Additional BWCA closures near US-Canada border
The U.S. Forest Service announced additional closures in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area effective July 18, due to wildfires in Canada’s Quetico Provincial Park that have the potential to spread to the US side of the border.
Recent reconnaissance flights conducted by fire managers have indicated an increase in fire behavior, despite the lighter winds; and fuels in this area are pre-heating and becoming more volatile.
Similar to the closures announced on July 15, this latest BWCAW closure order will remain in effect for at least seven days or until it is safe to open the area again.
This BWCAW Closure Order includes the following entry points:
• Little Indian Sioux River North #14
• Moose / Portage River #16
• Stuart River #19
• Angleworm Lake #20
• South Hegman Lake #77
• Little Vermilion Lake #12
• Lac La Croix Only #12A
• Blandin Trail #11
• Herriman Lake Trail #13
• Sioux-Hustler Trail #15
• Angleworm Trail #21
Additionally, the following campsites, portages and lakes are closed:
• All trails, campsites, portages and lakes that are accessed by the closed entry points listed above, including but not limited to - Loon Lake, Lac la Croix, Ge-be-on-e-quet Lake, Oyster Lake, Shell Lake, Hustler Lake, Sterling Lake, Ramshead Lake, Lake Agnes, Sterling Lake, White Feather Lake, Chippewa Lake, Gun Lake, Jackfish Lake, Lake Agnes, Fourtown Lake, Horse Lake, all zones of the Sundial Pristine Management Area (1 through 5), and the Weeny Pristine Management Area.
The Forest Service has enacted this closure order given the increased fire activity of the Canada fires, and the time required to locate and move BWCAW visitors out of the area if the wildfires spread into the US and create hazardous conditions.
The Forest Service closed entry points that feed into the closure areas where the fire could threaten public safety. Travel times to these areas in the BWCAW are measured in days, not hours, and this would not allow for rapid evacuation of the area.
Quetico Provincial Park has already enacted a closure area for the fires.
Wilderness rangers initiated contact with visitors on and near the Iron Lake and Crooked Lake travel corridors and this new closure area, instructing them to move out of the area to safer zones. Law enforcement is now posted at the closure area entry points.
The Forest Service will be canceling quota permit reservations for the entry points listed. Those with reservations will be contacted, reimbursed and redirected to other areas that do not require BWCAW quota permits.
Fire managers are monitoring and flying the international border daily and will determine when it is safe to lift this closure. Additionally, the Forest Service is communicating daily with the Fort Frances District Fire Management Supervisor for the Government of Ontario’s Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry for updates on fire management activities along the border and will work with Ontario authorities to monitor, assess, and initiate actions if required.
Northern Minnesota, including the Superior National Forest, is facing abnormally dry drought conditions, with no sign of relief from precipitation in the near future. There is currently one active fire on the Forest, the Delta Fire, first detected on July 7. Firefighters are making progress containing the 65-acre fire which has proved logistically challenging due to it burning in waist to chest high blowdown conditions. Due to the Delta Lake Fire, Forest managers closed an area in the BWCAW on, July 9.
Fire restrictions are in effect on the Superior National Forest. Campfires are only permitted in fee campgrounds inside established Forest Service maintained fire rings. Open fires, including campfires, are not allowed elsewhere on the Forest including the BWCA or the following fee campgrounds: Iron Lake, Trails End, McDougal Lake, Little Isabella, Divide Lake and Ninemile Lake.