BWCA Judge to decide fate of motorized towboats in the BWCA for 2023 Boundary Waters Listening Point - General Discussion
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      Judge to decide fate of motorized towboats in the BWCA for 2023     
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04/21/2023 03:22PM  
Article from 4/21 StarTribune website.
 
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Minnesotian
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04/21/2023 03:35PM  

This was a contentious issue when the BWCA was started back in 1978. One might say the provision to allow this tow service was the compromise that even made the BWCA possible. Same compromise happened in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho and the use of airplanes.

Since this compromise is written into Federal statute, I would be very surprised if the judge overturns this and stops all uses of the tow service. That being said, anything can happen.

It was interesting to note that both Wilderness Watch and the Forest Service agreed that tow service has increased, almost doubled, in the last 10 years.

I don't think there will be a halt to tow service, but ultimately I can see restrictions being put into place, like tows can only operate between 10am and 2 pm, or only 20 Round Trip tows, or 40 One-way tows are allowed per day per operator, or something like that.

I'm all for them as they allow less mobile people into the wilderness and also disperse people so the entry lakes aren't hit harder then they are.
 
Gaidin53
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04/21/2023 03:38PM  
Just saw this in the star tribune and was surprised. I figured I’d find a ton of discussion over here about it.

As someone who has used the Towboats now for several trips I’m not really for it. Part of the reason I do it though is to get past the motor zones so that is something for me to think about from the reverse perspective!

Other thought is if you really want a remote pristine wilderness trip you should be going to Quetico, Wabakimi, or Woodland Caribou in Canada! Or even farther north! I do want that so my major longer trips are now in Quetico last year, and Wabakimi this year!

Ryan
 
Morchella
member (46)member
  
04/21/2023 03:51PM  
Interesting article - I have read some history behind tow operations within the BWCA and how there have been attempts made in the past in order to remove tow boats entirely. I do not know enough details about the judicial side of things in order to understand how much of a case they have to present or rather how likely this is to happen.

I will say a few things as a I have worked at an outfitter for 2 seasons operating a tow boat within the BWCA within recent years.

First off, of the 18 licensed tow boat operators, I would say a good handful of them rely upon tow boats for a large part of their business. The outfitter I worked for provided a lot of tow boat services and many days I was operating a tow bow continuously for up to 7-8 hours. Considering the timing of this case, and with little conversational inclusion for these local businesses, an outright ban would certainly be a large blow to the operators who likely run off of small margins as it is.

Secondly, the article mentions nothing about banning or limiting day-use motor permits, which to me, are more detrimental to the concept of maintaining a 'wilderness'. Tow boats are regulated boats and transport canoe campers who presumably are going to enjoy the wilderness for what it is. Day use motor permits allow people to use personal boats, which introduce many factors that are difficult to regulate, and often concern people there solely to fish or base-camp. While I am not strictly against these ideas, it does not make sense to me why you would ban tow boat operations while maintaining any capacity of additional motor use beyond search and rescue.

This brings me to my third point, which is how tow boats are often used within heavily unfavorable conditions and provide a lot of accessibility. A lot of groups I provided tow services to had either inexperienced or very young/old individuals who would struggle to paddle the long distance, not even considering unfavorable weather conditions. Specifically, the lake was rather large and would often have unfavorable wave conditions- even to intermediate paddlers. Countless times I would go out during a storm or medical incident to pick up a group who would otherwise have to wait and suffer or call search and rescue.
To those that say these people should go into a different EP (or area entirely), I don't see how I couldn't refute with the same argument.

However, I'm not 100% in favor of unrestricted tow boat use. There are certainly financial considerations and how the cost of using a tow service is unfavorable towards accessibility. I can see how it would be pretty frustrating to paddle for 2.5 hours only to be surpassed by another group who could afford the tow service.. Additionally, I have seen other drivers not respect canoe paddlers which I have also experience myself as a paddler. As a tow boat driver, I would always maintain a favorable distance from paddlers, or else I would slow to an idle. That is certainly an important aspect of tow operations which would be hard to regulate. As Minnesotian mentioned, I can see how time and/or quantity restrictions could be implemented to try and ease the impact of tow boats. That said, that would drive the demand of tow services to potentially make them more inaccessible.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I would be severely disappointed if tow boats were banned while motor use permits were allowed. A solution I prefer would be to expand the BWCA, however, that is a complicated and expensive solution that is doubtful to happen. Especially considering how the Forest Service makes money off of tow boats while expanding the BWCA would only cost them more money (and from what I understand they probably struggled with resources as it is).
 
04/21/2023 04:45PM  
Gaidin53: "...Other thought is if you really want a remote pristine wilderness trip you should be going to Quetico...Ryan"


Our tow is thru the BWCA to get us closer to Cache Bay Quetico Entry.
 
LBtross
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04/21/2023 05:48PM  
 
tumblehome
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04/21/2023 06:05PM  
I have always found it rather unexplainable when people want to get further into a wilderness so they accept carving out part of the wilderness to get further into it. If you really think about it, it makes no sense whatsoever.

I am not talking about money, the economy, outfitters, or handicapped persons.

Not a for or against post from me. More like human psychology.
Tom
 
Morchella
member (46)member
  
04/21/2023 06:07PM  
LBtross, thanks for linking this. I am still new to the forum and I missed this discussion in the time I have spent lurking and reading old posts. There is a lot of good discussion there and no doubt all of my points have been said multiple times over across many many conversations online and otherwise. So maybe there isn't a need to once again discuss these issues but it will be interesting to see if there eventually be any action from the lawsuit.
 
04/21/2023 06:38PM  
tumblehome: "I have always found it rather unexplainable when people want to get further into a wilderness so they accept carving out part of the wilderness to get further into it....
Tom"


Great point. Some people find the BWCA to be wilderness.
 
billconner
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04/21/2023 06:49PM  
Personally, for me, I agree with tumblehome - I go for paddling and wilderness.

But, I'm conflicted, and quite sympathetic with the people who live there and that the area becoming the BWCA has been a constant and major impediment to their and their family's livelihoods.

I'm fine paddling Moose and coexisting with the tow operators to not further impact the local's livelihoods.

 
04/21/2023 07:25PM  
tumblehome: "I have always found it rather unexplainable when people want to get further into a wilderness so they accept carving out part of the wilderness to get further into it. If you really think about it, it makes no sense whatsoever.


I am not talking about money, the economy, outfitters, or handicapped persons.

Not a for or against post from me. More like human psychology.
Tom"


I think it’s just different ways of looking at things. For example I don’t consider any of the motorized areas a wilderness. Just another lake with motors to me. Why paddle several hours through a motorized area to finally get to the area you actually want to be? Seems like a complete waste of my time. I don’t think I am missing anything by taking a tow except paddling on a motorized lake like I could in the twin cities any day of the week. In fact many of the twin cities lakes are quieter than the motorized BWCAW areas…to me it makes no sense to not take a tow…It seems many are trying to carve an area of Wilderness where there really isn’t one or maybe there is one but just in name and not in actual use?

Both of our arguments are valid…neither is completely correct either.

I think the analogy I used last year was do you portage your canoe down the Fernberg road or do you drive up to the entry? If I choose to portage my canoe down the road I wouldn’t be mad at everyone driving by would I?

T
 
adam
Moderator
  
04/21/2023 07:33PM  

Something to consider is that cooperators (outfitters) pay a percentage of their revenue to the Forest Service. At a microeconomic level, this would thus reduce the funding for the Superior National Forest and thus personnel and patrolling. Will this in turn raise permit prices by double, or triple or will they have to reduce permits further or downgrade even further FS personnel to patrol the area?

I know it is more complicated and not particularly tied to economics in that all money is kicked up to Washington, and Washington gives a taste back to the Superior National Forest.

I will further say you have to pick and choose your battles. Which fight is it you want to win? Natural resource conservation and environmental health? Or tourism, noise, and nuisance? If you try to take too much, you sometimes get nothing.
 
ForestDuff
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04/21/2023 08:30PM  
Doubling in the last ten years is significant though.

And this is coming from a guy who isn't bothered by the occasional non-wilderness sights and sounds in the supposed wilderness. The Ely Airport light, trucks on the Fernberg road, cell towers, the brap of a sled on a distant trail off of the Gunflint.

But going from seeing twenty tow boats passing camp to forty in a day. In my book, that's well past the saturation point. Twice as much is twice as much, whatever the beginning number is.

And I always wonder how those folks getting towed feel about how their boat captain treats those of us deciding to forego the tow. Because from Moose to the Sag corridor, I'll take the good ol boys in their fishing boats over tow boats passing me any day of the week.
 
04/21/2023 10:35PM  
I’ve taken the tow to PP and I’ve paddled it. Never had an issue with tow boats coming too close to me when paddling nor too close to padders when being towed.

In my perfect world there would be no motors anywhere in the BW, but that is not going to happen. I can see both sides to this issue, and like Tim said, if the motors are allowed on Moose and I am going to PP, makes sense to me to take advantage of it.
 
LBtross
member (37)member
  
04/22/2023 07:31AM  
I've put too much thought into this and I don't have the facts, but it sounds like the rules are not being consistently followed by all players. As a progressively woke tin boat advocate, i see a phased electric only situation as a good middle. Locally harvested solar sold to tourists for tows might be a fun system. Eventually, the holdouts can be forced to stop doing it like grandpa and go electric too. Or, we maybe keep a few 2strokes buzzing and stuff a bit of those legacy $'s into costumed public servants buzzing the kiddos paddling out just for funs.

I 100% support paddle only if that could happen. If i understand how it currently works, folks towed heading to Q don't require a BWCA permit. Working that area out might get a bit sticky.

 
amhacker22
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04/22/2023 07:49AM  
These motor routes put the BWCA within reach for a lot of people who can’t do it otherwise. I would certainly find a steady stream of towboats and motors annoying on a BWCA trip, but it’s pretty easy for me to make an accommodation by avoiding the impacted areas as much as possible. I’d rather do that than take away access to the area for people who can’t experience it otherwise.

It’s also comforting for me to know that these areas and the tows will be available to me some day in the future when I can’t get around like I do now. It’s not the optimal wilderness experience, but it’s way better than no wilderness experience.
 
04/22/2023 09:35AM  
ForestDuff: "Doubling in the last ten years is significant though."


I’d be interested to see how this happened since motor permits as well as paddle permits have been reduced over the past 20 years.
 
Maiingan
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04/22/2023 09:42AM  
Mocha: "
ForestDuff: "Doubling in the last ten years is significant though."

I’d be interested to see how this happened since motor permits as well as paddle permits have been reduced over the past 20 years."

+1 you raise the obvious point. None of these players are from the area and have a history of lying.
 
ForestDuff
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04/22/2023 10:41AM  
I didn't mean to come across as anti-tow or anti-motors.
I've used the service once and have brought our own motor on a half a dozen trips to get a head start to Crooked.
If true, it just seemed like a large increase in numbers.

And my personal beef with a couple tow operators was the lack of respect. I'm not expecting boats to come down off of plane and putter by, But if there is space to put more space in between us while passing, it isn't much effort on their part.
 
04/22/2023 10:51AM  
Maiingan: "
Mocha: "
ForestDuff: "Doubling in the last ten years is significant though."

I’d be interested to see how this happened since motor permits as well as paddle permits have been reduced over the past 20 years."

+1 you raise the obvious point. None of these players are from the area and have a history of lying."


Well there is that too… I’d guess there are numbers/stats to back up the claim? But it really doesn’t make common sense does it? There are less outfitters providing tows than there was 10 years ago? Although recently BWCA and Quetico travel had a recent resurgence the last 10 years have had, historically speaking, lows in usage if you look at the whole time period? How does motor usage compare to the heyday of the 90’s ? You can also cherry pick stats to make your argument. A better method would be to look at historical usage…not comparing an Historical low point in overall usage (10 years ago) and historical high usage (last 2-3 years). Common sense would say motor usage was up recently because all usage was up recently.

So I wouldn’t say the watch group and the FS are lying…it could be they are just reporting the stats that support their case. I don’t know? It happens all the time…so it is possible.

T
 
Savage Voyageur
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04/22/2023 10:54AM  
Electric motors are just about silent, they can be charged by the sun with panels. They don’t pollute the waters with oil and gas fumes. I don’t see a good reason why electric motors on boats would not be a viable option going forward into the future for tow boats and day use motor permits.
 
Maiingan
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04/22/2023 01:25PM  
What electric boat motor are you referring to?

I have a family member just film a commercial for an electric boat. The boat had a 1-hour operating time.

Every electric motor requires batteries. Which requires mining, like lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt. Mining will already have to increase 1000% to support the electric car market some want. You cannot be for electric motors and "green" energy without being for mining.

The most intelligent people I know said this would happen after the closing of 4-mile portage. In fact, ever since the bwca and the rules were set one side is gaining and the other side is losing.
 
04/22/2023 02:35PM  
Maiingan: "What electric boat motor are you referring to?


I have a family member just film a commercial for an electric boat. The boat had a 1-hour operating time.


Every electric motor requires batteries. Which requires mining, like lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt. Mining will already have to increase 1000% to support the electric car market some want. You cannot be for electric motors and "green" energy without being for mining.


The most intelligent people I know said this would happen after the closing of 4-mile portage. In fact, ever since the bwca and the rules were set one side is gaining and the other side is losing. "


Please offer input without interjecting your politics and/or name calling (e.g the "liars" you referred to in another post).
 
briar
member (32)member
  
04/22/2023 03:23PM  
To put things in prospective, looking at information from 2011 to 2022 the number of tows has gone from 1639 to 2124 per year. Using a rough number of 100 days of tow boat service per year you get 16 tows versus 21 tows per day on average spread over 7 different entry points. Assuming between Moose Lake and Sag you get half of the daily tows the increase on those two entry points would go from 8 to 10.5 on average. About 1 more tow per day per entry point. Even if you look at the numbers from the 1993 USFS cap to today the increase per day went from 13 to 21 on average. The tow numbers I used are from the Boundary Waters blog.
 
04/22/2023 03:32PM  
When I was younger I would have never considered a tow, but as I got older and had more spendable income I decided to use them. I have to admit I enjoy my tow trips just as much as when I didn't use tows, maybe even more!
But I do feel like I'm cheating a little bit.
 
04/22/2023 03:53PM  
Captn Tony: "When I was younger I would have never considered a tow, but as I got older and had more spendable income I decided to use them. I have to admit I enjoy my tow trips just as much as when I didn't use tows, maybe even more!
But I do feel like I'm cheating a little bit."


No more cheating than using a kevlar/carbon rather than aluminum canoe nor a poly tent rather than a canvas one. Or, personally, a carbon paddle rather than a wooden one.

 
MReid
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04/22/2023 04:33PM  
Frenchy19: "No more cheating than using a kevlar/carbon rather than aluminum canoe nor a poly tent rather than a canvas one. Or, personally, a carbon paddle rather than a wooden one."

Except that 1) motors are inconsistent with "big W" Wilderness, although specifically allowed and regulated per the enabling legislation of the individual Wilderness (as in BWCA), 2) what type of tent/canoe/paddle you use has no effect on other paddlers, specifically their "wilderness experience", though I'm sure some people resent any type of modernity (aka Luddites), and 3) the value of "wilderness" is heightened in many people with the associated effort expended to experience it. I paddle Quetico and much more distant and remote areas, so I have no dog in this fight other than trying to improve people's understanding of Wilderness and wilderness. "Little w" wilderness can be in someone's backyard--"big W" Wilderness is a bit more complicated and includes "little w" as well as specific laws and regulations.
 
04/22/2023 05:33PM  
@MReid: Your first point pretty much sums up my reply to Tony; given that motors are allowed in certain parts of the BW, utilizing them for a tow is not cheating-it is applying available technology to render one's experience more manageable/enjoyable.

You go on to state that you have no dog in this fight other than to educate others "understanding of Wilderness and wilderness." Wow.
 
tonecoughlin
senior member (81)senior membersenior member
  
04/22/2023 06:01PM  
I wonder how many would still get a tow if the motors were electric and the max speed was 3.5 mph?
 
Minnesotian
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04/22/2023 06:48PM  
tumblehome: "I have always found it rather unexplainable when people want to get further into a wilderness so they accept carving out part of the wilderness to get further into it. If you really think about it, it makes no sense whatsoever.

Tom"


You know, this is an excellent point that I didn't understand before. Maybe a good analogy is this: look at the tow corridor as the interstate highway into the wilderness. Convenient yes, but by making that interstate, the wilderness feel is being pushed back. What if that interstate wasn't there, then the wilderness would truly start at the boundary of the BWCA right there in the middle of Moose Lake. Instead of having to "drive" further or deeper to get away from civilization, the wilderness would be coming closer to civilization, creating more of that wilderness feel, thus making it easier to get into the wilderness. Sure, you might not get as deep into the wilderness (depending on how much time you got) but the experience would start sooner and be sustained for longer.

Launching from the entry point at Sawbill is a completely different experience then launching from the Moose Lake entry.
 
Hammertime
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04/22/2023 08:30PM  
If you ask me (nobody did) as long as motors are allowed tows should be.

If you want to ban the motors in those areas altogether that is a legitimate argument but based on my understanding of the establishment of the BWCA that would never happen.

Maybe a compromise would be to cap the number of tows similar to day use motor permits. The problem there is they would become more expensive, therefore not fair. Maybe you cap the price and it’s first come first served similar to the permit day madness? Who knows.
 
tonecoughlin
senior member (81)senior membersenior member
  
04/22/2023 08:58PM  
I have an idea. Make new "Tow" entry points and put a quota on the numbers and entry times. For example, 25-A Moose to Ensign. 2 per day. 25-B Moose to Birch. 2 per day. Tow times 11-2pm. That way those that truly "need" a tow can still get out there vs. those who are getting a tow just to beat everyone else lets early morning paddlers have an equal opportunity.
 
04/22/2023 08:58PM  
tumblehome: "I have always found it rather unexplainable when people want to get further into a wilderness so they accept carving out part of the wilderness to get further into it. If you really think about it, it makes no sense whatsoever.


I am not talking about money, the economy, outfitters, or handicapped persons.

Not a for or against post from me. More like human psychology.
Tom"

agree
 
04/22/2023 09:21PM  
Savage Voyageur: "Electric motors are just about silent, they can be charged by the sun with panels. They don’t pollute the waters with oil and gas fumes. I don’t see a good reason why electric motors on boats would not be a viable option going forward into the future for tow boats and day use motor permits. "


I am not aware of electric boat motors? Can you link to that?

Do you mean electric trolling motors? Those are not powerful enough to use on a tow boat nor fishing boats as a primary means of propulsion.

T
 
04/22/2023 10:33PM  
timatkn: "
Savage Voyageur: "Electric motors are just about silent, they can be charged by the sun with panels. They don’t pollute the waters with oil and gas fumes. I don’t see a good reason why electric motors on boats would not be a viable option going forward into the future for tow boats and day use motor permits. "



I am not aware of electric boat motors? Can you link to that?


Do you mean electric trolling motors? Those are not powerful enough to use on a tow boat nor fishing boats as a primary means of propulsion.

T"
actually there is a company that makes electric outboard motors now equivalent to an 80hp gas outboard motor.
 
04/22/2023 11:44PM  

Can you link to that? What’s the cost compared to outboard? Are they reliable?

Sounds like a better option, but new technology usually is expensive and glitchy…otherwise we’d all be driving Tesla’s :)

T
 
Gaidin53
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04/22/2023 11:55PM  
I’ve seen them test dinghy electric motors for sailboats on YouTube channels. No way could they be cost effective or do the tows needed. Just not enough power to get them up on plane with gear and two canoes. Also wouldn’t have enough power capacity for longer tows into for instance Basswood.

Ryan
 
04/23/2023 12:23AM  
timatkn: "
Can you link to that? What’s the cost compared to outboard? Are they reliable?


Sounds like a better option, but new technology usually is expensive and glitchy…otherwise we’d all be driving Tesla’s :)


T"
electric

Personally, I know nothing about them. I do think it is in the early stage and weight right now is a problem.
 
04/23/2023 12:28AM  
Torqeedo is the global market leader in electric mobility on the water. In
2020, we celebrated the 15th anniversary of the company and the fact
that over 100,000 boaters have chosen Torqeedo systems over higheremission alternatives. As pioneers in the field, we have set many standards since founding Torqeedo in 2005, reinforcing the lead of our motor etc

and mercury this year electric
 
04/23/2023 06:55AM  
Pinetree: "Torqeedo is the global market leader in electric mobility on the water. In
2020, we celebrated the 15th anniversary of the company and the fact
that over 100,000 boaters have chosen Torqeedo systems over higheremission alternatives. As pioneers in the field, we have set many standards since founding Torqeedo in 2005, reinforcing the lead of our motor etc

and mercury this year electric "


That’s not currently realistic. It looks huge and is equivalent to a 3.5HP 4 stroke. Which is insufficient to propel most boats any distance—especially when you add the battery weight. It would be fine on a v shaped fishing boat with one person, slow, but would propel the boat, but as soon as you put a few people in it’s not gonna do the job for the tow boats allowed in the BWCAW, plus it’s hard to even find these to buy. Finally the motors allowed on the peripheral lakes is part of the Wilderness Act. I am pretty sure the FS or the Government doesn’t have the authority to make the changes some are trying to do.

THis has possibilities for the future though, thanks for the link.

T
 
Sparkeh
senior member (90)senior membersenior member
  
04/23/2023 07:44AM  
Gaidin53: "Just saw this in the star tribune and was surprised. I figured I’d find a ton of discussion over here about it.


As someone who has used the Towboats now for several trips I’m not really for it. Part of the reason I do it though is to get past the motor zones so that is something for me to think about from the reverse perspective!


Other thought is if you really want a remote pristine wilderness trip you should be going to Quetico, Wabakimi, or Woodland Caribou in Canada! Or even farther north! I do want that so my major longer trips are now in Quetico last year, and Wabakimi this year!


Ryan"


Wabakimi has plenty of motor boats and float planes working out of 40 something outposts.
 
04/23/2023 07:49AM  
Mixed emotions on this one.

