Northern Wilds Magazine
Photo by Jen Kavaloski.

National Forests in Minnesota Temporarily Close Campgrounds and Recreation Sites

Cass Lake and Duluth, MN., April 17, 2020 – In alignment with current federal, state and local guidance for social distancing and to ensure health safety of its employees, visitors and volunteers, the Chippewa and Superior National Forests are shutting down developed recreation facilities, including campgrounds and restrooms, as well as suspending trash pick-up until further notice. In addition, on both Forests, all overnight camping is shut down and campfires are not allowed, in order to minimize the risk to first responders in the event of wildfire.

At this time, the General Forest remains open to the public, including Forest roads identified on the motor vehicle use map are open for scenic drives, trails and trailheads for hiking, and boat ramps (unless within campgrounds) are open to provide fishing access. With the potential for crowded conditions in the coming days and weeks, both Forests are implementing a group-size limitation of 10 people or less per group across the entire forest.

“I encourage you to get outside and enjoy your public lands, while recreating responsibly and safely. Please consider reducing the impacts to local communities who may be at risk from the virus by utilizing the Forest for day use and staying closer to your community as Governor Walz has outlined in his stay at home order.” said Connie Cummins, Forest Supervisor on the Superior National Forest.

When you recreate, please keep in mind to:

  • Avoid visiting the forest if you are sick and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Follow CDC guidance on personal hygiene and social distancing before and during your visit to the forest.
  • Take your trash with you when you leave. Trash overflowing the receptacles becomes litter and can be harmful to wildlife and attract predators.
  • Please make arrangements to use the restroom before or after your visit to the forest. Unmanaged waste creates a health hazard for our employees and for other visitors.
  • If an area is crowded, please search for a less occupied location. Also consider avoiding the forest during high-use periods

“As we work through these unpredictable and rapidly changing circumstances, the health and safety of the public and our employees is our top priority. We will continue to monitor the situation, and when it is safe to do so, this closure order will be lifted,” said Chippewa National Forest Supervisor Darla Lenz. “We did not make this decision lightly, and we appreciate people’s understanding and cooperation.”

The US Forest Service asks the public to please recreate responsibly. Law enforcement and/or search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19 issues. Backcountry activities that increase your chance of injury or distress should be avoided. Please remember to pack-out what you pack-in.

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