Wilderness Watch recently weighed in against human meddling inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW)—one of the most popular and well-visited areas in the entire National Wilderness Preservation System. In the Hi Lo Project, located along the Echo Trail road north of the town of Ely, Minnesota, the Forest Service proposes to intentionally ignite 1,314 acres of forest inside the BWCAW. The agency also proposes to conduct road construction and logging in most of the five roadless areas along the wilderness boundary in the project area. In our comments, we pointed out that the proposed prescribed burning would not be done for any wilderness purposes, nor are they the minimum necessary for the administration of the area as Wilderness, but rather to “harden” the wilderness boundaries to try to prevent future fires inside the BWCAW from burning outside of the Wilderness. While we support allowing lightning-caused fires to play their ecological and evolutionary roles inside the BWCAW, the proposed prescribed fires do not have the same ecological effects and are striking examples of the human meddling and manipulation that the 1964 Wilderness Act was passed to prevent.
Photo: Brian Hoffman via Flickr