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Seagull Canoe Outfitters
& Lakeside Cabins
Gunflint Trail Canoe Outfitter on Seagull & Saganaga Lakes accessing Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Canada's Quetico Park

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Seagull Winter Wonderland!

The first big snowstorm of the winter hit us today. We have over a foot of snow and it is still coming. This is great for all the winter businesses on the Trail. The middle photo was taken looking south out of our Seagull Bay towards the larger part of Seagull. Sadie is enjoying the snow and posing in front of our outdoor Christmas tree. We will be plowing and shovelling in the morning. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to All!


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Important Paddling Dates for 2009

Winter is upon us on Seagull Lake as evident in the photo above. This photo overlooks the narrows from our bay as you paddle/motor out to the larger part of Seagull.

Since the Holiday Season brings lots of friends and families together to plan vacations for next year, I thought it timely to provide some permit and opening dates for you all.

December 1, 2008 Boundary Waters Permit Lottery Begins
February 1, 2009 Boundary Waters Permit Phone Lines Open
May 9, 2009 Minnesota Fishing Opener
May 16, 2009 Quetico Fishing Opener

In addition, for those paddling the Quetico this summer, we can reserve your Quetico Permit 5 months in advance of your trip departure date.

In the meantime, if you find yourself dreaming of open water, think about joining the 2009 Seagull Bay Ice Out Contest on our discussion board at . Winner takes home a $100 gift certificate to be applied towards a canoe trip or cabin this summer. Or, join the monthly photo contest at . Stay in touch with Seagull friends and customers that are planning for 2009!


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Off Season at Seagull

October has been a pleasantly quiet month of working on projects, relaxing, sleeping in til 7am and planning for 2009. We have had some great fall weather. Just last week, it was 65 degrees. Even today we have had rain and 45. I think it will last a few more days, then the white stuff will be upon us. It is very peaceful and quiet in the Northwoods.

Sadie had surgery for a torn ligament in her knee and is recuperating from that. My Mom had a total knee replacement and is in rehab for that. Dave and I are busy with projects and just relaxing. It is wonderful!

My thoughts will soon be turning to 2009 rates, newsletter and planning.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Take a look at those colors!

I thought you might all enjoy seeing what the fall colors are around the shower building at Seagull. We are closed for the season. I was slowly driving the trail today and enjoying the colors. During the course of the season, I rarely take the time to stop and "smell the roses." It was a relaxing drive today.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Off Season at Seagull!

The colors are alive in Cook County as we head into fall and our off season.
Whew! We are ready for a break from the daily routine at Seagull. The time has come to take life a little easy for awhile. We are excited. Our canoes are put to bed, cabins cleaned and ready for 2009.
Our first priority is taking my yellow lab Sadie to the vet tomorrow for surgery in Two Harbors. She has a ruptured ligament in her left knee that requires surgery to get her running and fetching again.
We finished another great year at Seagull thanks to all our loyal paddlers and cabin customers. We had a great staff once again which makes our job easier.
I am planning to relax a bit before diving into 2009 plans. My Mom will have surgery in AZ in October to get her back on her feet and I plan to be there for that surgery.
Life is good at Seagull and I hope it is good for all of you as well!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Foggy Mornings in September

It is the time of the year when we often wake up to foggy mornings. Some of the images can be incredible. It also slows down our towboats a bit if we can't see more than a couple blocks in front of us.
The mergansers are hovering around the Seagull dock each morning lately. I think they are enjoying the quieter mornings at Seagull.
My garden is producing lots of cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and lettuce and is wonderful on the dinner table. We planted those raised garden beds several years and my goal was to be able to have my own salad in the Northwoods!
Our fall is busy with starting to close down Seagull Outfitters for the season. We are working on fix it projects, remodeling and a host of other chores. Another great season at Seagull is nearly behind us. Thanks once again to such wonderful customers and staff that make it all possible!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

There is still time!

Hello Everyone,
Do you have an itch for a fall canoe trip in the BWCA or Quetico? You still have time to plan that fall trip. The weather and scenery are beautiful. No bugs, fall colors, cooler temperatures,and water that is still swimming temperature are just a few reasons to come up with friends and family in the fall. Fishing is also a great reason to come up during the fall months. The fish are getting their feed-bags on in preparation for the long Northwoods Winter.
Wylie caught this 29.5 inch walleye this week.
The fishing will only get better from this point until your favorite northwoods lakes freeze over. If you have any questions planning your fall trip, give us a call or email.

