Forest Supervisor shares update on top stories from 2023 during open house at Gunflint Ranger Station
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Outdoor News

Forest Supervisor shares update on top stories from 2023 during open house at Gunflint Ranger Station

An open house Tuesday evening hosted by the US Forest Service at the Gunflint Ranger Station in Grand Marais offered an opportunity to reflect on some of the top stories from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and across Superior National Forest this year.

It’s indeed been a busy year for news and information from Superior National Forest, including a recent announcement that essentially blocks the proposed expansion of Lutsen Mountains, the local ski hill.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Superior National Forest Supervisor Tom Hall about this topic, and other news items from 2023, including a court ruling about tow boat usage in the BWCA, a memorandum of understanding signed in May with three Chippewa Bands in northeastern Minnesota, and future engagement with outfitters and user groups associated with the canoe-country wilderness.

Listen to the audio below to hear the full interview with Hall from the open house at the Gunflint Ranger Station Oct. 10.

Regarding tows, a court ruling from June 6 denied a request from the environmental group Wilderness Watch to immediately stop motorized towboat usage in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

This news comes about two months after WTIP reported there was news of a court case that could end the longstanding practice of using motorized towboats to help BWCA visitors get started on their wilderness trips.

The US Forest Service allows the use of towboats to assist canoeists starting their BWCA journey, dispersing visitors deeper into the million-acre BWCA. Some outfitters at the end of the Gunflint also use the towboat service to help paddlers reach Quetico Provincial Park via the Cache Bay Ranger Station.

Earlier in the year, three Chippewa Bands signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Forest Service to provide for co-stewardship and protection of “treaty-reserved rights under the 1854 Treaty” across the massive Superior National Forest.

The agreement, signed on May 2, is the first of its kind between the Chippewa Bands and the Forest Service.

The MOU recognizes the sovereign tribal nations as the original stewards of land now encompassing the 3.3-million-acre Superior National Forest. The document outlines procedures to ensure that input from the Bois Forte, Fond du Lac, and Grand Portage Bands is meaningfully incorporated into Forest Service decision-making.

In other news, Hall said he was unable to comment specifically on the potential for a government shutdown next month, following a recent situation that had staff on Superior National Forest literally hours away from shutting down most operations.