don’t think that is 100% accurate.


With that being said I’ve always been under the impression that to change motor usage it would take an act of congress. It isn’t something the FS can just change. Any lawyers on here? If it does take an act of congress do we really want to do that. What if your chosen party comes into power and now a precedent is set—-couldn’t they now change it back to more motors or open it up for lease? Too often people think of their own personal preference and not the repercussions down the road.


If they did phase them out of Moose and Sag for example it definitely would lead to overcrowding at the entry points in those area and less camps available. With a tow you can get to Sarah, Kawnippi in a day. With out them more people would need to stage closer to the entry on the way in and out. So if people don’t like crowds now at the entry point lakes good luck with out tows :)


I think some people forget that the BWCAW was created…it wasn’t always a wilderness. People were displaced, jobs were lost, properties were taken with imminent domain…to do such a dramatic thing the current motor usage was some of the negotiation as I stated above. Without the current motors in the BWCAW there most likely never would of been a BWCAW created.


T"


Are you saying A1S1 of the Constitution is important? ;)
 
Kendis
distinguished member (140)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
07/07/2022 07:56AM  
Maiingan: " Also, the Newton portage is poorly maintained and not as easy for portage wheels as it was."

You're complaining about the mini-roads into and out of Newton?
 
07/07/2022 08:03AM  
Kendis: "Maiingan: " Also, the Newton portage is poorly maintained and not as easy for portage wheels as it was."


You're complaining about the mini-roads into and out of Newton?"


I think he is saying that less motorboats travel this route due to the condition of the portage compared to previous years thus increasing motor traffic on Moose. Which is what some people seem to be complaining about.

I have no idea if that is true or not…it is plausible every action has an equal opposite reaction though.

T
 
07/07/2022 08:10AM  
tonecoughlin: "I've never understood the tow to me it just seems lazy it only saves you 2 hours of paddling.

It's just hard to believe you cannot go to the BWCA without a tow on the motorboat lakes. And the folks getting tows from Crane Lake all the way to LLC that's just ridiculous.

What would people do if they couldn't get a tow? Not go?

My 2 cents."


I am not sure you understand LLC and Quetico entry? The majority of tows are for entry into The Quetico. Almost the entire western south entry is in Lac La Croix on the Canadian side. That part of the lake has absolutely no motor restrictions. You can have a yacht with a 1,000 HP motor on the Canadian side if you want. None of that is wilderness…It’s a motor boat highway so to speak with resorts and even a town.

So under your idea…to get to the Quetico entry points you have to travel the biggest lake in Quetico/BWCA, an area of the lake that has no motor restrictions for potentially 2-3 days if you are lucky with the weather…to finally start your trip to the Quetico. To leave you would potentially have to do the same thing. So you think it is reasonable to spend 4-6 days of your trip just trying to get to and from your trip? An Apples to apples comparison would be to park your car in Ely and portage the Fernberg road, just because you don’t like cars…do you do that? Or are you too lazy? I am going to guess you drive all the way to the entry point…just like people do on Lac La Croix. Geesh…

T
 
Maiingan
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
 
07/07/2022 08:53AM  
Kendis: "Maiingan: " Also, the Newton portage is poorly maintained and not as easy for portage wheels as it was."


You're complaining about the mini-roads into and out of Newton?"


No! I am not complaining. It is not as easy for portage wheels as it was. In fact, there were trucks there to pull people over at one time. At my age there is no way I could portage a sportsman, even with 3 people my age.
 
mmrocker13
distinguished member (131)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
07/08/2022 11:45AM  
tonecoughlin: "I've never understood the tow to me it just seems lazy it only saves you 2 hours of paddling. I ran into a group of young capable men in their 30's hanging out at the end of Moose waiting for their tow to get out this last spring I took my time and had a snack and took some pictures. By the time I left the portage they were still standing in the rain clogging up the portage they could have been 3/4 of the way home.


