Forest Service now takes aim at all commercial activity in BWCA

The U.S. Forest Service will use a lawsuit settlement to take aim at any and all commercial activity in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Big Brother is not only watching, it’s on the hunt.
Forest supervisor Connie Cummins struggled in an interview with the Echo this past week to explain why a lawsuit over how many towboats use the BWCA has been turned into a global rock-turned mission.
“Will professional photographers be included in this study?”
“Yes.”
“Will dog sled operations be included in this study?”
“Yes.”
Exceeding the limits of authority has been taken to a new level. And anyone who makes a buck in any way off the BWCA should be very, very concerned.
This all started when the Forest Service was sued over towboat usage in the BWCA. Well, basically any motorboat usage in the Boundary Waters if we’re being honest. Wilderness Watch is connected with former Friends director Kevin Proescholdt who has made it clear that no matter what the law says, motors shouldn’t be allowed in the BWCA.
There may have been a final decision based on facts in the towboat lawsuit if the Forest Service hadn’t lost/thrown away any usage numbers it did have from 1976-78. Without any hard data to point to (and many of the people involved no longer with us), it’s no surprise the lawsuit couldn’t gain traction.
We couldn’t find out from the Forest Service who came up with the idea to look at ALL commercial activity. But it sounds fishy to us.
If this is anything like federal authorities conducting a witch hunt over ciscoes being harvested at Prairie Portage, we’re in for another gong show.
The ciscoe harvest is another commercial activity sure to be examined and found to be incompatible, illegal or worse. Confiscating ciscoes is one of the craziest law enforcement tactics we’ve ever seen. No rhyme or reason given, no charges filed, just businesses damaged financially by the federal government.
So if we have strong reservations about the Forest Service expanding a lawsuit from towboats to any and all commercial activity, please forgive us. We’re not in favor of job justification or using a towboat lawsuit to dig into whether dog sled trips or outfitters and guides should be allowed.
For the next 30 months, the ability for people to provide services in the BWCA will be under a microscope. Former outfitter Cliff Wold used to say the BWCA is going to be a biosphere reserve one day where people aren’t allowed. What if it turns out he was right?