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Superior National Forest Seeks Input on Amending BWCAW Forest Plan

The Superior National For­est (SNF) seeks public input as it contemplates changes to its Forest Management Plan for the BWCAW. The current plan sets goals and guidelines for managing, protecting, and using the BWCAW.

SNF will gather input from local communities, interest­ed parties, and the broader public regarding the man­agement of the BWCAW until May 17, 2024. In its March 29, 2024, press re­lease, SNF wrote, “We are considering making an amendment to update and modernize the Forest Plan direction for the BWCAW.”

“Changes to our Forest Plan can better position SNF to restore and preserve wil­derness character and meet the purposes of wilderness described in the 1964 Wil­derness Act and 1978 BW­CAW Act,” said Tom Hall, Forest Supervisor.

According to Hall, the BW­CAW’s management di­rection was last updated in 1993. He added, “Our im­plementation and monitor­ing over the past 30 years, as well as changes to na­tional wilderness manage­ment policy and guidance, have highlighted several issues affecting the BW­CAW’s wilderness charac­ter and visitors’ wilderness experience.”

The SNF needs to update management direction to preserve wilderness char­acter, provide opportunities for solitude, restore natu­ralness, limit development and trammeling actions, and protect other features of value across the Wilder­ness.

All four man­agement areas of the BWCAW are adversely affect­ed by Increasing visitation and changing trends in utilizing public lands, particularly high-use campsites, travel routes, and previously un­visited primitive and pristine areas. Monitoring indicates social and ecolog­ical impacts, such as crowd­ing, noise, light pollution, lack of campsite availabil­ity, littering, campsite and portage erosion, campsite expansions, water quality degradation, and other is­sues preventing SNF from managing to its standards.

In August 2023, a review of Towboat management in the BWCAW drew 1,300 comments. The primary issues identified related to how towboats are managed under the overall motorboat cap within the BWCAW and the impact that tow­boats have on wilderness character. To effectively manage commercial tow­boat use in the BWCAW, management direction con­cerning commercial tow­boats in the existing Forest Plan may need to be updat­ed. In addition to commer­cial towboat use, there is a need to consider the context of motorized use within the BWCAW, as provided for by existing law.

Additional management topics include fisheries, outfitter and guide opera­tions, forest fire manage­ment, visitor use manage­ment (overnight paddle and hiking quota, campsites), struc­tures, other agency use, wilderness education plans, the reservation system, and research needs.

This ambitious and time-consuming process will be ready for implemen­tation by April 2026. Public comments may be submit­ted online at www.fs.usda. gov from March 29 to May 17, 2024. Comments may be submitted by mailing to Superior National Forest, Re: BWCAW Forest Plan Amendment, 8901 Grand Ave. Place, Duluth, MN 55808

Steve Fernlund
Steve Fernlund
Typically these “about me” pages include a list of academic achievements (I have none) and positions held (I have had many, but who really cares about those?) So, in the words of the late Admiral James Stockwell, “Who am I? Why am I here?” I’m well into my seventh decade on this blue planet we call home. I’m a pretty successful husband, father, and grandfather, at least in my humble opinion. My progeny may disagree. We have four children and five grandchildren. I spent most of my professional life in the freight business. At the tender age of 40, early retirement beckoned and we moved to Grand Marais. A year after we got here, we bought and operated the Cook County News Herald, a weekly newspaper in Grand Marais. A sharp learning curve for a dumb freight broker to become a newspaper editor and publisher. By 1999 the News Herald was an acquisition target for a rapidly consolidating media market. We sold our businesses and “retired” again, buying a winter retreat in Nevada. In the fall of 2016, we returned to Grand Marais and bought a house from old friends of ours on the ridge overlooking Lake Superior. They were able to move closer to family and their Mexico winter home. And we came home to what we say is our last house. I’m a strong believer in the value of local newspapers--both online and those you can wrap a fish in. I write a weekly column and a couple of feature stories for the Northshore Journal. I’m most interested in writing about the everyday lives of local people and reporting on issues of importance to them.
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