The U.S. Forest Service’s (USFS) recent decision to change the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) reservation system from a lottery system to a first-come, first-served basis has had devastating consequences for those living and working in northeast Minnesota.

Only hours after the new reservation system went live, it was overwhelmed by the number of people trying to get on at once and subsequently crashed.

Almost immediately after the crash, my office was inundated with calls from outdoor enthusiasts and outfitters who were upset because they could not reserve permits for their families and clients. Only 1,400 of the tens of thousands of permits available were allocated.

When I learned of the system crash, I quickly demanded answers from USFS officials, who assured me that the new system would be back up and running before no time. Unfortunately, the new system did not relaunch for months and at that point, outfitters were hemorrhaging money.

To help remedy this catastrophe, I introduced H.R. 1475, the Letting Outdoor Tourism Thrive for Every Recreation Yearly (LOTTERY) Act. This legislation would return the BWCA reservation portal back to the successful lottery system by 2020.

This past week, I had the chance to testify in the House Natural Resources Committee on my legislation’s importance. I also had the chance to relay my disappointment to a top USFS official over the misguided decision to change the reservation system and their lack of action after the new system began to negatively impact hundreds.

Minnesotans are sick of government bureaucrats making decisions that hinder, rather than help them in their daily lives. I made it clear to the USFS that they work for the American people and they should begin to listen to public input before they make these decisions.

Bill to help small businesses succeed

Small businesses are one of the main pillars of our economy and should be allowed to thrive. That’s why I am pleased that the House recently passed my legislation to help open the door for small business success.

My Clarifying the Small Businesses Runway Extension Act would ensure growing small firms are given additional time to classify as a small business, so they can more easily compete for Small Business Administration (SBA) benefits like loans and federal contracts.

By guaranteeing small businesses don’t get bumped out of the small business category before they are ready, we are setting the stage for businesses to succeed and I am proud to see this commonsense legislation head to the Senate.

As a former small business owner, I am all too familiar with the barriers that have prevented so many small businesses from succeeding and remain committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to eliminate these roadblocks.

Calling all interns

My Washington, D.C. office is currently accepting applications for fall interns. Our internships allow students in college a firsthand look into the inner workings of our nation’s Capital and the legislative branch.