Thanks and keep your line in the water,

Friday, August 15, 2008

Last Minute Fishing Before School Starts

Hello Everyone,

The weather and fishing has been heating up recently. Walleye are still being caught and stories of nice stringers have been told. Slip-bobbers and leeches have been the ticket in the BWCA, while a jig and plastic combo has been producing in Quetico. They're catching marble eyes between 15 and 20 feet.

The smallmouth are still hitting on just about anything that can be fished. We had a customer catch a smallie on a yellow Starburst!!! Most people are catching them from the surface to as deep as 30 feet down.

The northerns have also been cooperating quite well with anglers. Jeff caught this beautiful 41 inch pike last week.

Thanks and keep your line in the water,


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Hello Everyone,

Fishing has really been great as of late. Many of our canoe and cabin customers have said that this has been the best fishing they have seen in awhile.

Walleyes have been right around 12 to 20 feet of water. The most effective way has been slip-bobber and leeches or casting deep-running crankbaits. A lot of "eater" sized walleyes have been taken with some BIG fish mixed in.

Maggie caught this 27.5 inch walleye on Seagull with her parents.

The smallmouth bass fishing has also been excellent with a lot of nice smallies having been taken. Any presentation that can be fished from 5 to 10 feet has produced. I caught a 16 inch smallie on a plain red hook with no bait while trying to set depth on a slip bobber!

Northern pike have also been cooperating quite well with fisherman. They have been caught from on the surface to 20 feet down.
Thanks and keep line in the water,

It's August!

It's hard to believe it's August already. The weather has been amazing for the past few weeks, with sunny warm days and beautiful sunsets. It's the perfect time to squeeze in that last trip before the kids go back to school!

The Janis family stayed in our Ogish cabin this past week and had a great time. Maggie might just be a future Seagull employee!! She had lots of fun berry-picking, and she showed the boys a thing or two by catching a 27 inch walleye on her pink fishing pole. I guess we'll have to give her a few more years before we put her to work.
Here's Maggie in her new staff shirt with some of the staffers (from left to right)- Shira, me (Crystal), and Lindsey.

The cabin guests aren't the only ones taking advantage of the great weather. Shakti Khalsa and her little dog Layla went paddling out on Seagull for a few days. Layla had a great time swimming and hanging out around camp. Doesn't she look ready to take on the Boundary Waters?

The Plath family paddled out of Seagull in our catamarran. The catamarran's a great option for families with small children because it's so stable. They look ready to go camping!

Look for the winner of July's photo contest- we'll post it in the next few days. August's photo contest is just beginning, and the theme for this month is food. Send us your pictures of the great meals that you managed to whip up out in the woods- your favorite camp dish, your delicious fried fish, your amazing triple-decker s'more- anything you can come up with!

We look forward to hearing from you!


Sunday, July 27, 2008

This summer has been full of great times, especially with the family. We have had experienced families carry out their traditions in the BWCA, families introducing their kids to the wilderness they love and families coming for the first time to check out what the Northwoods has to offer.

With everything that the BWCA has to offer, everyone finds something to love- from seeing moose or watching that perfect sunset to out-fishing the rest of the boys.

Nick recently enjoyed his stay in one of our cabins; he even caught a few fish.

He was even nice enough to let Dad in on some of the action!

One trip to the BWCA with the whole family can lead to many possibilities, maybe even a family tradition that can be carried on for many years to come!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

You still have time this summer!

Fry fish in the Boundary Waters, paddle with your kids, enjoy the peace and solitude of the Northwoods....and have lasting memories of your time spent together. There are still permits open and we can help you!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Moose sightings around Seagull

There are two moose calves and a cow that have been hanging around Seagull Lake for a while now. Shira and I were lucky enough to see them while driving up the Gunflint a few weeks ago, and another staffer and I caught sight of them again the other day over by Moose Pond.

Deb had the best sighting of all. She saw the happy little moose family swimming out on the bay, right in front of the store, and even got a few shots of them.

If you're going to be around Seagull anytime soon keep your eyes open- you might get to see these cute little guys too!


