Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Large section of BWCA closes as Quetico wildfires continue to grow

A large area of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness near Ely is now closed due to the threat of wildfires burning across the border inside Quetico Provincial Park.

Just before 10 p.m. Saturday the U.S. Forest Service announced additional closures in the BWCA effective on Sunday, July 18. The Forest Service determined the wildfires in Canada’s Quetico Provincial Park have the potential to spread to the U.S. side of the border.

Dry conditions and the chance for the Canadian fires to enter the BWCA led to the closures, all of which are near the Ely area and northwest section of the wilderness. As of July 16, the closest Quetico fire to the east zone of the BWCA was approximately 30 miles from Saganaga Lake at the end of the Gunflint Trail.

Similar to the closures announced on July 15, this latest BWCA closure order will remain in effect for at least seven days or until it is safe to open the area again.

This BWCAW closure order includes the following entry points:

Little Indian Sioux River North #14
Moose / Portage River #16
Stuart River #19
Angleworm Lake #20
South Hegman Lake #77
Little Vermilion Lake #12
Lac La Croix Only #12A
Blandin Trail #11
Herriman Lake Trail #13
Sioux-Hustler Trail #15
Angleworm Trail #21

Additionally, the following campsites, portages and lakes are closed:

All trails, campsites, portages and lakes that are accessed by the closed entry points listed above, including but not limited to – Loon Lake, Lac la Croix, Ge-be-on-e-quet Lake, Oyster Lake, Shell Lake, Hustler Lake, Sterling Lake, Ramshead Lake, Lake Agnes, Sterling Lake, White Feather Lake, Chippewa Lake, Gun Lake, Jackfish Lake, Lake Agnes, Fourtown Lake, Horse Lake, all zones of the Sundial Pristine Management Area (1 through 5), and the Weeny Pristine Management Area.

The Forest Service is canceling quota permit reservations for the entry points listed. Those with reservations will be contacted, reimbursed and redirected to other areas of Superior National Forest that do not require BWCA quota permits.

Fire managers are monitoring and flying the international border daily and will determine when it is safe to lift this closure.

Northern Minnesota, including the Superior National Forest, is facing abnormally dry drought conditions, with no sign of relief from precipitation in the near future. There is currently one active fire on Superior National Forest, the Delta Fire, first detected on July 7. Firefighters are making progress containing the 65-acre fire which has proved logistically challenging due to it burning in waist to chest high blowdown conditions.

Fire restrictions are in effect on Superior National Forest. Campfires are only permitted in fee campgrounds inside established Forest Service maintained fire rings. Open fires, including campfires, are not allowed elsewhere across Superior National Forest including the BWCA or the following fee campgrounds: Iron Lake, Trails End, McDougal Lake, Little Isabella, Divide Lake and Ninemile Lake.