Notice: I've taken a part-time job, and it's definitely affecting my blogging time. I'll continue to add content here as often as possible. Pertinent guest posts are always welcome.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pettisville Ohio Students Help Spring Clean Buckeye / NC Trails

based on a news article in the Toledo Blade, "Pettisville local schools students take shine to history," by Janet Romaker, Mar 31, 2009

Each year students from Pettisville, Ohio schools spend a day doing service projects. Most of the effort goes to the historic Sauder Village in Archbold, Fulton County, in the northwest corner of Ohio. But just south of their county the concurrent Buckeye and North Country Trails come from the south to Defiance and take a sharp turn to the east on the towpath of the former Miami-Erie Canal.

Students asked if there was anything they could do to help the trail. The Buckeye folks recalled the good job that Pettisville students did two years ago and organized the group of 80 young people to clear portions of the towpath between Napoleon and Grand Rapids. "The previous work ethic of the students opened up the Buckeye Trail opportunity for us this year. We talked about that with the kids, the reason why that happened," teacher Mr. Reid said.

"As students see results of their hard work, "it gives them a sense of accomplishment and they are still learning," he added.

See Buckeye Trail Association

Western Minnesota Trail High on Vergas / Frazee Agendas

Vergas sign
based on a news article in the Frazee Forum, "OGRG discusses campgrounds, trails," Mar 25, 2009

The cities of Vergas and Frazee, Minnesota continue to discuss trail topics. This past week, at the regular session of the Otter Tail Gateway Redevelopment Group (OGRG) several continuing concerns were targeted. These included proposed campgrounds, cleaning of river bottoms and canals, plus extensive tree planting designs for the Otter Tail River.

It's all part of a master plan to route both the North Country Trail and a canoe trail through the two towns. Currently, NCT hikers here must take a road walk. The area is lovely with small lakes, home-town cafes for lunch and pie, roadside sculptures (the largest loon in the world and turkeys in a nod to the local turkey processing industry). But off the highway would be a big improvement and the towns are trying hard to make it a reality.

At this meeting, maps of the NCT and the Heartland trail were examined, but there is a lot of speculation as to just where the trails will enter and exit the town. The Heartland State Trail is a 49-mile multiple-use trail between Park Rapids and Cass Lake. It is expected that some portions will follow the river bottom for a distance. And that brought up the topic of burning the low areas bordering the Otter Tail, cutting brush and later planting hardy, beneficial varieties of trees.

There is also a possibility of a branch trail that would link Perham with Frazee.

See Frazee Focused on Trail Themes
See Frazee Working to Become Trail Town

Monday, March 30, 2009

Wampum Says Thank You with Big Cleanup Day

junk tires beside road
some of the tires pulled from the woods (photo by Wampum Chapter)
submitted by Dave Brewer, co-trail work coordinator, Wampum Chapter

Removed from the woods over the course of the morning of March 28th were over 180 discarded tires, two couches, numerous other pieces of furniture including two television sets, hundreds of feet of canvass hose, a bathroom sink, and sixty garbage bags of assorted small trash items. It was one of the dirtiest trail work sessions that Chapter has ever conducted, with all of the volunteers becoming intimately familiar with what "tire mud" smells and looks like as it covers clothing, hands, and faces. But, as a result, the infamous "mosquitoes of Watt's Mill" will find a lot fewer breeding places this spring and summer.

As permission is granted for new sections of the North Country Trail to be built across public and private land and construction begins, illegal trash dumps are sometimes encountered. The Wampum Pennsylvania Chapter found itself looking at piles of garbage and dozens of discarded tires as it added three-tenths of a mile of new hiking trail through the woods at PA Gamelands 285 and the Dennis and Cathy Garrett property at Watt's Mill last summer and fall. To pay back for the gift of being able to take the trail off of a road walk and into the woods, the Chapter decided to do something about all of that trash littering the landscape.

a volunteer carries tires from the woods
a volunteer carries tires from the woods (photo by Wampum Chapter)
Saturday morning, sixteen volunteers from the Chapter, the Independence Conservancy,, and the local community spent four hours cleaning up that section of new trail, the hillside between it and Watt's Mill Road, and along the banks of the North Fork of Little Beaver Creek. Trash bags, work gloves, and safety equipment were provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation free of charge as the clean up was registered as a Great American Clean Up of PA event. PennDot is also picking up the trash that was retrieved from the woods and piled neatly along the road, and will haul it away free of charge.

At noon, after the troops were retrieved from the woods and hands and faces were cleaned somewhat, a light lunch was provided for all. The morning was capped off by a local resident stopping and thanking the group for all the hard work done to get the area cleaned up. A rewarding finish!

See more about the Wampum Chapter
See more pictures from the work day

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hammondsport NY Trail Plans to Link to FLT/NCT

Keuka Lake
Keuka Lake from the south (photo from Glenn Curtiss Museum)
based on a news article in the Steuben County Courier,"Urbana group proposes long-range land plan," by Rob Price, Mar 22, 2009

The Town of Urbana unveiled a blueprint for the long-range development of public lakefront property in the Village of Hammondsport this week. It includes creation of trail that would link to the North Country/ Finger Lakes Trail near this village in New York's Southern Tier.

If adopted by the town board, the plan includes a coordinated system of public parks linking lakefront property to the Glenn Curtiss Museum. One feature would be a long view of Keuka Lake from the hills on the east side of NY Rte 54. The total length of proposed trails is about eight miles.

The full plan hinges on the building of a bridge over Cold Brook. The bridge is critical to connection Curtiss Park with Champlain Beach, and a link from Depot Park to the Finger Lakes Trail. By this connection one can reach the June Bug Trail and the Curtiss Museum.

Another challenging segment would be switchbacks leading up the face of the hillside facing Route 54. Town Supervisor Gordon Lanphere Friday noted, "A lot of it will depend on costs. This is a long range plan."

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pennsylvania Tour de NCT in PA

red autumn maple in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania hillside on the NCT (photo by JHY)
from John Stehle

Come Join us for a series of monthly hikes on the North Country Trail in Pennsylvania. It's called the "Tour de NCT in PA". We will cover all the non-road portions of the NCT in PA, working alternately from the Ohio border and from the New York border. The typical hike will be between 7 to 12 miles. We may do some car camping and maybe some backpacking. At the end, there will be a special "Tour" patch for everyone who did all the sections during that time period. To be on the regular email for times and places, send your email address to

Stages completed:
Stage 1: On Sunday March 15, 2009 we hiked the first section from the Ohio State line at State Gamelands 285 for 4.1 miles. For those of you who would want to do a make up of that section we will be doing that section again on the Butler Outdoor Club Extravaganza on the Memorial Day weekend. If you want directions and a map for doing this section on your own, let me know.

