A Mainstreet Radio special broadcast from Ely, Minnesota. Program highlights the northern Minnesota town and the BWCA, twenty years after major Congressional legislation in 1978; a controversial Act that banned mining, logging and most motor use. Rachel Reabe interviews Mark Van Every and Barb Soderberg, representatives from the National Forest Service, and canoe outfitters John Waters and Gary Gotchnik about the various aspects of the BWCA. Group also answers listener questions. Program begins with a report from MPR’s Leif Enger on the long history and debate over the land and it’s use in this area. Enger interviews various Ely residents who share thoughts on BWCA, regulations, and changes in the town.
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NPR's Main Street radio coverage of rural issues is supported by the blandin foundation committed to strengthening communities through grant-making leadership training and convening. We invite you to visit the Main Street website go to www.mpr.org where you can hear today's program at your convenience as well as other Main Street reports the address again www.mpr.org. Morning, and welcome to a special Main Street radio show live from the northeastern Minnesota town of Ely. I'm Rachel reabe. We're broadcasting today from one of the busiest Corners in town were set up on the green outside the Chocolate Moose Restaurant & Provost Northwoods company. There is a steady stream of cars and vans many of them top door towing. Canoes Passing By Us on Sheridan Street and East Main drag this town sits on the edge of the Boundary Waters canoe area the most heavily used Wilderness in the United States and this is the busy season in Canoe Country. The last part of July in the first weeks of August. The black flies are gone in the frost hasn't arrived just yet. We'll talk about the Boundary Waters with representatives of the u.s. Forest service this morning in a couple of local canoe outfitters, but first, I look back 20 years ago Congress passed the Boundary Waters act prohibiting logging Mining and most motor use inside a million acre Wilderness in Northeast, Minnesota. The protests among local residents who saw their livelihood threatened many and Ely still feel the law was shoved down their throats by an overzealous environmental movement, but the 1978 long was by no means the first fight over what to do with the Boundary Waters conservationists and developers have been at odds in this territory since the twenties Main Street radios life anger reports. We plan to go up north as far as I think Basswood Lake, up in the river. Stay there relax, and then come back to Marco says there's nothing like this back home in Hungary a place with lake so clean you can lean down and drink for trip veteran on a 200000 canoeist will paddle into the Boundary Waters this summer place where people can really be out of time. You can hide yourself. There's no time here. I'm going to go back to the city just surprised that the whole weekend is gone. A canoeist gliding through the bwca might see moose blooms bear or Beaver. What he wants to eat is clear-cuts mining trucks roads or Resorts all we're here all argon tourists don't see the 60 years of environmental lobbying the sometimes sneaky politics or the painful cost of preservation canoe Outfitter Bill rum long retired remembers A wilderness fast going to ruin resorts are popping up all over within the Boundary Waters back in the late 20s. Their proposal Road from the gun from the fernberg to the Gunflint right across the middle of the Boundary Waters in the course. It would have been side roads and everything else. It would have been ruined. In fact in 1923 developers wanted a road to every Lake in the wilderness a plan routed by the Izaak Walton League and emerging conservationists Sigrid Olsen and Aldo Leopold. It was the first idea in what would become a half century of incursions and Retreat and ebb and flow of noise and silence hydroelectric dams were proposed and defeated logging and Mining to basics of the local economy. We're restricted by the late forties says Bill rum, even Wilderness tourism was threatening the Wilderness a profusion of flying Resorts had made Ali the busiest Inland floatplane base in the world when environmentalist fought for a ban on flights into the Boundary Waters many locals were fed up with Wilderness Advocates like siegelson and Ron himself sick after they are bad. He was hung in effigy at one time and they lie. They blocked our whole street blockaded our street. So that customers couldn't get into store signs run the bum rum out of town here. I'm a local are born and raised here. We don't use the word environmentalist. You're okay because that's kind of puts flakes up for people Mike Hillman's family has been Annie Lee for Generations. His great-grandparents were among the first minors to arrive in the late 19th century. He remembers The Boundary Waters of the fifties and early sixties as a quiet place after they are banned a place used mostly by those who lived on its edges you got to realize said in 1967. Ali was still a mining Community, okay. There were so few regular visitors. 