Chain of Lakes Motor Permits

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Chain of Lakes Motor Permits

Postby bwca » Sat Feb 03, 2007 5:43 pm

2 messages in topic
1 magdalene 2006-02-27 23:01
Posted on Thu, Feb. 16, 2006
Increase in motorboat permits struck down
BY DENNIS LIEN Pioneer PressThe

U.S. Forest Service improperly tripled the number of day-use motorboat permits on three popular lake chains on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a federal appeals court concluded Wednesday.
The three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the agency had acted arbitrarily in determining those permit quotas and must recalculate them.
The decision affirms a lower court ruling two years ago that the agency was wrong to increase the number of annual day-use motor permits on the Moose, Farm and Saganaga lake chains from 2,376 to 6,892.
The agency increased the number in 2002 to give local cabin owners and resorts better access.
The agency has since dropped the number of permits to pre-2002 levels.
The chains include lakes on the edge of and within the BWCA where motors still are allowed.
Seven environmental and conservation groups sued, saying the agency's recalculation violated a 1978 compromise restricting motorized use within the wilderness. After the lower court sided with environmentalists, the agency appealed.
The appeals court reversed one district court decision, saying the agency had the authority to recalculate the numbers provided it used reliable data.
The Forest Service could not be reached for comment. Environmental groups, however, praised the decision.
"The Forest Service has been told they can't do sloppy work like this, said Becky Rom, an Ely, Minn., native and an honorary member of the board of the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, one of the plaintiffs.
"The court has said, 'Go back yet again and recalculate with input from the various stakeholders,' said Betsy Schmiesing, one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs.
In addition to the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, the plaintiffs include the Sierra Club North Star Chapter, Superior Wilderness Action Network, American Lands Alliance, Minnesota Canoe Association, American Canoe Association and Minnesotans for Responsible Recreation.
Dennis Lien can be reached at or 651-228-5588.

2 paddlerjimmy 2006-03-03 13:28
Chain of Lakes decision good
Cook County News-Herald
Last Updated: Thursday, March 02nd, 2006 11:20:01 AM

The question has been asked, how the U.S. Court of Appeals ruling in the Chain of Lakes case is a win for the Forest Service and Conservationists with Common Sense (CWCS)?
The Forest Service, with CWCS as intervenors, appealed the U.S. District Court?s ruling on two counts ? that the Forest Service didn?t have the right to recalculate the Chain of Lakes permits to correct an error; and the recalculation was arbitrary and capricious.
The U.S. Court of Appeals reversed the first count, stating the USFS has authority to recalculate the base period use to correct a significant legal error made as a result of the 1999 Dombeck ruling. So, this ruling is in the Forest Service?s and CWCS?s favor ? a win.
The Dombeck ruling redefined ?that particular lake? to mean just the first lake of each chain, not the entire chain of lakes. For more than 20 years the Forest Service had interpreted ?that particular lake? to mean the entire chain. Resorts, outfitters and property owners had been exempted from needing a permit when they traveled the entire chain of lakes. They received a sticker for their boats instead. This was part of the compromise of the 1978 BWCA Wilderness Act.
The Dombeck ruling restricted that exemption to just the first lake of each chain, thus a permit is now required to access the remainder of the chain of lakes to the first portage. There were never any permits allocated for any of the chain of lakes, and that is why the Forest Service had to recalculate the permit quotas, to correct this error.
On the second count, the Court of Appeals ruled that the method the Forest Service used to recalculate the base period permits for each of the three Chain of Lakes (Moose Lake, Farm Lake and Seagull River chains) was unreliable or inadequately explained, thus upholding the District Court?s ruling that the way in which the Forest Service conducted the recalculations was arbitrary and capricious.
But, the Court of Appeals then ruled: Having determined the USFS improperly recalculated the base period use, we conclude the USFS must recalculate the quotas consistent with BWCAW Act and the views expressed herein.
We consider this another win. The permit quotas for the Chain of Lakes will be recalculated, but there will be a delay as to when they will be added.
CWCS looks forward to working with the Forest Service in recalculating the number of permits for the three Chain of Lakes.
I hope this clarifies things for everyone.
Nancy McReady, president
Conservationists With
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Postby PaddlerJimmy » Sun Apr 27, 2008 11:34 am

Lawsuits making BWCA unmanageable
By Letter to the editor from Nancy McReady- Ely, Minn.
TimberJay Newspaper

The issue of correcting the BWCA motor permit system for “The Chain of Lakes” continues to drag on.
These permits have been managed incorrectly by the US Forest Service at least since 1999, when Conservationists With Common Sense became involved in this issue. This incorrect management was the result of a lawsuit by extreme environmental groups that want to eliminate motor use in the Boundary Waters. These environmental groups have attempted to curtail this use that was spelled out by the 1978 BWCAW Act.

First, these groups were able to get a court to rule that property owners and their guests on the affected lake chains were no longer exempt from the permit system on the entire lake chains. These were people who the US Forest Service had considered exempt from permits on those lake chains for over 20 years.

Since the 1978 Law stated that the quota use in the BWCA was to be based on the actual use that existed in 1976-78, the USFS then attempted to reconstruct the quota system to account for the use that was not originally included for these previously exempt user groups. Environmental groups again pursued legal action, this time with the unbelievable logic that even if the system was now incorrectly managed, that the Forest Service only had one chance to come up with that quota and that they couldn’t correct it even with the changed situations making the system inconsistent with the other quotas governing the BWCA. The court ruled that the Forest Service was within their authority to reconstruct the quota, and that they were to work with the affected parties to come up with a correction to the quota system at the earliest time possible.

With all of the delays that we have experienced, it now appears that it will be years before a correction is completed. CWCS and the politicians representing them, must now ask some pointed questions. How could the Forest Service management system have become so dysfunctional that it can take this long to correct a problem that has been defined by both the US Forest Service and the court system? It is a problem that our leaders need to address.

This situation exists not only with this particular issue, but with most uses of the Superior National Forest that don’t meet the strict guidelines of extreme preservation groups. Their never ending lawsuits—the Chain of Lakes, Echo Trail Management, and South Fowl Snowmobile Trail—are hamstringing the agencies charged with managing this resource. Without some changes, the management of these forests will continue to be as costly and dysfunctional as it is today.

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