It's just hard to believe you cannot go to the BWCA without a tow on the motorboat lakes. And the folks getting tows from Crane Lake all the way to LLC that's just ridiculous.


Wakes don't bother me at all if it's too dangerous to paddle then hang out until it's safe for your ability or go to a different entry point.


What would people do if they couldn't get a tow? Not go?


My 2 cents."


I'll take the tow across moose any day. :D And a handful of years back, we started doing a tow from the Fall lake entry to go to crooked, and while the TIME from mudro to crooked is about the same, I like that route a lot better. Our planned route for last year (that we cancelled bc el fuego) was a tow across crane and LLC and then through LLC up and across crooked.
Tows can save you time getting you in a bit further. Tows can cut out portages for the trip in so you can go with more food/gear for a longer time, and save the portages for when loads lighten up after a week or 10 days. And, re: what would people do if they couldn't get a tow? Not go?" ... for some people, yes, that's exactly what would happen. Some people need the extra accessibility that a tow provides. Should they not be allowed to go in?
There's lots of reasons to take one, and they are allowed, so I don't get why the judgement for folks who do. It's like the base camp haters. Don't like tows? Don't believe they are "right"? Don't take one. Simple.
Side note...The only time I've ever had an issue with motorized traffic was on Moose--not from a tow boat, but from two dudes with beers in hand who kept strafing us (on an already rainy, windy, choppy day). It really solidified my desire to motor across that lake whenever possible :D
 
07/08/2022 12:07PM  
mmrocker13: "tonecoughlin: "I've never understood the tow to me it just seems lazy it only saves you 2 hours of paddling. I ran into a group of young capable men in their 30's hanging out at the end of Moose waiting for their tow to get out this last spring I took my time and had a snack and took some pictures. By the time I left the portage they were still standing in the rain clogging up the portage they could have been 3/4 of the way home.



It's just hard to believe you cannot go to the BWCA without a tow on the motorboat lakes. And the folks getting tows from Crane Lake all the way to LLC that's just ridiculous.



Wakes don't bother me at all if it's too dangerous to paddle then hang out until it's safe for your ability or go to a different entry point.



What would people do if they couldn't get a tow? Not go?



My 2 cents."



I'll take the tow across moose any day. :D And a handful of years back, we started doing a tow from the Fall lake entry to go to crooked, and while the TIME from mudro to crooked is about the same, I like that route a lot better. Our planned route for last year (that we cancelled bc el fuego) was a tow across crane and LLC and then through LLC up and across crooked.
Tows can save you time getting you in a bit further. Tows can cut out portages for the trip in so you can go with more food/gear for a longer time, and save the portages for when loads lighten up after a week or 10 days. And, re: what would people do if they couldn't get a tow? Not go?" ... for some people, yes, that's exactly what would happen. Some people need the extra accessibility that a tow provides. Should they not be allowed to go in?
There's lots of reasons to take one, and they are allowed, so I don't get why the judgement for folks who do. It's like the base camp haters. Don't like tows? Don't believe they are "right"? Don't take one. Simple.
Side note...The only time I've ever had an issue with motorized traffic was on Moose--not from a tow boat, but from two dudes with beers in hand who kept strafing us (on an already rainy, windy, choppy day). It really solidified my desire to motor across that lake whenever possible :D "


Tow boats do shrink the size of the wilderness tho-just an extended highway inland. What ever your stance I do know many people avoid Moose lake because of extremely heavy boat traffic at times. Equals or exceeds may lakes outside he BWCA.
Like Edward Abby writer and conservationist. While working in an Arizona National Park a lady came up to him and said the nice natural area would be nicer if you paved the trails.
 
07/11/2022 07:11AM  
Pinetree: "mmrocker13: "tonecoughlin: "
My 2 cents."