Sunday, July 13, 2008

More fishing in the Boundary Waters!

Bob from North Carolina with a big smallie while fishing in our Sag Cabins recently.
Bill from North Carolina with some great walleye fishing while staying at our Sag Cabins with Bob.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Driving up the Gunflint at night is always an adventure, and last night was no exception. Between Grand Marais and Seagull, Shira and I were lucky enough to see four moose (including a bull with huge antlers and two adorable little calves!), countless deer, a wolf, and several foxes. Although nighttime isn't the best for taking photos, it's fun to see all the wildlife- especially if you drive slowly and make sure to keep a safe distance.

At work today, we had an interesting visitor. This luna moth has been hanging out on the back deck of the store all day.

Isn't he pretty?

Hopefully more wildlife photos will be coming soon!


Monday, July 7, 2008

It's Family Paddling Time at Seagull

July is family time in the Boundary Waters as evidenced by the paddlers below. It is a great quiet time to visit the canoe country after the 4th of July. The Juna Family is all smiles today as they paddled away from our dock on Seagull to their adventure along the border with their year old German Shepherd.

Former Staffer Johnse with his Dad, brother, brother-in-laws and nephew paddled out today to Ottertrack and Ester Lake for a few days in the Boundary Waters.

In the photo above Dan and Lauren are on the tow boat on their way to Red Rock Lake on Saganaga. Lauren was all decked out in the latest REI gear for kids. Although she doesn't look too excited here in the boat; she had a great time and will be back in August!
The wildflowers are in bloom, the smallmouth bass are hitting aggressively and it is a great time to come to the Boundary Waters!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fishing Heating Up in July

Hello Everyone,

Fishing has been really good the last couple of weeks. People have been catching all sorts of fish all sorts of ways. Walleyes are have been pretty eager to taste anglers' hooks. There have been a lot of great reports from just about all routes. I talked to a group who came back from Quetico who had a triple while trolling crankbaits!! A lot of people are using crankbaits, jigs/plastic, and lindy rigs, with the trusty slip bobber producing as well. The depth of the walleyes has also surprised a lot of veteran anglers... as shallow as 6 feet during mid-day. Most anglers say the marble eyes are down between 8 and 15 feet of water.

Smallmouth bass have moved onto their spawning beds which made fishing funny, and catch & release vital. The males are protecting the nest from anything that ventures too close. Anything from jigs to topwater to fly-fishing has been producing the scrappy bronzebacks. A lot of people are sight-fishing with a set of polarized sunglasses and fishing individual beds while others cast towards the shoreline and find beds that way.

Most northern pike are being pulled out of 4 to 8 feet of water. Few anglers have been targeting pike so most northerns have been caught while fishing for walleyes and smallies. Pitching jigs has been the presentation of choice for the big pike.

Lake trout have moved deeper over the last couple weeks because of the rising temperature. A majority of the fish are being pulled out of 30 to 60 feet of water. Drifting a spoon or jig have been the weapons of choice.

Let us know how you're doing... PLEASE SEND US PICTURES OF YOUR TRIP!!!

Please practice Selective Harvest and/or Catch & Release.

Thank you and keep your line in the water,


Friday, June 27, 2008

Canoe Envy

At Seagull, we often purchase new canoes to replace older ones. With a fleet of canoes of all different models, all in good shape, it isn't very often that a customer comes along with a canoe that makes us jealous.

But today was different. Here's why:

A couple of guys pulled into Seagull today with a Leinenkugel's canoe! A promotion for Honey Weiss beer, the canoe has a honeycomb and bee theme. Pictured above are staffers Sam and Tim, posing with the canoe.

You might be wondering exactly how much Leine's you have to drink before someone gives you a canoe, but that's not quite how it works. These guys were lucky enough to win this fantastic canoe in a raffle! Think a free canoe sounds pretty great? Well, you're in luck! It just so happens that we're currently selling raffle tickets for a brand new Royalex Spirit 2 canoe! Tickets are $5 and all proceeds go to the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department. The canoe will be raffled off on July 16 at the Gunflint Canoe Races, and you need not be present to win. Email us at for more information.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fish Fry!

