State Wilderness

The State Wilderness toolbox provides information useful for managers of state wilderness areas and for managers of federal wilderness areas adjacent to or near state areas. Overviews of state wilderness areas are provided through published articles. Contact us to suggest new materials for inclusion.


Minnesota Designates Some State Wilderness in BWCAW

Taken from the Announcement and Wilderness Calendar section of the International Journal of Wilderness 9 [2]: 43-44) In the spring of 2003, the Minnesota Legislature debated the fate of more than 100,000 acres of state-owned land within the 1.1 million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) in northeastern Minnesota. Some northern Democratic state legislators want to force the U.S. Forest Service to exchange the 93,000 acres of state school trust fund land within the BWCAW for most of the federally-owned lands of Superior National Forest outside the wilderness. One such lawmaker also pushed legislation to auction off some of this school trust land within the BWCAW to the highest bidder. These proposals did not ultimately succeed, but an amendment proposed by a Republican state legislator from the Twin Cities region during the debate did remain in the final law signed by the governor. This amendment designates state acquired lands within the BWCAW as state wilderness, the first time that Minnesota has ever designated state wilderness under the statute adopted in 1975 (also see Dawson and Thorndike, 2002, State-Designated Wilderness Programs in the United States, IJW 8 [3]: 21-26). The new state wilderness lands within the BWCAW include about 18,000 acres of land from the Burntside State Forest in the Little Sious Unit of the BWCAW. The fate of the 93,000 acres of school trust land in the Boundary Waters, however, remains undecided. Source: Kevin Proescholdt (e-mail: