According to the US Forest Service and the USDA, the Superior National Forest is closing the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness beginning today for the next 7 days due to the ongoing drought and wildfire dangers.

A release from the US Forest Service this afternoon states:

The Superior National Forest is closing the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, effective August 21, 2021, due to active and increasing fire activity, extreme drought, limited resources. The closure will be in place for seven days, and may be modified or extended as conditions allow.

This closure includes all lands, waters, trails, portages, campsite, canoe routes and Wilderness entry points in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The Forest has notified permit holders and outfitters and is cancelling permits today through August 27. Permit holders will be fully reimbursed. At this time, all overnight paddle, day use and motorized day use is cancelled. The Forest will reopen portions of the Wilderness and/or some uses when it is safe.

The release goes on to state that:

We understand that this will have a significant impact on our visitors, cooperators, and communities near the forest. This emergency closure is necessary for the safety of our visitors, our wilderness rangers, and our firefighters. It allows our fire crews to focus on responding to existing fires and new starts. 

Image Credit: USDA

Yesterday, the John Elk Fire grew from 3 acres to 1600 acres and the Whelp Fire grew from 30 acres to at least 80 acres. There are additional fires on the Superior and Forest staff that are responding to initial fire starts and monitoring fires that are in controlled status including the Bungee Fire, Fourtown Fire, Sundial Fire, Moose Lake Fire, and the Clara Fire. Additionally, the Forest is monitoring the fires in Canada, which continue to show movement towards the US border. The Forest is coordinating with Ontario counterparts on these fires.

The Forest also has a closure in place for the Greenwood Fire.

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