BWCA Video- Drawing Boundaries

A great BWCA video made by a High School student! Read more about him here.


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BWCA Celebrates 40 Years

From the USFS…

The BWCAW became part of a National Wilderness Preservation System with signing of the 1964 Wilderness Act. According to the Act, Wilderness is “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” The intent of the Act was to establish wilderness areas that would remain undeveloped “for the use and enjoyment of the American people in such a manner as will leave them unimpaired for future use and enjoyment as wilderness”.

While inclusion in the national wilderness system lent federal protection, intense conflicts continued; most regarding pre-existing uses in the newly designated BWCAW. Following years of debate and compromise, Congress passed legislation to address specific issues related to the BWCAW. Jimmy Carter signed the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act (PL 95-495) on October 21, 1978, adding acreage, establishing the adjacent Mining Protection Area, and amending the national Wilderness Act of 1964, with the purpose to:

(1) protection and manage fish and wildlife “to enhance public enjoyment and appreciation of the unique biotic resources”,

(2) protect and enhance the natural values and environmental quality of the lakes, streams, shorelines and associated forest areas,

            (3) maintain high water quality,

(4) minimize,” to the maximum extent possible”, the environmental impacts associated with mineral development,

(5) restore natural conditions to existing temporary roads and prevent further road and commercial development,

(6) provide “orderly and equitable transition from motorized recreational uses to non-motorized recreational use…”

The Act specifically prohibits logging and provides direction to the Forest Service regarding: level of motorized watercraft use, size of motors, quotas for use, motorized/mechanized portages, snowmobile use, location of resorts, and maintenance of dams.

A comprehensive implementation strategy accompanied the BWCAW Act. The Forest Service was authorized to purchase private lands inside the BWCAW and to compensate timber buyers for contracts terminated or modified by the Act. In addition, the Forest Service was to “expedite the intensification of resource management on the national forest” and “development of dispersed outdoor recreation” outside of the BWCAW.

A key aspect of the implementation strategy was cooperation between the Forest Service and other agencies to provide transition assistance to displaced landowners. This included technical and financial assistance to certain commercial resorts and outfitters “to improve economic opportunities for tourism and recreation-related businesses in a manner which is complementary to the management of the Wilderness”.

Following implementation of the BWCAW Act and several years of litigation, the Forest Service established the first BWCAW Management Plan in 1993. Management direction for the Wilderness was later integrated into the  2004 Superior National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan.

To retain its enduring value, various uses in wilderness must be balanced to be compatible with ‘wilderness character’ which is at the core of the wilderness concept. In managing wilderness, the Forest Service does not simply set aside land and leave it alone. As the agency steward, the Forest Service will continue to actively manage the BWCAW to monitor and protect wilderness character, guided by the BWCAW Act, along with the national Wilderness Act and Forest Plan, and with input from engaged citizens today and for many tomorrows.


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The lost shoe

I want to share a guest post with you but will first tell you about an experience I once had.  I was walking a trail with my mountain bike from a lake to a logging road.  I stepped into a wet spot and my foot sunk into the muck. I attempted to pull my foot out as the mud slurped and suctioned the Chaco sandal with the toe strap right off of my foot.  How on earth could it pull the shoe off of my foot with a toe strap? I have no idea. I was only able to pull my foot out with assistance from a strong friend. When we reached down to retrieve the shoe it was nowhere to be found. We dug and dug but the bugs were ferocious so we left with one shoe on my foot and one shoe in the muck.  I want to return to see if I can find my lost shoe, but I haven’t had the time to yet…

by Todd Howland <>
The Ghost SHOE.

Are you missing a shoe from your recent BWCA trip?  Let me know and I will send it to you.

Back in mid-June, my wife and I put in at Sawbill and paddled the Cherokee Loop.

We were portaging from Ada to Scoop Lake.  The first of two portages was a short 1 rod.  But we kept following what appeared to be the portage and it seemed to grow longer and more precarious.  More and more muddy.  We thought we must of missed where to put in, but the “portage”was well traveled.  About half way through this slog, I sank into the mud to my thigh.  I managed to get the canoe off my shoulders and began to extract myself from the bog.  As I did this, my right water shoe was sucked off by the mud as I was lifting my leg out.  THWACK! My wife arrived and saw me covered in mud and with no right shoe.  After she stopped laughing, I set out digging for my shoe.

