Wilderness rangers meet with BWCA paddlers during 2021 evacuation. Photo courtesy of USDA Forest Service
USDA Forest Service

Ahead of BWCA reopening, wilderness rangers share stories of evacuation process

It’s been a season like no other in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

On Aug. 21, Superior National Forest officials enacted a temporary but full closure of the BWCA. The order, issued in response to fire danger, came at the height of the paddling season. The BWCA will reopen Saturday, Sept. 4, with some closures remaining in place.

News of the closure was delivered to paddlers by teams of wilderness rangers who spent days sweeping the BWCA by canoe.

Working in a coordinated effort across the wilderness, several dozen rangers were able to clear the area in just a few days.

WTIP’s Barbara Jean Meyers speaks with two wilderness rangers, Megan McClanahan and Chad LeFevere, along with Superior National Forest Recreation and Wilderness Specialist Cathy Quinn, about the challenges involved in covering an area to remove canoe campers that is more than 1 million acres in size, includes more than 2,000 campsites and 1,200 miles of canoe routes.