BWCA Who says permits aren’t available? Boundary Waters Listening Point - General Discussion
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Heyfritty
distinguished member (144)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
07/04/2022 05:02PM  
I’ve been looking at the available permits recently. There are many permits available a week out or less. Obviously a number of groups are canceling their permits as they get close to their entry date.

I expected some of that to occur, but I’m really surprised at the quantity and diversity of permits available. I can see permits available in 4 day increments on my phone. Starting with the following day and going through the 4th day, I would say that you could reserve a permit at 60-75% of the entry points.

And this isn’t limited to the least desirable lakes. Most of the time at least one permit is available for Mudro, Lake One, Sawbill, and all the big ones(Moose, Sag. Etc.).

As I look 8, 12, 16 days out, it decreases but there are still a lot of options. When I got about 3 weeks out, permits were very limited. This is great for those of us that can take off at the drop of a hat, but for most regular visitors, it’s disheartening.

I’m sure a number of people had to take their 2nd or 3rd choice of entry points. With all the preparation and planning, they can’t change and thus are deprived of their preferred option. How this happens, I don’t know, but my guess is that many groups have a number of members reserve them as a group leader and don’t cancel them right away once they finalize their plans.

This is anecdotal, and by no means a scientific study, but I’ve checked 4 or 5 times with the same results. What does everyone think? Has this always occurred, or is it a new phenomenon? Can anything be done?

Fritty
 
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07/04/2022 06:08PM  
It might be worse lately, but I don’t think it is new. What’s the penalty for hoarding permits you may or may or may not use? It’s peanuts really…

This problem was prevalent in The Quetico for a long time, so much so they were losing revenue. So they increased the cancellation fees on rolling basis and increased the deposit fee…the closer to the date of the trip the more you pay. If you cancel with short notice you basically lose your whole $112 deposit…weird in one year it went from impossible to get a permit to pretty easy to get a permit :) It’s more complicated than that of course but it was the single basic factor to having better access to The Quetico from my observation.

T
 
zootownboarding
member (28)member
 
07/04/2022 06:13PM  
Heyfritty: "I’ve been looking at the available permits recently. There are many permits available a week out or less. Obviously a number of groups are canceling their permits as they get close to their entry date.

I expected some of that to occur, but I’m really surprised at the quantity and diversity of permits available. I can see permits available in 4 day increments on my phone. Starting with the following day and going through the 4th day, I would say that you could reserve a permit at 60-75% of the entry points.

And this isn’t limited to the least desirable lakes. Most of the time at least one permit is available for Mudro, Lake One, Sawbill, and all the big ones(Moose, Sag. Etc.).

As I look 8, 12, 16 days out, it decreases but there are still a lot of options. When I got about 3 weeks out, permits were very limited. This is great for those of us that can take off at the drop of a hat, but for most regular visitors, it’s disheartening.

I’m sure a number of people had to take their 2nd or 3rd choice of entry points. With all the preparation and planning, they can’t change and thus are deprived of their preferred option. How this happens, I don’t know, but my guess is that many groups have a number of members reserve them as a group leader and don’t cancel them right away once they finalize their plans.

This is anecdotal, and by no means a scientific study, but I’ve checked 4 or 5 times with the same results. What does everyone think? Has this always occurred, or is it a new pheno8menon? Can anything be done?

Fritty "


That's why I always take EP 70 and branch from that! Excellent trip!
 
07/04/2022 06:42PM  
Yes, there is a lot more availability now than just a short time ago when I checked.

It's been weird since last year at least. I don't see any need for multiple trip members to get permits since you can just name alternate leaders for one permit. I think after the last year or two of it being so busy and permits being reduced, many more people reserved a permit in January. When the time comes if things don't work out they cancel. We'll probably continue to see this.

I also wonder if gas prices have anyone's plans . . .
 
Heyfritty
distinguished member (144)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
07/04/2022 07:08PM  
I was wondering if different members of the same group might reserve different entry points and different dates not knowing exactly when people can get off work, or for some other reason.
 
07/05/2022 08:16AM  
I'd tend to agree with Boonie's post above. I think that it's s system of usage that is (hopefully) trending back towards the normal pattern. Pre-pandemic, I could usually book a trip within a week or two of going in. There were a sufficient number of permits that I could grab a Mudro EP or LIS or Poplar as my trip plans came into focus. I can say that this year, I had a couple of permits where the timing just didn't work out and I had to cancel them. I'll probably pick something up again in September which is a great time to go. I think that without a good, systematic analysis of the data, we won't know the underlying causes for certain.
 
MikeinMpls
distinguished member(1077)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
07/05/2022 08:40AM  
Heyfritty: "I was wondering if different members of the same group might reserve different entry points and different dates not knowing exactly when people can get off work, or for some other reason."

I hope that is not happening (though I know it does.) All that does is limit the possibilities for other groups that actually plan ahead. I understand that people don't always know their June or July or August availability in late January, and that things change, but taking away available permits as a contingency plan is quite selfish.

Mike
 
07/05/2022 09:02AM  
I’m going to just chime in again and state this is absolutely not a new issue or a pandemic related issue. Just since more people are going lately it is more noticeable and has a bigger effect on groups.

What is in the system to stop a group from getting multiple permits and dropping them last second to an entry point, thus guaranteeing more solitude? What’s in the system to stop people from booking 5 or more trips but knowing only one will work out? What’s in the system for groups to cancel a trip they can’t make ASAP? The cancellation fee is basically nothing to most people.