1968 Bill rum went on a canoe trip. Argosy magazine Proclaim him the canoe King All Over America these magazines. You could come up on a on a canoe trip. No rules stay as long as you want. You could get complete outfitting for something like seven or eight dollars a day. You could eat like a king you could catch as many fish as you possibly wanted. They came by the thousands suddenly Hillman says, you can hardly find a campsite in The Boundary Waters by the mid-70s conservation groups were pushing for a new law one to reduce motor access to the Wilderness prohibit mineral exploration and end logging all together. Again, Ali Residence bridled at the prospect of restrictions from Washington. There were more Effigy burning and this Furious protests during a visit from Pro Wilderness politicians just before passage of the 1978 Boundary Waters Act. Frank Salerno was Ali's mayor at the time. He says The Boundary Waters act still frustrates him not simply because of its restrictions, but because local residents had no voice and its passage. He says they were simply steamrolled by an autocratic and well-funded environmental Lobby. They were beating us to death with dollar bills. I mean to go to to Hollywood California to people who are living in a fantasy world and tell him you got to help us save the Wilderness in northeastern Minnesota that have the Robert Redford's and others write checks and have fundraisers and everything else because they don't know the first thing about Northeastern Minnesota what's going on here, but they're well is it doesn't run dry. I see you in the nests are eggshells in there now. So we may see the young around if if they in fact survive retired US Forest Service Officer Paul Smith is out this afternoon checking a loon Nest near his home on the edge of the bwca. It was his job to help enforce the new regulations to confront those with motor and illegally or paddle in without a permit. No many locals hate of the new lock. Smith says they were consistently treated unfairly and media reports characterized as 6-pack Bumpkin anxious to wreck the Wilderness. You know, you lose only a hundred years old people did what they wanted. It was a hard life, you know, they worked hard and it was a hard life. They were used to doing what they wanted to the lot of them came from the old country where they were suppressed and They had enough of that when we already built it. when we get to a certain point of a I've had enough of your regulations are rules. There's a loon in the young one Rebellion or Not The Boundary Waters act brought change the government bought out Resorts within the Wilderness. It ended logging phased out snowmobiling and reduced motor access it through a curve at Outfitters like Gerry gostenik who supplied motor boats and snow machines for a living is like dropping your arms off when it happened. You know, it just boom you couldn't do that anymore and you've been doing it for many years and my father was doing it to all of his life. So you have to go out and find a new customer base. The Gulch lake has found his new customer base and gradually much of Ely has done the same the bwca is now one of the most popular Wilderness areas in the country Northwest Airlines flies daily all summer between Ely in the Twin Cities so you can get on a plane in Miami in the morning and be fighting the deer flies by Sundown or shopping for Muk luks or drinking cappuccino or buying up real estate some tourist forgo The Boundary Waters completely and just stay at the new Holiday Inn. All this growth some safe has taken the Sting from the 1978 law that set aside the bwca Wilderness. So there are still regular flare-ups about motor regulation or how many canoeist should be allowed in one group. The bigger problem locally has become how to handle the new Prosperity how to grow wisely Ali historian. Mike Hillman says, most people here have come to understand they can't go back but it doesn't hurt to wish for some people. They believe that there's going to be a polka Ghost Dance Prophet that is coming here and that if they close the curtains on the bar and if they religiously and fervently Dance All Night Long that come the morning will open up the curtains and everybody will be gone and it'll be 1957 Ali historian Mike Hillman. This is Leif enger for Main Street radio. I'm Rachel reabe and you're listening to a special Main Street radio broadcast from Ely my guess this morning are John Waters and Gerry gostenik to Avila's canoe outfitters, Jean runs Canadian Waters, just up the hill from where we're sitting today. Gerry gostenik has Wilderness Outfitters a block down the street from us. We also have Barb Soderbergh and Mark Van Every representing the u.s. Forest service. Good morning all of you and welcome and what could we have picked a better day to do a live broadcast from Ely outside? It is 70° sunny, and beautiful. Our phone lines are open for your questions and comments this morning. You can join our conversation by calling one 800-537-5252 the number to join our discussion this morning again one 805-3752 52 John and Gary let's start out by talking about the Wilderness experience you two have been outfitting canoeist heading for the Boundary Waters for decades has the Wilderness experience changed on let's start with you haven't changed and if so, how oh, I think it's changed in a number of ways mostly just because of the the change and regulations and things like that as the lead in our the program talked about their one time. They were virtually no restrictions on going into the Boundary Waters you camp anywhere you wanted to with his larger group as you wished stay as long as you like those kind of things have changed their quotas. Now as we know if there are limitations on for you can go how many people can be in a campsite. And the the the national sort of trend has changed. I think in terms of vacations years ago people took longer vacations and less frequent vacation today folks are on a tighter time frame sometimes so vacations tend to be a little shorter, but they also tell me more frequent and what this says of course is instead of a 5 or 7 Day canoe trip a person might take a 3 or 4 day canoe trip. This is life in the 90s. So you say yes, it's changed has changed quite a bit. Gary has gotten better or worse from your point of view years ago. You could just drive up here and going to the woods and all you