Greetings Packsack Family,
We hope that you are all staying healthy and happy, and of course day dreaming of your next Northwoods adventure! With less than a month from our 2020 Minnesota Fishing Opener and the beginning of our season, we understand that there are a lot of questions about the status of the BWCAW and the opening of our resort in the face of the COVID-19 Pandemic. We first want to say that the safety of our clients, their families and our employees is our first priority! That being said, we also want to help and support any of our clients that wish to visit Packsack and the wilderness.
The Packsack season officially begins May 9th. Last week Minnesota’s Governor, Tim Walz announced that the “Stay at Home Order” be extended until May 4th 2020. If he chooses to extend this into our season, our resort and cabins will be forced to close until further notice. If this happens, we will directly contact anyone who currently has a reservation with us to discuss your options. Until that worst-case scenario happens, we will be open though some of our services will not be available.
As of yesterday, April 13th the U.S. Forest Service emailed all Outfitters this announcement: “To prevent the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing, a temporary permit issuance modification period will begin on May 5, 2020 for all BWCAW quota permits. However, this date may change in accordance with any new Governor’s orders related to Covid-19. Reservations made through May 4, 2020 will receive a full refund including reservation fees.” The Forest Service gave Cooperators the option of: “Assist visitors virtually (no permits issued in person) by resending or forwarding reservation confirmation emails and instructing visitors to watch all parts of the LNT video series online.” Or: “Conduct business operations normally by issuing permits in person to walk-ins and clients in accordance with the BWCAW Cooperator Agreement.” We at Packsack will be doing both. We will have more information to share on the Virtual permit issuing as we receive it from the Forest Service.
What we are doing different to make your Packsack experience as safe as possible:
· Stepping up our cleaning/disinfecting procedures! We are taking recommendations from our Lake County Health Inspector on which cleaners are safe and recommended to be used inside and out of our facilities.
· Hand sanitizer dispensers will be available throughout the resort.
· We ask that if you or anyone in your party has recently been ill and/or has any symptoms of being sick, or been in contact with COVID-19 that you please stay home. We will work with you in regards to your deposit, and reschedule you for a different time.
· Check-in time for our Cabins has changed to 3:00 pm. This will give our staff more time to not only clean but thoroughly disinfect the cabins between clients.
· Because it is a shared space, we will be suspending our Bunkhouse services (including the kitchen and bathrooms/showers), for the months of May and possibly June.
· Continental Breakfasts will be suspended until further notice.
· Boats, canoes, paddles, lifejackets and vehicles will all be cleaned and disinfected between use.
· Towboat services may be suspended. This will depend on the group size and situation. If your scheduled tow is affected, we will be contacting you directly.
· Transportation services to and from entry points will still be available, however we do recommend driving to and parking at your entry point.
· The Lodge office will also be closed to groups (or limited to 1 person at a time). So, we HIGHLY recommend taking advantage of printing your Permit ahead of time and that you purchase your Minnesota fishing license online before you leave home. We will still issue licenses, but if you can reserve them at home this will limit face to face contact. ***The website to purchase Minnesota fishing licenses is: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/licenses/online-sales.html.
We hope that with the above changes and the cooperation of you the customer, we can stay open for the length of the 2020 season and beyond! Again, please remember that your safety and wellbeing as well as the safety of our Packsack staff is our main priority. Because we are a small business, if any of the Packsack staff becomes infected with COVID-19, we will have to close the resort. If any member of your crew is sick, or has been in contact with another infected person that they stay home. Please bring your face masks if transportation services are needed.
Also, please keep the citizens of our beloved Ely in mind. If possible, do your shopping in your own local area and then we ask that if you are visiting the Ely grocery stores, bait shops, liquor stores, etc… keep it to 1-person shopping for the whole group, and do wear a face mask.
We want to thank all of our guests for your future cooperation with this coming season. Even though some things may be different this year, we are committed to giving you the same fellowship and service that we have provided for over 20 years! Whether you are planning a trip this year or in the future, we look forward to having you as our guest!
-Nick & Danielle Ott
Packsack Canoe Trips & Log Cabins