Planned stages:
Stage 2 of the Tour de NCT in PA is the section from the New York state line in Allegheny National Forest. It will be on Sunday April 19. We will meet at Tracy Ridge Campground on Route 321 at 9:00 AM. We will hike the 11 mile section from Rt's 321 & 346 to Rt 321 to the South. Some of us will be camping at the Tracy Ridge Campground the night before so that we will be ready for a solid day of hiking. There is a one mile section from Rt 321 up to the NY State line which we plan to do the day before to "get our card punched" and so as not to add 2 more miles to the 11 miles already planned for Sunday. If possible, RSVP for planning purposes. If you want to camp with us, or to back pack half way on Saturday or if you want to stay at a local motel let me know so that we can coordinate our activities.

Stage 3: We will soon be planning for the sections near Wampum for May 2009.

John Stehle
Cell 724-256-0674

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Butler Outdoor Extravaganza Includes NCT Events

Butler Outdoor Club
from the web site of the Butler Outdoor Club

The Butler (Pennsylvania) Outdoor Club is once again planning a huge Extravaganza for Memorial Day Weekend. The North Country Trail will be featured for some events, and will benefit from the Gear/Rummage Sale.

Base camp is at Breakneck Campground near Moraine State Park and McConnells Mill State Park. Camping an food are optional. There are a variety of outdoor trips, fun workshops, excursions, and gear exchange / flea market planned for the weekend, along with evening entertainment. There is something for all ages and all interests. Both of these parks are on the North Country Trail (NCTA map PA-03)

NCT Events are:
Hike the North Country Trail in PA from the Ohio State line on State Game lands 285. 4.1 miles going through woods and fields. Much of the trail is along a ridge with several nice overlooks. If we're feeling strong, there's a possible 2 mile extension along a beautiful stretch of the North Fork of the Little Beaver Creek.

Excursion – Tour of Four Historical Structures. First stop is McConnells Mill, nestled amidst striking scenery and the deep gorge of the Slippery Rock Creek, a national natural landmark, the 19th century gristmill is the centerpiece of McConnells Mill State Park. Our guided interpretive tour will bring to life the working grist mill, its history and the historic covered bridge. Next stop will be the old historic oil pump at Moraine State Park, where you will see a demonstration and learn the history of the pump. Then make our way to the 200 year old log cabin house near the North Country National Scenic Trail. We will have lunch hear while we learn who lived here etc., now leased by the North Country Trail Assoc., used by hikers and backpackers. People like you can also rent it with facilities inside and camping outside. One more stop at the Old Stone House, a stagecoach stop, north of Butler. Find out how this historic structure was used other than a stagecoach stop and how George Washington used the old Venango Trail that goes right past this house.

For a donation, one can set up a table or gazebo for the whole weekend. “Set-up” donations will be going towards a good cause. The Davis Hollow Cabin, leased by the North Country Trail Assoc, is in need of repair at Moraine State Park. This old historical structure sits along the NCT for hikers or a weekend getaway. This Gear Exchange/ Flea Market will be on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the Extravaganza from afternoon to dusk. It will also take place under a large covered carport in the campground.

The Annual event is always a real Extravaganza! This year is no different, with road, trail & mountain biking, canoeing or kayaking on lakes & streams, sailing, rock climbing, rafting, caving, horseback riding and various levels of hikes. Also pontoon boat tour, historical excursions, fun workshops such as: Backpacking, Glass Blowing, Providence Plantation, GPS Geocaching, Yoga, Historical Buildings Tour and Kids Activities. Breakneck Campground is base camp. Workshops and trips begin 9:00 AM. each day and leaders take you to where trip takes place. Breakfasts, bag lunches, dinner and camping provided, but optional. Friday evening is a Weiner Roast Picnic, Guitar and campfire songs with Nancy Dickson. Saturday evening is a Pig Roast followed by Reenactment with George Washington himself by Carl Roberetson. Birds of Prey is the Sunday presentation by Tamarack Rehab Center. Around the campfire will be telescope viewing and of course smores. Throughout the weekend a gear exchange/flea market will be set up, so join us to buy or sell. This weekend is a must!

Registration, and complete information about events can be found at Butler Outdoor Club

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

North Country Trail Gains Willing Seller Authority!

graphic of House passing the Omnibus Public Lands Bill
compiled from various sources

After more than a dozen years of disappointment, it seems that dreams really do come true. Year after year a bill has been introduced in one house of Congress to authorize the National Park Service to buy land for the North Country Trail. Year after year, one house has passed the bill while the other has allowed it to languish until Congress adjourned. In one year, both houses passed a "Willing Seller" bill, but the language did not match, so the bill could not become law.

Today, in a vote of 77 to 20, under rules where only a majority was required, the Omnibus Public Lands bill passed the House of Representatives. It was passed by the Senate on January 15, 2009.

Of course, the bill as a whole contains wide-sweeping measures that affect outdoor recreation, wilderness, and the environment, but none of these are so directly important to the NCT.

The New York Times, in an editorial, said "This would be the largest addition to the nation’s store of protected wilderness — now about 107 million acres — since 1994. The bill has broad bipartisan support in Congress and the country at large. Every single provision in the bill is the product of long and intense negotiations stretching back years on the state and local level — the product, that is, of consensus."

A few small amendments were added which do not affect any major provisions of the bill.

This is surely a day for the North Country Trail to Celebrate! Finally, in locations where there is a reasonable trail corridor and the landowner wishes to sell that land to be permanently protected for the trail, the landowner may do so. This will not immediately result in huge land purchases. No one is rash enough to think that people are lining up to sell their property to the National Park Service, nor does the NPS have piles of money which it can spend on land. However, from now on, where those two options meet, the trail will be able to be extended.

See A Bill Whose Time Has Come from the New York Times
See the roll call vote
See Senate Passes Omnibus Public Lands Bill

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wednesday May Be The Day For Willing Seller Success - Please Call Your Representative!

from the American Hiking Society

American Hiking Society constantly monitors Congress to influence legislation that impacts hikers, and provides Action Alerts as a service to our members, who support our mission to protect trails and the hiking experience. Tomorrow, Congress will consider two bills that will significantly benefit trails and the hiking experience.

Most important to the North Country Trail is H.R. 146 the "Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009." Tomorrow afternoon the House will consider this bill. It has been considered in several forms over the past year, and contains more beneficial language for conservation, recreation and historic preservation than any other legislation in many years. It contains provisions that will recognize the National Landscape Conservation System, benefit the National Trails System, add millions of acres to the wilderness preservation system, diversify the economies of small communities and enhance opportunities to get outside.