As I was digging with my feet and my arms up to my shoulder in mud, she said, “well, if you don’t find it, you can always use this shoe.”  I looked up and saw she had a running shoe that was covered

in dried mud.  She said, “it is a right shoe.”  I laughed.  What?  In this pristine wilderness, you just found a shoe?  Yep, she said.  “Just next to this supposed “portage” where the bog dries.”

I cleaned it up. Put it on.  It fit pretty well.  The shoe carried an appropriate name: GHOST 7.  I guess for lucky 7.

My wife gave me another 20 minutes to find my water shoe, before we had to push on, now with my new GHOST 7 on my right foot and my water shoe on the left.  About a minute before the designated period ended, I touched what I thought was my water shoe as I was digging with my leg.  The water shoe floated to the surface as the buzzer sounded.

While, I did not need to use the GHOST 7 running shoe, I decided to take it with us.  I thought maybe someone had lost it, like I had lost my shoe.  Later, perhaps it floated to the surface, where my wife found it.

But as time passed, I began to wonder if the GHOST owner actually left it there on purpose.  Clearly violating BWCA protocol, as he (less likely she with a men’s 11) had left it there, in case some other poor paddler would lose their shoe where he did.

Well, hopefully the true owner of GHOST 7 will come forward and solve this mystery and be reunited with their long lost right running shoe.

PS I washed the shoe, before taking this photo.

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Full Moon Coming Soon

Full Sturgeon Moon - OFAThis weekend features the full moon of August! It’s the perfect time to visit the Boundary Waters and watch the moonlight sparkle on the water’s surface.  The August moon is traditionally called the Sturgeon Moon because this type of fish can be a good catch in late summer and September, according to

Here’s what has to say about what other people call this moon:

“The Ojibwa — who lived in what is now southeastern Canada, near the Great Lakes — referred to the eighth moon of the year as the Blackberry Moon, which could also occur in July. The August full moon — the ninth full moon of the year — was called the Corn Moon by peoples in northeastern North America, per the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

“The Cree of Ontario called the August full moon the Flying Up Moon because it was when young birds would fledge. In the Pacific Northwest, the Haida called it the Salmon Moon.”

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Enjoy the Perseids in the Boundary Waters

A place with no light pollution is the perfect place to watch a meteor shower. The Boundary Waters, Quetico Park or the Gunflint Trail are a few options for this year’s Perseids which will be extra special because of the almost moonless nights.

Start watching for Perseids now

Peak mornings – August 11, 12 and 13 – are moon-free. With only a slim waning moon up before dawn this week, start watching in a dark sky now.

No matter where you live worldwide, the 2018 Perseid meteor shower will probably produce the greatest number of meteors on the mornings of August 11, 12 and 13. In a dark, moonless sky, this annual shower often produces some 50 meteors per hour … often many more. And this year, in 2018, there’ll be no moonlight to ruin the show.

It’ll be an awesome year to watch the Perseids!

In the Northern Hemisphere, we rank the August Perseids as an all-time favorite meteor shower of every year. For us, this major shower takes place during the lazy, hazy days of summer, when many families are on vacation. And what could be more luxurious than taking a siesta in the heat of the day and watching this summertime classic in the relative coolness of night?

People tend to focus on the peak mornings of the shower and that’s entirely appropriate. But meteors in annual showers – which come from streams of debris left behind in space by comets – typically last weeks, not days. Perseid meteors have been streaking across our skies since around July 17. We’ll see Perseids for 10 days or so after the peak mornings on August 11, 12 and 13. What’s more, the Perseids tend to build up gradually, yet fall off rapidly. So it’s possible to catch Perseid meteors now.

When and how should I watch the Perseid meteor shower in 2018? The best time to watch most meteor showers is between midnight and dawn, and the Perseids are no exception. The best mornings are probably August 11, 12 and 13. The best skies are those far from city lights.

At this writing (August 7, 2018), the moon is a waning crescent up before dawn, in the peak Perseid hours. It might interfere some with your view of any early Perseids that happen to be flying, but it won’t interfere much, and might even enhance your enjoyment of the early morning sky. Plus a crescent moon is easy to blot out by sitting in the shadow of a tree or building. And, as the days leading up to new moon pass, the moon will be rising closer and closer to the time of sunrise. New moon will be August 11.

