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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Center recommends more collaboration over BWCAW management

Marshall Helmberger
Posted 8/30/23

REGIONAL— A national organization hired by the Superior National Forest is recommending the creation of a sustained effort at collaboration with a wide range of area stakeholders to address …

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Center recommends more collaboration over BWCAW management

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REGIONAL— A national organization hired by the Superior National Forest is recommending the creation of a sustained effort at collaboration with a wide range of area stakeholders to address issues surrounding the management of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
The John McCain National Center for Environmental Conflict Resolution, a program of the Udall Foundation, held extended interviews with more than 250 stakeholders with connections to the BWCAW. Among the many questions explored, the interviewers found that there was broad support for a more collaborative approach by the Forest Service when it comes to BWCAW management.
“Participants focused on a variety of management and communication issues, including visitor use patterns, campsite and trail maintenance, and how to prevent and enforce “Leave No Trace” violations,” noted the center in its 39-page report. In addition, participants expressed concern about “permit system challenges, access to and availability of opportunities to experience the BWCAW, motorized and non-motorized use issues, current and future environmental impacts.”
Those interviewed also recommended that the Forest Service update its education and resource materials to better encourage wilderness visitors to be responsible during their visits.
“Most participants support the idea of purposeful and focused collaboration to increase understanding and to explore possibilities to preserve, protect, and improve a unique wilderness area they all care deeply about.”
Participants interviewed for the analysis included federal, state, county, and Canadian agency staff, tourism board staff, youth program staff, researchers and academics, environmental and conservation group staff, cooperators, outfitters and guides, along with unaffiliated Boundary Waters users.
“The results of the report highlight a wide range of stakeholder interests and views about the Boundary Waters and how it is managed,” says Seth Cohen, Senior Program Manager for the center, “Most assessment participants would like to see Superior National Forest explore collaboration opportunities to address challenging management issues. We look forward to continuing to support SNF staff as they consider new opportunities to engage interested parties.”
SNF officials indicated that they plan to take the center’s advice. “We look forward to moving into next steps— the development of a collaborative group and working proactively on BWCAW issues,” said Forest Supervisor Tom Hall.

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