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Emergency Closure Imposed for Superior National Forest Following Devastating Storm



The Superior National Forest, a sprawling expanse of pristine wilderness in northern Minnesota, has been subjected to an emergency closure due to the severe impacts of a recent storm. The closure, announced on June 25, 2024, encompasses key areas of the forest affected by downed trees, compromised infrastructure, and hazardous conditions.

Affected Areas

The emergency closure order covers numerous zones within the Superior National Forest, including:

  • Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW)
  • Isabella Lake
  • Seagull Lake
  • Saganaga Lake
  • Poplar Lake
  • Little Indian Sioux River
  • Kawishiwi River
  • Vermilion Lake
  • Pike Bay
  • Sucker Bay
  • Echo Bay
  • McFarland Lake

Reasons for Closure

The storm, characterized by high winds and torrential rainfall, caused widespread damage throughout the forest. As a result, the following hazards necessitate the closure:

  • Downed Trees: The storm toppled countless trees, creating obstructions and impeding access to hiking trails, campgrounds, and waterways.
  • Bridge Damage: Several bridges have been compromised, making them unsafe for vehicle traffic and potentially restricting access to remote areas.
  • Washed-Out Roads: Heavy rainfall has washed out roads in various locations, further limiting transportation options.
  • Debris Accumulation: The storm generated significant debris, including downed branches, logs, and uprooted vegetation, which poses safety risks to visitors.

Closure Duration

The emergency closure will remain in effect until further notice. The Forest Service is actively assessing the extent of the damage and working to restore affected areas as quickly and safely as possible.

Exceptions to the Closure

Certain exceptions to the closure have been granted:

  • Essential Travel: Individuals engaged in essential travel, such as emergency responders, law enforcement officers, and utility workers, are permitted to access closed areas.
  • Adjacent Communities: Residents of communities adjacent to closed areas may access their properties via designated routes.
  • Existing Permits: Holders of valid permits for BWCAW entry or backcountry camping are allowed to continue their trips as planned. However, they are advised to exercise extreme caution and be prepared for potential hazards.

Public Safety Precautions

The Forest Service urges the public to adhere to the emergency closure and avoid entering affected areas. Visitors should take the following precautions:

  • Obey Closure Signs: Respect the closure boundaries and do not trespass into closed areas.
  • Stay Informed: Check official sources, such as the Superior National Forest website or social media pages, for updates on the closure status.
  • Report Hazards: If you encounter downed trees or other hazards, report them to the Forest Service at the Ely Ranger Station (218-365-7200).
  • Exercise Caution: If you are venturing into open areas within the forest, be aware of potential risks and take appropriate safety measures.

Restoration Efforts

The Forest Service is prioritizing restoration efforts to mitigate the impacts of the storm. Crews are working diligently to:

  • Remove downed trees and clear debris.
  • Repair damaged bridges and roads.
  • Restore access to affected areas.

The public is encouraged to support these efforts by respecting the closure and reporting any hazards they encounter.

Additional Information

For more information on the emergency closure and restoration efforts, please contact the:

  • Ely Ranger Station: (218) 365-7200
  • Superior National Forest Website:
  • Forest Service Social Media Pages: Facebook (@superiornf) and Twitter (@SuperiorNF)

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