At 10 AM EST, the House will hear H.R. 1404, the Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement (FLAME) Act. For years the Forest Service has "robbed from Peter to pay Paul," failing to budget adequate sums to fight increasingly severe fire seasons, and then transferring money from vital agency programs (like recreation management and trail construction) to fund the increasing cost of fire suppression. The FLAME Act will address this problem by creating a separate fund for suppressing large-scale wildfires, enabling the Forest Service to use appropriated funds to maintain trails and the hiking experience on our National Forests. The Forest Service is the largest landowner along the length of the NCT.

Please CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE and ask him or her to support these bills.

Suggestions for making a successful call:
1. Identify yourself as a hiker and outdoor enthusiast.
2. Ask them to support H.R. 1404, the FLAME Act, to give wild-land firefighters the resources they need, and protect funding for other vital Forest Service Programs that benefit ordinary Americans, like hiking trails.
3. Ask them to support H.R. 146, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act, to protect recreational opportunities, diversify the economies of small communities and help Americans get outside and healthy.
4. Thank them for their time and leadership.

Go to to find your Representative.
Go to C-SPAN to watch these votes, live.
See Omnibus Public Lands Bill Fails in House by 2 Votes

Monday, March 23, 2009

UPEC "Celebrate the UP" Will Include the NCT

Gogebic Lake
Gogebic Lake- one of the great Upper Peninsula vistas (photo by Marie Altenau)
communication from the North Country Trail Hikers Chapter of the NCTA

This Saturday, March 28, the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition will present Celebrate the U.P.! beginning at 10:00 am at locations in Marquette, Michigan. Marge Forslin, Lorana Jinkerson, and Doug Welker will present at 1:30 pm in the Sky Room of the Landmark Inn as follows:

1:30-2:30 "North Country Trail in the Central U.P." and "Exploring the Wild and Spectacular Trap Hills of Ontonagon County." Marge and Lorana will present an overview of the North Country National Scenic Trail, followed by highlights of the trail as it traverses the central U.P. from western Alger Co. to eastern Baraga Co. Doug will use photos and maps to show how high rock cliffs, wild and scenic rivers, waterfalls, a rich copper mining history, and spectacular views from the North Country Trail make the Trap Hills special and why some are proposing a National Recreation Area there.

Other quality programs will also be presented throughout the day. For full information, visit the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition web site

See Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Nimblewill Departs Lake Sakakawea Today on Thru-Hike

Nimblewill M.J. Eberhard
Nimblewill Nomad
personal communication and the Nimblewill Nomad web site

Earlier today, M.J. Eberhard, "Nimblewill Nomad," departed from the western terminus of the North Country Trail to attempt a thru-hike, generally defined as a hike completed in one hiking season. That's a tall order on the North Country Trail's 4400-4600 miles. It's been done by two people, Ed Talone in 1994 and Andy Skurka as part of his Sea-to-Sea hike in 2006-7. It took each of them about 8 months, at a rate of averaging 25 miles a day.

Nimblewill has plenty of experience to reach his goal. He is a veteran long-distance hiker with the International Appalachian Trail, the Triple Crown (AT, Pacific Crest and Continental Divide Trail), the Great Western Loop and more all under his feet.

Will says "I retired a few years ago, the senior practitioner in a busy three-doctor optometric practice down in the sleepy East Coast Florida village of Titusville. Reflecting on all of this brings to mind the old saying, 'You can take the boy out of the country, but...' well, you know the rest of it. In a nutshell, that’s me. After retirement, I moved down on Nimblewill Creek, near the base of Springer Mountain (a six hour bushwhack), a picturesque rural community much like the Ozark Highlands of Missouri, near the little mountain town of Dahlonega Georgia. There, I started making up for lost time…after being cooped-up in examination rooms with no windows for nearly thirty years. I love nature and wide-open spaces, pure and simple. Put me in the great outdoors, preferably the mountains, and you’ve got a happy camper."

There will be journal updates and photos on his web site as the hike progresses. Will is the author of two books about his hikes, and a book of poetry.

See Nimblewill Nomad

Saturday, March 21, 2009

HR 146 - New Attempt to Pass the Omnibus Public Lands Act

based on information provided by a coalition of organizations that support the Public Lands Bill

On March 11 the House defeated S.22, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act, under Suspension of the Rules by a vote of 282 to 144, 2 votes short of a two-thirds majority. A new bill, HR 146, is being presented for a vote.

The critical portion of the bill for the North Country Trail is the passage, after a dozen years of effort, of the Willing Seller legislation.

Positive points being circulated in a floor handout by supporters include:
  • the legislation is bipartisan
  • it protects public lands, rural communities, and local economies
  • it includes provisions to ensure access for recreation, including hunting and fishing, and is supported by the NRA
  • many of the bills have gone through lengthy collaborative processes and have the support of local and national stakeholders and elected officials
  • the legislation is revenue neutral (passage will have no net effect on direct spending over 2009-2013)

Two amendments by Senator Coburn (R)OK, would not affect the issues in this bill which are critical to the North Country Trail. The amendments deal with California water rights. The coalition of organizations that support the bill are opposing the amendments.

It was expected that HR 146 would come to a vote on Wednesday, March 18. However, that has not yet occurred.

See Hike the Hill Advocated for the Big Three
See Omnibus Public Lands Bill Fails in House by 2 Votes
See Senate Passes Omnibus Public Lands Act
See Willing Seller Needs Your Help NOW

Friday, March 20, 2009

Hike the Hill 2009 Advocated for the Big Three

Hike the Hill Advocacy week participants
Hike the Hill attendees 2008 (photo from the American Hiking Society)
from the North Country Trail Association and the American Hiking Society

Each year in February the American Hiking Society hosts a week in Washington, DC called "Hike the Hill." This year the Partnership for the National Trails System co-hosted the Trails Advocacy Week.

Trail advocates from the four corners of the country meet to pool their experiences, learn strategies for lobbying and then to advocate with legislators for increased funding, promotion and protection of trails.

Specific issues that were important to the North Country Trail delegation this year include the Arrowhead Reroute, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and Willing Seller. These are all topics that just don't seem to go away, but we keep pressing for action.

The priority for NCTA's advocacy has for some time been focused on obtaining the Congressional approval required for the North Country Trail re-route in northeastern Minnesota. The re-route proposes to substitute the original 80 miles of bog walk from Remer to Jay Cook State Park with 500 miles of premier hiking and backpacking through the Boundary Waters and along the north shore of Lake Superior, using the existing Border Route, Kekekabic and Superior Hiking Trails. Congressman Oberstar has reintroduced his bill to re-route the NCNST in his district as HR 481. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar introduced the Senate companion bill as S.553. Critical right now is obtaining as many co-sponsors for these bills as possible. Without this demonstration of broader interest these bills will stagnate in committee. As of this date there are no co-sponsors. Please contact your legislators!

