Jaye White

Feds say BWCA overnight use being mulled after state’s stay-at-home order set to expire

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced last night that he will let his current stay-at-home order expire Monday, May 18.

In related outdoor news, the U.S. Forest Service currently is not allowing overnight use or camping in the BWCA at this time. That rule is also set to expire May 18.

In this interview, the first that the Forest Service has done on this topic since the announcement from Walz, WTIP learns that the next 24 hours will be critical with regard to when the overnight permits will again be honored in the BWCA.

During his press briefing Wednesday night, Walz specifically addressed the topic of camping in Minnesota when the stay-at-home order is lifted. Walz said campgrounds will largely remain closed, while dispersed or remote camping will be allowed after May 18.

Minnesota officials have previously said an example of a remote campsite is a “designated backpack or watercraft campsite, not in a developed campground, used for overnight camping.”

That being the case, the BWCA is part of the Superior National Forest and is managed by the federal government, not the state.

What is certain heading into Memorial Day Weekend is that Walz’s new order doesn’t allow private or public campgrounds to reopen for camping.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Tofte District Ranger Ellen Bogardus-Szymaniak for the latest from the Forest Service about overnight camping in the BWCA.