Ah.. Wilderness. Based on the ongoing discussion here, I looked up the Act and at amendments.
There seems to be a 1978 amendment on the Boundary Waters that said existing motorized boat use could continue.
Then I looked up the current status and it looks like there is a court case to reduce the number of motorized towboats.
“Older visitors and visitors with limited mobility-use towboats, and an injunction would risk reducing these visitors’ opportunities to experience the BWCAW,” Brasel wrote in her 27-page decision on the injunction. “Moreover, a total ban would likely disrupt Forest Service’s work of gathering and analyzing data regarding motorboat and towboat usage.”
The judge had ordered Wilderness Watch and the U.S. Forest Service, which manages the BWCAW, to work out an agreement on towboat use before a trial is held. But the two sides so far haven’t been able to agree on how much use is too much, and Brasel said she wouldn’t make that ruling at this point.
“Because the record is completely muddled as to how such a limit should be calculated, the Court declines to pick what would be an arbitrary number,” Brasel noted. “But a limit may be appropriate upon a further‐developed record.”
To me, it seems like the court case should start a public process in deciding how many boats and where, with NEPA and public comment. Such decisions, about federal lands, would be best informed by all the experiences, views and research that can be brought to bear not a few folks in a closed room. That’s how it often works.. litigation kicks off a public process, and doesn’t replace one.