I can see the point of the wilderness getting "pushed back" some with the use of tows. And to not hear them at all would certainly be great.

That said, I've used a tow once, on big water, (Sag), where I was with a 7 and 10 year old. Wind was up and waves were big that day, and no way we would have been able to paddle Sag with that crew that day. The tow got us to some smaller sheltered lakes where we were OK to paddle,,so the tow definitely saved us from losing a day on the water.
 
Sparkeh
senior member (90)senior membersenior member
  
04/23/2023 07:59AM  
Savage Voyageur: "Electric motors are just about silent, they can be charged by the sun with panels. They don’t pollute the waters with oil and gas fumes. I don’t see a good reason why electric motors on boats would not be a viable option going forward into the future for tow boats and day use motor permits. "


Please give an example of the electric motor boats that exist and work for these tow purposes.
 
04/23/2023 08:07AM  
 
Morchella
member (46)member
  
04/23/2023 08:12AM  
Sparkeh: "
Savage Voyageur: "Electric motors are just about silent, they can be charged by the sun with panels. They don’t pollute the waters with oil and gas fumes. I don’t see a good reason why electric motors on boats would not be a viable option going forward into the future for tow boats and day use motor permits. "



Please give an example of the electric motor boats that exist and work for these tow purposes. "


The closest thing on the market I could find is the Torqeedo Cruise 12.0 RL TorqLink: https://www.torqeedo.com/us/en-us/products/outboards/cruise/cruise-12.0-r-torqlink/M-1280-00.html

That being said, the product would not be feasible for tow boat driving. First off, the motor and one set of batteries would cost $20k, weigh 300 lbs, and carry a tow load for maybe 30-45 minutes if its a 12kW system running on a 10kWh battery system.. Not to mention the lowered efficiency from constantly discharging the batteries from full to empty. Then you would need spare batteries to replace every time which is another $10k per set.

It does show a glimpse into what could be a promising industry. I am sure the motors are rather quiet, smoothing running, and have some decent acceleration. The battery technology would certainly need to be improved. Also, I agree with Maiingan and that the mining considerations should be considered in the conversation. While mining certainly has very contentious history and context to the BWCA and area at large, I think it should be mentioned and doesn't remove that fact that mining somewhere in the world will need to occur for the batteries. Now, would the future electric tow boat industry be large enough to make any impact on the mining economy or decisions? No. (But EV and RE-storage systems will definitely.)
 
Maiingan
distinguished member (191)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/23/2023 08:35AM  
+1 on what Mochella said.
I have no dog in this fight, I have never paid for a tow. I drove a tow boat 50 + years ago. I also drove a truck on Fourmile portage. Basswood was our home, so that's where I worked. On the other hand, I have canoed 1000s of miles both sides of the border.

If joy is lost seeing a motorboat...don't go to motor lakes. Moose lake and area is not wilderness, many resorts scout like camps, airbnbs, etc....

If the problem is to many tows in one area, maybe open up another area for tows for those going over the border and to the west. The Pete family had a boat ramp on the Range River where it goes into Basswood. Open it back up and move some motor traffic that way. Neither side should have to give up anything without getting something in return. Opening up the motor route around U.S. point would also help move tows and boats around.

4-mile portage also helped move motor traffic and tows around. Too bad it closed, that move helped no one and hurt our War Veterans the most.
 
04/23/2023 10:09AM  
From Calvin Rustrums book-Chips from a wilderness log: I often wonder in todays society including myself we have got into this rut.

 
04/23/2023 03:07PM  
Will also be interesting to see how quickly the court deals with it. The article talks about the request for injunction and uses language that references both 'ice-out' and 'before the 2023 paddling season opens'...but I see nothing about the court promising a response by any specific time.

In theory, the permit season opens in a week, although your tow would be by snowmobile.
 
WHendrix
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04/23/2023 04:36PM  
For a good phiosophical view of this issue, read BOUNDARY WATERS - The Grace of the Wild, the section titled The Economy of the Canoe Country, pp 36 thru 43, by Paul Gruchow.

For the record, I took a tow once, from the Moose Lake landing to the Indian Portage and then spent the next half day recovering from the trauma of the ride. As Gruchow would have predicted.
 
04/23/2023 06:27PM  
Pinetree: "From Calvin Rustrums book-Chips from a wilderness log: I often wonder in todays society including myself we have got into this rut.


"


So do you drive to the BWCAW or walk? Why not walk if you follow this principle? Do you park your vehicle as close to the put in to unload/unload or do you park as far as possible? Once you get to Ely, Grand Marias, Atikoken etc…do you drive to the entry point or do you walk/portage? Maybe it seems silly, but essentially people against tows are making the same argument. Motors are allowed on the lakes, just like cars are allowed on the road. It would be silly to tell cars to not drive on the road because you want to walk… how is telling people to not take a tow or drive a motorboat any different?

If you asked if we could magically get rid of the motors on the periphery my personal opinion is yes I’d love that…BUT understanding how the BWCAW was created, this motor provision was part of the creation. It was put into the Wilderness act. It’s called a compromise. Without the motors we have now the BWCAW would have never passed congress and we might still have all the lakes with motors on them. I am okay living with it…I don’t like it…but I like the alternative less. So as part of that I don’t consider the motor zones as a wilderness, because they really aren’t. I’ll continue to drive my cars on roads and use motors on motorized lakes…instead of picking a choosing my outrage…

T
 
04/23/2023 07:07PM  
timatkn: "
Pinetree: "From Calvin Rustrums book-Chips from a wilderness log: I often wonder in todays society including myself we have got into this rut.



"



So do you drive to the BWCAW or walk? Why not walk if you follow this principle? Do you park your vehicle as close to the put in to unload/unload or do you park as far as possible? Once you get to Ely, Grand Marias, Atikoken etc…do you drive to the entry point or do you walk/portage? Maybe it seems silly, but essentially people against tows are making the same argument. Motors are allowed on the lakes, just like cars are allowed on the road. It would be silly to tell cars to not drive on the road because you want to walk… how is telling people to not take a tow or drive a motorboat any different?


If you asked if we could magically get rid of the motors on the periphery my personal opinion is yes I’d love that…BUT understanding how the BWCAW was created, this motor provision was part of the creation. It was put into the Wilderness act. It’s called a compromise. Without the motors we have now the BWCAW would have never passed congress and we might still have all the lakes with motors on them. I am okay living with it…I don’t like it…but I like the alternative less. So as part of that I don’t consider the motor zones as a wilderness, because they really aren’t. I’ll continue to drive my cars on roads and use motors on motorized lakes…instead of picking a choosing my outra

T"



Slow down a little-my reference there was only to say people are in too much of a hurry to get where they are going. Nothing more nothing less. Not enjoying or seeing anything in between. People are just in a hurry too much. Got to get from point A to point B fast as they can.
Kind of like the people who brag they went to 6 national parks on their trip. Never getting out of the vehicle more than a couple of feet or only for a minute.
 
04/23/2023 09:57PM  
I get the point Pinetree…but some people just want a different experience than others…and I’ve heard that changes individually over time as well. One way isn’t necessarily better or worse, it’s just different. People can enjoy the same activity in different ways. It’s not really our job to judge. On this thread I’ve seen multiple posters judge people that legally use motorboats as lazy, diminishing their experience—either the person in the boat or those who have “endure” them…all because fellow paddlers didn’t make the same choice they assume everyone should make…

When the FS and the watchdog group stated that tows were up 50% that same judgement group just jumped onto the numbers . Didn’t even question them—despite common sense screaming it doesn’t make sense…then from briar’s post it seems those numbers may be not be necessarily made up, but specially cherry picked… then we hear crickets on those numbers??? That misrepresentation by a government agency bothers me.

The irony is I use tows sometimes…sometimes I don’t…selfishly I’d personally like it better if they didn’t exist. I specifically avoid Prairie Portage as much as I can because of the volume of canoes/boats…but I am a devil’s advocate type person. It just bugs me the judgement people throw out on others doing a legal activity because it doesn’t fit their narrow value of a supposed wilderness experience.

The only reason I am against removing tows is it was part of the wilderness act of 1978…opening this up may open up the entire wilderness act to changes again. It was a miracle it passed the first time. I am not in favor of messing with the Wilderness Act for the small inconvenience of a few lakes. The stakes are too high. I also understand there is possible economic impact in the local community. I’d want to look into that too, especially knowing those communities took the brunt of the negative impact of the Wilderness Act of 1978.

T
 
Minnesotian
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04/24/2023 08:10AM  

If any of you feel like reading and really understanding the legal arguments being presented, here is Wilderness Watch's writeup about their reasoning: https://wildernesswatch.org/ww-files-lawsuit-to-stop-motorboat-abuse-in-boundary-waters

Specifically, here is their comment letter in response to the inaction of the Forest Service settlement back in 2015. Wilderness Watch cites a BWCA.com thread about how a tow up Moose Lake can save a half day of canoeing: https://wildernesswatch.org/images/wild-issues/2019/10-09-2019-WW-Comments-BWCAW-CNA.pdf

And here is the Forest Services Draft Recreational Commercial Needs Assessment (DNA14) that is referenced in Wilderness Watch's letter. Most importantly, the FS official tow boat usage numbers are in here and broken down into the boats destinations: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd650324.pdf
 
04/24/2023 09:11AM  
Minnesotan thanks for the links.

Some good arguments in there, some of the same judgement comments I've been seeing which still bothers me, some legal wrangling to get their way---they basically say their goal is the elimination of all motors... that just isn't going to happen.

I agree with one of their comments...people take tows to not mess with the motorized area.

Tow boat usage mirrors BWCAW OP permits issued. Probably Q permits as well. They don't talk about nor acknowledge that. That's disingenuous. They just talk about tow usage going up. The FS is trying to manage the area for all affected--I think a lot of people don't understand the history of the BWCAW creation.

I guess we see what the courts say and it will be settled, then we all just move on and see what happens. They definitely have a case from your links... I am sure the other side does as well.

Be careful what ya wish for though. Right now tows are distributing paddlers and spreading them out more away from entry points at a time the FS is struggling with entry lake issues. According to the FS paddlers are taking shorter trips and traveling less than ever before. Putting a strain on entry lakes. Even the permit reduction may not help...

T
 
jwmiller39
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04/24/2023 12:16PM  
get rid of all motors on bwca lakes. both motor permits and tows. boom, then as soon as you are in the bwca, you're in the wilderness. no more "getting a jump" to get into the wilderness. launch your canoe at the landing and you're there. no worry about waves from passing motor boats
 
Maiingan
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04/24/2023 01:08PM  
That would be really easy to do. Just have to move back that imaginary line. What are a few less acres?
 
andym
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04/24/2023 01:30PM  
Also easy, picking a no motor entry point and allowing the existing economy based on motor usage to continue. We always use no motor entry points and enjoy that instant entry in the wilderness.
 
