Massive bog cut into 3: Officials hope to move 1 piece next week
LEGIONVILLE, Minn.—And then there were three.
The massive bog on North Long Lake, situated in front of the Legionville School Safety Patrol Training Center, is now cut into three pieces.
Volunteers with the North Long Lake Association, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota American Legion—the owner of the camp—worked Wednesday and Thursday, May 16-17, trying to move the bog. The mission is to remove the bog from its current position on the camp's swimming beach—where close to 700 children swim each summer—and place it close to where it came from, just northwest of the camp.
The floating bog became a problem when it broke away from its shoreline in October of 2017 in Merrifield Bay on North Long Lake, north of Brainerd. The bog floated around the bay as the wind shifted, damaging property in the process, until it found its final resting place for the winter in front of the Legionville camp's swimming beach.
The DNR reported the bog is about 200 feet by 800 feet and estimated to be 4,000 tons, or 8 million pounds. The bog is a natural wetland consisting of marsh, dead plant materials, cattails and, in this case, a line of tamarack trees.
Kevin Martini with the Brainerd DNR office, who works in aquatic plant management, said their hope Thursday was to cut a center piece out of the bog and get it loose, and they accomplished that. The center piece—about 100 by 200 feet in size—basically sits on the camp's swimming beach. Camp officials would like to get a chunk out so the youths have a swimming beach.
There were not as many volunteers or boats Thursday helping with the bog's removal as there were Wednesday. About 15 volunteers worked until about 2:30 p.m. Thursday to complete the last cut to the bog.
Executive Director/State Adjutant Randy Tesdahl of the Minnesota American Legion said the bog is in three pieces, with open water between them. Tesdahl said organizers decided not to move the bog Thursday as Mother Nature was not in their favor. Winds were gusting between 16-20 mph blowing to the east, the wrong direction for the bog.
Organizers plan to regroup and give it another shot next week. They need to find a day when the wind is shifted to the north and/or west and are able to organize enough boats and people to move the bog to its original home. They plan to move the middle piece first.
"Now the bog is manageable," Tesdahl said. "We will get it. The hard part is done. We are very confident. It was a success. People were really worried about it and said, 'You guys gave it a really good effort,' but we are not done. We went from Plan A to Plan B to Plan C, but when you do something you never have done before and really who has moved one this big? We knew we would be making adjustments throughout the day."
Ever since the massive bog broke from its shoreline and began floating around the bay, people were scrambling to figure out how to control the bog. People have been critical the DNR has not taken a bigger role in moving the bog.
"We want this to succeed like everyone else," the DNR's Martini said. "We have put a lot of sweat and blood into this. Yes, we control the permitting process and it's our job to protect the ecology, but we understand why the camp wants this moved. People say the DNR should do this or that. ... We are trying all sorts of things, we are brainstorming and coming up with ideas. We have a lot of intelligent people out there, but this (bog) is huge. If it was small there would be no problems. This is a different kind of animal.
"We are out there working our butts off and we do care."
Martini and Tesdahl and North Long Lake Association President Bill Schmidt all said the partnerships formed throughout the bog removal process have been positive and helped bring the community together. They also have learned a lot.
The trio all have said this is the biggest bog they have ever seen. Schmidt said he saw a bog in Wisconsin that was big, but it was only a third of the size of the bog on Merrifield Bay.