The NCNST is one of only 9 trails in the National Trails System lacking the authority for its managing agency (National Park Service in NCNST's case) to purchase private lands from willing sellers. Legislation to correct this was introduced in both House and Senate in this 111th Congress. It passed the Senate, but was defeated (as reported earlier) in the House under a suspension of the rules. It may yet be brought to a vote in the House a second time

Since 1965 the Land and Water Conservation Fund has enabled federal and state governments to acquire lands for recreation and conserve critical habitats and wild areas. Funding comes from offshore oil and gas leases. The LWCF has had a huge impact on conservation and recreation in the U.S. But it is not reaching its potential, either for the North Country Trail or in general. Current law only permits the National Park Service to use LWCF funds, channeled through the state, in Wisconsin, to acquire ownership or easement of lands for the North Country Trail. We've asked Congress to include language in the Department of the Interior appropriations that expands this authority to all 7 of the NCNST's states. And we've asked for an allocation of $2 million for that purpose.

Of course, an increase in general funding for the trail is always an issue. In these days of millions here and there for all kinds of projects, this 4600 mile national trail continues to limp along with under $750,000 a year in federal funding.

See American Hiking Society Hike the Hill 2009
See Willing Seller Fact Sheet
See LWCF Fact Sheet
See Arrowhead Reroute Info

Stimulus Money for Wisconsin

based on a news article in the Superior Telegram, "Federal dollars head to northern Wisconsin," by Shelley Nelson, Mar 11, 2009

$18 million of federal money is headed for northern Wisconsin. The announcement was made by both Representative Dave Obey (D) and Governor Jim Doyle.

Numerous initiatives are included to help stimulate economic opportunity in the northern counties. “In tough economic times these provisions will be important to local communities all over Northern Wisconsin,” Obey said. Two of the listed projects will indirectly benefit the North Country Trail.

Wisconsin’s Wild Waterways will receive $2 million to help protect sensitive lands and acquire new land to improve forest management on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. 63 miles of NCT are located in the Chequamegon.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Department will receive three-quarters of a million dollars to upgrade the its Communications Center. It will install digital, interoperable communications equipment to replace a communications system that is more than 25-years-old. Douglas County Forests will eventually be host to dozens of miles of NCT. This section is currently under construction.

See Douglas County Wisconsin Welcomes the NCT

Thursday, March 19, 2009

NCTA Launches New Website

NCTA web site home page
from Bruce Matthews, NCTA Executive Director

At long last I'm very pleased to share that our new North Country Trail Association website is online and hot! Please go to to check it out.

We owe great thanks to Matt Rowbotham for his long hours and leadership in yet again assuming a non-GIS focus and being the staff lead in this project. And we've had lots of help from many of you in reviewing the beta site, identifying bugs and creating new ideas. And special thanks to Joan Young, whose leadership over the years has helped us bring the website to where it is today.

However today is still only a skeleton of what it will become-- a vibrant, fresh, interactive information hub for our NCT community and the foundation and center for NCTA's future communications and outreach efforts. Your continued help and support will be important in getting us there, and I thank you in advance for your continued investment in this important NCTA service tool.

You'll no doubt note the website is a work in progress, and in reality always will be. If it goes static or stale it won't be serving us as it should. Much of the work in the next few phases will need to be done largely by staff. But as NCTA's website unfolds it will be owned and managed more and more by members of our community, including our chapter leadership and the hikers and backpackers using it.

Here are some of the upcoming highlights to be launched by early summer:

Launch of a community-driven, wiki-style Trail Guide to the NCT

Staff and invited member blogs

Interactive Mapping features

Contact Bruce Matthews
Visit the North Country Trail Association

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Finding Your Way Around the Chequamegon

sample of motorized trail use map Chequamegon National Forest
small sample of one segment of the Chequamegon National Forest motorized use map
a news release of the Chequamegon National Forest, with additional comments

Wisconsin's Chequamegon National Forest is offering free maps of the roads and trails which are open to motorized travel.

At the October 2008 Triad meeting, Forest Service Region 9 representative, John Romanowski, announced the very welcome news that as a whole, Forests will now consider trails and roads closed to motorized traffic unless posted open. These "postings" will consist of maps which would be available. Violators will no longer be able to say that they do not know where they are allowed to take vehicles. The travel management rule was actually created in 2005, and all national forests across the country must now implement it.

While some Forests previously had operated under this policy, others had not. Motorized incursion has been listed as one of the top problems of the next decade for the Forests. The Chequamegon Forest of Wisconsin contains 63 miles of North Country Trail. Illegal use of ATVs and other vehicles on the trail is an ongoing problem in many areas across the entire trail.

The first annual Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) is available free of charge at any of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (CNNF) offices as well as on the web-site. The map is the product from the implementation of the U.S. Forest Service’s national Travel Management Rule.

The MVUM displays the roads and trails designated as open to public motorized travel on the CNNF. The MVUM also displays allowed uses by vehicle class (for example, off-highway vehicles and highway legal vehicles), season of allowed use, and provides information on other travel rules and regulations. Routes not shown on this first MVUM are unavailable for public motorized travel. It will be the public’s responsibility to know where they are on the MVUM.

"This first MVUM is the product of over 2 years of gathering public comments. We will continue with our commitment to provide education, out-reach and the opportunity to be part of this annual process." said Forest Supervisor, Jeanne Higgins. To bring a road forward for consideration for the next MVUM to be published in March 2010 comments need to be received by the end of November 2009.

Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Public Affairs Officer Suzanne Flory says, "The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest has a lot more road than a lot of other national forest, lot of the roads are old logging roads or user made roads so there is actually thousands and thousands of miles of roads out on the forest so its really important for people to have this map because this will be their one tool to really know what is available and or unavailable as there traveling out on the forest." The road maps will need to be used in tandem with other forest maps for best information.

Hikers will want to purchase trail maps from the North Country Trail Association. It is welcome news that the Forests are taking steps to help preserve hiking trails for hikers.

See Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Road Maps

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Douglas County, Wisconsin, Welcomes the NCT

Douglas County Wisconsin
autumn in Douglas County near potential NCT route (photo by JHY)
based on a news article in the Superior Telegram, "Douglas County Forest combines recreation, preservation," Mar 13, 2009

Douglas County, in northwestern Wisconsin, boasts the state’s largest county forest. With 272,800 acres, the diverse ecosystem is second in size in Wisconsin only to the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. There is public forest land and a wealth of opportunities for all to experience.

