Visitors to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness no longer will have to deal with a lottery to get a permit to enter the 1 million acre wilderness in northern Minnesota.
The U.S. Forest Service is dropping the lottery system next year, and will instead offer permits on a first-come, first-served basis.
“Because of current technology and improvements to our reservation system, the lottery is no longer necessary,’’ Jim Sanders, Superior National Forest supervisor, said in a recent letter to BWCA visitors.
The agency had used a lottery from Dec. 1 to Jan. 15 to help distribute permits, especially for high-demand entry points and dates, such as holidays. About 9,000 people applied for permits during the lottery period. When the lottery period ended, permits then were distributed on a first-come basis.
“There’s so very few dates where there isn’t some availability, and very few entry points with that high level of demand, that it just doesn’t seem to be in best interest of anyone to keep the lottery,’’ said Kris Reichenbach, Superior National Forest spokeswoman.
About 250,000 people visit the wilderness area yearly — about half of them Minnesotans.
Under the Forest Service proposal, the agency would begin accepting reservations online or by phone on Jan. 25.

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