have to do some long-range planning to take some commitments ahead of time a few months down the road and you pick a date and if you're going to use an Outfitter you call him and we try to design a trip to meet your needs your like to stay and if you want to stay in The Boundary Waters are going to the Canadian side and Equipment has gotten so much better the canoes the camping tent sleeping bags your food. Everything is much lighter you can travel faster. Whether it's fishing or photography or whatever you want to do. Going to our phone calls. We have I'm somebody from Bloomington on the phone with us now. Go ahead with your question, please. Yes, go ahead. Are phone number this morning one 800-537-5252 be patient with us. If you would like to call us and tell us about your experience in The Boundary Waters. We would love to hear that Barbara Mark if we had not put the restrictions in in 78 and actually talked about all sorts of restrictions this morning and Lace piece. What the Boundary Waters look like if there were no regulations if there had been no regulations put in. Well, it is as we all know the Boundary Waters is a very special place at both to the folks here in the local area as well as that nationally and and even as we've learned in our peace there people who come from other countries as well and are challenges to manage that resource so that it will be there for people to enjoy not only today but 10 years from now or when our children are grown and have their own children. And so one of the challenges we have is it is such a popular place in a special place. We need to manage those resources in a way that protects protects them for future generations and for all of us to enjoy for a long time to come and as the popularity in the numbers of increased the impacts to those resources have also increased and so the regulations allow us to continue to help people enjoy the Wilderness and be able to use while at the same time protecting those resources. We've Chris from Minneapolis on the phone Chris. Good morning. I just wanted to make a quick comment in The Boundary Waters. 20 years ago when I was 16 on an Outward Bound trip, and if I never go back up there again, I will gladly pay taxes to keep it protected at all costs. I think it's extremely important. What was the best thing about that trip? What are your best memories about it? Oh, I guess just the quiet watching the Northern Lights hearing Lunes and not seeing anybody except for our group. And just the wildest is beautiful. But you've not been back in 20 years. No I dream about it quite a bit. Actually. I was planning a trip for this fall just a short trip. Hopefully it'll work out. It's a beautiful area. Thanks so much for your call this morning we go now to Inver Grove Heights where James is holding on the line. Good morning, James voice and I also have a pill round back in July 66. It was 32 years ago yesterday that we left from Moose Lake and we took the guys at 5 at a wonderful experience in the body water. I've been back different time since so that's I just like the comment. I love The Boundary Waters in The quietness of it. James let me ask you this question you first came in 1966. Have you seen in these 30 some years? Have you seen it changed quite a bit. Are you have you been seeing more people when you're out in the Boundary Waters or less or any change at all that you could share with us or more Fields Campground area. After all 1972 after 1971, we began taking trips in September. So that's why I went. Well, I was off I didn't have any children. So what my brother and I went alone together and then after a while I went it would not so crowded anymore. And you plan to come up again or like I haven't been up in the 1990 health problem. Thank you for your call this morning James our phone number this morning one 800-537-5252. You can join our show simply by calling us at one 800-537-5252. We were talking about wearing out the Wilderness and people need to remember this isn't Disneyland. We can't close it down and refurbish Tomorrowland and then open it back up and it's as good as new even better than no. This is something that's fine. I'd and wears out. Do you have a system where you move campsites or try to move people around? So you spreading like James was talking he goes in September. Now, you try to encourage people to kind of come in on the shoulder seasons and have you been successful at that? I think I would Barb and she deals directly with that issue. Yeah, the Cuda really has introduced use overall in the last 10 15 or even twenty years. But what it's done, is it spread use out over time as one of the colors mentioned they now Coming September and people were looking to have more of a solitary kind of experience 10 to come more in the shoulder Seasons. I think probably either Gary or John can tell you that people are coming more midweek before people used to try to come on weekends cuz that's when their vacation started. So we're spreading use out over time. We're also spreading use out geographically on some of the entry points that weren't as well use before now when when some of the most popular entry points give full particularly at certain times of the year people will choose alternate route. So it's certainly done that the quota system has been successful that way. So when you help people realize there is life beyond Lake one, maybe if you get it to go back there, right? And it and is all of this working or is there still a real usage Palmer our campsite still wearing out and are there still too many people that were encountering when were in The Boundary Waters? Well, I know I think you'll get real mixed messages on that. It depends on when people go time of year. It depends on where they go and are quotas based on