Prescribed Burns for BWCAW

Intended to reduce the risk of wildfires

In the months of September and October, the Superior National Forest plans to conduct up to four prescribed fires within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW.)

The prescribed fires are intended to reduce the risk of wildfires that could threaten people and property outside of the Wilderness.

A massive windstorm, in 1999, affected nearly 500,000 acres of the Forest, including 350,000 acres within the BWCAW. Acres of trees were blown-down, creating the potential for large wildfires.

Even 17 years after the windstorm, the Forest Service is working to break up continuous areas of blowdown int he Wilderness with a series of strategically-located prescribed fires. The intended outcome of these fires is to create conditions that will decrease the rate of fire spread int he event of a wildfire, giving firefighters time to implement suppression and containment activities as well as evacuations, if needed.

There will be four units in the burn this fall: two located in the Gunflint Trail area, one north of Ely near Prairie Portage, and one west of Ely near Crab Lake. The exact timing and sequence of these will be dependent on weather conditions. 

The fires will take place int he fall when visitor use is relatively low and conditions are favorable to attain hazard reduction objectives. Visitor traffic may be restricted in some areas outside the BWCAW, to ensure the public’s safety.

Maps of the prescribed units and other details, including any area closures will be issued prior to any fire activities and posted at

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