The Petree party is a group of friends that has been coming up to Seagull Outfitters since I was too little to hold a paddle. They rent out our two Sag cabins for two weeks, and go fish-crazy out on Saganaga Lake. The men are all experienced fishermen, so they usually have a lot to show for their efforts. Every year, they're nice enough to share their bounty with the staff. Two nights ago, all of us- the 10 in the Petree party, 10 staffers, Deb and Dave, plus some close friends- got together for a fantastic meal.

The menu included 128 fish fillets (!!!!), homemade ice cream, and even this fish shaped cake, made by Shira especially for Carl and Charles' birthdays, both occurring this week!

We all ate way too much, but it was a great time. We hate to see the Petrees leave at the end of this week, but as always, we'll be looking forward to seeing them again next year! Until then, so long and thanks for all the fish!


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wild Northwoods

As I mentioned before, the wildflowers are blooming all over the place. You can see lots of different types of wildflowers in just a short walk along the trail. Here are just a couple of my favorites-

This wild iris- called blue flag- is typically found in wet areas, so the Boundary Waters is the perfect habitat for it. This picture was taken near the shore of a small pond.

All along the Gunflint, these wild pink roses are blooming. They're most commonly found in open areas, such as in clearings in the woods, or along trails and roads.

The wildlife viewing has also been great over the past few days. Just last night I saw a moose swimming in a pond near the road. Later, when it was dark, some of the other staffers and I were lucky enough to see a chubby little bear cub running down the side of the road! As usual, there are lots of red fox around, especially when driving down the Gunflint in the early evening. There is also a wide variety of turtle species in the ponds and lakes of the BWCA. Red-eared sliders, painted turtles, and box turtles are all pretty common.

I found this painted turtle sunning on some rocks near Saganaga Lake. Isn't he great?!

As always, it's a great time to be in the wilderness. Hope to see you soon!


Monday, June 23, 2008

Who Says You Can't Portage a Watermelon?

Everything is beautiful today on Seagull Lake- the weather is warm, the sun is shining, and the wildflowers have started blooming all along the Gunflint Trail. After a bit of a rainy spell, everything is green and vibrant. There couldn't be a better time to go for a paddle!

The season is in full swing and we have lots of parties out on the water this week.

The Moeller party just returned from a great Father-Daughter trip. Three dads and their three eleven-year-old girls paddled and camped for a few days. Here they are right before heading out into the wilderness- if you look closely, you can see an "I heart Dad" t-shirt! Two of the girls had never been into the Boundary Waters and were excited to learn from their friend, who was back for her third trip with her dad.

Who says you can't eat whatever you want when you're in the woods? The guys from the Kopp party rigged up a watermelon so they could portage it and have a tasty treat while out in the woods. They even had it set up so they could tie it up and keep it down in the water to keep it cool. Pretty neat!

This young man from the Brandes party is a fine example of Northwoods style. With that headnet, the mosquitoes should leave him alone, and the nice floppy hat will keep him safe from sunburn. Well done!

As always, I keep my eyes open for wildlife up and down the trail, and sometimes I get lucky. This past week I got to see a painted turtle laying eggs in the sand right on the beach. Also, when I was at Moose Pond, I saw cute little mink running along the shore with a little fish in its mouth! A couple of customers also reported seeing a big bull moose with some impressive antlers near our Sag cabins.

Don't forget about our monthly photo contest! We'd love to see your amazing Boundary Waters fishing pictures- and to hear the fish stories that go along with them!

Hope to see you soon!


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Somewhere over the Rainbow....

We have had our share of moisture and the woods are beautifully green and lush. Paul and Eric Douglas from Texas just came off the water a few days ago and emailed this beautiful double rainbow. Despite the wetness, they had a good time. The first day of summer is June 20th and we hope that means sunshine and warmer temperatures. The forecast is looking good.


Nice Stringers in Mid June

Hello Everyone,
The fishing has really started to heat up in the last couple days. Good reports are starting to trickle in from all areas. The walleyes are starting to hit pretty aggressively around dusk. Most people have been using slip bobbers and leeches about 6 to 10 feet down. Most of the fish are between 15 and 19 inches. Some big walleyes have also made the mistake of munching on the wrong snack.
The Kircher boys caught this nice stringer of walleyes on Seagull while slip bobbering.