04/24/2023 08:59PM  
jwmiller39: "get rid of all motors on bwca lakes. both motor permits and tows. boom, then as soon as you are in the bwca, you're in the wilderness. no more "getting a jump" to get into the wilderness. launch your canoe at the landing and you're there. no worry about waves from passing motor boats"


Although theoretically your proposal would work…in the real world this is completely impossible and the reasons have been discussed thoroughly in this thread. The term “pipe dream” comes to mind :)

T
 
analyzer
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04/24/2023 11:08PM  
deleted

 
Stumpy
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04/25/2023 02:42AM  
andym: "Also easy, picking a no motor entry point and allowing the existing economy based on motor usage to continue. We always use no motor entry points and enjoy that instant entry in the wilderness. "


Exactly !
 
Chieflonewatie
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04/25/2023 12:44PM  
Why do people always want to take something away from somebody else. Just leave alone it’s worked for a long time.
 
Maiingan
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04/25/2023 03:23PM  
Chief Lone Watie another great Chief said "The land is sacred. These words are at the core of your being. The land is our mother, the rivers our blood. Take our land away, and we die. That is, the Indian in us dies."

Maybe this is why some get much joy in taking from others.
 
Chieflonewatie
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04/25/2023 03:45PM  
Wow.
 
04/25/2023 03:49PM  
Does anyone know which judge is making this decision?
 
Chieflonewatie
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04/25/2023 04:21PM  
Judy
 
Chieflonewatie
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04/25/2023 04:21PM  
Judy
 
04/25/2023 04:31PM  
The issue is not should Tow boats be allowed, but how much? Up to date numbers will be coming out in April 2023.

According to research by Wilderness Watch, Forest Service monitoring reports show 2,550 commercial towboat trips in 2012, increasing to 3,865 in 2020.

But according to the recent court filing by the Forest Service, there were 3,815 towboat trips in 2020, down from 4,817 in 2019. I believe in 2020 Prairie Portage the Canada entry point was closed that year because of Covid, so that would explain the drop.

Also there really isn't much of an issue or debate, except for Moose lake.



 
Deeznuts
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04/25/2023 04:37PM  
andym: "Also easy, picking a no motor entry point and allowing the existing economy based on motor usage to continue. We always use no motor entry points and enjoy that instant entry in the wilderness. "


What about the entry points that start in the wilderness but abruptly open to motors, like LIS north and Loon? Or wood lake EP that has basswood north? Its easier said than done when most EPs eventually lead to a motor area.

Personal opinion is let the tows continue to keep accessibility available to veterans, the differently abled, and those that are up there in age, but no other motors. 1 tow boat passing 5 times is better than 5 motor boats creating wake at the same time. Especially when most outfitters will be polite and pass slowly, while Joe shmoe is passing you doing 30+ without a care in the world of what wake he may cause.

The whole reason the BWCA was founded was to create a wilderness untouched by man that is still accesibile to the common man. That's way we have the LNT rules to follow. If your motor is making noise, leaving oil and gas residue in the lake, and causing major wake for those that paddle, that's NOT "leaving no trace".
 
04/25/2023 04:45PM  
Mocha: "Does anyone know which judge is making this decision?"


Minn. District court Presiding Judge: Nancy E Brasel
 
OMGitsKa
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04/25/2023 08:37PM  
Okay then remove ALL MOTORIZED BOATS in these zones. I'm all for that but I don't see how you can put a limit on tow boats but then just allow motorized boat traffic still.
 
04/26/2023 07:35AM  
We stayed on one of the islands on Newfound one year. A spectacular campsite that was ruined by the boats buzzing by at dawn. I won't stay on a motorized lake again. But then, I don't have to.

I think electric boats could be a reasonable compromise someday, but they are not even close to ready yet. Too expensive, and much of that is due to the range needed to ferry people all day long. They'd need a lot of affordable batteries that are easily replaced at the dock, and I have not seen anything like that on the horizon yet.

I'm really not familiar with what's beyond the motorized lakes. If there are uniquely spectacular areas that tows help get people to who otherwise wouldn't be able to, I'm OK with that. If it's simply to get further into the wilderness, like others have mentioned, it doesn't make much sense because the wilderness would be closer without them. If it's to spread people out more, maybe there should be more entry points...though since that would mean more roads, I'm not sure if that's any better.
 
jwmiller39
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04/26/2023 07:41AM  
Chieflonewatie: "Why do people always want to take something away from somebody else. Just leave alone it’s worked for a long time."


you could argue something is being taken on both sides of the argument... motor boats are taking away from the wilderness experience of paddlers on those lakes. motor boats are also taking away safety from those paddlers as well as they make huge waves that can swamp a canoe in the right conditions. motor boats are also adding grease and oil to the clean water that is up there, albeit in small amounts, they still add pollution.

on the flip side, paddles could be "taking away" from the motor boats by wanting them to be made illegal.

There's two sides to every coin.


I have yet to see a good argument for why motor boats should be allowed in the wilderness other than "its always been that way". It is a non-motorized wilderness for a reason, there shouldn't be a couple lakes with asterisks. If you need a jump start to your trip because you're getting long in the tooth and can't handle the paddle in, pick a different entry point.
 
04/26/2023 09:10AM  
Jwmiller39…

Once again I am going to point out that removal of motor boats is impossible. Removal of tows is impossible. The number of tows may be slightly reduced. That’s the best that can come of all of this. If you are a paddle only fella…you will not see/notice any difference.

There always seems to be this select group that thinks removal of motors is somehow an option and complain about people using them.

The BWCAW was created with this imperfect provision. Without this provision the BWCAW would be almost completely motorized. It cannot be changed. Did you know Basswood had over 20 resorts on it? There was a resort at Curtain Falls? The BWCAW was not some pristine area that was protected. It was carved out of mechanized and motorized use. It was close to not ever being created. This tiny portion you have to endure motors is part of the compromise of the creation of the BWCAW. Without that compromise the BWAW would not exist. In the current political environment I doubt the BWCAW could be created again. The Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Act of 1978 was monumental and probably a miracle it passed.

So yes it sucks you have to see motors on Moose…but it beats the alternative (the only alternative at that time was no boundary waters). Belittling and harassing people that use motors won’t change that either. It isn’t about having a good or bad argument for motors. It is written into the Wilderness Act. To change that, congress would need to open it back up…thus opening up every provision in it for debate again (mining, motors, lumber, roads, resorts, private ownership). The opportunity cost of congress doing this is too dangerous in my opinion. I’ll just avoid motor areas or take a tow to avoid them…it is what is is.

T

 
tumblehome
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04/26/2023 10:20AM  
Chieflonewatie: "Why do people always want to take something away from somebody else. Just leave alone it’s worked for a long time."


I completely agree. I too don't understand why the motor boats want to take away the wilderness experience from the wilderness users.
 
KarlK
member (38)member
  
04/26/2023 12:22PM  
timatkn: "Jwmiller39…


Once again I am going to point out that removal of motor boats is impossible. Removal of tows is impossible. The number of tows may be slightly reduced. That’s the best that can come of all of this. If you are a paddle only fella…you will not see/notice any difference.


There always seems to be this select group that thinks removal of motors is somehow an option and complain about people using them.


The BWCAW was created with this imperfect provision. Without this provision the BWCAW would be almost completely motorized. It cannot be changed. Did you know Basswood had over 20 resorts on it? There was a resort at Curtain Falls? The BWCAW was not some pristine area that was protected. It was carved out of mechanized and motorized use. It was close to not ever being created. This tiny portion you have to endure motors is part of the compromise of the creation of the BWCAW. Without that compromise the BWAW would not exist. In the current political environment I doubt the BWCAW could be created again. The Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Act of 1978 was monumental and probably a miracle it passed.

So yes it sucks you have to see motors on Moose…but it beats the alternative. Belittling and harassing people that use motors won’t change that either. It isn’t about having a good or bad argument for motors. It is written into the Wilderness Act. To change that, congress would need to open it back up…thus opening up every provision in it for debate again (mining, motors, lumber, roads, resorts, private ownership). The opportunity cost of congress doing this is too dangerous in my opinion. I’ll just avoid motor areas or take a tow to avoid them…it is what is is.


T


"

Thank you for the historical context here. The current regulations were the result of a decision-making process that followed civic decision-making principles, like including those affected by new regulations in the process. It was a compromise meant to get enough buy-in by all parties to move ahead, and I think it has worked very well. Everyone gives up a little bit and gains a great deal. Those who dislike motorized use have many options to avoid such impacts.
 
Chieflonewatie
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04/26/2023 12:58PM  
Bingo.
 
grizzlyadams
member (21)member
  
04/26/2023 02:34PM  
Pinetree: "From Calvin Rustrums book-Chips from a wilderness log: I often wonder in todays society including myself we have got into this rut.


"


I really like this quote.
 
billconner
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04/26/2023 06:53PM  
Think I'm with jwmiller and tumblehome. Gotta dream the impossible dream.
 
04/26/2023 07:05PM  
billconner: "Think I'm with jwmiller and tumblehome. Gotta dream the impossible dream."


Fair enough, but it is a dream…and belittling, saying people are cheating, accusing people of hurting the wilderness, calling them lazy as some have in this thread isn’t really along the lines of taking the oath of dignity and respect either. 2 recent posters have stated people legally using motors per the 1978 wilderness act are ruining their experience? Who is the selfish one in this case?

I hate the float planes, live bait/minnows, and motors in Quetico too, but it’s a reality we live with. I don’t belittle the natives for it. It’s part of the creation/compromise for the Q’s useage. It’s legal for them to do this.

I’ll say it again, without those motors the rest of the BWCAW wouldn’t exist. The opportunity to whine about motors would be way easier because they would exist on most lakes still.

T
 
KarlK
member (38)member
  
04/27/2023 08:23AM  
We already have laws on the books regarding safe operation of motorboats around non-motorized watercraft. If an operator or company needs a refresher on the rules of the road, contact the county water patrol or local CO. I have adjusted my expectations and tripping plans to accommodate the changes I have seen, like heavy use and the apparent trend in people using the wilderness as a summer retirement home. At a time when young people are faced with tremendous challenges to their mental health, we need to make efforts to expand access in the BWCA, not over-play our hand.
 
billconner
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04/27/2023 09:39AM  
timatkn: "
billconner: "Think I'm with jwmiller and tumblehome. Gotta dream the impossible dream."



Fair enough, but it is a dream…and belittling, saying people are cheating, accusing people of hurting the wilderness, calling them lazy as some have in this thread isn’t really along the lines of taking the oath of dignity and respect either. 2 recent posters have stated people legally using motors per the 1978 wilderness act are ruining their experience? Who is the selfish one in this case?


I hate the float planes, live bait/minnows, and motors in Quetico too, but it’s a reality we live with. I don’t belittle the natives for it. It’s part of the creation/compromise for the Q’s useage. It’s legal for them to do this.


I’ll say it again, without those motors the rest of the BWCAW wouldn’t exist. The opportunity to whine about motors would be way easier because they would exist on most lakes still.


T"


I never said any such things. You should brush up on the oath of dignity and respect.
 
jwmiller39
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04/27/2023 11:44AM  
if we always used the "its always been that way" mentality to steer your compass and make decisions, we would live in a much different world.
 
