Remote Area Border Crossing permits remain suspended as 2022 paddling season nears
As restrictions continue to ease on the international border, U.S. citizens traveling to Canada no longer need to present a negative COVID-19 test to cross the border.
And while access at the various ports of entry – including the Pigeon River crossing in Cook County – continue to ease, another aspect of travel utilized in the Boundary Waters region remains shut down.
As previously reported by WTIP, the Remote Area Border Crossing (RABC) program continues to be suspended. All previously issued RABC permits have expired and U.S. citizens cannot apply for a new permit at this time.
Unless this policy is changed in the months ahead, canoeists, anglers and property owners on lakes at the end of the Gunflint Trail won’t be able to access Canadian border waters, including Quetico Provincial Park, without first entering Canada through the Pigeon River crossing, or another official port of entry.
The RABC permits allow U.S. citizens to cross into Canada on some border lakes from Lake Superior over to Rainy Lake without stopping at a customs checkpoint, such as the Pigeon River entry point in Grand Portage. These permits cost about $30 to process and must be renewed annually.
In a statement sent to WTIP this week, Canada Border Services Agency CBSA senior spokesperson Rebecca Purdy said, “The Remote Area RABC program will remain suspended as long as the current COVID-19 border measures are in place. During this time, permit holders will not be able to use an RABC permit to enter Canada.
The CBSA continues to evaluate options to accommodate travelers in these remote areas and will notify members when the RABC program is ready to resume service.”
In addition to paddlers anxious to enter Quetico through Cache Bay at the end of the Gunflint, those who own property on the Canadian side of Saganaga are not allowed to reach their homes without first crossing through an official port of entry.
Minnesota Congressman Pete Stauber recently sent a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau requesting that RABCs be available in 2022. WTIP spoke with Rep. Stauber on April 27 about why he sent the letter to Trudeau.
“Minnesota and Canada both benefit from a healthy, reciprocal border crossing relationship,” Stauber said. “Especially during the summer months, our shared border area is a hub of economic vitality as tourists from around the world look forward to visiting our shared wilderness and lake areas.”
While noting the importance of the economic impact the remote border permit suspension is having on the Boundary Waters region, Stauber says he also is aware of the emotional aspect this situation has a well.
“It’s about people wanting to get to their cabins, people wanting to experience the outdoors, in both countries,” he said.
To hear more about this story, including segments of an interview with Rep. Stauber, listen to the audio below.