The smallmouth are on the verge of moving onto their spawning beds. Males are being caught more frequently, which means they are really close to make the beds. Some really fat females are still being caught. Jigs, crankbaits, slip bobbers, and topwater lures have been the weapons of choice for anglers going after the fun and feisty bronzebacks.

The northern pike are swimming right along with the smallmouth. Most people are using crankbaits and a few spinnerbaits to catch this toothy critter. Most of the bigger northerns have been caught in 5 to 8 feet of water with a few coming shallower.

Eric, from Texas, caught this northern casting towards shore.

The lake trout have started to move deeper with some still being caught in surpisingly skinny water. A couple lakers have been taken by casting from shore!! But, most are coming on a more traditional method, trolling crankbaits over 20-30 feet of water.

Please practice Catch and Release.

Thanks and Keep Your Line in the Water,

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Monthly Photo Contest

Seagull Outfitters has an ongoing photo contest, with a different theme every month. Since fishing has been pretty good lately out on Seagull Lake, we decided to make that the theme for the month! So send us your Boundary Waters fishing pictures- we want to see your pics of your great catch, or just pictures of you and your friends and family with your lines in the water. A prize is awarded every month, and at the end of the year we'll choose an overall winner for the grand prize.

At the outfitter the other day, we had a pretty great fish story ourselves. I was carrying canoes out to the dock when I spotted some fish fins near the surface of the water. I walked over to get a closer look and couldn't believe what I saw. A good-sized Northern was swimming right next to the dock...with a huge bass stuck in its mouth! Apparently the Northern bit off a little more than he could chew. I yelled for everyone and we all stood there a few minutes, watching the Northern. We were pretty sure he wasn't going to survive. I ran into the store to get the camera, and when I went back out, there was no Northern in the bay, but there was a bass near the shore. So I don't have photographic evidence of my wacky wildlife sighting...but I do have witnesses!

Summer Solstice is approaching, and it's the perfect time to be in the BWCA. Daylight seems to go on forever, so there's plenty of light for paddling and fishing late into the evening. It's great for those who are out camping, as they have some more light to set up camp and watch for those moose that everyone's so excited to see.

Hope to see you soon!


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lake Trout on Seagull

The lake trout are hitting well on Seagull Lake with the cooler weather. The trout are still in 15-30 feet of water. The Schreier Family from the Twin Cities area just came off the water on Seagull this afternoon. As you see, they were full of enthusiasm at the dock and were planning to drive home and bake the lake trout catch from today. It was a family affair as their son goes off to the navy soon. What a great place to spend some family time in the Boundary Waters. Greg caught the trout on a rapala tail dancer with an orange belly in 20-30 feet of water today.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Big Fish for Late May

Hello Everyone,

Fishing is picking up as the water temperature rises. The walleyes are starting to turn back on after recovering from the spawn. Our cabin customers have been picking up a few walleyes on jig/minnow or leech combo. Most of the walleyes are being caught pitching jigs into 5 feet of water. Concentrate on areas of moving water or wind blown points and drop-offs. Most of the 'eyes have been ranging from 15" to 25" with a few bigger walleyes revealing themselves too!
Brock from the Twin Cities caught and released this 30 inch walleye off of his campsite with a slip bobber and minnow.

The smallmouth bass' activity has increased tremendously in the past week. They are even starting to attack topwater baits. Most customers have been catching the smallies in just a little shallower water than the walleyes. Anything from Mepps to X-Raps to Slip Bobbers have been producing 14" to 18" smallies with the biggest I have heard of being around 22" coming on a jig/minnow. Most of the topwater hits have come on floating Rapala and Heddon Torpedos, I even watched a group of smallies attack a bobber sitting on the surface.

Many bass and walleye anglers are also picking up some nice northern pike. The anglers looking for pike have been using Rapalas or Mepps in shallow bays with some really nice results. The biggest pike I heard of was right around 35" inches, caught on a X-Rap.

The lake trout are still sitting surprising shallow. Most are coming from between 8 to 20 feet down. Anglers have been trolling Shad Raps and Minnow Raps over 15 to 30 feet of water on wind blown shorelines. With the lake trout still shallow, the canoe country grand slam (walleye, smallmouth, northern, and laker) ususally rare, is for now, a regular achievement.

Good luck and keep your lines in the water


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Join the Seagull Chat Room!