KarlK
member (38)member
  
04/27/2023 12:05PM  
Who is using that mentality? Not the USFS.
"The Forest Service has countered that it has continually refined and improved its system of permitted towboat management."
Wilderness Watch failed in 2015 and they will fail again. The claim that visitors are somehow denied a "primitive and unconfined recreation " is vague and without merit, in my opinion.
When asked about paddlers who have booked trips for the 2023 season, the best answer Wilderness Watch could come up with was "they (paddlers) could avoid canceling by planning more time for paddling." I do not have the resources or flexibility to take more than a quick trip to entry point lakes, and I live 4 hours away. In my experience, these areas are already overcrowded to a degree that groups are now sometimes denied any type of overnight wilderness stay, much less a "primative and unconfined experience". These groups, who may be less experienced and financially blessed than the Wilderness Watch elitists, could be future public lands/Wilderness/conservation advocates, and it would be wise to help them as much as possible. Eliminating tow boats may enhance the Wilderness experiences of some on a few lakes. Is this vague and limited enhancement worth the obvious cost to the area, economically and with regards to management goals? Litigious Wilderness Watch elitists are looking to win a short-term flex without considering the big picture.
 
Chieflonewatie
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04/27/2023 12:44PM  
I finally get it. Two sides come together and make a deal. Neither side is completely happy about it but they compromised. Some time passes and one side says I should get more. Got it
 
04/27/2023 01:07PM  
Sorry billconnor, didn't mean to to say YOU said those things, I was saying others that agree with you on this topic said those things in this thread. I can see how you could of taken it that way. My bad. I apologize.

T
 
04/27/2023 01:11PM  
jwmiller39: "if we always used the "its always been that way" mentality to steer your compass and make decisions, we would live in a much different world. "


I feel like you still have absolutely no understanding of what's going on for this subject? It's not "it's always been that way"... it's the actual rules of the BWCAW Wilderness act that dictate this...it'd take an act of congress to change this. Reading the claims of the recent lawsuit at best they can reduce tows.

You seriously think re-opening the entire Wilderness act for Congress and special interests groups to play around with is worth the risk of possibly losing more of the BWCAW just so YOU personally MIGHT have a chance to paddle Moose with no motors? I certainly don't...I think it is a foolish risk. Especially knowing it barley passed the first time through congress.

T
 
Maiingan
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04/27/2023 01:47PM  
Chieflonewatie: "I finally get it. Two sides come together and make a deal. Neither side is completely happy about it but they compromised. Some time passes and one side says I should get more. Got it"
To half the people in this country "their word" means nothing.
 
jwmiller39
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04/27/2023 02:07PM  
timatkn: "
jwmiller39: "if we always used the "its always been that way" mentality to steer your compass and make decisions, we would live in a much different world. "



I feel like you still have absolutely no understanding of what's going on for this subject? It's not "it's always been that way"... it's the actual rules of the BWCAW Wilderness act that dictate this...it'd take an act of congress to change this. Reading the claims of the recent lawsuit at best they can reduce tows.


You seriously think re-opening the entire Wilderness act for Congress and special interests groups to play around with is worth the risk of possibly losing more of the BWCAW just so YOU personally MIGHT have a chance to paddle Moose with no motors? I certainly don't...I think it is a foolish risk. Especially knowing it barley passed the first time through congress.


T"


what was that you said about the oath of dignity and respect? asking for a friend. just because someone has a view different from yours, you get all defensive and attack them.

oh and the "the way its always been" comment was in reference to you essentially stating that the wilderness has always been this way so they can never change it.

don't forget, we're on the same team here buddy.
 
SummerSkin
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04/27/2023 02:44PM  
jwmiller39: "
timatkn: "
jwmiller39: "if we always used the "its always been that way" mentality to steer your compass and make decisions, we would live in a much different world. "




I feel like you still have absolutely no understanding of what's going on for this subject? It's not "it's always been that way"... it's the actual rules of the BWCAW Wilderness act that dictate this...it'd take an act of congress to change this. Reading the claims of the recent lawsuit at best they can reduce tows.



You seriously think re-opening the entire Wilderness act for Congress and special interests groups to play around with is worth the risk of possibly losing more of the BWCAW just so YOU personally MIGHT have a chance to paddle Moose with no motors? I certainly don't...I think it is a foolish risk. Especially knowing it barley passed the first time through congress.



T"



what was that you said about the oath of dignity and respect? asking for a friend. just because someone has a view different from yours, you get all defensive and attack them.

oh and the "the way its always been" comment was in reference to you essentially stating that the wilderness has always been this way so they can never change it.

don't forget, we're on the same team here buddy."


He didn't attack you...he made salient points. While his language may express frustration, it can be exasperating when someone oversimplifies a complex issue in the face of repeated facts.
 
SinglePortage
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04/27/2023 02:55PM  
I understand why they are allowed and how businesses depend on them, but I would not shed a teer if they came to an end. They serve a purpose, but are not necessary and degrade the wilderness experience. If using an electric ice auger is a problem for the wilderness, so are tow boats.

I don't see them going away any time soon, but it would be a good thing for the wilderness if they did.
 
billconner
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04/27/2023 03:18PM  
Chieflonewatie: "I finally get it. Two sides come together and make a deal. Neither side is completely happy about it but they compromised. Some time passes and one side says I should get more. Got it"


Sounds like Congress on a weekly basis.
 
billconner
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04/27/2023 03:26PM  
Just an observation on entry point lakes and camp sites - it seems to me most or a clear majority of sites on Moose are vacant. (I've paddled up Moose late in day numerous times, to get close to PP for next day Q entry instead of bunkhouse, and never see anyone, and fairly quiet by that 5:00 when making camp.) Well, not hard to understand why with motor traffic, but kind of interesting twist.

 
04/27/2023 04:54PM  
billconner: "Just an observation on entry point lakes and camp sites - it seems to me most or a clear majority of sites on Moose are vacant. (I've paddled up Moose late in day numerous times, to get close to PP for next day Q entry instead of bunkhouse, and never see anyone, and fairly quiet by that 5:00 when making camp.) Well, not hard to understand why with motor traffic, but kind of interesting twist.


"
I have always noticed that. Canoe paddlers don't come to the BWCA to camp next to all the motor traffic up the Moose chain. Usually, all or most campsites are vacant.
 
billconner
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04/27/2023 06:21PM  
I should probably know but is there any restriction on time of day motor boats can operate? Can they operate around the clock? (Reminds me of my outfitter telling about doing hunter island loop with a motor - like 28 hours or something in that range. Clear full moon night.)
 
04/27/2023 08:25PM  
I've appreciated this thread. As someone who didn't understand the politics behind the formation, it caused me to search out and read a couple of interesting websites:

https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd568084.pdf

has a good synopsis

and
https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd568083.pdf

is the act itself. It isn't that long, and is entirely readable.

I'll keep my opinions to myself, as they seem to raise ire, but I was someone who was surprised that motors were allowed at all in any area. (okay, one opinion - if they are allowed, then they are fair game and not cheating or lazy).

Here is my question - one nugget I pulled out of the first document (as a point from the act) is that the motorboat quotas per entry point must not exceed the annual averages (of actual use) from the period of 1976-1978. What I can't find is what those averages were, and how quotas today compare to them. Does anybody have insight to that?

Tim
 
thegildedgopher
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04/27/2023 09:38PM  
billconner: "I should probably know but is there any restriction on time of day motor boats can operate? Can they operate around the clock? (Reminds me of my outfitter telling about doing hunter island loop with a motor - like 28 hours or something in that range. Clear full moon night.)"

No hourly limits for motors, although I’m sure some of the operators have their own limits. For permit holders we have no limit.

Never been impressed with wilderness watch. It just seems like they beat the same dead horse every few years in front of a different judge, always looking for a different result from the same tires argument.

I love the bwca but when I think of all the good people that got removed from their family homes and lands to create the wilderness area designation it makes me upset. Any effort to further limit access makes me upset as well.
 
CatchMe
member (46)member
  
04/27/2023 09:43PM  
Ban all the motorboats. It's a WILDERNESS area.
 
Minnesotian
distinguished member(2268)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/27/2023 10:47PM  
Troska: "I've appreciated this thread. As someone who didn't understand the politics behind the formation, it caused me to search out and read a couple of interesting websites:

https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd568084.pdf

has a good synopsis

and
https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd568083.pdf

is the act itself. It isn't that long, and is entirely readable.

Here is my question - one nugget I pulled out of the first document (as a point from the act) is that the motorboat quotas per entry point must not exceed the annual averages (of actual use) from the period of 1976-1978. What I can't find is what those averages were, and how quotas today compare to them. Does anybody have insight to that?
Tim
"


I can't answer that question specifically, however I would caution reading much into that document you cite as it was published back in 1993 and there has been changes to the usage of motor boats since that year. A more recent publication about this tow boat issue was published by the DNR in 2015: Draft Recreation Needs Assessment for the BWCA

Maybe the answer is in there.
 
Stumpy
distinguished member(2055)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/28/2023 12:23AM  
CatchMe: "Ban all the motorboats. It's a WILDERNESS area."


Then ban all people too.
 
billconner
distinguished member(8492)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
  
04/28/2023 05:58AM  
thegildedgopher: "Never been impressed with wilderness watch. It just seems like they beat the same dead horse every few years in front of a different judge, always looking for a different result from the same tires argument."


I think it's a sign of the times. Staking out a middle position has become a loosing strategy against an opposing extreme position. Instead of asking for what you want, ask for the extreme to get what you want. We see it in everything in society - no place for the moderate.

I hope they succeed in getting motor traffic on Moose back to the actual 1976-78 averages.
 
billconner
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04/28/2023 05:58AM  
thegildedgopher: "Never been impressed with wilderness watch. It just seems like they beat the same dead horse every few years in front of a different judge, always looking for a different result from the same tires argument."


I think it's a sign of the times. Staking out a middle position has become a loosing strategy against an opposing extreme position. Instead of asking for what you want, ask for the extreme to get what you want. We see it in everything in society - no place for the moderate.

I hope they succeed in getting back to the actual 1976-78 averages.
 
Maiingan
distinguished member (191)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/28/2023 06:17AM  
Bill what was the average 76-78? Did that number include 4-mile portage? What happened to all those permits from 4 mile? Why weren't they moved to another area?
 
thegildedgopher
distinguished member(1593)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/28/2023 07:44AM  
Maiingan: "Bill what was the average 76-78? Did that number include 4-mile portage? What happened to all those permits from 4 mile? Why weren't they moved to another area?"


Good questions.

In my opinion this issue is not one of overuse of tows but of pretty poor and inconsistent accounting over the years. You have multiple cooperators running this portion of their business, but a federal agency is responsible for managing how frequently they do that business. Who is counting and logging the trips? Is it an identical process at every outfitter? Do some count “trips” a different way — ie round trip vs one-way, trips with 2 parties and multiple stops — or did they at any point between 1976 and now? How is Wilderness Watch defining a “trip” and how does that gel with USFS and operators on the ground? Without very clear definitions and clear accessible records this whole suit is, once again, a joke.
 
04/28/2023 08:48AM  
Minnesotian: "
Troska: "I've appreciated this thread. As someone who didn't understand the politics behind the formation, it caused me to search out and read a couple of interesting websites:


https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd568084.pdf


has a good synopsis


and
https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd568083.pdf


is the act itself. It isn't that long, and is entirely readable.


