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EDITORIAL: Pandemic even complicates the BWCA motor permit system

The coronavirus pandemic has yet another victim, people who have motor permits for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
Info from the Forest Service on this issue shows it’s going to be tricky for permit holders this year. The main problem will be what day you can go.
Motor permits are for a seven day period with the user picking what day they want to enter the BWCA. This year, however, the USFS is encouraging users to pick what day to go a week ahead of time.
We all know the ability of weather forecasters when it comes to telling us if it’s going to rain tomorrow but a week from tomorrow? Your odds may be better with lottery tickets.
Here’s what we know:
“Ideally, day use motor permit holders can select their desired entry day to enter the Wilderness prior to this seven day timeframe, receive and print the automatically generated confirmation email seven days out from the permit week and be set to enter the Wilderness.”
What if an entry date change is desired after the seven day confirmation email is sent?:
“If this is the case, a day use motor permit holder can change the date themselves within their account in or call a Forest Service office and have them change the day. However, there would no longer be a valid confirmation email that could be used as a permit with the updated entry day. The only way around this is to connect with a Superior National Forest office and have them resend a confirmation email with the changed entry date and the permit holder could then print the new and updated confirmation email.”
Clear as mud? There is still the possibility of going through an outfitter to pick up your permit on the day of entrance or one day prior. Unlike the government, we believe most cooperators will be open for business.
However, permit holders may have to wait in line, observe social distancing and hope all the dominoes fall in the right order for this to work.
All the more reason for life to get back to normal. After all, we’re talking about fishing now. Things are getting serious.

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