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Forest Service sets campfire ban in the BWCA ahead of Fourth of July weekend

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. WTIP file photo
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. WTIP file photo

Due to worsening fire danger conditions in northeastern Minnesota, the U.S. Forest Service is banning campfires in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) and at remote campsites throughout the Superior National Forest ahead of the busy Fourth of July weekend.

In a press release sent to WTIP, the Forest Service says it is “restricting the building, maintaining, attending or use of a fire or campfire to reduce the likelihood of a wildfire on the Superior National Forest.”

This includes all campsites located within the BWCA, a federally-protected wilderness area where most permits are booked ahead of, and through the holiday weekend.

The Forest Service is allowing the use of a camp stove that is solely fueled by liquid petroleum or liquid petroleum gas fuels. Also allowed are campfires in approved fire rings in a select few Forest Service developed campgrounds along the Gunflint Trail, Sawbill Trail and other nearby roadways on the edge of the BWCA. These campgrounds in Cook County include:
 
·       Sawbill Campground
·       Crescent Lake Campground
·       Temperance River Campground
·       East Bearskin Campground
·       Flour Lake Campground
·       Iron Lake Campground
·       Trails End Campground
·       Devils Track Campground
·       Two Island Campground

The Forest Service says current drought data shows lands across Superior National Forest, including the entire BWCA, are in the ‘abnormally dry’ and ‘moderate drought’ condition categories. Such conditions can cause serious harm and dangerous scenarios, including increased fire danger and a decline in lake and river levels. Due to these conditions, the potential for wildfires remains high in and around the Superior National Forest. With the continued lack of moisture and increase in temperatures, potential heat sources such as engines or campfires can easily ignite surrounding vegetation, resulting in a wildfire, the Forest Service says.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Patty Johnson, the zone fire management officer for both the Gunflint and Tofte districts, about the conditions in the BWCA and surrounding area ahead of the holiday weekend. The interview took place just prior to the campfire ban being enacted.

The audio to their conversation can be found below. 

 

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