Here is my question - one nugget I pulled out of the first document (as a point from the act) is that the motorboat quotas per entry point must not exceed the annual averages (of actual use) from the period of 1976-1978. What I can't find is what those averages were, and how quotas today compare to them. Does anybody have insight to that?
Tim
"



I can't answer that question specifically, however I would caution reading much into that document you cite as it was published back in 1993 and there has been changes to the usage of motor boats since that year. A more recent publication about this tow boat issue was published by the DNR in 2015: Draft Recreation Needs Assessment for the BWCA


Maybe the answer is in there. "


The 1993 document does a good job of laying out the story behind the compromise that was needed to achieve the goal.
That wouldn’t have changed with time (though perception of it clearly will).

There also was quite a loud call here to understand the Act which created the BWCAW, and I do find it is helpful to read the actual language.

The link you posted was helpful to answer my question. If I was reading the tables correctly on my phone, it sure looks like we are well under the adjusted-due-to-closure quotas established in the 76-78 timeframe.

If one delves into whether or not we should adjust agreements based on current population majority desires, that will rapidly decay into a broader political discussion which I’m not interested in engaging with here. I appreciate this forum for its general respectful tone.

Thank you for the education.

Tim
 
04/28/2023 09:54AM  
Statement from Wilderness Watch:
The Forest Service’s 1993 BWCAW Management Plan established an overall motorboat cap of 10,539 motorboat trips for the entire Wilderness, based on the 1976-78 average use. It limited commercial towboats to their 1992 levels, which the agency later calculated was 1,342 towboat trips per year. Litigation by environmental organizations challenged some aspects of the 1993 plan, including the FS’s proposal to remove towboats from the overall motorboat quota, place all towboat operators under Special Use Permits (SUPs), and cap towboat use at 1992 levels. During the litigation, the agency calculated 1992 use levels and told the court that it would cap the towboat use at 1,342 towboat trips per year.

But since that time, the FS has let the commercial towboat use allowed it to grow. Several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and subsequent analysis showed that the FS has allowed use to significantly grow to several times that cap (e.g., 3,879 “boat days” of towboat use—not trips, which would be a higher number—in 2000, 4,555 “boat days” from just one district in 2003, etc.). In 2014, for example, the FS authorized 2,124 commercial towboat trips, but 2,614 towboat trips were actually reported. And these figures come from substantially incomplete report forms.

Personally, I think we need better bookkeeping and control of the amount of tow boat use-not elimination. There really is little monitoring going on now.

Also on Moose, we need the Boat and Water Sheriffs and Mn DNR safety patrols to have proper boat procedures followed. Like everything a few bad apples affect the whole.

Be nice they could all sit down to a keg of beer or tea and figure in out together.
 
jwmiller39
distinguished member (147)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/28/2023 11:23AM  
How bout dem apples
 
thegildedgopher
distinguished member(1593)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/28/2023 11:46AM  
jwmiller39: "How bout dem apples "


which apples are those?
 
billconner
distinguished member(8492)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
  
04/28/2023 06:01PM  
Maiingan: "Bill what was the average 76-78? Did that number include 4-mile portage? What happened to all those permits from 4 mile? Why weren't they moved to another area?"


I forget in posting here you have to announce when a question is rhetorical.
 
04/28/2023 07:05PM  
billconner: "
Maiingan: "Bill what was the average 76-78? Did that number include 4-mile portage? What happened to all those permits from 4 mile? Why weren't they moved to another area?"



I forget in posting here you have to announce when a question is rhetorical."


The actual average was roughly 15,000 motor boat visits per the BWCA wilderness act (average of usage ‘76-78).

The FS set a lower cap (10,500 in 1993) only after they decided to stop requiring tows to get day permits to reduce administrative costs. Which they concluded would help them stay well under the 15000 limit and reduce costs at the same time.

It’s going to take a lot of creative counting for the Wilderness watch to get to 15,000 days of motor usage.

T
 
Buhlie
member (22)member
  
04/28/2023 07:32PM  
Never been impressed with wilderness watch. It just seems like they beat the same dead horse every few years in front of a different judge, always looking for a different result from the same tires argument.


I love the bwca but when I think of all the good people that got removed from their family homes and lands to create the wilderness area designation it makes me upset. Any effort to further limit access makes me upset as well."


What he said
 
nooneuno
distinguished member(604)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/28/2023 09:38PM  
The government made the deals with residents and area operators and that can never be changed or modified, if you don't believe me just ask any Native American.....
 
Chieflonewatie
distinguished member (126)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/30/2023 09:22PM  
“They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they took it”
 
Stumpy
distinguished member(2055)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
05/01/2023 02:38AM  
Chieflonewatie: "“They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they took it”"

God bless you Tommy Chosa
Learned a lot from you.
Even as they laid you to rest on Basswood, the government couldn't be trusted.
 
CatchMe
member (46)member
  
05/01/2023 12:51PM  
Stumpy: "
CatchMe: "Ban all the motorboats. It's a WILDERNESS area."



Then ban all people too."


Haha! Good point!
 
05/02/2023 09:57AM  
I did my first Boundary Waters trip in 2000, when I was 54. For the next 12 years I did a trip every year. I've since had several health issues that forced me not too do anything too strenuous. (I strongly advise against turning 70).
Anyway, I'm 77 and would really like to get in another trip before I die. Been working on fitness but I'll never be the man I used to be.
I never really considered going in with a tow. I have considered going in where there were minimal easy portages. I've thought about Sawbill among others. I could even stay at their camp ground. Also hoping to get one of my sons too come along to help with the heavy lifting, but they seem to have their own lives. My wife wants me to stay home.
Anyway, my point is that there are some trips that those of us with limited ability can still do even without getting towed in. I think I could do a short, easy trip, even solo.
I'm not arguing for or against. Just considering other options.
 
05/02/2023 11:15AM  
oldgentleman: "I did my first Boundary Waters trip in 2000, when I was 54. For the next 12 years I did a trip every year. I've since had several health issues that forced me not too do anything too strenuous. (I strongly advise against turning 70).
Anyway, I'm 77 and would really like to get in another trip before I die. Been working on fitness but I'll never be the man I used to be.
I never really considered going in with a tow. I have considered going in where there were minimal easy portages. I've thought about Sawbill among others. I could even stay at their camp ground. Also hoping to get one of my sons too come along to help with the heavy lifting, but they seem to have their own lives. My wife wants me to stay home.
Anyway, my point is that there are some trips that those of us with limited ability can still do even without getting towed in. I think I could do a short, easy trip, even solo.
I'm not arguing for or against. Just considering other options."


Well said.
 
OtherBob
distinguished member (125)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
05/03/2023 07:47PM  
Jason, contact me about low portage - no portage geezer trip

bob@anthrolaw.com
 
heavylunch
distinguished member (179)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
05/04/2023 09:27AM  
"


I think it’s just different ways of looking at things. For example I don’t consider any of the motorized areas a wilderness. Just another lake with motors to me. Why paddle several hours through a motorized area to finally get to the area you actually want to be? Seems like a complete waste of my time. I don’t think I am missing anything by taking a tow except paddling on a motorized lake like I could in the twin cities any day of the week. In fact many of the twin cities lakes are quieter than the motorized BWCAW areas…to me it makes no sense to not take a tow…It seems many are trying to carve an area of Wilderness where there really isn’t one or maybe there is one but just in name and not in actual use?

Both of our arguments are valid…neither is completely correct either.

I think the analogy I used last year was do you portage your canoe down the Fernberg road or do you drive up to the entry? If I choose to portage my canoe down the road I wouldn’t be mad at everyone driving by would I?


"

Interesting take on things, thanks for sharing that view.
 
05/04/2023 09:32AM  
heavylunch: ""




The question is then, does motor traffic make a smaller wilderness? I think so. Also, each motor route and tow area consideration should stand alone. Like the Saganaga route-big open water, and more space to separate canoes and tow boats. Present limit on Sag-just leave it like it is, reduce Moose by half?
Moose Lake is much narrower and much heavier use.
Also, would this issue come up if tow boats use didn't sky rocket with no control over numbers, while even canoe paddlers numbers are controlled?
Many of paddlers have quit going up Moose because of the conflicts.


Myself I would like to see moderation.
 
billconner
distinguished member(8492)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
  
05/04/2023 06:15PM  
"Why paddle several hours through a motorized area to finally get to the area you actually want to be?"

I similarly wonder why people who can get to the area before end of the day choose to stay in a bunk house or other lodging instead of just entering and spending first night in the wilderness, the whole reason for the trip.

(Also very little motor traffic in the afternoon, compared to early morning, for another reason to paddle Moose later in the day.)
 
05/04/2023 08:47PM  
billconner: ""Why paddle several hours through a motorized area to finally get to the area you actually want to be?"


I similarly wonder why people who can get to the area before end of the day choose to stay in a bunk house or other lodging instead of just entering and spending first night in the wilderness, the whole reason for the trip.


(Also very little motor traffic in the afternoon, compared to early morning, for another reason to paddle Moose later in the day.)"


Going to Prairie Portage, we have left at 530 am from Moose Lake landing to beat the traffic. Yes from 0730 to 1000 it is a race track. Moose Lake is by far the heaviest-used corridor in the BWCA.
 
05/31/2023 09:46PM  
I don't live in Minnesota, so I haven't heard if the judge made a decision yet about the tow boats. I know tow boats are operating, but didn't know if it was because of her decision. Curious to know.

Terry
 
thegildedgopher
distinguished member(1593)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/01/2023 11:29AM  
There are two parts to the lawsuit— the main thrust accusing the USFS of allowing too many tows and requiring them to set up a transparent process to track usage. That is still very much not settled. The second part is that wilderness watch also requested a preliminary injunction to stop all towboats until the above is settled. No injunction has been ordered, so tows continue.

At this point in the season it’d be highly irresponsible for the judge to issue that injunction. Would have serious effects for people with tows booked as part of their trip, and could be a disaster for outfitters to deal with mid-season.
 
06/01/2023 02:38PM  
thegildedgopher: "There are two parts to the lawsuit— the main thrust accusing the USFS of allowing too many tows and requiring them to set up a transparent process to track usage. That is still very much not settled. The second part is that wilderness watch also requested a preliminary injunction to stop all towboats until the above is settled. No injunction has been ordered, so tows continue.


At this point in the season it’d be highly irresponsible for the judge to issue that injunction. Would have serious effects for people with tows booked as part of their trip, and could be a disaster for outfitters to deal with mid-season."


Very informative. Thanks.
 
Northwoodsman
distinguished member(2013)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/01/2023 04:32PM  
Maybe they should require that all towboats are sailboats. Very quiet and environmental friendly.
 
andym
distinguished member(5296)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
  
06/01/2023 04:51PM  
Northwoodsman: "Maybe they should require that all towboats are sailboats. Very quiet and environmental friendly."


But in the BW , you always have a headwind and so you are going to hear the sails flapping on every tack as they try to make way into the wind. Not to mention that they will be crossing the paths of the canoes trying to go it on their own. So annoying.

So….

