The weather was great for our second Gunflint Green up and a great time we had. There were about 350 volunteer planters who put about 25,000 trees into the Ham Lake Fire area. This year was a story of kids and families in the woods making sure that the next generation of trees would be in place for the next generation of northwoods visitors.
I started the day at Chik Wauk, meeting with planters and coordinators. Smiles and laughter abounded. Chik Wauk was a pretty tough site and the sound of “chink” was pretty common as the planting bars all too often hit rock rather than soil deep enough to plant a tree. As I made my way to the end of the Trail, then to Kek and onto Round Lake, the sounds of planting bars on rock were fairly common but so too were the sites and sounds of family laughter.
As planting day approached, I worried if we could top the success we had last year but as the day rolled on, I realized that this was a continuation of last year’s success. The people of Minnesota, and surrounding states, were giving back to the Forest after the Ham Lake Fire changed the scenery.
I shared some thoughts at the evening banquet that I would like to put here for those who were not present. The Superior National Forest is celebrating our one hundredth anniversary, our centennial year. President Theodore Roosevelt signed the act that created the Superior National Forest on February 12, 1909. I know to many of you that seems like just yesterday but for our kids, it was “like” one hundred years ago!
Just before becoming a National Forest, the Superior, like most of the upper Great Lakes, had been logged heavily. In fact, the first Forest Supervisor noted that he thought his main job was to “get trees growing back there”. Ironically as we celebrate our centennial, once again we’re planting a landscape to “get trees growing back there!”
There will be several events this summer where we bring historical information, share thoughts and photos of the last one hundred years. If you havn’t seen these bits of our history, make it a point to stop and visit with us at one of the events (check the calendar on this blog for upcoming activities) or stop by the Gunflint office where you’ll find pieces of this display.
To share some other thoughts I’ve had recently, I gave a presentation the other day at our prescribed burn public meeting which included a list of natural events that has occurred on the Gunflint Trail over the past 40 years. Now that is a timeframe where there may be a few people who have a perspective. Back in the 60’s and 70’s we had a vibrant forest along the trail and life seemed pretty good. It had been decades since anything very serious threatened the lives and homes along the trail. Then came 1967 and the Hungry Jack Fire. A few hundred acres in size, it crossed the Gunflint Trail. I’m not sure people thought it was the beginning of things to come? I’m not sure what people actually thought after that fire?
Over the next 40 years there were a total of at least 15 natural events that threatened the lives, homes, businesses and economy of the Gunflint Trail. I’m sure not everyone was touched by each event, but I contend that you’d be hard-pressed to find another community that has been affected by so many difficult times. I guess the amazing part is how this community responds in a crisis and continues to move forward with their everyday lives. Instead of packing and moving on, instead of bickering and finding fault, instead of withdrawing into a shell, the people of the Gunflint Trail celebrate! You have created a day in the spring to invite neighbors and friends to come up, put some trees into the ground, run a half marathon and have a banquet (OK maybe two banquets)!
Which brings me back to our centennial celebration. As I mentioned, the Superior will have several events this summer continuing to celebrate in the Cook County Community. But what a most excellent place, time and group of people to launch our celebration for the season; under the Big Top at the Gunflint Greenup with the Gunflint Trail Community!!