BWCAW permit system changesSuperior National Forest officials said last Friday they have formally adopted changes in how campers get permits for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, eliminating the annual winter lottery except for entry points at Moose and Fall lakes.
Superior National Forest officials said last Friday they have formally adopted changes in how campers get permits for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, eliminating the annual winter lottery except for entry points at Moose and Fall lakes.
Forest Service officials said the lottery system in place for years was being underutilized and that, in nearly all cases, visitors now can get their permit through a first-come, first-served reservation system either by telephone or the Internet.
Most visitors will find out immediately whether they get the location and date they want and can immediately reapply if they don’t, officials said.
After the changes were first proposed in October, however, several Ely-area canoe outfitters complained, saying the lottery system allowed them to reserve permits along the Moose Lake chain and Fall Lake for dates most popular among their customers. Records show most of the permits for those areas were indeed taken through the lottery, unlike the remainder of the BWCAW.
Forest Service officials eventually agreed, and for Fall and Moose lakes — BWCAW entry points D, 24, F, G and 25 — lottery applications can be made starting Dec. 19 through Jan. 19, with the drawing on Jan. 20.
Reservations for all other BWCAW entry points can be made on a first-come, first-served basis starting Jan. 25 at 9 a.m. Reservations also can be made in person at any Superior National Forest office and at most local canoe outfitters and lodges. Any permits for Moose and Fall lakes entries left over after the lottery also will be available starting Jan. 25.
All overnight visitors to the 1.1-million-acre BWCAW must have a permit, and from May through September each entry point has a quota allowing only a certain number of parties to enter each day. About 250,000 visitors use the BWCAW each year. Of those, about 150,000 stay at least one night.
BWCAW visitors can apply for the lottery or make reservations at www.recreation.gov.