The Seagull Discussion Forum which you can access from the home page of now has a chat room where you can "chat" with your friends. To access the chat room, follow these directions:
"on the Seagull forum page, go to the "Chat" option on the navigation page (right above the list of Forum options) looks like this: Welcome "User Name" - Control Panel Logout Search New Posts ChatClick "Chat" if you get a page you can't read, you will need to download the latest version of Java 1.5. You can do it at: and click the "Free Java Download" button. After it is downloaded, try again and you will be able to get on the chat room and talk live with your fellow Seagull Forum buddies!"
This is a great way to stay connected to forum members and talk fishing, camping, portages and anything else!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

First Paddler of 2008!

We have open water on Seagull as far as we can see! It is a great sign for the weekend. It rained most of the night last night and the sun is breaking out this morning. We have 41 degrees at 9am. Our first paddler of the season is going to Round Lake this morning with a destination of Tuscarora Lake. From what I hear, Round Lake is partially open and Missing Link is looking good as well. Sun is predicted tomorrow so that also helps. Seagull Lake water level is rising daily and water levels are at our October 2007 high. Stay tuned! Fishing opener is May 10th.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spring is just around the corner!

The snow is melting rapidly and the ducks are gathering in the bay by the Seagull dock where we have a patch of open water. Despite the efforts of our local beavers, water is rushing through the culvert under our road to the lake. With some warm weather, wind and rain; we will soon be looking at open water. I am hoping it comes this month!

A couple of return staffers, Shira and Chris will be arriving next week. The t-shirts have started coming in and we just delivered the new Sag Jon Boats to Seagull. By May 3rd, we will have 5 staff on board and you will see us busily working to get the business open and ready. After many months with no change on the webcam, you will see the daily progress of our efforts.

For anyone going into the Quetico or fishing the Canadian side of Saganaga this summer, you may get your fishing license in advance through the mail if you wish. This will get you through the Cache Bay Ranger Station faster and on your way to your favorite fishing holes. If you are interested, follow this link to learn all about the Ontario Fishing Licenses. . You may call them at 800-677-1940 and process your fishing license over the phone. They will then put it in the mail to you.

Don't forget about our monthly photo contest on our discussion board this year. This is the first month of the contest. Tom and Johnse have worked hard at it and we would love to have your participation.

There are lots of permits for both the Boundary Waters and Quetico left for the summer. Let us know how we can help plan your trip!


Friday, March 21, 2008

Monthly Wilderness Photo Contest

New this year, we will be hosting a monthly wilderness photo contest on our Seagull Discussion Board. Each month there will be a new contest with a different photo theme.

As we all know, the North Country lends itself to some fantastic photo opportunities. We're all fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to capture some of these "priceless" moments. Whether it is a sunset, eagle, rainbow, thunderstorm, moose, etc. we'll have a month dedicated to all of these themes, and many more.

To view pictures entered in the contest, and to enter the contest yourself, you can visit the discussion board that will host the contest. Contest rules and the theme for the month will be posted on the discussion board. Remember to return on a monthly basis to catch the latest photo theme, so you can dig into your archives and share with us all.

We hope that you'll get involved and share the "priceless" moments you've caught on film and enter to have a chance to win the monthly prize, and the year end prize.

Enjoy and Good Luck.
Seagull Outfitters

Photo Contest link

Friday, February 22, 2008

2008 BWCAW Quota Adjustments

Our District Ranger, Dennis Neitzke from the Forest Service Office in Grand Marais has just issued the following letter as it applies to some of the Boundary Waters Quotas on the Gunflint Trail effective Feb. 25, 2008.

"The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) near the upper end of the Gunflint Trail has gone through a myriad of changes over the past few years, some more dramatic than others. Two separate but somewhat related issues have arisen over the past few years that I believe are timely to address. Both have to do with our entry point quotas for areas along the Gunflint Trail from about Mid-Trail to the upper end of the Trail.

The first issue resulted from the Alpine Lake, Cavity Lake and Ham Lake fires that caused us to temporarily close portage trails and campsites. Since fewer campsites were available, we also reduced overnight paddle quotas for several entry points from the Granite River, up around the end of the trail, down to Round Lake. All portages were rehabilitated within days of the conclusion of each fire and we are now at a point where we expect to have all but possibly 10 campsites reopened by June of this year.

