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Forest Service announces changes to BWCA quota permits for 2021 season

The Forest Service has updated the quota permit issuance process for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area for the 2021 season. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the USDA Forest Service will offer alternatives to issuing permits in-person and will conduct a “virtual” Leave No Trace (LNT) education program.
BWCAW quota permit reservations for the 2021 season will be available beginning at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021.
Last season saw unprecedented visitation to the BWCA and along with that an unacceptably high amount of resource damage, including cutting of live trees, human waste not being properly disposed, trash left in campfire rings, disruptive and oversized groups and campfires left unattended.
To ensure visitors new to wilderness understand and follow BWCA regulations and Leave No Trace Principles, the Forest Service has adopted new methods of delivering this information.
All permit holders are required to watch three LNT education videos and review the BWCA regulations and rules prior to receiving their permit.
Permit holders are required to watch part one and part two of the series prior to the final step to securing their permit.
Video links are emailed to permit holders at the time of reservation and two weeks prior to their entry date. An additional resource to plan for a successful trip is the BWCA Trip Planning Guide.
Users can check the cooperators tab on at: ( before securing a permit to see which ones are issuing permits in-person or virtually.
Permit holders who select a cooperator issuing permits in-person will be required to watch the final LNT education video and review the BWCA regulations and rules prior to receiving their permit.
Permit holders with permits listed at issue stations operating virtually will be e-mailed their permit by the Forest Service after completing required virtual LNT education online. If a permit holder does not have access to the internet, they must call the Forest Service to complete the LNT education requirement.
More information about the virtual Leave No Trace program will be available prior to the BWCA permits going on-sale.
Visitors are encouraged to book their reservations for May 1 through Sept. 30 online at or by calling 1-877-444-6777.
For the latest updates on the 2021 BWCA quota permit season, visit the Forest Service’s website at:
Forest Service offices are available by phone from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Forest Service’s primary delivery of service to BWCAW visitors is expected to continue through virtual means (i.e. telephone and online) until further notice.
For more information on travel in this area and all visitor updates visit

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