Some of Boundary Waters to reopen amid firefighting progress

Published 5:38 pm Friday, September 3, 2021

DULUTH — Parts of the popular Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness will reopen Saturday as firefighters make progress fighting wildfires in northeastern Minnesota.

The Superior National Forest is lifting the  full closure  of the Boundary Waters and the Crooked Lake area near the fires in Canada. The closure had dealt a blow to tourists who spend months planning trips to Boundary Waters and to the outfitters and other businesses that serve them.

The national forest also was slightly modifying closure maps for the Greenwood fire, and the John Ek and Whelp fires. The closure of U.S. Forest Service land at the Upper Gunflint Trail remains in place, the  Star Tribune reported.

“We’re thrilled to reopen some of our public lands to visitors. The drought is not over, but we’re starting to see more rain and lower temperatures. These conditions moderate fire activity and lessen the chance of new fires showing up,” Connie Cummins, supervisor for the Superior National Forest, said in a statement Wednesday.

The fire in the Superior National Forest remained 37% contained Wednesday. Sixty-five fires in the forest have burned about 45 square miles (116 square kilometers), officials said Thursday. Twenty-nine of those fires were caused by people and the rest by lightning.

Clark McCreedy, spokesman for the interagency team managing the fire, said he was “feeling very good about what’s been accomplished so far.” He said he expects the fire to be mostly under control long before October.

The Greenwood fire is now expected to be brought under complete control by Oct. 10, a month later than earlier forecast, officials said Wednesday.