So don’t think you have to wait until the peak mornings to see any meteors. If you have a dark sky, start watching now!

Also remember, the the Delta Aquariid meteor shower is still rambling along steadily. You’ll see mostly Perseids but also a few Delta Aquariids in the mix.

No matter how many meteors you see, you might see something, and it might be a lot of fun.

Composite of 12 images acquired on August 13, 2017, by Felix Zai in Toronto. He wrote: “Perseid meteor shower gave a good show even though the moonlight drowned out most of the fainter ones. A huge fireball was captured in this photo.” Thanks, Felix! By the way, it’s only in a meteor “storm” that you’d see this many meteors at once. Even in a rich shower, you typically see only 1 or 2 meteors at a time. Click for more 2017 Perseids.

Don’t rule out early evenings, either. In a typical year, although the meteor numbers increase after midnight, the Perseid meteors still start to fly at mid-to-late evening from northerly latitudes. South of the equator, the Perseids start to streak the sky around midnight. If fortune smiles upon you, the evening hours might offer you an earthgrazer – a looooong, slow, colorful meteor traveling horizontally across the evening sky. Earthgrazer meteors are rare but memorable. Perseid earthgrazers appear before midnight, when the radiant point of the shower is close to the horizon.

The constellation Perseus, radiant of the Perseid meteor shower

From mid-northern latitudes, the constellation Perseus, the stars Capella and Aldebaran, and the Pleiades cluster light up the northeast sky in the wee hours after midnight on August nights. The meteors radiate from Perseus.

Cassiopeia and Double Cluster

Here’s a cool binocular object to look for while you’re watching the meteors. The constellation Cassiopeia points out the famous Double Cluster in northern tip of the constellation Perseus. Plus, the Double Cluster nearly marks the radiant of the Perseid meteor shower. Photo by Flickr user madmiked.

General rules for Perseid-watching. No special equipment, or knowledge of the constellations, needed.

Find a dark, open sky to enjoy the show. An open sky is essential because these meteors fly across the sky in many different directions and in front of numerous constellations.

Give yourself at least an hour of observing time, for the meteors in meteor showers come in spurts and are interspersed with lulls. Remember, your eyes can take as long as 20 minutes to adapt to the darkness of night. So don’t rush the process.

Know that the meteors all come from a single point in the sky. If you trace the paths of the Perseid meteors backwards, you’d find they all come from a point in front of the constellation Perseus. Don’t worry about which stars are Perseus. Just enjoying knowing and observing that they all come from one place on the sky’s dome.

Enjoy the comfort of a reclining lawn chair. Bring along some other things you might enjoy also, like a thermos filled with a hot drink.

Remember … all good things come to those who wait. Meteors are part of nature. There’s no way to predict exactly how many you’ll see on any given night. Find a good spot, watch, wait.

You’ll see some.

Earth encounters debris from comet, via AstroBob

Earth encounters debris from comet, via Astro Bob.

What’s the source of the Perseid meteor shower? Every year, from around July 17 to August 24, our planet Earth crosses the orbital path of Comet Swift-Tuttle, the parent of the Perseid meteor shower. Debris from this comet litters the comet’s orbit, but we don’t really get into the thick of the comet rubble until after the first week of August. The bits and pieces from Comet Swift-Tuttle slam into the Earth’s upper atmosphere at some 130,000 miles (210,000 km) per hour, lighting up the nighttime with fast-moving Perseid meteors.

If our planet happens to pass through an unusually dense clump of meteoroids – comet rubble – we’ll see an elevated number of meteors. We can always hope!

Comet Swift-Tuttle has a very eccentric – oblong – orbit that takes this comet outside the orbit of Pluto when farthest from the sun, and inside the Earth’s orbit when closest to the sun. It orbits the sun in a period of about 133 years. Every time this comet passes through the inner solar system, the sun warms and softens up the ices in the comet, causing it to release fresh comet material into its orbital stream.

Comet Swift-Tuttle last reached perihelion – closest point to the sun – in December 1992 and will do so next in July 2126.

The radiant point for the Perseid meteor shower is in the constellation Perseus.  But you don't have to find a shower's radiant point to see meteors.  Instead, the meteors will be flying in all parts of the sky.

The radiant point for the Perseid meteor shower is in the constellation Perseus. But you don’t have to find a shower’s radiant point to see meteors. Instead, the meteors will be flying in all parts of the sky.

