The Administration opposes S. 783, which would prevent the phasing out of
motorized river craft on Seagull Lake, Minnesota, within the Boundary
Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) and reopen three portages in the area
to use by motorized vehicles. The BWCAW is a unique part of the National
Wilderness Preservation System. It is the largest wilderness east of the
Mississippi, consisting of over one million acres of lakes, streams, and
forests and it is the most heavily used wilderness in the United States.
This high level of use necessitates careful consideration of all decisions
by land mangers in order to balance public access needs with natural
The phase-out of motorized river craft on Seagull Lake, scheduled for 1999,
would help to preserve the natural resources of the BWCAW while maintaining
reasonable motorized access to the area. The three portages that would be
reopened by S. 783 were closed to motorized use by court order several
years ago. Closure of the portages has not unreasonably restricted access
to any of the lakes within the BWCAW as users have either continued to
transport their boats over the portages by non-motorized means or found
alternative routes. The quality of the wilderness setting has improved by
the portages? closure.
The current management plan for the BWCAW strikes a careful balance between
public access needs and natural resources protection. The Administration
is committed to continuing to manage the BWCAW in a way that both protects
its unique resources and provides for their use and enjoyment within the
laws that govern the management of our Nation?s natural resources.
S. 783 would affect off-setting receipts; therefore, it is subject to the
pay-as-you-go requirement of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990.
OMB?s preliminary scoring estimate of this bill is that any scoring
implications would be negligible.