Wilderness Visitor Use Monitoring Volunteers

People travel from across the country visit the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). Some seek a place separated from the modern world within the 1 million acres of undeveloped forest and water, where they can gain a sense of solitude and connect with nature. With more than 150,000 annual visitors, the chance of encountering another person is likely in the more popular areas of the BWCAW and in some cases this can change the dynamics of a wilderness trip.

In an effort to better understand the use that is occurring in the Wilderness, visitor use monitoring is conducted on an annual basis. This activity helps the US Forest Service to determine the opportunities for solitude or likelihood of encountering other people within the BWCAW. 

To follow the Superior National Forest's protocols for producing statistically valid information, volunteers will be assigned a travel route and date to conduct monitoring. Volunteers will spend part of the time monitoring use from a campsite and while travelling. 


If you have a group of two people who are interested in giving something back on your trip into the BWCAW, this is the volunteer opportunity for you!


What is expected of Visitor Use Monitoring Volunteers?

  • Be self-sufficient in the BWCAW.
  • Provide the gear needed to travel and camp in the BWCAW or rent through an outfitter.
  • Work in groups of two.
  • Perform monitoring activities for 8 hours on the day(s) indicated in the designated location (details below).
  • Follow monitoring protocol.
  • Perform daily check-ins with the Northwoods Volunteer Connection using the provided satellite communication device.
  • Follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles.


    Daily Schedule for Visitor Use Monitoring Volunteers

    • AM - Spend 2 hours in camp documenting any people you heard or see at campsites or on the water.
    • Travel the designated route (either around the lake you are camped on or to one or more adjacent lakes) documenting any people you see or hear.
    •  PM - Spend 2 hours in camp documenting any people you heard or see at campsites or on the water.


    Visitor Use Monitoring Volunteers receive...

    • Map of the area to be monitored.
    • Satellite communication device for check-ins and emergencies.
    • Waived entry permit fee (for groups with only two people).
    • Food reimbursements of $25/day (for the day monitoring takes place and 1/2 of the day before and after)
    • Some camping equipment may be available for use from the Northwoods Volunteer Connection depending on the timing of monitoring trips.


    Monitoring Dates and Locations

    More dates and locations may be available. Please fill out an interest form below and indicate your preference of dates and/or location.

    Tofte/Gunflint Ranger Districts

    06/01/17    Seagull
    06/03/17    Long Island
    06/27/17    Lizz to Winchell
    07/04/17    Tuscarora
    07/22/17    Long Island
    09/18/17    Kawishiwi to Malberg
    09/21/17    Long Island

    Kawishiwi Ranger District (Ely)

    05/13/17    Crooked Lake
    05/20/17    Basswood River
    06/30/17    Crooked Lake
    06/19/17    Hegman/Angleworm
    07/18/17    Gabbro/Bald Eagle
    07/21/17    West Knife
    08/03/17    Ima Lake
    08/28/17    Basswood River
    09/19/17    Knife Lake

    LaCroix Ranger District

    05/22/17    Iron Lake
    05/29/17    Shell Lake
    06/03/17    Shell Lake
    06/07/17    Nina Moose Lake
    06/29/17    Lake Agnes
    07/05/17    Trout Lake
    07/30/17    Lady Boot to Boulder Bay of Lac La Croix
    08/09/17    Slim Lake
    08/11/17    Shell Lake
    08/25/17    Lake Agnes
    08/29/17    Eugene, Beartrack, Takucmich Lakes
    09/15/17    Iron Lake
    09/24/17    Hustler-Oyster Lakes






    Visitor Use Monitoring Interest Form

    Name *
    Phone number
    Phone number
    Do you already have a permit reservation? *
    If there is a specific lake or entry point area you'd like to work in please list it here. We cannot guarantee that there will be a need in the area selected.
    Monitoring volunteers are required to work in groups of two. Please list the name and email address of the person you will be working with.