BWCA Rules and Regulations

BWCAW Rules and Regulations

These are the basics.  For more complete details as well as up to date fee information, check out the U.S. Forest Service Reservations web page.

The following are enforceable Forest Service regulations (maximum penalty of $5,000 and/or 6 months in jail).  In other words, follow the rules to keep from getting in deep doo-doo.

Travel Permits
You must enter the BWCAW at the entry point and on the entry date shown on your permit.  You may not re-enter on a different date using the same permit.  Permit stubs become invalid when the group leader exits the wilderness.

Group Size
Nine (9) people and four watercraft are the maximum allowed together in the wilderness.  You may not exceed the limit at any time or anywhere (on water, portages or campsites) in the BWCAW.

Toilet Facilities & Water Quality
1) Use latrines at designated campsites.  They are typically a short walk back in the forest.  Latrines are not garbage cans and should be used for the intended purpose only. Personal waste items such as cigarette butts, cotton swabs, or plastic feminine products should always be packed out and should never go into the latrines.

If you're not near a latrine and nature calls, dig a small hole 6 to 8 inches deep at least 150-200 feet or more back from the water's edge. When finished, fill hole and cover with needles and leaves.

Bathe and wash dishes at least 150-200 feet from lakes and streams.  All soaps pollute water including soaps labeled "biodegradable” so don’t use them.

Cans and glass bottles are not allowed.  Containers of fuel, insect repellent, medicines, personal toilet articles, and other items that are not foods or beverages are the only cans and bottles you may keep in their original containers.  Food may be packaged in plastic containers that must be packed out with you.

Food and Fish Remains
Don’t burn your leftover food.  Bears love burnt food.  Pack it out.  Dispose of fish remains by traveling well away from campsites, trails, portages and shorelines.  Placing fish remains on exposed rock will allow gulls and eagles to easily find the fish remains.  Do not throw fish remains in the lake.

Fires are allowed within the steel fire grates at designated campsites or as specifically approved on your visitor's permit.  Bringing a small camp stove may be a better idea because it heats food more quickly, has less impact than a fire, and comes in handy during rainy weather.  Due to the potential fire danger, fire restrictions may be put into effect. Check on current conditions just prior to your trip. You may be required to use a camp stove if there is a campfire restriction.

If you build a fire, burn only small diameter dead wood found lying on the ground. It is illegal to cut live vegetation for any reason.  Collect firewood away from campsites by paddling down the shore and walking into the woods where it is more abundant.  Drown your fire with water any time you are going to be away from your camp or at bedtime. Stir the ashes until they are cold to the touch with a bare hand.

All members of a permit group must camp together.  Camp only at Forest Service designated campsites that have steel fire grates and wilderness latrines.  Make camp early in the day to ensure finding an available campsite.

PMA #1: Weeny PMA #4: Tick PMA #7: Pitfall PMA #10: Hairy
PMA #2: Canthook PMA #5: Spider PMA #8: Mugwump PMA #11: Weasel
PMA #3: Sundial PMA #6: Drag PMA #9: Humpback PMA #12: Fungus
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