BWCAW to end lottery system for permitsThe U.S. Forest Service plans to eliminate the lottery system it has used for many years to issue permits to some Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness campers.
By: Forum Newspapers, Lake County News Chronicle
The U.S. Forest Service plans to eliminate the lottery system it has used for many years to issue permits to some Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness campers.
Instead, canoe campers using the popular wilderness area will apply online or by telephone for permits on a first-come, first-served basis, said Kris Reichenbach, public information officer for Superior National Forest.
“The lottery was established years ago when we were using different technology,” Reichenbach said. “At that time, we thought it was the fairest way.”
But fairness now is the main reason for eliminating the lottery, said Mark VanEvery, Kawishiwi District ranger for the Forest Service in Ely.
“We’re making sure everyone has an equal opportunity for those permits,” he said. “With the lottery we’ve had a high no-show rate. People are applying for more permits than they need.” Some of those permits then go unused, VanEvery said.
Some canoe outfitters, however, think the new system may create a chaotic situation with perhaps thousands of users trying to reserve permits the first day they are available. That’s one of the concerns of Marcy Gotchnik, co-owner of Wilderness Outfitters in Ely.
The lottery system, which traditionally was open for more than a month before the lottery was held in January, gave outfitters time to put all of their parties’ permit requests into the system at a relaxed pace, she said.
All overnight visitors to the BWCAW must have a permit, and from May through September each entry point has a quota allowing only so many parties to enter each day. A few of those entry points are especially popular, and on some days demand is greater than the quota.