The North Country Trail crosses more than 30 miles of the Douglas County Forest in the Solon Springs, Gordon and Summit townships. Sections of the trail vary widely in character and setting. Some provide short easy walks through beautiful scenery while others provide longer treks over more challenging terrain. The trail is not yet completed in Douglas County but Bill Menke and his Rovers Trail Crew is working hard to solve that problem.

The forest is governed by the County Forest Law, which requires that it be managed for forestry purposes. This includes multiple uses such as recreation, wildlife habitat and watershed protection. Fulfilling this statutory directive is the responsibility of the Douglas County Forestry Department. The Department currently employees 11 professional, full-time staff and 13 seasonal staff, with the offices in Solon Springs.

A camping permit is required, but the County and Menke worked hard to create an agreement that would serve the needs of long-distance hikers. Previously, permits required campers to know in advance where they would be. Now, a flexible permit is available which is good for several days and several locations.

With the Chequamegon National Forest, Brule River State Forest, and Douglas County miles, an exceptional, multi-day hike, all off-road is possible.

Solon Springs Pine Barrens Bird Sanctuary


Monday, March 16, 2009

Minnesota Trail Connection Possibilities?

including information from a news article in the Duluth News-Tribune, "Outdoors council recommends preserving northern Minnesota forests", by Sam Cook, Mar 11, 2009

Assuming that the Minnesota Arrowhead route is approved by Congress at some point there still remains the big gap in the trail from Ely to Grand Rapids, Minnesota. These 50 miles will need to be connected by some means other than the Taconite snowmobile trail which is, for now, at least an off-road option for a hiker to follow in the summer. However, motorized trails can not be certified, and portions of the trail are known to be under water in the summer.

In Minnesota there is a source of funding for game, fish and wildlife projects. Certain sales taxes are now generated by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy constitutional amendment that was passed by voters last fall. The Lessard Outdoor Heritage Council is a 12-member citizen council which makes recommendations as to how the money should be spent.

The council has voted to allocate $20 million to the "Forests for the Future — Upper Mississippi River Project" in each of the next two fiscal years. The Minnesota DNR had requested $42,700,000 for the project.

The money would be used to purchase easements on 187,000 acres of forested land owned by UPM-Kymmene. This Finland-based company owns the Blandin paper mill in Grand Rapids. Most of the lands are in Itasca, Koochiching, St. Louis, Cass and Aitkin counties. These easements would guarantee that the land remains open to the public while still allowing the company to conduct sustainable timber harvests.

UPM-Kymmene has yet to formally agree, but the outlook is positive. A map of the land parcels was not provided with the news article, but it seems likely that some of them might be in locations which could provide passage for the North Country Trail.

See Minnesotans- Support the Arrowhead

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Fargo Film Festival Honors "Greatest Silent Sport"

Rebecca Gilbuena
Rebecca Gilbuena, director (photo from NDSU)
based on a news article in the Fargo-Morehead InForum

Fargo Film Festival has named fourteen students winners for the Best Student Documentary for their project to follow Bart Smith's hike of the North Country National Scenic Trail.

The film short, "The Greatest Silent Sport," is a student project of a broadcast documentary class at Minnesota State University, Moorhead, MN. in October, the film won an Emmy from the Upper Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Rebecca Gilbuena, a 2008 mass communications graduate from Barnesville, Minn., was the project producer and director, and Michael Quinn, a 2008 mass communications graduate from Aberdeen, S.D., was chief editor. The students wrote, reported, photographed and edited the project. Portions were filmed at the 2007 Annual Conference of the NCTA in Bemidji, Minnesota.

Martin Grindeland, mass communications professor, served as faculty adviser.

The film was produced in cooperation with Prairie Public Television and the North Country Trail Association. It was made possible in part by a grant from Forum Communications Co.

The Fargo Film Festival juries films in a number of categories. The Festival is held each March in the Fargo Art Deco Theatre.

See "Greatest Silent Sport" - Bart Smith Hike Documentary - Wins Emmy

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Solon Springs Pine Barrens Bird Sanctuary

Solon Springs, Wisconsin, bird sanctuary
Solon Springs Bird Sanctuary, Wisconsin (photo by JHY)
based on a news article in the Superior Telegram

“While forests are valuable, pine barrens have a unique beauty all their own,” said Fred Strand, wildlife biologist with the Wisconsin DNR. “For me, it’s a sense of place.” The North Country Trail’s Bill Menke would be sure to agree with him.

In the 1930's the Douglas County Bird Sanctuary was established as a WPA project. The sanctuary is located just west of Solon Springs, Wisconsin. The precise name of the protected land is the Douglas County Wildlife Management Area, and it was first set aside as an area to train bird dogs in 1925. The first U.S. Chicken Championship dog trial was held there in 1937. Since that time, canine competitions have been held at the sanctuary annually.

Meanwhile, Douglas County approved a route for the North Country Trail through county forest lands. This will allow for the passage of many miles of trail, not just through the bird sanctuary.

Menke, currently serving as the Wisconsin/ Upper Michigan Regional Trail Coordinator for the North Country Trail Association, also leads a volunteer trail building group. Each year this dedicated bunch has spent several weeks of time building trail in western Wisconsin, and that has included the several miles across the sanctuary lands.

Pine barrens are more open than many of the more heavily forested areas along the NCT. The original extent of Wisconsin’s barrens was a swath 12-15 miles wide and 125 miles long. Pine barrens are characterized by sandy soil and plants that are dependent upon fire to be sustained. Human efforts to control fire coupled with forestation projects have all but halted the natural succession of barrens. Less than one percent of the original barrens remain. The Bird Sanctuary barrens are maintained by the Wisconsin DNR with prescribed burns.

Thanks to the efforts of Menke and his Rovers work crew, hikers can now cross the 4,000 acre sanctuary on a well-constructed pathway. On my own hike through the area, in September 2005, I was treated to the sight of a beaver lumbering down the trail ahead of me. It retreated to one of the small ponds.

One special springtime treat visitors can experience is to reserve a blind from which they can view the mating dance of the sharp-tailed grouse. The Bird Sanctuary is one of the best habitats for the sharp-tailed grouse in the state of Wisconsin.

Although the word “barrens” sounds desolate, Strand explained that they are actually part forest, part prairie. With components of both ecosystems, they actually support a very diverse community of plants and wildlife. Ten percent of the remaining Wisconsin barrens are protected in the Solon Springs Bird Sanctuary.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Spring BRT Clearing Schedule

Border Route Trail logo
from Ed Solstad

The western portion of the Border Route Trail is likely to become an official segment of the North Country Trail when the Arrowhead Reroute is approved by Congress. The Border Route Trail Association in partnership with the US Forest Service announces the following clearing trips on the Border Route for 2009.

