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Superior National Forest closes BWCA due to fires, drought

With fire crews stretched thin, the closure is meant to help focus resources on various wildfires.

DULUTH, Minn. — Editor's note: The video above originally aired on Aug. 18. 

The Superior National Forest is closing the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness due to fire activity, drought, and "limited resources," officials said Saturday.

The closure starts Saturday and will be in place through Aug. 27. It includes all lands, waters, trails, portages, campsite, canoe routes and Wilderness entry points in the BWCA. All overnight paddle, day use and motorized day use is cancelled. 

The Forest Service said all permit holders will be fully reimbursed. Some areas or uses of the BWCA will reopen when safe. 

"With continued fires and a shortage of firefighting resources, these closures allow firefighters to focus on existing fires or new starts without worrying about public safety," a Saturday release from the Forest Service read. 

The Forest Service said "active and increasing" fires dot the landscape. It cited the John Elk Fire, which grew Friday from 3 acres to 1,600 acres, and the Whelp fire, which grew from 30 acres to at least 80 acres. Several other fires are under control but still being monitored. 

Adding to concerns are the fires in Canada, which the Forest Service said still "show movement" toward the U.S. border. 

The largest of the fires burning in northern Minnesota is the lightning-caused Greenwood Fire, which as of Saturday covered more than 9,000 acres. Part of the Forest is also closed due to this fire. 

RELATED: Greenwood Fire grows to more than 9,000 acres in northeastern Minnesota

Credit: USDA Forest Service

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