We feel it is time to open up the rest of the Boundary Waters due to the lack of threat from the John Ek Fire. The fire has not grown in size, crews have established fire lines, temperatures have been low and we received over a half of an inch of rain at the end of the Gunflint Trail again last night. In my opinion there’s more chance of a new fire starting closer to the end of the Gunflint Trail than the John Ek Fire spreading and affecting the Gunflint Trail. And that chance is slim to none at this point.
What are we waiting for? It’s never 100% safe to paddle and camp in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and that is a risk people who go there are willing to take. It’s time to add the permits back into the reservation system and allow folks to enjoy what’s left of the canoe camping season in the BWCA.
The closing of the entire Boundary Waters was unprecedented and way too easy to do. Keeping the end of the Gunflint Trail closed right now isn’t necessary. There is no real threat from the John Ek Fire except to the livelihoods of businesses that depend upon the flow of people heading into the Boundary Waters.
JOHN EK FIRE (1,357 acres, 0% contained): Little fire growth has occurred on the John Ek Fire the last few days. Crews have completed contingency lines on three sides of the fire (on the north side from Gabimichigami Lake to Tuscarora Lake; on the east side from Little Saganaga Lake to Dent Lake; and on the west side from Little Saganaga Lake to Pan Lake.) Should the fire become active again, these contingency lines will be used as necessary, including conducting burnouts along them and/or turning on sprinkler systems adjacent to those lines. Structure protection crews are still doing Firewise work (assessing structures, removing debris and thinning fuels near homes) on the south side of the Gunflint Trail, from Poplar Lake to Round Lake and Tuscarora Lodge.
Most of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness closure has been lifted, with the exception of the John Ek/Whelp fire closures and entry points associated with the Greenwood Fire and Gunflint Trail Closure. John Ek/Whelp closure area includes the following entry points: Seagull Lake Entry Point #54/#54A/L, Saganaga Lake Entry Point #55/#55A/J, Missing Link Lake EP #51, Brant Lake Entry Point #52, Cross Bay Lake Entry Point #50, Kekekabic Trail Entry Point #56 and #74, Skipper and Portage Lakes Entry Point #49, Kawishiwi Lake Entry Point #37, Magnetic Lake EP #57, Larch Creek EP #80. Due to upper Gunflint Trail closure South Lake EP #58 is closed. Due to the Greenwood Fire closure, the following are closed: Island River EP #34, Isabella Lake EP #35, Bog Lake EP #67, Little Isabella River #75, Snake River EP #84, Pow Wow Trail EP #86, and Hog Creek #36.