Wilderness Trips
McFarland LakeMay 7-10Car Camp3$65
McFarland/ East PikeMay 7-10Canoe In3$65
Pine/ Pike RidgeMay 14-18Canoe In4$65
Pine/ Pike RidgeMay 14-25Canoe In11$110
Pine/ Pike RidgeMay 21-25Canoe In4$65
Clearwater EastMay 14-17Canoe In3$65
Clearwater CentralMay 21-25Canoe In4$65
Clearwater EastMay 21-25Canoe In4$65
Mechanized Trips
Otter LakeMay 7-10Car Camp3$65
Otter LakeMay 7-17Car Camp10$90
Otter LakeMay 14-17Car Camp3$65

The tax-deductable trip fee covers transportation from the Twin Cities (MN), food, and group equipment including canoes and tools. Trips leave from the Twin Cities the evening of the listed start date and return the evening of the listed end date.

Mechanized trips use chain saws, power brush cutters and other tools on sections of the trail outside of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Wilderness trips use hand tools to work on the portions of the trail that are subject to the BWCAW regulations. Those wanting to use two-person saws or chain saws are required to attend a full day of Forest Service saw training on Saturday, April 18 or Sunday, April 19. The Forest Service Training is not a requirement for trip participation as most trail work is done with bow saws and brush cutting tools that can be used by all volunteers.

For more information visit the Border Route Trail Association web site or contact John Garbe or Ed Solstad.

See Border Route Trail Association
Contact John Garbe
Contact Ed Solstad

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Omnibus Public Lands Bill Fails in House by 2 Votes

compiled from various sources

The House of Representatives voted today on S22, the Omnibus Public Lands Bill which would have given the North Country Trail the authority to purchase land from willing sellers. The bill failed to meet the 2/3 majority required by two votes. The roll call tally was 282 to 144.

As expected the Republicans are being blamed for the failure, but if it had been left up to the seven states of the North Country Trail, the bill would have passed with many Republicans voting for the measure.

One large concern by hunters was addressed at the final moment by a suspension of the rules proposed by Altmire (D)PA. This added language to preserve the rights of states to allow hunting, trapping and fishing, and to not limit access for those activities. It also blocked opposition leaders from adding amendments. The effort, however, was not enough to carry the vote. Altmire's language was approved by the NRA, but Gun Owners of America sent out a letter this week still expressing displeasure.

Overall the bill was comprised of 164 bi-partisan, largely non-controversial bills which would have designated more than 2 million acres of wilderness in nine states and established three new national park units, a new national monument, four new national conservation areas, more than 1,000 miles of national wild and scenic rivers, four new national trails and more.

Three Democrats voted no, 34 Republicans voted yes, and there were six members not voting. John Boehner (R) OH, the House minority leader, said, "The legislation Democrats attempted to force through the House today would have made matters even worse by blocking environmentally safe energy production, increasing gasoline and other energy costs, and costing American jobs we cannot afford to lose."

According to the New York Times, a "senior Democratic aide in the House said the best option under consideration would be to have the Senate shoehorn it onto another bill and ship it back. House Democratic leaders have not definitively ruled out a floor vote using a simpler rule, needing only a majority for passage, but that move would leave the measure wide open for amendments."

The North Country Trail, and eight other national trails, have been seeking Willing Seller authority for over 10 years. Until it is passed by Congress the National Park Service is not allowed to buy land to complete the trail.

Following is a list of how all Representatives from North Country Trail States voted:
Ackerman (D) Y, Arcuri (D) Y, Bishop (D) Y, Clarke (D) Y, Crowley (D) Y, Engel (D) Y, Hall (D) no vote, Higgins (D) Y, Hinchey (D) Y, Israel (D) Y, King (R) N, Lee (R) N, Lowey (D) Y, Maffei (D) Y, Maloney (D) Y, Massa (D) Y, McCarthy (D) Y, McHugh (R) N, McMahon (D) Y, Meeks (D) Y, Nadler (D) Y, Rangel (D) Y, Serrano (D) Y, Slaughter (D) Y, Tonko (D) Y, Towns (D) Y, Velázquez (D) Y, Weiner (D) Y

Altmire (D) Y, Brady (D) Y, Carney (D) Y, Dahlkemper (D) Y, Dent (R) Y, Doyle (D) Y, Fattah (D) Y, Gerlach (R) Y, Holden (D) Y, Kanjorski (D) Y, Murphy, Patrick (D) Y, Murphy, Tim (R) N, Murtha (D) Y, Pitts (R) N, Platts (R) Y, Schwartz (D) Y, Sestak (D) Y, Shuster (R) N, Thompson (R) N

Austria (R) N, Boccieri (D) Y, Boehner (R) N, Driehaus (D) Y, Fudge (D) Y, Jordan (R) N, Kaptur D) Y, Kilroy (D) Y, Kucinich (D) Y, LaTourette (R) Y, Latta (R) N, Ryan (D) Y, Schmidt (R) N, Space (D) Y, Sutton (D) Y, Tiberi (R) N, Turner (R) Y, Wilson (D) Y

MI, Conyers (D) Y, Dingell (D) Y, Ehlers (R) Y, Hoekstra (R) N, Kildee (D) Y, Kilpatrick (D) Y, Levin, Sander (D) Y, McCotter (R) N, Miller (R) Y, Peters (D) Y, Rogers (R) N, Schauer (D) Y, Stupak (D) Y, Upton (R) Y

Baldwin (D) Y, Kagan (D) Y, Kind (D) Y, Moore (D) Y, Obey (D) Y, Petri (R) Y, Ryan (R) N, Sensenbrenner (R) N

Bachman (R) N, Ellison (D) Y, Kline (R) N, McCollum (D) Y, Oberstar (D) Y, Paulsen (R) Y, Peterson (D) N, Walz (D) Y

Pomeroy (D) Y

See Update on Omnibus Public Lands Bill
See Senate Passes Omnibus Public Lands Act
See Willing Seller Needs Your Help Now
See the New York Times, "Public Lands Bill Defeated in House", by Kate Phillips, Mar 11, 2009
See Minnesotans- Support the Arrowhead

A Potential Benefit of the Yellow Dog Mine Project

map of the NCT near the Yellow Dog Mine site (Kennecutt Eagle)
approximate route of the NCT near the Yellow Dog Mine site (base map from the Marquette Mining Journal)
received from the North Country Trail Hikers Chapter

Designs and permit applications are being prepared by the Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company to construct a road from the company's proposed Eagle mine, sometimes called the Yellow Dog Mine, to U.S. 41 in Humboldt Township. This 23-mile road would be used to move nickel and copper ore to a proposed processing facility at the former Humboldt Mill. This road would benefit trail building efforts for the North Country Trail.

