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Citizens Voice Frustration on Website Crash for BWCA Permits

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: February 09, 2019 10:49 PM

A forum was hosted by Rep. Pete Stauber in response to the website crash for BWCA permits at the Grand Ely Lodge Saturday.

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Citizens expressed how the system failure has affected them.

The forum was an opportunity for citizens to get answers on why the online system shut down. The U.S. Forest Service and Stauber heard feedback from citizens who expressed their frustration with the website crash.

"The BWCA is a crown jewel not only in the state of Minnesota but this entire nation and internationally as well, so we have to get it right,” Stauber said. "We have outfitters in need in Minnesota, that's their livelihood.”

The new online system launched on Jan. 30 but crashed instantly. The website cited technical difficulties and said reservations were closed when people attempted to register for permits. The new online system was meant to replace the lottery system, which gave a limited number of permits and tickets to guarantee equal and fair access to the Boundary Waters.

"As an individual trying to register for a permit, it was very frustrating that morning,” Nancy McReady, the president of Conservationists with Common Sense, said.

The forum was filled with frustrated community members who wanted answers from the U.S. Forest Service on when the website would be fixed and what went wrong.

"They felt like the forest service was not listening to them. I think the forest service representatives heard that loud and clear,” Stauber said.

Many citizens expressed that they don't trust the forest service and believe the lottery system should be back. 

They also said moving forward, it's important for the forest service to listen to the community, to the cooperators,outfitters, and those experienced in handling the permits. 

"There's gotta be some way to address the issue rather than taking away the lottery,” McReady said.

The shutdown of the BWCA online permit system has economically impacted local businesses who rely on the hundreds and thousands of tourists who come out every year to enjoy the Boundary Waters.

About 150,000 tourists enjoy the Boundary Waters annually which brings in $57 million in revenue. 

"The entire community here in Ely, our cooperators at Boundary Waters are a big part of how we do business out here," Malony Glossa, the deputy forester for the U.S Forest Service’s eastern region, said.

The U.S. Forest Service reassured the community of Ely that they are working on getting the system up and running again.

"We are going to have some beta testing with our cooperators to make sure we are addressing some of the issues that they see. We are working with a technical team that we've got to fix this,” Glossa said.

The website is expected to relaunch on Feb. 27

Credits

Alejandra Palacios

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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