average use for all the people that go in on that entry point. But for instance and let me just use Lake one as an example where people might normally go I want to insult you or maybe get off some of the main travel routes or whatever the quote is set so that people tend to travel on and and do things in the average but just as an example if there is a radio program are newspaper articles saying the big Walleye in the state was caught in Lake 3 last week. Then people aren't going to travel on that average pattern. They're all going to want to go to wake Theresa of somebody went to like three at that particular point in time. They're not going to find a campsite or if the wind comes up so that people don't travel or if in that week you happen to get people who none of them travel through you still running to crowding at certain times, but I think they're also places in the bwca that you can go at certain times and sagey. Where is everybody there's all kinds of sites available. So, you know on the average hopefully people are getting experience at we're managing for but there is certainly on both ends of the spectrum and we are monitoring or attempting to monitor that use and and as that monitoring shows the need we make adjustments in the number of permits were issued for a particular entry point or at a particular time of the year. At one of the things that we found in Embark kind of alluded to it is that people have certain favorite spots that they like to go to and once you get into the Wilderness, you have the option of of traveling basically anywhere in the wilderness, she'd like to go and sometimes we're finding that people aren't able to get their preferred entry point, but they're able to get an entry point nearby and they may still travel over to that favorite late. What we find is people coming from several different entry points all converging on the same lake at the same time. And in that does create a very localized that problem with available campsites are the I'd like to add to especially since we've got a number of listeners hear that there's a lot people can do to help alleviate problems of crowding and the big one is to start looking for a campsite early in the afternoon because if you wait till 6 or 7 at night and all the campsites on a particular Lake are full you're a lot less willing to move on to the next to Lake. The other one is to You know, we tend to think in our everyday lives that we want to get from here to there and we want to take the shortest route from one spot to another and generally if you take one Portage off the main travel route, you'll find a lot less uses. Well, this is a busy Corner in Ely if you hear this traffic, it's because we are at one of three stoplights in town. We are right on the corner of Sheridan and Central and lot of cars lot of ants and lots of trucks going by this morning. We're going to Ricky was patiently waiting on his car phone and I hope you haven't driven out of range Rick. Good morning. Hello. Yeah, I've been going up to the Boundary Waters for probably the last every year and sometimes more than one year the last 20 years and I've been up there mosquito weather and a couple years ago. I did an eight-day winter camping trip and I just I didn't catch the first part of the show, but I guess you're talking about Boundary Water use and I seen, you know, quite an increase in people in the summertime and even in the winter time just more people seem to be using it a lot and and I think it's great. I also know that the forest service is now you required to watch a film about theirs and I find it personally kind of annoying but I think it's a really good idea especially, you know, a lot of people going up there for the first time so, I love it. I think it's really great. And I think I think so far things have worked out really well between I think the Outfitters in the fisherman and the people that know want to go up there on boats and those that want to go out to actually have a non-motorized experience. So, I think it's been really, you know, the compromise. Thank you Rick. Our next caller is calling from Minneapolis. We have Carolina line. Good morning. Carol The Boundary Waters is I was born and grew up in Missouri and married a fellow from Minnesota who had worked his way through school by being a new guide. I'd never seen a canoe until we started going into the Boundary Waters and over the years. I have grown to love it so much we go. At least once a year sometimes for just short trips. We were up just a couple of weeks ago for a day trip. And in that day, we only saw two other people and we were just one Lake from the main road. I would also like to say that one of my special memories of the Sandy Waters and this is just happened to me one time we were staying and I heard the wolves howl and I will never ever in my whole life forget that experience. It was just wonderful listening to the silence up. There is a special special thing that I wish everyone in the world could experience and I feel so badly that to their politicians that would want to harm the area. I just especially politicians from Minnesota who don't seem to be able to understand what a wonderful treasure we have in our state. Thank you for your call this morning Gary what percentage of your business approximately was motorized prior to 1978 any idea. I know some of the Outfitters have said and you said even on are produced by cutting off your arm. They took out a huge chunk of business and you had to replace it. Somehow give us an idea of how many people were coming up here to go on motorized trips. A lot of people and that lived here use it was a way of life. I mean, it was a recreational area for many years you if you worked in the area, you only had one or two days off and you