Our annual work camp accomplished a great deal this spring in spite of the social distancing, travel, and other restrictions set forth by Minnesota’s Stay Safe Plan and Camp Voyageur’s COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.
Plumber Kevin O’Kane and aircraft engineer Jim Burgman updated the sauna showers for limitless hot water.
“Working on Edna is a lot like working on airplanes,” claimed alumni and airplane mechanic Jim Burgman. “She needed a solenoid valve and vacuum breaker and had to have three leaks and two hoses repaired. She was falling apart, man. But back in her day she was top of the line. Still does a great job,” Jim fondly remarked.
“These balsams are fire hazards and they gotta go,” said Charlie before he slammed his third cup of coffee at 7 a.m. and pulled on the rope to start up the Stihl chainsaw, “and they’re ugly.” The rest of his biology lesson was drowned out by the roar of the chainsaw.
Mother Nature has her way of controlling monocultures and overabundances of species. For thousands of years, forest fires helped improve our forests by clearing out old and overgrown vegetation and recycling nutrients back into the soil. Many species have evolved to coexist with fire. Modern humans have largely suppressed natural fires. As a result, balsam firs have become overabundant and now they are being killed by spruce budworms, which have replaced fires in many areas of the Northwoods. Most of the balsams on the peninsula have become dense sections of dry, standing kindling.
Fortunately – with the help of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Firewise annual brush hauls, and the Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) – we’ve cleared most of the dead trees near the building sites.
Camp Voyageur’s forestry management plan includes the removal of balsam fir followed by replanting and caging more favorable trees.
When balsams are removed, we replace them with more favorable tree species such as red pine and birch. This week, 90’s alumnus and bike racer Dave Redinger planted 100 birches and 100 red pines where we cleared last fall. The Claros’s from Milan, Tennesse then watered and tagged the trees with orange flagging tape. Much to the chagrin of the local whitetail da-deers and raddits, Suzanne “Shazam” Erdmann began caging the new trees, which will be an ongoing project throughout this summer.
“Young people come to me and they asked me “What is your hope for the world?” And I always answer that the hope for the world is you. You are the next generation, I am the old generation. Just like this little tree here. This is a sapling, right beside it is one of these enormous red pines. This sapling epitomizes you and the hope of the world.
So when you wonder how things are going, just remember that. You have your task to do. You’ve got to carry on the battle to preserve such beautiful places as this, the battle goes on endlessly. It’s your task. You’ve got to see that you keep the flame alive – no matter what obstacles. The whole world depends on you!
This whole world depends on this little pine in a sense. Just like at one time, it depended on those enormous trees here.”
Alumni are encouraged to reach out to John and Deb if they would like to come volunteer for a few days this summer. Some limitations will apply.