What is the radiant point for the Perseid meteor shower? If you trace all the Perseid meteors backward, they all seem to come from the constellation Perseus, near the famous Double Cluster. Hence, the meteor shower is named in the honor of the constellation Perseus the Hero.

However, this is a chance alignment of the meteor shower radiant with the constellation Perseus. The stars in Perseus are light-years distant while these meteors burn up about 100 kilometers (60 miles) above the Earth’s surface. If any meteor survives its fiery plunge to hit the ground intact, the remaining portion is called a meteorite. Few – if any – meteors in meteor showers become meteorites, however, because of the flimsy nature of comet debris. Most meteorites are the remains of asteroids.

In ancient Greek star lore, Perseus is the son of the god Zeus and the mortal Danae. It is said that the Perseid shower commemorates the time when Zeus visited Danae, the mother of Perseus, in a shower of gold.

Russ Adams caught these 2 meteors, traveling on parallel paths, on the morning of August 11, 2017. Click for more 2017 Perseids.

Bottom line: The 2018 Perseid meteor shower is expected to produce the most meteors in the predawn hours of August 11, 12, and 13. But with only a slim crescent moon up before dawn now, you can start looking for Perseid meteors now!

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Looking for worms?

I should have become an investigative reporter because I always have so many questions I’d like to know the answers to. For instance, how lost can a person get looking for worms? Or how often is the USFS going to spend funds searching for people who go “missing” from a campsite? I don’t know how long this person was missing or any of the details but it sure would be nice to know…

Washington Man Safely Located after Going Missing in BWCA

Washington Man Safely Located after Going Missing in BWCA Photo: KSTP/Matt Belanger

August 07, 2018 04:13 PM

A Washington man was safely located after he was reported missing from a campground in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

The St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office identified the man as Daniel Teeter.

The sheriff’s office said it received a report of a missing camper near Crooked Lake early Tuesday morning.

RELATED: Crews Search for Missing Canoeists in BWCA

According to his group, Teeter said he was going to look for worms to use as fishing bait.

The U.S. Forest Service was able to successfully locate Teeter using an airplane.

Authorities said he was uninjured.

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Small Fire in the Boundary Waters

A small fire was detected on Ogishkemuncie Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area on July 30th.

Boundary Waters fire

Ogishkemuncie Lake Fire

At approximately 5:15 p.m. on July 31 the U.S. Forest Service sent the following update on the wildfire. 

On July 30, a lighting caused wildfire was detected on the south/southwest side of  Ogishkemuncie Lake. The fire is located between Ogishkemuncie and Mueller lakes on a portage trail. This is southwest of Seagull and Jasper Lakes in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) in Lake County. The fire is about one acre in size.

The fire is creeping and smoldering in a mix of conifer and hardwood trees.  A crew of four firefighters paddled into the area and are receiving equipment to help with suppression efforts and the potential of growth. An additional crew of six has been ordered from Ely and will arrive via Beaver Float plane to assist with suppression activities.

There is an approaching weather system with expected showers and thunderstorms this evening and overnight. The increase in moisture will assist with suppression efforts. Fire growth would be slowed if it reaches the area that was burned during the 2006 Cavity lake fire which is 1.5 miles to the east of the Ogish fire.

This area is a travel route in the BWCAW, please be mindful of fire crews. You may also encounter aircraft in the area. Firefighter and public safety are the most important priorities in all wildfire response. Due to the remote setting of this fire, the suppression efforts will be undertaken deliberately with life safety in mind.

One helicopter and one beaver plane are available to assist.

A fire burning near Ogishkemuncie Lake. Photo courtesy of US Forest Service

There are no closures at this time.

The fire is located approximately 4.5 miles southwest of Sea Gull Lake in the BWCAW.

Size Up
Currently, the fire is 2 acres in size and is smoldering – no active flame, but it is hot (images are from this morning).  The decision that was made was to get out ahead of it to not allow it to stand up and go.

Resources and Plan
There is a 4 person fire crew currently on the scene awaiting a sling load of equipment to put water on it.  It has moderate growth potential, so we want to get out ahead of it particularly due to the approaching cold front where winds could increase and become sporadic.  An additional crew of six (6) has been ordered from Ely and will arrive via Beaver in the next hour or so to assist with light suppression activities.