wanted to get to your favorite fishing hole on Crooked Lake or insula. You took your motor and and it was your choice whether you wanted a paddle or use a motor and that's the way many people cater to him. We cater to a lot of fishermen. We still do a lot of the motorized use were Motors on Square in canoe. So people who are thinking now like ski boats 17 foot Larson, we're not talking about that were talking about small motor up to a six or eight horse maybe a 10-horse over to the non-motorized times. Just like ours myself. We had a change and it and it's been very hard. There's still a lot of bitterness in this community and there still are lakes in The Boundary Waters today, or you can still use a motorboat. There's maybe what 10 lakes that are still motorized where if you enjoy that type of you sent to those people they get just as much trouble as going on that couch repair somebody else that's their Wilderness experience taking the boat out and going with their motor or doing what's the newest they're doing ours was a lot less. I was just such a surprise to hear it very much the 50% level. I would say probably no more than maybe 15% of our business was motorized use but Gary is Purim did specialized to do a lot more into as far as fishing trips in the past would like then then we did. Don't have people that come and say I want to go to the bathroom to have this Wilderness experience and how big a motor can I get or? They know what the regulations in the rules are now most people know what the regulations are. We really don't have a lot of people today who are surprised to find they cannot take him over to the Boundary Waters or for the very limited and this is coming from education for the forest service for the wedding industry who promotes canoe trips are Chamber of Commerce things like that. The information is pretty well. I'll probably know now. Nada from Minneapolis is on the phone. Good morning. Hello. Good morning. Good morning. I just wanted to share that. I have really enjoyed my experiences in The Boundary Waters. My husband and I have gone up there almost once a year since 1987. And actually I should say that there have been a couple times where we didn't have a good experience. But I think that people that have gone up there several times have results for that. Also that experience has brought on by other people or just rain or bugs actually bugs. You just have to tolerate but I mean that's always an experience in the summertime the first time we went up it was weather and people The wind was very strong for about 3 days when we were up on the Canadian border and La Croix. And we had to be took like to three days to get back down Against the Wind and we had to do some bushwhacking and playing the piano on the shoreline to get back out. And it was kind of scary but I didn't keep you from coming. It didn't keep you from coming back up there that we're shooting off a gun and being really creepy coming up to our campsite and acting very strangely. So we left Campsite in the middle of the night. So, you know, But mostly I should say we've had a good time and yes we go back. We haven't gone now for a couple years because we have a new child then. Not ready to take her out into the Wilderness yet song. But thank you for your call this morning we go now to Becker where Alice is standing by on the phone, good morning, Alice Place in our family's life camping in the sixties and seventies and we would have got out and there was canoeing and one of the cul-de-sac one of the bad experiences that we remember is the oil slick on the sack before I going into a ported and so I really awesome quietness and family. God in our wilderness camping, I appreciate all the people that have worked so hard to keep this Christine and clean so that our future Generations that our grandchildren and great-grandchildren can experience the same spiritual power that we Thank you so much for your call this morning. We have Michael from Coon Rapids on the line. Good morning. Michael who are actual residents of Ely there on the one hand. I'm sure that especially those of you who make a living related to The Boundary Waters into the tourism are very appreciative Are Thankful of those Outsiders who appreciate the Boundary Waters area as a recreational area at the same time. I imagine trying to put myself in your shoes that there would be some left over resentment especially regarding the amount of control that Outsiders politicians or you know, those who live outside of your area who seem to be able to exert a tremendous amount of control over that area and I just like to hear any, you may have on that. Well, I think growing up in Ely what we would I would like to see in future management planning is that the people that live in the area also have some local import into the management phases. That's just like nice saying something about South Dakota or Montana. I have never been there. I don't know what's going on out there. I don't know the type of use and and I would just like to see future planning in the future done here like that with weighted input is what you're essentially saying Gary. I guess. I have a little different opinion about that. I was one of the my brother and I were one of the few people in Ely who voiced a strong support for the 1978 legislation. We paid a fairly heavy price for that back in those days, but things have changed since then the town is a lot different than it was in 1978. Yeah, I can see I can understand the the desire for people to have some influences on a local level, but we have to realize this is a national resource. It's part of the spirit National Forest. It's not a state forest. It's not a County forest or Regional Forest. It's a national forest Land The Boundary Waters is a national