Monday, November 10, 2014

Lake Maria State Park: Volunteering, November 1st, 2014

After a spooky and fun Halloween night, Joe and I decided to start off November with a bit of volunteering.  He had heard about Fall Volunteer Clean-up Day at Lake Maria, and that sounded like a good time.  Lake Maria State Park is our "backyard park" now that I've left Two Harbors...better get to know it!

Joe and I arrived early, and spent a little time checking out the displays in the Trail Interpretive Center.

We were joined by two regular Lake Maria volunteers, Steve and Nan.  Our job was to assemble and install a foot brush station next to the trailhead, like those we have seen at other State Parks.  The DNR is installing these at all parks - good idea, and a good volunteer project.  There was also a crowd of Cub Scouts present to volunteer: they were put on Buckthorn-pulling duty.

First we assembled the sign.  Nan had to tend to their dog, so it was just Steve, Joe and I working on this project.  The instructions were for a completely different kind of sign, so we just winged it.  I think that it turned out okay.  The picture was facing upright, the brush was facing towards the front, easy peasy.

Joe with the assembled sign

Our next task was to dig two holes in the ground for the posts to set in.  As you can see from the above picture, the brush is well off the ground!  We had to sink the posts so that the brush was right on the dirt.  That meant digging two holes, about 18 inches to 24 inches deep.  See that shovel and post hole digger on the left?  We got to know them well.

Most of the time, Steve and Joe dealt with the shovels.  I helped the Cub Scouts with the Buckthorn project.  November is a good time of year to pull Buckthorn: it's one of the few bushes left that still has green leaves.  So if it's green, it can be pulled up.  Every once in a while I saw a Cub Scout walk by with what looked like small Aspen trees.  Oh well...if they pulled 10 Buckthorns for every Aspen, we'd still be doing good.

Begone, Buckthorn!

After a while, Joe and Steve started to tire out and we rotated digging duties.  I had never used a post-hole digger before, but I got the hang of it fairly quickly.


Once the holes had been dug and all of the rocks had been pried out of them we had to mix concrete to hold the sign in place.  The closest water was at a spigot about 100 yards away, so there was a bit of a rest while we dragged a few buckets back to the wheelbarrow and sign.  We mixed up the concrete, held the sign upright, and filled in those holes.  Every once in a while a curious Cub Scout would wander out of the woods to see what we were doing.

Mmmm, concrete mixer

It took four bags of concrete to fill the holes.  We made sure that the sign was upright by holding it into position with some framing boards and C-clamps, and we were done!  Once the concrete was dry, the ground would built up a bit so that the brush rested on the dirt, instead of an inch above it.

Joe and the completed project

Now people can brush their feet off before hiking at Lake Maria...people like me that may have brought invasive Tansy from the North Shore, or Buckthorn from across the state.  Every effort helps.

Brush off those boots, buddy

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