US Forest Service

Fire danger remains high ahead of busy weekend in the BWCA

Permits for the east side of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness over Memorial Day Weekend and the days leading up to it are essentially all reserved at this time.

In other words, the BWCA is going to be a busy place this weekend.

On top of the COVID-19 crisis that dominates news headlines, including how it will impact outdoor recreation in the region, the forests are dry in northeastern Minnesota. Officials from the US Forest Service told WTIP the fire danger is high heading into Memorial Day Weekend. A campfire ban that was in place was lifted by the Forest Service May 18, meaning it is legal to have a campfire in the BWCA at this time. Overnight trips to the BWCA are also allowed as of Monday.

Patty Johnson, the zone fire management officer for both the Gunflint and Tofte districts, spoke with WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs about fire danger and campfire etiquette during the upcoming and official start to the 2020 paddling season. The audio to their discussion is posted below.

In addition, Johnson shared these reminders about campfires at this time on the Superior National Forest, including in the BWCA:

  • Keep campfires small.
  • Only have fire within fire rings.
  • Have fires only in the evening hours when the wind dies off and the relative humidity rises.
  • Do not have fires on hot, dry, windy days
  • Never leave a fire unattended (i.e. to go out on the lake for fishing). Put your fire out if you are not going to be nearby.