Campsite closed on the Gunflint Trail in late August 2021. Photo by Barbara Jean Meyers
Barbara Jean Meyers

Outfitters from Ely to the Gunflint Trail reflect on first week of BWCA closure

The temporary closure of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Aug. 21 due to active wildfires was challenging news for the many canoe campers who were planning a trip to the most visited wilderness area in the nation.

The news also dealt a significant blow to businesses on the edge of the wilderness, including the many outfitters who rent canoes and gear to paddlers entering the BWCA.

Superior National Forest Connie Cummins shared an update Aug. 26 about wildfires burning in the region, including the John Ek Fire in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the Greenwood Fire near Isabella. Cummins shared the update in a virtual meeting with Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith. Among the notable talking points was an acknowledgement from Cummins that the closure is impacting local businesses from Ely to the Gunflint Trail.

It’s now been about a week since Superior National Forest officials closed the BWCA to all access. In this update from the edge of the wilderness, WTIP’s Barbara Jean Meyers speaks with canoe outfitters and paddlers impacted by the closure. Audio below.