Coronavirus and the Boundary Waters: What Forest Service Says so far.

Coronavirus and the Boundary Waters: What Forest Service Says so far.

This is the information that was released by the Forest Service last week about the Superior National Forest and use during this time. We quote it here and list a link so you can read the complete article. As we get more information and updates we will update you as to any changes. Here’s the direct link to their page: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/superior/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD719752

“DULUTH, MN – April 1, 2020 – The Superior National Forest has shut down restroom facilities at recreation sites across the national forest until further notice, however, trails and roads may be open for use depending on conditions. Rustic campgrounds and group sites will remain shut down until further notice. These shutdowns are to protect the health and safety of employees and members of the public during the COVID-19 outbreak in accordance with guidance from federal and state authorities.”

Fee Campgrounds operated by concessionaires are currently closed for the season. However, as we work through this public health emergency the reopening of our campgrounds may be subject to change. Recreation information pertaining to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness will be released soon.

Again, you can read the rest here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/superior/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD719752

We’ve also found the Quetico Superior Wilderness Newsletter to be helpful. Here’s a link to their information on this issue. https://queticosuperior.org/blog/coronavirus-in-canoe-country-pandemic-precautions-affect-popular-public-lands/ We quote it below.

Unprecedented measures taken to slow the spread of coronavirus in Minnesota and beyond are affecting how people can experience the woods and waters of northern Minnesota and Ontario. Although outdoor recreation is generally considered a safe way to stay active while maintaining appropriate distance from others, the potential for transmission at public facilities has still caused some policy changes.

While the US public lands are still open, visitors are encouraged to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control to stay healthy: wash your hands frequently, avoid close contact with other people, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and stay home if you are sick.

For now, people should stay close to home to prevent the spread of the virus. Several states including Minnesota currently have travel restrictions, while the province of Ontario has declared a state of emergency and ordered the closure of many establishments.

All Minnesota residents have been ordered by Governor Tim Walz to stay at their homes except to engage in essential activities.

International border closed

The border between the United States and Canada was closed to non-essential travel on March 21. This includes the remote stretch of border which runs between the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Quetico Provincial Park.

There have been reports that applications for Remote Area Border Crossing permits, which allow people to cross the international border in the wilderness, are not being processed by Canadian authorities at this time.

Superior National Forest

The agency that manages 3 million acres in northeastern Minnesota, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness has not released much information yet.

The Forest Service has announced that its facilities will follow local guidelines: “National Forests remain open however recreation services at our facilities may be changed, suspended or offered through alternate approaches as we manage for the health and safety of our work force and the public. Agency direction tasks local managers to perform risk assessments of our facilities and limit congregations of people and person to person interactions.”

Wilderness permits are still available for reservation on Recreation.gov. The site includes information about system-wide policies related to COVID-19:

“If you have a reservation at a location that closes, you’ll receive an email with more information. For individuals who choose to cancel their reservation at a campground that has remained open, the participating agencies of Recreation.gov have decided to temporarily and retroactively waive any fees and provide a full refund for cancellations with start dates from March 10 through April 3 that were canceled after March 1. This timeline will be reviewed and adjusted as the situation evolves.”

The Forest Service says it remains operational, and ready to respond to wildfires or other incidents.

Quetico Provincial Park Closed

“As COVID-19 continues to quickly evolve, we want to ensure public safety and the well-being of our visitors and staff in Ontario’s provincial parks. In order to assist the province with its efforts to keep Ontarians safe during this time, all provincial parks will be closed to the public from March 19, 2020 until April 30, 2020. This includes car camping, backcountry camping, roofed accommodations, day use opportunities and all public buildings. Any person or group with a reservation for arrival up to April 30, 2020 will automatically be provided a full refund with no penalty.”- via Ontario Parks.”

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