How about all the tow boats are paddle powered! I’m picturing old Voyageur style canoes with 20 paddlers and plenty of room for your stuff. Lots of jobs for teenagers and college kids and you get a discount if you take a seat and paddle.

Or…

Outfitters could just rent these things to trippers and collect them at the end of the motor zone.
 
KarlK
member (38)member
  
06/02/2023 11:14AM  
I am interested to see what is decided here. On one hand, I support allowing these businesses to offer tow services, at least at current levels. I see a benefit there for the outfitters, for paddlers who may wish to use the service, and for paddlers like myself, who live close enough for weekend trips and have noticed increased use and a lack of campsite availability in some areas. Perhaps the tows spread folks out, as is claimed by the FS. On the other hand, if the FS agreed to study this issue and work to limit towboat use, then failed to do so, I understand why a group called "Wilderness Watch" would take issue.
 
06/02/2023 07:07PM  
I am still really confused by the lawsuit?

The level of motor boat usage in 1978 was ~15,000 separate boat days per year. This is well stated in the congressional act of 1978 that created the BWCAW.

The number of current motor boats, whether you use wilderness watch or FS numbers is significantly less than the initial agreed upon numbers.

The FS has voluntarily lowered the motor boat limit over the years based on reduced volume but had no obligation to do so. This is what people hoped would happen. That motor use would actually be less than what the agreed volume was set at in 1978…

I am sure I am missing something…I heard WW talk a few times but they keep quoting FS “goals” not requirements under the BWCAW act of 1978. The last second injunction they tried typically means the lawyers know they have little merit to their case and are trying to affect business in other ways by legal timing. It appears the judge/legal system did not appreciate this as well since it wasn’t upheld and a harsh criticism of these tactics took place…

Maybe WW can find a sympathetic judge? Or the FS runs out of money to fight it…so is this like the 3rd or 4th WW lawsuit?…the money to fight it has to come out of somewhere? Are we losing BWCAW budget Money? Are we losing enforcement money because of these lawsuits?

T
 
KawnipiKid
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06/02/2023 08:13PM  
timatkn: "I am still really confused by the lawsuit?

…the money to fight it has to come out of somewhere? Are we losing BWCAW budget Money? Are we losing enforcement money because of these lawsuits?

T"


Agreed that it's confusing. As for costs, I think the OGC, Office of the General Counsel, USDA, would defend a lawsuit against the Forest Service. It has it's own funding. Forest Service staff would need to testify, etc., but the lawsuit would not draw BWCA-related funding.
 
06/02/2023 10:17PM  
Thanks that’s good to hear.
 
analyzer
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06/03/2023 10:04AM  
billconner: ""Why paddle several hours through a motorized area to finally get to the area you actually want to be?"


I similarly wonder why people who can get to the area before end of the day choose to stay in a bunk house or other lodging instead of just entering and spending first night in the wilderness, the whole reason for the trip.


"


I've been to sag and beyond over 50 times. We used to leave from the Twin Cities about 1:30 am. That got us into GM at 6 am. We would eat breakfast, and then hit the ranger station at 7 am. That puts us at the end of the trail by about 8:30 depending on how long it took us at the ranger station. On the water by around 9:15 (base camping with lots of gear). We were heading through the munker narrows and around American point late morning. Many times we were paddling against heavy wind, and treacherous white caps. We'd get into camp around 2 pm and be wiped out. By the time we got the tent set up, we just wanted to take a nap.

Most of the time, when we left at 1:30 am, we wouldn't even get to bed until Midnight, and then the mind is racing and it's hard to get to sleep. It's dangerous driving on an hour and half of sleep, if that.

When the ranger station changed to 8 am open, we were getting on the water even later, and crossing Sag became more challenging. So we switched gears.

For several years now, we have been staying at the Rockwood bunkhouse. We head up the day before (often on a Friday), and don't feel near the rush to get packed up. We get a get a full night of sleep on Thursday night, have a casual pack Friday and headup about 2 pm. We get dinner in Duluth, and our permits from the Duluth Pak, and spend a little time in GM when we get there. We often don't get to the Bunkhouse until after 10 pm, but we still get 6 hours of sleep Friday night at the bunkhouse. It's far better than 1.5 hours of sleep, and a 13 hour day between drive and paddle.

Getting the permit the night before, and leaving the bunkhouse at 5 am, gets us to the end of the trail by 6, and on the water before 7. We are off the big part of sag by 10 am, and avoid the worst of the wind.

So that's why we stay in the bunkhouse. We're far more rested, and get a much earlier start across sag. I've been on way too many white knuckle paddles on Sag, to face that if i don't have to. (The worst one took us about 3.5 hours to get from American Point to the start of first bay, which is normally a 45 minute paddle. We were paddling as hard as we could against the wind, and the movement compared to shore, was barely perceptable. I doubt we were paddling 1 mile an hour). Never again, if I can help it.

 
jwmiller39
distinguished member (147)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/03/2023 10:35AM  
 
06/03/2023 06:51PM  
jwmiller39: "I just spent 8 days in the bwca doing the border route from Crane lake to South Fowl... We saw more motor boats than canoes across those 8 days. Something about that seems wrong."


What’s wrong about it? Is your choice of route. You have some serious issues with expectations if you expected something different. Even if the WW wins the lawsuit the route you chose will have minimal to no change in motor traffic of the route you chose?

You chose a route that starts miles outside of the the BWCAW and then even many of the BWCAW lakes along the Canadian Border don’t have any motor restrictions and will never have restrictions…it’s another country. There are Canadian resorts and private cabins on many lakes on your route? In addition the First Nations people that operate some of the motor traffic you are complaining of can’t be prosecuted even when they enter the BWCAW illegally …they don’t recognize international borders and in the past the courts have backed them up.

If you hate motors when you canoe…I do too…then pick routes that don’t border a different country with no motor restrictions or avoid the couple of lakes in the BWCAW that allow it under the 1978 BWCAW Act. It’s pretty easy…98% of the BWCAW is motor restricted.

What’s next…paddle Mille Lacs and complain about the motors :)

T



 
billconner
distinguished member(8492)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
  
06/04/2023 05:18AM  
analyzer: "
billconner: ""Why paddle several hours through a motorized area to finally get to the area you actually want to be?"



I similarly wonder why people who can get to the area before end of the day choose to stay in a bunk house or other lodging instead of just entering and spending first night in the wilderness, the whole reason for the trip.



"



I've been to sag and beyond over 50 times. We used to leave from the Twin Cities about 1:30 am. That got us into GM at 6 am. We would eat breakfast, and then hit the ranger station at 7 am. That puts us at the end of the trail by about 8:30 depending on how long it took us at the ranger station. On the water by around 9:15 (base camping with lots of gear). We were heading through the munker narrows and around American point late morning. Many times we were paddling against heavy wind, and treacherous white caps. We'd get into camp around 2 pm and be wiped out. By the time we got the tent set up, we just wanted to take a nap.


Most of the time, when we left at 1:30 am, we wouldn't even get to bed until Midnight, and then the mind is racing and it's hard to get to sleep. It's dangerous driving on an hour and half of sleep, if that.


When the ranger station changed to 8 am open, we were getting on the water even later, and crossing Sag became more challenging. So we switched gears.


For several years now, we have been staying at the Rockwood bunkhouse. We head up the day before (often on a Friday), and don't feel near the rush to get packed up. We get a get a full night of sleep on Thursday night, have a casual pack Friday and headup about 2 pm. We get dinner in Duluth, and our permits from the Duluth Pak, and spend a little time in GM when we get there. We often don't get to the Bunkhouse until after 10 pm, but we still get 6 hours of sleep Friday night at the bunkhouse. It's far better than 1.5 hours of sleep, and a 13 hour day between drive and paddle.


Getting the permit the night before, and leaving the bunkhouse at 5 am, gets us to the end of the trail by 6, and on the water before 7. We are off the big part of sag by 10 am, and avoid the worst of the wind.


So that's why we stay in the bunkhouse. We're far more rested, and get a much earlier start across sag. I've been on way too many white knuckle paddles on Sag, to face that if i don't have to. (The worst one took us about 3.5 hours to get from American Point to the start of first bay, which is normally a 45 minute paddle. We were paddling as hard as we could against the wind, and the movement compared to shore, was barely perceptable. I doubt we were paddling 1 mile an hour). Never again, if I can help it.


"


In both scenarios, you enter in the morning. If your 4 hours away why not leave at 8:00 am and enter at 1:00, is all I'm suggesting. Especially entering on lakes with motor traffic, which seems to be heaviest and most concentrated in mornings. I understand if your preferred entry is always windier in afternoon, but that's never been an issue for me on Moose Lake.
 
thegildedgopher
distinguished member(1593)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/04/2023 06:25PM  
Bill, every lake I’ve ever been on in the bwca is windier at 1pm than it is at 7am. If you haven’t experienced increased afternoon winds I can only scratch my head.
 
06/04/2023 06:44PM  
thegildedgopher: "Bill, every lake I’ve ever been on in the bwca is windier at 1pm than it is at 7am. If you haven’t experienced increased afternoon winds I can only scratch my head."




Especially Moose!!
 
billconner
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06/05/2023 05:33AM  
thegildedgopher: "Bill, every lake I’ve ever been on in the bwca is windier at 1pm than it is at 7am. If you haven’t experienced increased afternoon winds I can only scratch my head."


Just 30 trips but only occasionally been bothered by winds, morning and afternoon, and I'd rather be paddling then not. Plus as others have pointed out Moose is busy in morning.
 
thegildedgopher
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06/05/2023 09:39AM  
billconner: "
thegildedgopher: "Bill, every lake I’ve ever been on in the bwca is windier at 1pm than it is at 7am. If you haven’t experienced increased afternoon winds I can only scratch my head."



Just 30 trips but only occasionally been bothered by winds, morning and afternoon, and I'd rather be paddling then not. Plus as others have pointed out Moose is busy in morning."


There’s a difference between not being bothered by the wind and not acknowledging the fact that there is more wind in the afternoon than in the morning. Folks comfort level with paddling in the wind and whitecaps is definitely going to vary. I think it just boils down to different strokes for different folks!
 
billconner
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06/07/2023 05:27AM  
thegildedgopher: "
billconner: "
thegildedgopher: "Bill, every lake I’ve ever been on in the bwca is windier at 1pm than it is at 7am. If you haven’t experienced increased afternoon winds I can only scratch my head."




Just 30 trips but only occasionally been bothered by winds, morning and afternoon, and I'd rather be paddling then not. Plus as others have pointed out Moose is busy in morning."



There’s a difference between not being bothered by the wind and not acknowledging the fact that there is more wind in the afternoon than in the morning. Folks comfort level with paddling in the wind and whitecaps is definitely going to vary. I think it just boils down to different strokes for different folks!"


Well, it's often not as glassy smooth later in day but it seems pretty harmless. One of my favorite first day paddles is from PP to Basswood Falls (thrice) and its lovely.