I remember in 2004 I went to Insula through Lake One in mid to late September, I got the last permit for my mid week entry. I was kinda surprised all 18 permits were taken this late in the year for a Thursday. Just because I am the curious type…I kept checking the permits and the actual number of permits used was less than 50%…so over half the groups dropped off in one to two days? Seriously what are the odds of that? The same thing was true for the other days around my entry date. It was to my advantage as we saw no one most of the week. Ran into people 1x on portages…but also there were plenty of camps and space for others… some group didn’t get to go because of the actions of others. The BWCAW lost revenue as well. Now extrapolate that across an entire season…

For me ever since 2004 I’ve used this to to my advantage. I know permits will be available when I need them if I wait. I don’t worry about it if an entry point looks full in the winter. Once again because I am the curious type—-I’ve seen my 2004 scenario play out again and again. One time is a coincidence but when you observe it for 16 straight years (I didn’t check 2021 and 2022)…I consider it a pattern.

I tried to convince our Scout troop of this but it made the leaders too nervous…so once again worked to my advantage as we are backpacking Isle Royale instead, which I’ve never done before.

The FS doesn’t seem to care so I guess you just need to either join in and selfishly overbook trips or adopt my laid back approach and wait :)

T
 
Savage Voyageur
distinguished member(14166)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished membermaster membermaster member
 
07/05/2022 09:57AM  
Sad to read that people are hoarding permits, or multiple people in the same group reserving permits then canceling at the last minute to ensure their solitude. Very selfish and greedy in my opinion. Yet another reason to raise the permit price, and especially the canceling price.

Might even be a good idea to limit only one permit per person until they complete that trip, then they can book another.

The Forest service needs to stop this behavior somehow. But as usual, they move at the speed of snail.
 
straighthairedcurly
distinguished member(1514)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
07/05/2022 10:26AM  
I have noticed this trend as well this summer vs. the past 2 summers. I would agree that it feels like years of old more than a new trend. I do think there was a little "panic booking" this winter due to all the media attention for the decrease in permits.

I think it is a big assumption to think that people are hoarding permits without some type of data to actually back that up. In the early part of the season, quite a few people were canceling due to weather and high water concerns. I would rather see people with less experience be cautious vs. ending up with a lot of additional rescues.

We have to cancel one of our trips this summer because the person we were doing it for ended up with a scheduling conflict. Usually I will just use a permit like that for a quick solo, but it coincides with our son returning from an Arctic trip so that won't work great. I wouldn't mind if there was a sliding scale of refund based on how close to the trip you cancel.
 
07/05/2022 04:05PM  
Make of this as you will.
I booked my May trip in Jan. changed due to ice and high water, canceled first permit on short notice, booked new trip with changed date and EP. Started looking for permits for Aug. trip in early June and booked trip at EP and date I wasn't thrilled with but zero was available at the desired EPs in Aug. Later canceled because a permit opened up for mid Aug. at one of two desired EPs and I jumped on it-- two weeks later had to cancel for family obligation (oldest son's 50th b-day party). Booked new trip for end of Aug. So far so good.
That makes 3 booked and canceled trips and 1 still booked trip. There were still permits available for the early May trip so no harm no foul and was able to cancel the Aug. permits in June leaving plenty of time for people to book those days. I would have preferred things to be less complicated but that's not how it worked out.
I was tempted, after seeing zero permits in July and Aug. for my favorite EPs, to grab every one that came available and secure my trip. I DIDN'T, but was tempted.
Next year may be different.

 
07/05/2022 05:39PM  
merlyn: "I would have preferred things to be less complicated but that's not how it worked out. "

In my home we call that level of chaos Tuesday. :-)


(I've also changed permits multiple times because...kids, life, death, work, stuff...)
 
07/06/2022 09:20AM  
Not sure I agree with you on this, especially Sawbill wise.

This pic is a screen shot of availability from Tofte Station for July 26-Aug 4.

It wasn't so long ago that Sawbill ALWAYS had a permit available along with frequent availability on Kawishiwi, Baker and Brule. Not now. I think the hoarding theory is spot on.
 
tumblehome
distinguished member(2451)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
07/06/2022 09:26AM  
Hot off the press. Plenty of permits available for today and moving forward.


What this shows is that many permits do indeed become available at the last minute. As July 26 comes around, let’s see what has opened up.
 
07/06/2022 11:19AM  
I'm sure there are multiple reasons but let's not forget that permits were reduced this year. Link

The reductions had varied impacts and some entries weren't reduced at all. The 4 OneMatch listed were reduced about 30% while others little to none. Sawbill 14 to 11, Kawishiwi 9 to 7, Baker 3 to 2, Brule Only 3 to 0, total 29 down to 20, a total of 9.

According to Voyageur Outfitter's blog total permits were reduced about 13% from 285 to 248, a total of 37.

Reductions at Moose Lake, Fall, Farm, Snowbank = 0 of 52.

It was known that they were reduced and people were encouraged to reserve early. I've been reserving early, usually on the first day for over 10 years. It seemed to me that more of the available permits were reserved opening day this year than in the past although I have no data on that. Some entries have always filled quickly. I think more have done so the last couple of years.

Obviously the fewer permits available and the more permits reserved early, the fewer available later.

 
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