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Permit News

Dear Friends,

We know many of you are anxiously awaiting news about your permits for your 2019 BWCAW reservation. We thank you for your continued patience with this, at this point we don’t have a lot of new information, but enough to keep you updated.

The Forest Service has not yet set an official date for the new “Go Live” event in which we can begin to reserve permits. The TENTATIVE date of Wednesday, February 27th at 9:00 am has been rumored but not yet confirmed.

Yesterday, we had the opportunity to test the new “updated” system. Unlike January 30th when the site went live, we were able to complete test permit reservations. The system definitely has new features that we were not made aware of before the go live date. We have another testing session this coming Friday. Sometime after that session, we expect the Forest Service to announce a confirmed new go live date.

Some new important things to know about reserving permits are:

  • Only Alternate Names and emails will be needed. In the past, alternates information needed was only Name and phone number. If the alternate you are adding has had their own account in the past few years, be sure to match the information (name & email) to that account.

  • You will be charged for the reservation fee and each alternate added at the time of reservation. In the past, you were only charged the reservation fee and the camping fees of 2 adults at the time of reservation. With the new system, if you have listed 1- alternate, you will be charged a total of $38.00 ($6.00 reservation fee and the camping fees of 2-adults, $16.00 each) if you add more than 1- alternate to the permit at the time of reservation, be ready to pay the additional $16.00 for adult, or $8.00 for youth for each alternate added.

  • Even though there is a basket, you must manually put each permit in the basket individually. There will not be a drop-down feature in which you can add the total number of permits at once. You may add up to seven permits to your basket before you will be forced to check out.

  • If you are hoping to reserve a Day Use or Overnight Motor permit, it will be to your advantage to reserve it yourself. It has been apparent through January 30th results, and the testing, that the general public appears to be at an advantage for obtaining permits over cooperators. If you have asked us to reserve your Day Use and Overnight Motor permits, we ask that you consider reserving them yourself! The Forest Service has limited us to 3-computers to reserve permits on. At this time, we have over 40 permits to reserve on our list. The math is just simply not in our favor. It is our goal to make sure everyone gets the permit they want, if you would like to further discuss how to reserve your own permit, please contact us ASAP and we will talk you through it. If you are unable to reserve permits yourself, we will do our best to obtain them for you.

  • For folks reserving their own permits, there will be a “Walk Me Through” video available on This video will help you determine which type of permit you need, and which location. If you are reserving a Day Use or Overnight Motor permit, taking the time to watch this video may hinder your ability to timely reserve your permit. If you are reserving your own permit and are unsure of which permit to reserve, please contact us ASAP and we will make sure you have the correct entry permit before the new go live date.

Again, we have more testing to come in the next few days. As we learn more about the reservation system and the new “Go Live” date, we will continue to keep you posted.

The Boundary Waters is your public land and your voice matters!

It has been made clear, despite public opinion, the Forest Service will not allow a permit lottery for boat and motor permits for the 2019 season. This decision has already begun to economically affect the Ely area. If you disagree with this and would like to see the lottery return for the 2020 season, we strongly encourage you to contact you Federal Representatives and let them know that you are unhappy with the way the Forest Service has handled the Boundary Waters Permit reservations, and that you would like to see the permit lottery return in 2020 and would like the Forest Service to make improvements to an obviously faulty permit reservation website.

Please contact us with any questions or concerns. We are all in this together!


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