Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

BWCAW Collaborative Meets in Duluth

Duluth, MN – May 7, 2024 – The Superior National Forest (SNF) in partnership with the John S. McCain III National Center for Environmental Conflict Resolution (National Center) held the first in-person meeting for the new Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) Collaborative in Duluth on April 24, 2024, with 28 of the 31 members in attendance.

Seth Cohen and Lauren Nutter, Facilitators from the National Center, began the meeting by reviewing the current agenda, discussing the Charter, the decision-making process, meeting attendance and the agenda development process. Members first spent some time getting to know one another by sharing experiences and connections to particular places in the BWCAW. They reflected from the standpoint of recreationalists, nearby home or cabin owners, gateway community members, State and Federal partners, outfitters who serve thousands of visitors, and as educators who have helped youth and adults experience and learn about the Wilderness.

Peter Taylor, Forest Planner, SNF, provided a presentation and fielded questions from the group on the BWCAW Forest Plan Amendment, in the Public Engagement process with public comment through May 17. The presentation reiterated the topics and information provided during the Projects Virtual Open House on April 18. (A video of that presentation is available on the Project Page: BWCAW Forest Plan Amendment Project Page)

The Collaborative then moved on to discuss initial ‘BWCAW Topic Priorities and Next Steps’ which included:

• Accessibility and Access,

• Permits and Reservation System,

• Fire Management,

• Impacts and restrictions outside the Wilderness lines due to the Wilderness,

• Water quality, climate change, and aquatic invasive species (AIS),

• Labor and Workforce,

• Motorized use and Towboats

These topics may serve as a basis for voluntary Collaborative member working groups with support from SNF subject matter experts and the National Center facilitators. The National Center will also work with SNF to gather information and data as requested on these topics, and they may reach out to members to help identify data needs and gaps. Several action items were noted for follow up.

"There is great interest from the group to keep the momentum by meeting four times a year and engaging on specific topics," says Tom Hall, Forest Supervisor, SNF, "we all agreed that the Collaborative is coming together in a meaningful way and we truly appreciate everyone's energy to help increase understanding, stay informed, and contribute to better management of the BWCAW."

Detailed notes from all meetings are available for public reference after they are finalized by Collaborative members. Meeting notes are posted to the Superior National Forest website, BWCAW Collaborative page: https://www.fs.usda.gov/BWCAWcollaborative

Background: In 2023 the Superior National Forest (SNF) and the John S. McCain III National Center for Environmental Conflict Resolution (National Center), a program of the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation (Udall Foundation), conducted a Situational Assessment for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). The creation of the new BWCAW Collaborative (Collaborative) is the result of an Assessment Report published June 2023. The Collaborative is uniquely structured by diverse membership categories (based on BWCAW audiences), seating 2-3 representatives for each category.

If you questions about this news release, please contact Joy VanDrie at joy.vandrie@usda.gov from the SNF. If you have any questions about the Collaborative process, please contact Seth Cohen or Lauren Nutter from the National Center at bwcawcollaborative@udall.gov.

 

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