I like the paddling and can't imagine ruling out afternoons.
 
adam
Moderator
  
06/07/2023 06:26AM  
I am not sure how this thread has meandered into a debate on paddling big water and wind, but there is nothing harmless about afternoon wind on big water, particularly with cold water. I always recommend crossing big water in the morning if you can as a rule of thumb. On Seagull, for instance, it isn't much fun, and dangerous for many, to bash through whitecaps on the way to Alpine or have to ride them on the way out as the afternoon wind picks up. It is particularly difficult when balancing navigation tasks if you get turned around and don't have a good bearing.
 
06/07/2023 10:30AM  
Judge declines to halt BWCA motorized towboat usage, rules against environmental group's request. Story in StarTribune
 
06/07/2023 11:33AM  
U.S. District Judge Nancy Brasel ruled against Wilderness Watch, but a towboat usage limit of some kind could result as litigation continues.
 
thegildedgopher
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06/07/2023 04:45PM  
As expected.

I got a giggle out of the Proescholdt quote stating he expects to emerge victorious once that judge finally reads all the evidence. This is what, the third time you’ve brought this same suit? I just don’t see it happening.
 
06/07/2023 04:59PM  
According to A EARLIER suit, the Forest Service’s 1993 plan caps towboat trips at 1,342 per year.
 
DukeC
member (23)member
  
06/07/2023 05:23PM  
thegildedgopher: "As expected.


I got a giggle out of the Proescholdt quote stating he expects to emerge victorious once that judge finally reads all the evidence. This is what, the third time you’ve brought this same suit? I just don’t see it happening."

I have met K. Proescholdt he is a very "Privileged" man with a fork tongue. This is my 1st hand experience with him. Go back home Kevin!!
 
KawnipiKid
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06/07/2023 06:09PM  
DukeC: "
thegildedgopher: "As expected.



I got a giggle out of the Proescholdt quote stating he expects to emerge victorious once that judge finally reads all the evidence. This is what, the third time you’ve brought this same suit? I just don’t see it happening.

"

I have met K. Proescholdt he is a very "Privileged" man with a fork tongue. This is my 1st hand experience with him. Go back home Kevin!!"


Not sure I agree with this approach concerning anyone, even if they are not a member here. I don't know K. Proescholdt except that he helped pass the 1978 legislation and wrote a book about it (which I have not read). What does "Privileged" have to do with the tow boat issue, are there facts behind the fork tongue comment, and, if he goes back home, where would that be to?
 
thegildedgopher
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06/07/2023 06:25PM  
Pinetree: "According to A EARLIER suit, the Forest Service’s 1993 plan caps towboat trips at 1,342 per year. "


Interesting. I do think part of the issue is that "trip" isn't clearly defined. Is it a round trip or a one-way? What if you tow a group to American Point and then go to pick up another group at Sag Falls and head back to the landing -- how many "trips" is that?
 
thegildedgopher
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06/07/2023 06:28PM  
KawnipiKid: "
DukeC: "
thegildedgopher: "As expected.



I got a giggle out of the Proescholdt quote stating he expects to emerge victorious once that judge finally reads all the evidence. This is what, the third time you’ve brought this same suit? I just don’t see it happening.


"

I have met K. Proescholdt he is a very "Privileged" man with a fork tongue. This is my 1st hand experience with him. Go back home Kevin!!"



Not sure I agree with this approach concerning anyone, even if they are not a member here. I don't know K. Proescholdt except that he helped pass the 1978 legislation and wrote a book about it (which I have not read). What does "Privileged" have to do with the tow boat issue, are there facts behind the fork tongue comment, and, if he goes back home, where would that be to?"


Yeah, I have my opinions on the man but I think it's best not to go down that road. I don't agree with his approach but also don't see the value in that kind of post. Just my 2 cents.
 
DukeC
member (23)member
  
06/07/2023 07:13PM  
KawnipiKid: "
DukeC: "
thegildedgopher: "As expected.



I got a giggle out of the Proescholdt quote stating he expects to emerge victorious once that judge finally reads all the evidence. This is what, the third time you’ve brought this same suit? I just don’t see it happening.


"

I have met K. Proescholdt he is a very "Privileged" man with a fork tongue. This is my 1st hand experience with him. Go back home Kevin!!"



Not sure I agree with this approach concerning anyone, even if they are not a member here. I don't know K. Proescholdt except that he helped pass the 1978 legislation and wrote a book about it (which I have not read). What does "Privileged" have to do with the tow boat issue, are there facts behind the fork tongue comment, and, if he goes back home, where would that be to?"


Maybe I shouldn't be so harsh, and maybe I am biased towards him because of other dealings. He has been involved with trying to take familes cabins from the owners on Isle Royale.
 
06/07/2023 10:19PM  
Pinetree: "According to A EARLIER suit, the Forest Service’s 1993 plan caps towboat trips at 1,342 per year. "


It’s a plan not a rule. That is the distinction. The FS wasn’t required to reduce motors/towboats according the BWCAW Act of 1978, they voluntarily lowered it due to less motor use. The outcome all had hoped for.

From my research, and I certainly could be wrong, the FS cannot be legally held accountable to those numbers.

Even if they are held accountable according the 1978 Act it’s motor boat daily usage…not trips…the WW is counting how many times a motor boat goes by them. So a fishing boat travels up/down the lake 2-3x…they count that as 3 motor boats. That doesn’t follow the the 1978 Act guidelines.

The WW could still win if the FS poorly argues their case or they run out of money, or find a political judge. But on the surface the WW doesn’t have a case…just wasting tax payers (our money).

T
 
06/08/2023 11:50AM  
DukeC: "
KawnipiKid: "
DukeC: "
thegildedgopher: "As expected.




I got a giggle out of the Proescholdt quote stating he expects to emerge victorious once that judge finally reads all the evidence. This is what, the third time you’ve brought this same suit? I just don’t see it happening.



"

I have met K. Proescholdt he is a very "Privileged" man with a fork tongue. This is my 1st hand experience with him. Go back home Kevin!!"




Not sure I agree with this approach concerning anyone, even if they are not a member here. I don't know K. Proescholdt except that he helped pass the 1978 legislation and wrote a book about it (which I have not read). What does "Privileged" have to do with the tow boat issue, are there facts behind the fork tongue comment, and, if he goes back home, where would that be to?"



Maybe I shouldn't be so harsh, and maybe I am biased towards him because of other dealings. He has been involved with trying to take familes cabins from the owners on Isle Royale."


I question that, most homes were bought out as early as the 1930's with lifetime use by existing families. As far as I know, all have been bought.

Isle Royale leases and buyouts

It is a very nice writeup
 
KawnipiKid
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06/08/2023 08:56PM  
DukeC: " On Isle Royale, fate of summer cabins pits nature against family history "


Thanks Pinetree and DukeC!

This is not an Isle Royale thread, but I can explain the real situation with the remaining Isle Royale family cabins. It’s a lot more complicated than media stories or activists on either side make out, just like so many real world things including BWCA tow services.

When Isle Royale Became a national park on April 3, 1940, all private property was “taken," as the legal language goes, by the feds by eminent domain. This is just like if you had a home taken to make room for a new public highway. The compensation was either cash up front (and you vacated) or a life lease for the pool of the then-living family members. The life lease gave you exclusive use for the life of all family in the pool; no money.

Here’s the key: Every taking of private property for public good is for a specific purpose. We protect private property rights in the US and don’t let it be taken without good reason. The reason is key because you can only fight for your property based on why it’s being taken at that time. The clear stated purpose in the Isle Royale takings was to have the land revert back to wilderness. Most families including ours supported this. Any property immediately bought out was burned out over the next winter. Back to the wild. Life lease families used their places and as their last family members died, those cabins were also burned out.

Then, in the 1980s, it changed. Cabin leases ended and the NPS didn’t burn them out. The park service began to value the historical human stories and presence, not just wilderness. There was cultural value in the cabins. Instead of burning them out, they turned them into ranger housing, living quarters for an artist in residence program, and have even considered renting them to visitors. There's now three private seaplane services with park concessions, each landing and taking off multiple times each day in front of the cabins. 30 to 60 foot private sailboats and motor yachts cruise in and out of the harbor. The dock near the cabin has US mail service. Wilderness?

My adult sons are the fifth generation on Isle Royale. The family has been there for 114 years. They still have that original cabin, one of 6 remaining in family hands. They were raised to know the family’s use would end and the cabin would be burned out to go back to wild.

Now, suppose the feds took your home for the public good, say it was for an airport. Later, you came back and they never used your place for the airport. Instead, your home had been turned into public employee housing or a rental. You turned it over, but for a purpose that was not honored. Is the taking of that private property still legit? There are lots of arguments but no one answer. This is the real but mostly untold story of the remaining Isle Royale family cabins.

My sons agree with their cabin being burned out when the family pool runs out; that was always the deal. They don’t support the locks being changed and having it become a rental or ranger housing (nothing against rangers, of course).

Just like BWCA tow boats, an Isle Royale moose hunt, or the Isle's family cabins, reasonable people will disagree forever with what to do. In any case, there’s no black and white and there’s lots of complex history, written agreements, law, precedent, competing motives and multiple ways to quantify the public and private interest.
 
06/09/2023 07:33AM  
Kawnipi kid, reading the articles and your description it sounds extremely complicated and even the cabin owners are split on what they want. Thanks for sharing.

T
 
thegildedgopher
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06/10/2023 08:07AM  
timatkn: "Kawnipi kid, reading the articles and your description it sounds extremely complicated and even the cabin owners are split on what they want. Thanks for sharing.


T"


X2 appreciate the personal context. It’s important to remember there are lives attached to these highly debated issues. I remember another user (maiingan?) sharing how they need a permit to visit family graves near their former cabin on basswood. That story changed my views a bit.
 
DukeC
member (23)member
  
06/11/2023 06:33AM  
Kawnipi kid, do you mind sharing the name of your family cabin? If not, I understand. Sounds like Tobin Harbor. I also have mixed feelings about the mess. I know Rolf and Candy Peterson . Candy is from Duluth and has spent time in Ely years ago. That being said they live in Bangsund family cabin in the summers. It was also supposed to be burned down. I don't want to see that happen, I was there last summer and will be back there in a few weeks.
 
KawnipiKid
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06/11/2023 10:03AM  
DukeC: "Kawnipi kid, do you mind sharing the name of your family cabin? If not, I understand. Sounds like Tobin Harbor. I also have mixed feelings about the mess. I know Rolf and Candy Peterson . Candy is from Duluth and has spent time in Ely years ago. That being said they live in Bangsund family cabin in the summers. It was also supposed to be burned down. I don't want to see that happen, I was there last summer and will be back there in a few weeks."


DukeC, Very cool that you know the Petersons and I'm happy that you'll get out there this summer. Enjoy every minute of it. I appreciate Rolf Peterson's work. Talk about mixed feelings and the complexities of these issues, I wouldn't want the Petersons to lose use of that cabin. So ... the tricky thing is that I married into the Isle and then unmarried out. My kids are the fifth gen and their mother is the fourth. I should probably just leave it there and stick to talking smart about BW and Quetico paddling on these boards.
 
06/11/2023 05:59PM  
Back to the OP.
"On Tuesday, Judge Nancy E. Brasel denied Wilderness Watch’s motion for a preliminary injunction aimed at banning towboats in the BWCAW for the 2023 season".

Judge rules to allow towboats for 2023
 
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