D "



Tow boats do shrink the size of the wilderness tho-just an extended highway inland. What ever your stance I do know many people avoid Moose lake because of extremely heavy boat traffic at times. Equals or exceeds may lakes outside he BWCA.
Like Edward Abby writer and conservationist. While working in an Arizona National Park a lady came up to him and said the nice natural area would be nicer if you paved the trails."


I agree with your comment about the idiocracy of people wanting to pave trails everywhere. I remember doing a cave tour in Barbados and people whining because the trails weren’t paved even though the trip said high difficulty.

I’ll disagree tows shrink the wilderness. Whatever anyone’s stance is on the motorized zone of the BWCA…it is what it is…this was part of the creation of the BWCAW. It may FEEL LIKE they shrink the wilderness but I’d counter that people that feel that way are in an alternate reality where they don’t realize that tows/motors are just plain part of that area of the BWCAW. Without those motors there never would of been a BWCAW so like or not motors/tows are part of the “wilderness”. You can’t shrink something you are part of….Saying they shrink the size of the wilderness is like saying the Fernberg Road to get to the wilderness shrinks the wilderness because you chose to walk/portage it even though cars are allowed…

T
 
LesliesDad
distinguished member (177)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
07/15/2022 10:49AM  
Chieflonewatie: "IowaGuy: "Out of 10,000+ lakes in Minnesota, there aren't many without motorized access.



Those that want to use a motor or tow service have many other lakes to choose from besides the BWCAW.



Those of us looking for a paddle-only experience pretty much only have the BWCAW."




Or you could choose an entry lake that does not allow boats.
"


+1 Yep, there are plenty of other EPs where motors are not allowed.
My son-in-law is a type 1 diabetic. He and my daughter have camped on Saganaga using my 14 ft boat with a 9.9 hp motor. It would simply be too risky for them to visit the BWCA in a watercraft that didn't have a motor.
 
07/15/2022 11:14AM  
Moose lake is probably 99% of the conflicts between different users> It would go a long way as I said before if motorboat people would be respectful of canoe people. Yes, I think there has been much improvement. But like on our highways some boats got to speed from point A to B as fast as they cannot consider he
may affect the life threat or others. We need a concentrated effort by enforcement just like MN Highway patrol concentrations at times. We can work it out if people remember others count also.

People talk about waves from boats no different than big natural waves. Not true. Motorboat waves can be very big and close together with highs and lows of the wave very close, also if you already have a natural wind, you may be dealing with, now you may have waves complimenting each other making it very difficult. Often two modes of waves at once. Not good.

 
cyclones30
distinguished member(3987)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
07/15/2022 01:09PM  
I don't see how you can change tow-boat rules without doing the same for fishing boats. Oh wait.....both of them give the USFS $$ income.

I'd rather have no motor boats on any BWCA lakes than deal with some with tows, some allow portage wheels, some allow 25hp, some are 10hp, some have overnight motor permits.

There are 9978 more lakes in MN that allow motor boats....use those.
 
07/15/2022 04:07PM  
cyclones30: "I don't see how you can change tow-boat rules without doing the same for fishing boats. Oh wait.....both of them give the USFS $$ income.

I'd rather have no motor boats on any BWCA lakes than deal with some with tows, some allow portage wheels, some allow 25hp, some are 10hp, some have overnight motor permits.

There are 9978 more lakes in MN that allow motor boats....use those. "


I 100% agree on I'd like to see no motors on Moose... Except the issue is this was part of the concession to get the votes to create the BWCAW. Without the motors on Moose, the Wilderness act would not have passed and you would still have motors on ALL the lakes. To change the motor usage now we would need to have congress revisit the 1978 Wilderness Act… I don't think any of us want that...it could easily go the other way and open more lakes up for motor access, fly-ins, commercial fishing, logging, resorts, mining, etc...??? The Wilderness act that created the BWCAW barely passed and was quite contentious. It would be a HUGE risk to revisit this just to get motors/tows off this area. The FS for the most part doesn’t have any say…they have to follow the guidelines of the Wilderness Act.