resource. You're listening to a special Main Street radio broadcast from Ely NPR's Main Street radio coverage of Royal issues is supported by the blandin foundation committed to strengthening communities through grant-making leadership training and convening. Let's take a look at whether or across the state mostly sunny skies across Minnesota today chance of thunderstorms and storms in the southwestern portions of the State high temperature 75 to 82° cross Minnesota tonight clear to partly cloudy skies temperatures in the fifties and sixties and for Saturday Statewide, we can expect mostly sunny skies warmer temperatures and humid high tomorrow the 80s and the 90s The Boundary Waters canoe area stretching along the northeastern border of Minnesota has been a creative inspiration for artists photographers and Rider. One of the best-known is the late sigurd Olson who lived and worked here in a lie. Let's listen to an excerpt from his book Wilderness days. The chapter is entitled The Way of a canoe. The movement of the clue is like a reed in the wind silence is part of it and the sounds of laughing water bird songs wind in the trees part of the medium through which it floats the sky the water the shores. In a canoe a man changes the life. He has lived seem strangely remote time is no longer of moment or you become part of space and freedom. What matters is that? He's heading down. The Misty trail of explorers and Voyager is with a fair wind and a chance of a good camp somewhere ahead. Future is other Lakes Compass Rapids in the sound of them portage's through Muskegon over the ledges. When is travel for many days and is far from settlements of his kind when he looks over his cruising outfit and knows it's all the other ones that he can travel with it to a new country as he Wills he feels at last that he is down to the real business of living that is shed much of what was unimportant and isn't an old polish Groove experience. Like for some strange reason to suddenly become simple and complete this once a few is confusion uncertainty gone is happiness and contentment. There is a satisfaction in reaching some point on the map in spite of wind and weather and keeping a rendezvous with some campsite that in the morning seemed impossible up achievement. It can do the battle is yours and yours alone. It's your muscle and sinew your whip and the courage against the Primitive forces of the storm. That is why I went after a day of battle your dentist pitch that last in the Lee of some shelter and Cliff the canoe weapon dry and supper underway. There is an exultation that only knut man. No. We've been listening to an excerpt from Wilderness days a book written by the late sigurd Olson. I'm Rachel reading we're continuing this conversation on The Boundary Waters area during this live Main Street broadcast from the corner of Sheridan Street and Central Avenue in downtown Ely. My guess and Mark Van Every and Barb Soderberg from the u.s. Forest service and Ely canoe outfitters. Gary got Nick and John Waters are phone lines are open for your call one 800-537-5252 and let's go back to the phone lines Glendon from St. Cloud is on the line Good Morning Mood struck, you know by the early comment about Tigger dolls, and then the fact that he was once hung in effigy there and then the excerpt that you just read and this kind of relates to what the previous caller was talking about. That is that what what is it that people there would like in terms of control? Regulations put on or wouldn't they want any you know, there's a there's a great deal of ambivalence. It seems to me in this issue many of your people on the program of talked about the commercial aspects of the place, you know and restrictions on Motors and all of that kind of thing and it seems to me you can't have it both ways. You know, if you if you're going to preserve quality of a place that attracts people and and makes people want to go there there certainly needs to be some some kind of control and does he was to meet government is the only agency that can do that. comments about that Well, that's really a challenge that we have is is trying to balance. Our responsibility is to manage The Boundary Waters according to the laws that congress has passed and we attempt to do at to balance out to a variety of experiences of people seek is Gary and John both mentioned. There's people that seek a canoe type experiencing and we provide that in the Boundary Waters, but they'll also provides for motorized uses and and that states how does uses can occur and we manage that as well and it's it's kind of the Crux of the debate over the Wilderness is that there's lots of different people who speak different kinds of experiences and in our challenge for the for services to try to balance out those various interests within the limits of the we're going down to Lakeville. Now we're Tim is waiting on the line. Good morning Tim. Hello. Good morning. The queen of the forest service and the Ely Outfitters there. I was wondering if you guys could let us know about the truck portage's that are open. Now I hear if you could give us any insight on how those trucks are going to be run or who's going to run them or how the laws are shaping that situation for us. At least one hot issue going on in The Boundary Waters at any one time and this would be it wouldn't Mark Sherwood just for a little bit of there was recently some legislation passed as a part of the transportation bill as that did provide for the opportunity for motorized vehicles to be used to haul boat across to the Portage and those Portage Road Portage in trout Portage. And in the legislation that does not specifically state that that motor or motorized vehicles have to be used but it does allow for them to be considered. That's