Kennecutt spokeswoman, Deb Muchmore said, "The road would largely utilize an existing two-track that comes through that area." The public requested that such a road be built to keep the heavy traffic off local county roads. At this point the road plan is still being called "tentative."

While it is difficult to feel positive about the environmental impacts of the mine, it is somewhat cheering to think that there might be some positive aspects for the trail. "This may help us access the area of our trail that is currently difficult to access - up the west side of the Silver Lake Basin," said Lorana Jinkerson of the North Country Trail Hikers.

See a more detailed map of the area with proposed NCT routes prepared by the North Country Trail Hikers Chapter (a pdf)
See The Mining Journal, "Mine road moves ahead," by John Pepin, Mar 8, 2009
See Yellow Dog Mine Receives Favorable Ruling

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Matt Davis to Present Midwest Trails

West Branch Ontonogan River
view of the West Branch Ontonogan River from above Old Victoria, MI, on the North Country Trail (photo by JHY)
from Matt Davis, Regional Trail Coordinator, NCTA for MN and ND

Have you ever noticed that Backpacker, Outside, National Geographic Adventure and some of the other national outdoor magazines gloss right over the Midwest? Well, I'd argue that they don't know what they're missing by focusing on our nation's mountainous regions.

I'll be giving a presentation on the best hiking trails in the central U.S. (everything between the Rockies and Appalachians) this week, March 12. It will be on Thursday at Midwest Mountaineering, Minneapolis beginning at 6:30pm. Come out to learn more about the great opportunities we have here in the "great flyover region." You don't need to travel long distances to find great hiking.

Feel free to stick around after my presentation to attend the North Country Trail Association's Star of the North chapter meeting. They'll be discussing 2009 plans (fun events, workdays, outreach opportunities, and more). Also, the chapter will be hosting its 2nd Annual hiking/snowshoeing/XC skiing day this Saturday (3/14) at Afton State Park. The group will be meeting at 10am at the park's visitors center. All are welcome!

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me, Matt Davis.

Feature- North Dakota's Martinson Bridge

Sheyenne State Forest sign
(photo by JHY)
The North Dakota Department of Transportation and the State Historical Society of North Dakota often team together to restore and preserve old bridges. One of their previous projects is located in Ransom County, southeast of Fort Ransom State Park. It is known as the Martinson Bridge. The single-lane, true-truss bridge provides access to the Sheyenne State Forest and to the North Country Trail. A portion of the trail runs through North Dakota’s Sheyenne River Valley.

"You can cross the bridge to the North Country Trail, to get to a waterfall," said Ben Kubischta, NDDOT’s transportation enhancement program coordinator. "It’s a great place for hiking." The few miles of NCT in the Sheyenne State Forest are unique. The forest trail climbs several hills and passes the state's only waterfall.

Martinson Bridge
Martinson Bridge Restoration Sheyenne River, Ransom County (photo from ND DOT)
The Martinson Bridge was restored with Transportation Enhancement funds. Transportation Enhancements are transportation-related activities that strengthen the cultural, aesthetic and environmental aspects of the Nation's intermodal transportation system. They account for a small percentage of transportation funding. Occasionally TE funds benefit the North Country Trail in locations involving bridge crossings, urban pathways, or alternative transportation routes.

Martinson Bridge Trailhead
Martinson Bridge Trailhead (photo from SRV Chapter NCTA)
A one-and-a-half mile loop of the North Country Trail is located at the east end of the Sheyenne State Forest and contains some breathtaking views of the river valley. A one-half mile connector segment joins the Oak Ridge Loop to the Mineral Springs Segment at the Martinson Bridge Trailhead.

See North Dakota DOT
See Sheyenne River Valley Chapter NCTA
See Traill County's Bridges to History (free sign-up required)
See Transporation Enhancements Remain in Stimulus Package
See Some Transportation Enhancements Remain in Stimulus Package

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Yellow Dog Mine Receives Favorable Ruling

Yellow Dog Mine site
approximate location of the Yellow Dog Mine
based on news from and the Lansing City Pulse

A small, but high-grade vein of nickel is located under Yellow Dog Plain, west of Marquette in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The proposed mine site is located just a few miles from the route of the North Country Trail.

This proposal stirred up "a bitter conflict that has already reverberated up and down the state of Michigan. Scarred by accidents in other states and provisionally banned by Wisconsin, sulfide mining - a process with a hotly debated safety record - is poised to tunnel into Michigan, starting at the state's remotest, most mineral-rich outpost."

The London-based Kennecott company, which would create the mine, states that waste handling has come a long way from the days when nickel mining, with its deadly sulfides turned whole regions into moonscapes. Anyone who visited Sudbury, Ontario 20 or more years ago knows that this description is no exaggeration. Activists point out that a dismal record at containment should make the choice easy... keep the mine out. "In April 1998, partially in response to public concern over Kennecott's problem-plagued Flambeau Mine, Wisconsin passed a sulfide mining moratorium that requires permit applicants to show one example of a mining operation in the United States or Canada that has operated for 10 years - and one that has been closed for 10 years - without causing significant environmental pollution. It's a test no company, including Kennecott, has yet met."

At the heart of the debate is the potential damage to surrounding water resources, and particularly the effect on the coaster brook trout, a species being brought back from near extinction, and highly popular with anglers.

Now, a judge has ruled that the lease for the surface operations of the mine can be issued. Ingham County Circuit Judge Paula Manderfield dismissed a lawsuit by opponents of the mine. She stated that the DNR had acted legally, and within its authority to grant the lease.

The National Wildlife Federation points out that the ruling was made on the legality of the jurisdiction rather than the merits of the lease. Opponents also have challenged the Department of Environmental Quality's issuance of permits to build and operate the mine and to discharge treated wastewater.

The lawyer for the NWF also stated that the ruling on the surface lease has no bearing on the case concerning the actual mine construction. Also fighting the lease are the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and the Huron Mountain Club, an exclusive retreat near the proposed mine site.

If approved, this will be the only U.S. mine where nickel is the primary mineral produced. The targeted deposit is expected to yield 300 million pounds of nickel, 250 million pounds of copper and trace amounts of other minerals. Because the metals are within sulfide ore bodies, critics fear the mine will generate sulfuric acid and contaminate rivers and groundwater in the area, which is within the Lake Superior watershed.

Kennecott-Eagle is still waiting for approval of an underground wastewater discharge permit from the EPA.

