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Heat wave expected to descend on BWCA during Fourth of July weekend

Forest Service officials are urging caution as a heat wave is expected to descend on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Temperatures are forecast in the low to mid 90s on Saturday and Sunday this weekend, according to the National Weather Service. Often among the busiest weekends during the summer months, a surge in outdoor recreation across the country likely means the BWCA will be very busy in the coming days, according to Tofte District Ranger Ellen Bogardus-Szymaniak.

Though widely recognized for a seemingly endless stretch of rivers, lakes and streams spread throughout the BWCA, dehydration could be a factor for some canoeists and wilderness travelers this weekend. Other factors to consider are fire danger, which is mounting with the warmer temperatures and lack of precipitation to start the season.

From experienced paddlers to first-time visitors to the wilderness, Forest Service officials remind visitors to consult their trip planning guide before starting a trip in the BWCA.

Listen to the audio below to hear an interview with WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs speaking with Bogardus-Szymaniak about what to expect during the holiday weekend and the upcoming heat wave.

In more news, starting in mid-July, most BWCA permit holders will need to pick up their permits in-person. The Forest Service plans to phase out its virtual program, with the exception of virtual sessions on Sundays, for the remainder of the permit season. The Forest Service’s virtual option was developed as a temporary modification in response to COVID-19.

Beginning in mid-July, virtual permit issuance and leave no trace education sessions will be offered only on Sundays at 9 a.m. for those who have selected LaCroix District Office or Tofte District Office as their issue station due to these offices being closed on Sundays.

For reservations in the second half of July or later, the Forest Service encourages you to modify plans accordingly to pick up your permit in-person. All permits (virtual and in-person) must be issued on the entry date or one-day prior.

The forest will issue a firm timeline for phasing out virtual programming after the Fourth of July.