the language of the law that allows for them to be considered. You're specifically the the legislation says nothing in this act shall be construed to prevent the operation of motorized vehicles to transport boats across the Portage and so are our next step but this just goes into effect January 1st of 1999. So it's not currently in effect at this point. We plan this fall to work with a variety of folks to get their input and developing some evaluation criteria, which will be used to select someone to operate those Portage services and that because the the laws not specific we will consider both motorized and non-motorized operations in the evaluation will also be several other criteria that we will be developing hopefully with input from folks in the local area as well as other places, but certainly will be looking at the service that will be provided to the public the cost for the public and I also impacts to the resources within the wilderness. Mark I think the question is if there were viable ways to move boats across the portage's without non pin a note non-motorized sense. Why hasn't that already been done? Why the need for the legislation? I saw a congressman Jim Oberstar quoted in the local paper saying no when when they said provide what that means mechanized. Yes mechanical portage's will be coming back and I'll be talkin to the u.s. Forest service why now this discussion of maybe maybe trucks maybe not trucks sure the first part of your question and you know, why not do it by non-motorized means that the two portage's have had non-motorized Portage services on them currently. There is one on Prairie Portage. That's a non-motorized service that that carries both across the Portage. I intend to pass to Trout Lake Portage there has been so we know that it's possible. There are some limitations to that and and some challenges with that of course, but it does occur. Basically, the reason that we are looking at at both is because we don't feel that the legislation requires us to look at only motorized. And in fact, there are people who feel that that we need to look at both from both sides. So we again I find ourselves caught in the middle between these different interests and and desires for what should be available within the Boundary Waters Fishing Boat. This parked across the street from his here on Central Avenue in a large sign that says trucks will underline will be back on trout and Prairie and that seems to be the consensus at least in this town. Would you agree with that? Yes, I would you hear me? Yes, I would. Well, that's a sign in a boat being raffled off by sea wcso which is in an organization that fought very hard to try to get those trucks back on the Ford Edge which was taken away in 1992 by the courts. And did you think that this compromise legislation that was passed a couple of months ago was ambivalent or to you as a perfectly clear choice would be returned to those two portage's I think the what happened to local Hope was The Returned. I'm not a lawyer but just having read the the excerpt from the legislation. It is not clear cut that they will be your will not be. I think it's as Marcus said something before service is going to look at and try to make determination. I'm glad it's their determination to their call not mine, Clay finger is here with us today on the green outside the Chocolate Moose in progress Northwoods company life. Hello. I'm here with me was a lifelong resident of she's also the secretary for a group called conservationists with common sense and Nancy this whole bwca issue since since the sixties is a very emotional one for you. Yes, it is because for a long time you lie was a very peaceful town where people it came to and enjoyed the area without any Battling over whose area was we just all enjoyed it together. You're an advocate of multiple use in The Boundary Waters. Yes. I am I've been involved with With the getting the trucks returned to the portage's would look like if you wrote the laws if it would be a return the trucks to all three of the portage's so that there were five portage's in The Boundary Waters that allowed access for all people in the in this country in a way of these portage's have provided handicap access without even really realizing it and they were taken away after court decision on the definition of the word feasible. I talked with a couple of gentlemen here today who are local residents older gentleman who say they're no longer able to get in they feel locked out of the bwca. In a way, that's true because it's some people just don't even buy for the permits because it's too hard for them to push their boats and their Motors and their gear across these portage's and you don't feel that there's something in the wilderness would be lost something of the Wilderness would be lost if it were the way that you would like to see it. It would be lost with the return of the trucks in the part of some of the wild. No, I mean there's Motors on both sides of those portage's why would anything be changed it because of the way a person is access in that Wilderness. These are 18 or so that have dozen lakes that are motorized on the periphery of The Boundary Waters with 1100 lakes that are paddle only. Rachel let's continue our conversation. Let's move from the mechanize portage's to users feet because that's something that is brand new this year for the first time. Do you want to go into the Boundary Waters canoe area. It's going to cost you and not cost you just for the reservation which is what we've gotten used to the last number of years. We have to pay now. It's a new program this year. It's something that we thought long and hard about as we talked at the beginning of the program. We have a lot of use in The Boundary Waters in recent years went to