See "Judge OKs lease of state land for UP mine"

Saturday, March 7, 2009

NCT Minnesota Region in Proposed Lynx Habitat

Canada lynx (photo from Fish & Wildlife Service)
based on a news article at

This plan would expand the national habitat range for the Canada Lynx to more than 23 times its current size — to 42,754 square miles across the northern states, including 8,226 square miles in Cook, Lake, Koochiching and St. Louis counties in Minnesota. The plan was published in late February in the Federal Register. Adult cats weigh between 18 and 23 pounds, and feed primarily on snowshoe hares.

The Canada lynx was named as a threatened species (a notch below endangered) in the continental U.S. in 2000 after conservation groups filed suit to protect it. Under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act, as a threatened species, critical habitat must be designated for the animal. That listing provides another layer of bureaucratic protection in the animal's range, although private landowners are not affected unless they receive federal funds or permits.

Much of northern Minnesota has already been managed with the lynx in mind, so officials expect little change from the habitat do-over. About 52 percent of the proposed Minnesota critical habitat is on federal lands, 19 percent on private lands, and the remaining under state, tribal or other ownership. The report said that the Minnesota area is essential because it was the only land in the Great Lakes region where evidence of lynx reproduction occurred. The government lists logging as the most threatening human activity in the cat's habitat.

Between 100 and 300 lynx live in Minnesota at least part of the year. Other states where lynx are known to live include Maine, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Washington. It is estimated that about 1000 lynx live in the Continental United States.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Bridal Veil in WInter

climber on Bridal Veil
ice climber on Bridal Veil falls in Pictured Rocks, Michigan (photo by Lars Jensen)

The Pictured Rocks of Michigan are certainly one of the best known places along the North Country Trail. However, a few of the features really need a winter trip to be seen best.

hiker at falls top
hiker at the top of a waterfall- look on the far left to see water trickling down the slope (photo by JHY)
Several of the waterfalls like Bridal Veil just don't look like much in the summer from the trail. The falls in this picture is farther west than Bridal Veil, but they look very much alike from the top. When things are drier in the summer there isn't much water sliding over the top of the cliff. And you just can't see much of the falls from the top either. However, in winter the difference is amazing.
climber on Bridal Veil
ice climber on Bridal Veil falls in Pictured Rocks, Michigan (photo by Lars Jensen)

Lars Jensen visits Pictured Rocks regularly, with many of his adventures taking place in the winter. Bridal Veil is Michigan's highest waterfall at 140 feet.

See Ice Climbing at Pictured Rocks 2009

Hiawatha S to S Hikes- February

alt text
Hikers led by Theresa Grattan on Feb. 28 at Tahquamenon Falls State Park
from the Hiawatha Shore to Shore Chapter Newsletter, March 2009

Twenty-two hikers gathered on H 40 to snowshoe and ski around Trout Brook Pond, south to Little Bear Creek, and in to the Niagara Escarpment off East Lake Road. Several hikers gathered at McGowan’s Restaurant in Trout Lake for a late lunch after the hike.

Brent and Colleen Seltzer and Kay Kujawa joined a couple from Texas for the 1:00 PM snowshoe hike at Tahquamenon Falls led by Theresa Grattan. Saturdays she leads snowshoe hikes from the Upper Falls parking area. She has snowshoes to lend and leads hikers out in the fresh snow occasionally pointing out interesting information on the flora and fauna in winter. The hike followed by a lunch or dinner at the Tahquamenon Falls Brew Pub makes a great day here in the UP.

See Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

No news till Friday

My apologies- I can't access the internet from my own computer till Friday, so there will be no new postings until then. Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dump Site in Wayne NF Removed

army assists cleanup
An Army reservist watches fellow soldiers remove trash from a large dump on the Forest.
excerpted from National Forest Success Stories "Military Assists the Wayne National Forest", by Pam Blackburn, used with permission

The Wayne National Forest found a new partner that brings a lot of muscle to the table - literally. The US Army Reserve 779th Engineering Company came on board as a new partner and took on two monumental tasks.

The Army Reserve had been looking for a real-world training area for their equipment operators. The Wayne National Forest, as with most forests, was looking for ways to accomplish more tasks with lower budgets each year. Although they were neighbors, neither had given much thought to what they could offer each other.

The first task was an illegal dump that, according to local accounts, had been on the Forest for 60 years or more. The dump also flowed over onto private land owned by an absentee owner. The Forest contacted the owner and obtained permission to access his land to remove the dump from his property also.

During that time, the Forest met with several local law enforcement agencies to target any new dumping at the site. From that effort, approximately 35 new cases were prosecuted. Days before the cleanup effort, the Forest spoke with local residents and landowners to inform them of the dump removal.

Several residents recalled the dump being burned over the years "when the trash would get too high." Other comments included thank you and promises to protect the work that the Forest had done.

The dump was adjacent to the North Country National Scenic Trail and an eyesore for the Marietta, Ohio, section. The runoff from the dump emptied into the Little Muskingum River. The Little Muskingum River is one of the five cleanest rivers in Ohio. In their Forest Plan, the Wayne said they would protect the Little Muskingum River.

As the cleanup effort began, the Forest had no idea what they were undertaking. By all estimates, the trash was 40-50 tons with many tires strewn throughout. When the excavator was removing the first layer, it was like a spring. All of the layers underneath expanded with the release of the weight of the top layer. Each time another layer was removed, more layers would appear.

By the end of the first day, it became apparent that this site had been severely underestimated. By the end of the first day, the Forest had filled all of the rolloff dumpsters that had been ordered. We had also removed 45 tires. By the end of the weekend, we had removed 75 tires and 60 tons of trash.

The second work weekend on this site occurred in October. The dump cleanup crew was in full swing. With six rolloff dumpsters on hand and a semi trailer provided by the Ohio EPA for tires, we were ready to make progress. At the close of the first day, it was apparent that we were going to be close to filling our rolloffs again.

Waste Management came through with a container switch-out on a Sunday morning. They had seen what we were doing and wanted to help however they could. By the end of the second work day, we had come close to accomplishing this huge task. Two small areas of trash remain and a few loose tires. After that, it's just stone placement and time for the land to heal itself. All but the last can be scheduled. Our part will occur in March.

All in all, we removed approximately 160 tons of trash and over 400 tires. (We lost count when we got the human chain working well.) We also were able to repair a trailhead access road, protect a watershed, work across boundaries with our neighbors, and find a new partner.

By the end of both of these projects, [the neighbors] shook each of our hands and thanked all of us for our work at the site. There were also many promises of protecting what we had done. The Army security detail that spent the night at the dump site said that a runner had come past them on the trail early in the morning and yelled out "thank you for cleaning up that mess" as she passed.