One can counter your last comment and say there are over 2,000 lakes in the BWCA if you don't want to be bothered by motors go to the other 1,995 lakes that don't allow them :) It doesn't have anything to do with money either for the FS--they can maybe make some minor changes but mostly their hands are tied by the 1978 wilderness act regulations.

I think I'll live with an imperfect wilderness rather than not have one at all...that's really what it comes down to.

T
 
KawnipiKid
senior member (69)senior membersenior member
 
07/16/2022 07:46PM  
timatkn: "cyclones30: "I don't see how you can change tow-boat rules without doing the same for fishing boats. Oh wait.....both of them give the USFS $$ income.

I'd rather have no motor boats on any BWCA lakes than deal with some with tows, some allow portage wheels, some allow 25hp, some are 10hp, some have overnight motor permits.

There are 9978 more lakes in MN that allow motor boats....use those. "



I 100% agree on I'd like to see no motors on Moose... Except the issue is this was part of the concession to get the votes to create the BWCAW. Without the motors on Moose, the Wilderness act would not have passed and you would still have motors on ALL the lakes. To change the motor usage now we would need to have congress revisit the 1978 Wilderness Act… I don't think any of us want that...it could easily go the other way and open more lakes up for motor access, fly-ins, commercial fishing, logging, resorts, mining, etc...??? The Wilderness act that created the BWCAW barely passed and was quite contentious. It would be a HUGE risk to revisit this just to get motors/tows off this area. The FS for the most part doesn’t have any say…they have to follow the guidelines of the Wilderness Act.


One can counter your last comment and say there are over 2,000 lakes in the BWCA if you don't want to be bothered by motors go to the other 1,995 lakes that don't allow them :) It doesn't have anything to do with money either for the FS--they can maybe make some minor changes but mostly their hands are tied by the 1978 wilderness act regulations.


I think I'll live with an imperfect wilderness rather than not have one at all...that's really what it comes down to.


T"
 
thegildedgopher
distinguished member(1390)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
07/18/2022 08:45AM  
It's definitely not about money, or a day-use motor permit would cost more than $6.

Pinetree -- regarding your thoughts on "speed" -- I actually think one of the worst things a motorboat can do is slow down as they pass a canoe. Leaving a safe DISTANCE between boats is far more important. When on plane at full speed, my 16 foot boat with a 25hp skims across the top of the water and hardly makes a wake. If I pass a canoe at a safe distance, they may get 2-3 small, evenly spaced bumps from a wake that is 12" high at most. The largest wake my boat throws is when I come off plane from full speed, or when I'm going 5-10mph and "plowing" through the water with a fully-loaded boat.

This spring I was entering Sag from the Seagull river. A group of 3 canoes was up ahead and they were going at a good clip, probably doing bursts at 5 mph and averaging 3.5-4mph. The safest thing for me to do was to blow by them and get our of their way ASAP. If I had slowed down to 7-10mph they would've had to deal with a larger wake for a longer time. Slower than that and I just would've been right alongside them keeping pace. But they took offense at my speed and flipped me the bird as I cruised past. So the rude behavior goes both ways, and sometimes I feel like no matter what I do a certain group of paddlers is going to take offense at my perfectly legal use of the BWCA.

On Moose, if you're heading to Basswood via prairie portage on a day-motor permit, time is of the essence. The portage is open for roughly 12 hours. If you're going out to the Washington/Lincoln island area, you're looking at a roundtrip boat ride of nearly 35 miles that day, plus time waiting in line at the portage (I've waited over an hour before!), slowing down to navigate the narrows between moose/newfound/sucker, etc. If you want to make the fishing worth your while, you're doing the Moose chain as quickly as possible. You've got to be back to Prairie Portage before close or you risk getting stuck in the BWCA with no overnight permit or camping gear.
 
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