While it will take years for campsites to regain the “forested” condition campers experienced prior to the fires, we have determined they are stable and suitable for use. Further, we have noticed this past summer, during the busiest part of the season, campsites that were open but had been deforested by the fires were being used by wilderness campers. Therefore I have considered returning fire affected entry point quotas to their normal, pre-fire levels.

The second issue comes from another situation that has been observed over the past several years. The Forest Service has been aware of overcrowding issues related to the western end of the Vento Unit of the BWCAW. Our Wilderness Rangers have often encountered angry visitors who could not find a campsite due to crowding, especially at the height of the summer on heavily used routes. We have recorded (illegal) offsite camping and found that it is common for visitors to leave their wilderness trip sooner than planned due to the lack of campsites. Over the past couple of years, we have stepped up our conversations with visitors and outfitters to get a better picture of the crowding and it has become clear that the situation is chronic.

Our simple analysis demonstrated how this situation has likely come about. The average stay of a BWCAW party is four days and the quota for Duncan Lake Entry Point is four permits per day. Therefore in the busy season, we have 16 parties in an area that contains only 12 campsites. Of course, there are other factors that need to be taken into account such as the type and pattern of travel visitors are doing, the size and shape of the Vento Unit, etc.

As the quotas stand now, the frequency of visitor encounters does not meet Forest Plan standards for solitude. Existing use exceeds the allowable frequency of visitor encounters. Forest Plan direction states: “The purpose of quotas is to distribute visitors and use in a manner that protects the natural resources and wilderness values, and limits the social encounters to that which is appropriate for each management area.... The Forest Service reserves the right to make immediate quota changes if necessary to meet changed conditions” (Forest Plan, ppg 3-54 & 55).

From our review of the situation, I have considered lowering the quota for a few entry points to mitigate overcrowding issues in the Vento Unit. However, before doing so, I wanted to hear from the businesses that would be affected by such a decision. On January 17, 2008, I sent a letter to East Zone BWCAW Cooperators requesting their input on our proposal.

We received several telephone calls and eight outfitters responded by email with comments. As expected, the range of comments received went from no reduction of the quota anywhere at anytime to most outfitters acknowledging that a modification of quotas was needed to address the concerns of disappointed visitors who complained of overcrowding.

Based on a compilation of information from our Wilderness Rangers observations, discussions with visitors and comments from our Cooperators, I have decided to implement the following:

· The Duncan Lake Entry Point 60 quota will be reduced from 4 permits to 3 permits per day.
· The Clearwater Lake Entry Point 62 quota will be reduced from 4 permits to 3 permits per day.
· The East Bearskin Lake Entry Point 64 quota will be reduced from 5 permits to 4 permits per day.

Also at this time, I am resetting the quotas for the following entry points to their pre-fire levels:

· The Seagull Lake Entry Point 54 quota will return to 11 permits per day.
· The Seagull Lake Only Entry Point 54A quota will return to 2 permits per day.
· The Saganaga Lake Entry Point 55 quota will return to 17 permits per day.
· The Magnetic Lake Entry Point 57 quota will return to 3 permits per day.

One final adjustment to the quota system that will be implemented this season is my decision to allow the booking of Seagull Lake Only Entry Point 54A, Saganaga Lake Only Entry Point 55A and Brule Lake Only Entry Point 41A permits to be made at any time in the permit application process instead of issuing these permits only after the regular quota for these lakes have been filled.

These adjustments will take effect February 25, 2008. I feel that the adjustments outlined here are necessary and desirable for the management of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness."

