Upgrades to the reservation system for permits, camping and more at national parks and forests launch early next week, and they will affect trips into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in 2019.
While the changes were telegraphed earlier this year, the U.S. Forest Service issued more details Friday about the impact on BWCA permit process. The upgrade marks the end of any BWCA lottery system, which was retained after changes in 2012 for only a handful of entry points. The lottery system for motorboat use to enter two separate bays at Basswood Lake and a couple of neighboring lakes also will cease.
The changes to the reservation website, recreation.gov, launch Monday. Kris Reichenbach, a Forest Service spokeswoman in Duluth, said the refurbished site will better-protect users’ personal information and communicate more thoroughly with trip-planners.
Reichenbach said lottery systems were set up for fairness “a couple of generations back,” but new technology can handle more requests faster and more efficiently. “When people log in they will know immediately if they got (the permit),” she said.
The permit “quota season,” which runs from May 1 through Sept. 30, is first-come, first-served. Beginning Jan. 30, 2019, people will reserve any permit for any entry point at recreation.gov. The reservation hotline is (877) 444-6777.
Here is a glance at other details from the Forest Service:
-The upgraded recreation.gov launches Monday, but visitors will not be able to create a new account or access an existing account until Oct. 5.
-The reservation fee for a quota permit next year will drop from $10 to $6. That includes “walk-ins” and motorboat permits, Reichenbach said.
-Permit holders must input a valid e-mail address to make a reservation.
The BWCA attracts more than 100,000 visitors a year, the majority of the use during the quota season from May 1 to Sept. 30. In the latest federal report on BWCA trends, there were 25,898 permits issued for 105,163 visitors in 2016.