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Dark Sky on the Gunflint Trail

Looking for a place to go stargazing or get a good view of Mars? The dark sky on the Gunflint Trail or in the BWCA is the perfect place. We won’t be able to see the lunar eclipse but we will be able to see the full moon and possibly some of the Delta Aquariids meteor shower.

LUNAR ECLIPSE AND MARTIAN CONJUNCTION: Friday, July 27th, is a big night for astronomy. Mars will be at opposition, making a 15-year close approach to Earth. The full Moon and Mars will be in conjunction. And, best of all, the Moon will pass through the shadow of Earth, producing the longest lunar eclipse in a century. Visit today’s edition of for sky maps, animations, and observing tips.

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Biggest Blueberry on the Gunflint Trail

Come on up to Voyageur Canoe Outfitters and pick some blueberries!

Cook County, Minn. – Travel– Businesses along the Gunflint Trail (also known as County Road 12) in Cook County, Minn. are hosting the second annual Biggest Blueberry Contest, which started on Friday, July 20. Blueberries will be measured by weight, and must be picked fresh and not store bought.

There will weigh stations at Bearskin Lodge, Golden Eagle Lodge, Hungry Jack Outfitters, Rockwood Lodge, Tuscarora Lodge, Gunflint Lodge and Chik-Wauk Museum & Nature Center, Way of the Wilderness, Poplar Creek Guesthouse, Gunflint Pines Resort, Seagull Outfitters, Poplar Haus, Nor’Wester Lodge, Trout Lake, Voyageur Canoe Outfitters, all of which are along the Gunflint Trail.

Berry pickers will be able to submit their biggest blueberry at these locations. In addition to three grand prizes for the biggest blueberry, all submissions will be entered to win random drawings for custom biggest blueberry PopSockets throughout the contest.

Blueberries in the Gunflint Trail area are already ripening and tend to peak around late July or early August. Wild blueberries are easy to identify, looking much like the grocery store variety, only smaller. The plants are woody shrubs, usually less than two feet tall and resemble miniature trees. They grow best in dry, well-drained, rocky soil with good sun and are often found in recent burn areas. For more information on berry picking and the biggest blueberry contest, go to

The Gunflint Trail

Beginning in the center of the town of Grand Marais, County Road 12 (also known as the Gunflint Trail) is a 55-mile paved road that adjoins U.S. Highway 61. County Road 12’s route goes through the Superior National Forest to Saganaga Lake near the Canadian border. According to Explore Minnesota, there are no towns along the route, but side roads lead to resorts, campgrounds, canoe outfitters, and boat ramps. Many nearby lakes are within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, which is primarily accessible by non-motorized boats. There is great fishing along the Gunflint Trail, and miles of hiking and cross-country skiing trails. Wildlife abounds, so there’s a chance of spotting deer, moose or bear, seeing a wide variety of birds, or hearing the howls of wolves.

About Visit Cook County

Visit Cook County encompasses the northeastern Minnesota communities of Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder, Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail and Grand Portage, commonly referred to as “the Arrowhead” and the “North Shore of Lake Superior”.  Grand Marais, Minn., has earned several national accolades — most recently it was named USA Today’s Best Midwestern Small Town, Outside Magazine’s The 16 Best Places to Live in the U.S. 2016, and Budget Travel’s 2015 Coolest Small Town in America. Rekindle your sense of adventure by exploring the Superior National Forest or paddling through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Discover what makes the communities of Cook County, Minn. “Naturally Unforgettable.” Connect on social media using #visitcc, Twitter @CookCoVisitorsFacebook, or Instagram @donorthmn. Learn more at

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Blueberry picking time on the Gunflint Trail

You learn something every day so they say. Today I learned where the phrase, “Jumped the gun” came from. According to the world wide web, “This idiom refers to an athlete in a race who starts running before the starter has fired the gun.” In my opinion a few anxious blueberry pickers have jumped the gun but does it matter? Of course not.

There are some ripe blueberries on the Gunflint Trail ready to be picked. Does this mean I have been out picking? Nope. Not yet. When you live on the Gunflint Trail you tend to wait until the picking is a little better, just like I usually don’t start a canoe trip in the rain. When you are only on the Gunflint Trail for a day or a week then you must take advantage of the opportunity.

Just remember, other people are waiting(patiently or impatiently) to pick blueberries so be careful not to stomp on the bushes or strip them of all of the green ones waiting to ripen.


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