a designated campsites out in the wilderness and we have over 2,000 that we maintain an and take care of Elsa have over a hundred and sixty miles of portage's that we take care of an F course. Those are the places where we see the most impact from all those people that impact is not particularly on the water, but when they're actually on the on the ground using those portage's or the campsites, Can one of the challenges is to be able to manage that heavy used in a way that protects those resources and we felt that we did not have the Personnel or the funds we needed to to do a good job and be able to protect those resources in an art races were to seek some other sources of funding to do that work or to look at limited use Wii this year have a budget of about tell 1.7 million dollars. And then with the user fees will be on top of that. I depending on how much money actually comes in from those user fees. What is the user Spate? The user fee is $10 per person per trip. So if you went for a weekend or for 2 weeks would cost you $10. Now. There's also a reduced fee for children 18 or under 18 and for senior citizens that qualify for a Golden Age Passport. What are you expecting to take in this year? Have we projected approximately 1.2 or 1.3 million and at last count and we collected approximately 800000. CERN Gary and John about how that money is going to be used. I'm sure if you two could split it up and figure out how it's going to be used. You'd have some ideas what needs to be done there with his one point something billion dollars that might come in through users face or think the legislation mandates that at least 80% of the funds be spent on maintaining the resource. This money could have to go to Washington to buy more desks or something like that then I think that's that's good my fur my belief probably Gary does to I mostly Outfitters support a user fee. It's one way of assuring the fact that there is some money available to maintain the resource left to my own devices. I would send as many people out in the woods that I possibly could with with very little regard to what might happen up there because I'm in a competitive business. The user fee the the quotas and permits. These are things that are mandated and they they are administered equally to all of us. None of us have an advantage over the other person. Were you hoping that it would most of our customers are happy to pay it once you explain the reason for it, they haven't complained. We've had down very few negative comments on the user fee, but lots of positive comments people agreeing with it that they would like to see the money go to maintain the resource right in just the fact that there is a user fee. I think with a feeling that people may appreciate something more if there is a a value placed on it. Who do our phone calls we have Kelly from Osseo on the line with us Kelly? Good morning. I have two questions today. First one mainly goes out to the Outfitters. And the second question is for everyone off. First question is what percent of your business is from elsewhere in the US outside of Minnesota. And how much of it is international business II keeps a very good track on those things. In fact, you kind of came up for me a profile of the bwca user what I look like how old he was but let's talk in terms of national International. What if you got just give us some estabas actually over half the use is coming from people in Minnesota and then going beyond that. From the rest of the US. It's still predominantly the Midwest but there are people coming from every state in the US and we know that international use is increasing somewhat, but it's still a relatively small percent of the use Your next question serve. My second question is can the Ely area and the bwca and a larger crowds. Is it over crowded now? And if so, what if anything should be done? I think in terms of a 200,000 people that come in actually the usage in The Boundary Waters when you look at the long-term chart, it has not changed tremendously. It's not like something that's doubled in size shirts doubling the next year. It's remained not precisely the same very much the same really the bwca can handle Mario's. We hope that are protecting the area by implementing the quota system when we think that's happening. So as long as we stay under the quotas, we should be protecting all those values that people are seeking and actually if you look at the use compared to the quote availability right now, we're only using 65 to maybe 70% of the quote is so there is room for more growth, but they're very likely is not room for growth on, you know, the the last weekend July the first couple weeks in August, probably not on Friday Saturday Sunday Monday, probably not. Done some of those key weekends. Probably not on overnight motor use to Basswood Lake those quarters are all full but there is room for growth on other days of the week other seasons of the year, and it's some of the less popular entry point. We are out of time this morning colors. For those of you that have waited. So patiently on the line. I'm sorry. We were not able to take your phones this morning. We are halfway through this Main Street broadcast from Ely Gerry gostenik John Waters Barb Soderberg and Mark Van Every. Thank you for being with us next hour. We'll turn our attention to the town of healing when the legislation passed 20 years ago restricting motorized access to the Boundary Waters. Some people predicted. The biggest victim would be the town of Ely. It hasn't happened instead of drawing up Heelys enjoying a remarkable Renaissance. Why does change make some communities but break others? It's all I had is we continue our Main Street special after the news. 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