Fires in Canada force closures within the BWCA

The Superior National Forest is announcing closures within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness effective Friday, July 17. According to a press release, the closures are due to wildfires in Quetico Provincial Park along the international border in Canada.

The closures include Mudro entry points #22/#23 and the Iron and Crooked Lake Corridors. Anyone heading into the BWCA should be aware of very high fire dangers.

Fire managers have identified two fires that have the potential to spread across the border. Officials say the closures in the BWCAW will remain in effect for at least seven days or until it is safe to open the area again.

The BWCAW closure area includes:

  • Tick Pristine Management Area
  • Sundial Pristine Management Area – Zones 1, 2, and 5
  • #22 Mudro-Restricted Entry Point – No BWCAW entry.
  • #23 Mudro Entry Point – No BWCAW entry.
  • Iron Lake travel zone closure –From Bottle Portage/Bottle Rapids to Iron Lake and adjoining bays and islands of Iron Lake including Peterson bay and Three Island. Adjoining portages include the 320-rod portage west of Iron Lake from Lac La Croix, the 72-rod Dark Lake portage south of Iron Lake, the 110-rod Bear Trap River portage Southeast of Iron Lake, and the 140-rod portage to Curtain Falls.
  • Crooked Lake travel zone closure – All campsites on Crooked Lake and adjoining bays from Curtain Falls to Lower Basswood Falls including Sunday Bay, Saturday Bay, Friday Bay, Thursday Bay, and Wednesday Bay. This includes the portage at Lower Basswood Falls.
  • Campsites North of Gun Lake – Closure begins at the 300-rod portage Northeast of Gun Lake and includes campsites on Wagosh Lake, Niki Lake and Chippewa Lake.

Forest Service officials say this closure order was put in place because it is difficult to locate and move BWCAW visitors out of the area if the wildfire spreads into the US. They say Quetico Provincial Park has already enacted a closure area for the fires.

The Forest Service says in the woods of the BWCA, travel times are measured in days, not hours. Rapid evacuation is not possible in this area.

According to the press release, wilderness rangers will initiate contact with visitors on and near Crooked Lake beginning on Friday, July 16, 2021, and instruct them to move out of area to safer zones. Permit reservations will be canceled for Mudro Entry Point (#22/#23), which feeds visitors into the Crooked and Iron Lake areas. Those with reservations will be contacted, reimbursed and redirected to other areas of the Forest that do not require BWCAW quota permits to ensure they still have the opportunity to experience the Forest and its remote lakes in a safe manner.

Fire managers are monitoring the situation and will determine when it is safe to lift this closure.

Forest officials are communicating daily with the Fort Frances District Fire Management Supervisor for the Government of Ontario’s Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry for updates on fire management activities along the border and will work with Ontario authorities to monitor, assess, and initiate actions if required.

Northern Minnesota, including the Superior National Forest, is facing abnormally dry drought conditions, with no sign of relief from precipitation in the near future.

According to the release from the Superior National Forest, the Delta Fire, first detected on July 7 is still active. Firefighters are making progress containing the 65-acre fire which has proved logistically challenging due to it burning in waist to chest high blowdown conditions.

Due to the Delta Lake Fire, Forest managers closed an area in the BWCAW on Friday, July 9. For more details on this closure, visit the Forest website.

Fire restrictions are in effect on the Forest. Campfires are only permitted in fee campgrounds inside established Forest Service maintained fire rings. Open fires, including campfires, are not allowed elsewhere on the Forest including the BWCAW, Iron Lake Campground, and Trails End Campground.

Visit the Forest website for more information.