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8th Circuit Court Ruling on Homeowner and Resort Owner Exemptions in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued a ruling which disagreed with the Forest Service's interpretation and management of the exemption found in the 1978 BWCA Wilderness Act for homeowners, resort owners, and their guests. The BWCAW Management Plan defined the phrase, "that particular lake," by treating certain chains of lakes as one lake. Based on this definition, the Moose Lake chain (comprised of Moose, Sucker, Newfound, and Birch lakes), Farm Lake chain (comprised of White Iron, Farm, South Farm, and Garden), and Saganaga (including Gull Lake and Seagull River) were each considered to be one lake and permits were not required for homeowners, resort owners, and their guests on any of the lakes in a group. The 8th Circuit Court disagreed with this definition and stated, "it is clear to us from the context that each individually-named lake is to be considered a "particular lake." As a result of this ruling, homeowners, resort owners, and their guests are now only exempt from permits on the specific lake or river where their property is located. For example, homeowners and resort owners with property on Moose Lake are now exempt from permits on Moose Lake ONLY and must obtain a permit for motorized day use of Newfound or Sucker Lakes. We recognize and appreciate the effect this may have on many of you, as day use motor permits are limited for these lakes and demand will be high.

Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness

For more information on this ruling, contact the Superior National Forest, 8901 Grand Avenue Place, Duluth, MN 55808, (218) 626-4300.

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