In the latest chapter of an on-going saga rankling local residents and outfitters, the U.S. Forest Service will not adjust permit quotas for motorboats on the Moose Lake to Prairie Portage chain of lakes leading into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness near Ely, MN.
The Ely Echo reports on the story HERE.
The Forest Service was compelled by a 2006 court decision directing it to redetermine the quota numbers based on the amount of motorboat usage on the chain of lakes between 1976 and 1978, prior to the establishment of the BWCAW. The Forest Service said last week, however, that it did not find information that would improve upon its previous calculations which the court found “arbitrary and capricious.”
Motorboat quotas for the Moose Lake Chain will remain at the levels in force prior to the Forest Services’ recalculation of the quotas in 2002 — namely, 538 for the Moose Lake Chain, 267 for South Farm Lake, and 1,571 for Saganaga Lake.
It is unclear whether additional legal actions will push the controversial issue deeper into its second decade of dispute.
After the establishment of the BWCAW in 1979, homeowners and resort owners on Moose Lake were issued stickers allowing access onto the BWCAW’s motor-legal waters. After a 1999 Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals decision said that individual lakes connected by water passage should not be considered as one continuous lake, day-use motor permits were no longer set aside for residents or resort guests.
In 2002, the Forest Service increased the number of day-use motor permits to account for the usage by the formerly “stickered” boats. In 2003, however, the Friends of the Boundary Waters and the Sierra Club sued the Forest Service over the permit increase, leading to the 2006 decision. With the Forest Service’s recent move, quotas revert to levels that local residents and outfitter find restrictive.
The multiple use advocacy group, Conservationists with Common Sense, said it was disappointed with the Forest Service’s recent decision to drop attempts to recalculate the quota. The group said it would discuss its next course of action among board members and its legal counsel.