District Ranger

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

2008 BWA Committee Trail Clearing Official Press Release

The Boundary Waters Advisory Committee (BWA Committee) and its friends has announced plans to clear scenic hiking trails in the beautiful Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) this coming May. The BWA Committee welcomes you, your friends, family and other interested people to volunteer for either two or three days between Thursday, May 1 and Sunday, May 4.
Last yearʼs project successfully cleared the Brule Lake Trail (BLT) and provided excellent hiking for people on their way to Brule Lake and Eagle Mountain, Minnesotaʼs highest point which features a spectacular view of the forests and lakes of canoe country and Lake Superior. The volunteers performed fantastic service in preparing the trail for hikers and the United States Forest Service displays their group photo at the Brule Lake trailhead in appreciation of their efforts.
This yearʼs group of volunteers will maintain the BLT and expand their efforts to a neighboring trail, further increasing the recreational opportunities for visitors. The trail clearing will provide an opportunity for the past yearsʼ veterans to meet up with old friends and make new friends. In addition, new volunteers are invited to join in the group effort to help do tremendous work for the Boundary Waters.
The BWA Committee invites hikers and outdoor enthusiasts to volunteer to help clear these trails. There are several opportunities to participate including our occasional, short planning meetings; training as a trail clearing crew leader, or volunteering for two or three days in May. Planning meetings take approximately three to five hours per month; these meetings resolve the logistics and preparations for the trip. Interested individuals are welcome to help the BWA Committee with its publicity and developing sponsors as well. The BWA Committee will hold a training session for crew leaders and interested volunteers in April, with a time and location to be announced. Previous experience is useful, but not required. Most importantly, volunteers are needed to clear trails in the forests of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area for a two, three or four day detail, as desired.

BWA Committee was founded by Martin Kubik in 2002 with the intent to preserve intrinsically beautiful historic hiking trails in the BWCA in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service. Martin Kubik is the recipient of the 2007 Great Lakes Region Volunteer of the Year award as presented by the American Hiking Society.

Contact Martin Kubik, BWA Committee president at 651-214-5849 or e-mail at , OR visit the BWACommittee website to reserve a place.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Passport Issue Revisited

Johnse has researched the latest on the passport issue for paddlers this summer returning to the US from the Quetico. Here is what he found.

Where do things stand for Land and Sea Travel?Currently, most travellers only require a driver's license (or other government-issued photo I.D.) or a birth certificate, though customs officers don't always request to see them. Verbal declarations of citizenship are still accepted, but travellers should carry proof just in case.However, stricter requirements for Land and Sea entry will come into affect on January 31, 2008 – but don't panic about getting a passport just yet. This date is when border patrol will stop accepting verbal declarations of citizenship and start asking you for documentation. Government-issued photo I.D. (such as a drivers' license) and a birth certificate will suffice for most travellers. Unlike current requirements, you will be asked to produce both documents, not just one.When will a passport be required for Land and Sea? According to media reports, a bill was passed in congress on December 20, 2007 that delays the passport requirement at least until June 2009. Ultimately, it's up to the U.S. government to decide the final date. The U.S. Homeland Security website notes that 60 days notice will be given before new legislation comes into effect to allow people time to obtain required documentation.The link for the entire article is here: for all of 2008, you will not need a passport for land or sea travel to Canada. An RABC will suffice just like in the past.

Let's hope this brings some closure to this question for summer 2008. Thanks Johnse for your help!


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Gunflint Green Up May 2-4, 2008

As many of you know, May 5, 2008 is the first anniversary of the "Ham Lake Fire" on the Gunflint Trail. In recognition of the first anniversary of the Ham Lake Fire,which burned more than 35,000 acres at the end of the Gunflint Trail, and in celebration of Minnesota's 150 years of statehood, the Gunflint Green Up will bring folks of all ages together for a weekend of education, tree planting, and a food and music celebration.

Gunflint Green Up Schedule:

Friday 5/2

Boreal Forest talks and walks
Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department demonstrations
Dinner & Special presentation
Renowned wilderness photographer Layne Kennedy will share his experiences in the BWCAW and along The Gunflint Trail

Saturday 5/3

Training and planting
Thank You Dinner & Dance with live music at Gunflint Lodge

Sunday 5/4

Gunflint Green Up Ham Run Half Marathon

Visit for more information.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Let's start thinking about summer trips!

The New Year has arrived and it is time to think about summer vacations. We can reserve Boundary Waters Permits online until Jan 15. Beginning Feb. 1, permits will be available by phone. The Quetico Park remains on the same permit system as in the past; 5 months out from your trip departure date. We are here to help with trip routes and answer your questions. Our rental cabin availability is current online at . The temperatures are frigid here in MN at the moment. We are working on office stuff and trying to stay warm. We bought 2 new Jon Boats for towing on Saganaga and will be working on some new aluminum racks for them. We are starting to interview new staffers and thinking about ordering T-shirts and gifts for the store. Let us hear from you!