Northern Wilds Magazine
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Along the ShoreNews

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Quota Permit Season 2020

Duluth, MN April 15, 2020 – Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced on April 9, that he will extend the state’s Stay at Home order to May 4. In order to help lessen impacts to local communities while the state’s Stay at Home order is in place, and to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) will be closed for both day and overnight use from April 15 through May 4. Reservations made through May 4 will receive a full refund including reservations fees.

In alignment with current federal, state and local guidance for social distancing and to ensure health safety of its employees, partners and members of the public, the Superior National Forest will temporarily change permit pick-up requirements beginning May 5, for all BWCAW quota permits.

As part of this, visitors will have two options: 1) print their BWCAW Reservation Confirmation Email at home and use this as their permit; or 2) pick up the permit in person at a cooperating business that remains physically open and that is under an Agreement with the Forest Service. Using the printed BWCAW Reservation Confirmation Email as the permit will enable visitors to travel to their entry point without stopping at a Permit Issue Station. This will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by allowing for social distancing in the permitting process.

The Reservation Confirmation Email is emailed from at the time of reservation and again seven days prior to the entry date. Permit Holders will be instructed to print one copy of the Reservation Confirmation Email for each watercraft in their group, and each watercraft should always carry a copy of the Reservation Confirmation Email with them while in the BWCAW. When the Permit Holder is not going on the trip, the Permit Holder is responsible for forwarding the Reservation Confirmation Email to the designated Alternate who is responsible for leading the group. Permit Holders will be sent emailed links to three wilderness education videos regarding trip planning, packing and Leave No Trace. All three videos should be viewed at home prior to embarking on their BWCAW trip.

Day Use Motor visitors must contact their Permit Issue Station no later than one week prior to their trip, to designate the day of the week they will enter the BWCAW.

Cooperating businesses that are open and conducting business operations normally can issue walk-in permits that are available the day of entry in person and show LNT video series.

Please call the Forest Service for information on which cooperators are physically open to issue permits and which are assisting visitors virtually. Reminder, that Forest Service offices are currently closed to the public and will provide virtual services until further notice. If you’ve made your travel arrangements/are renting gear/hiring a guide with a local cooperator or outfitter guide, please look for information from them or contact them directly with questions.

In response to the COVID-19 situation, implemented temporary measures on April 3, including suspension of the Customer Service phone service and chat. Support for will be provided via email until further notice. They will not be taking reservation requests via email. This change in service is necessary to provide for the health and safety of the customer service representatives and to comply with state-level stay-at-home orders. The quickest way to get help is to visit the online Help Center. Please remember that you can also call your local cooperator or the Forest Service if you cannot make changes online via

For current updates and other recreation closures, please visit “Alerts” on the Superior National Forest’s website. Members of the public should visit this section for important pre-trip information to protect public health and safety. In addition, the Forest has set up a specific “hot-line” number and email in-box (218-626-4395 or email for questions related to the BWCAW and/or permit reservation system.

The National Forests understand and acknowledge that Tribal members may fulfill their federal treaty rights within boundaries of their treaty ceded territory and are exempt from the restrictions, but they may be subject to restrictions by applicable tribal authorities.

Visitors to our National Forests are urged to take the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For tips from the CDC on preventing illnesses like the coronavirus, go to:

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