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In Da Woods

by Melanie B. Fullman, US Forest Service

Harboring Change

Thanks to some last minute, although pleasantly surprising, additional funding, the Bessemer District is excited to announce pending repairs to several Black River Harbor facilities. A contract was recently awarded to a local contractor. The work is expected to be done by late-June 2012; the exact work schedule won’t be set until we’ve had a chance to meet with the operator on-site. Depending on weather, it is possible some tasks may be started yet this fall.

A Better Boat Ramp

To the (hopefully) great joy of many users, the most noticed improvement is probably going to be a better boat ramp. Building the new launch includes pulling up the old one where it extends into the water. For those that might be dreaming of a gradual, gentle slope, however, it is important to remember that this launch is into a river, with a fast, strong current. The current limits our ability to extend the launch much further than it is now, due to an abrupt drop-off and continuous undercutting of the river’s edge. Still, we think most boaters will be happy with a better, albeit imperfect, boat ramp.

Metal safety rails will also be added at the corner of the boat ramp and dock. This should make it easier for folks launching boats, and for their friends or other on-lookers who tend to linger along both sides of the boat ramp.

A Path Most Traveled

Another repair will be re-paving of the asphalt paths in the picnic area. Where they join the Pavilion, the portal step will be replaced with a same-elevation access through the door. This will eliminate a potential tripping hazard and improve accessibility for everyone.

We had hoped to replace some Pavilion windows, fix various electrical problems, patch holes in the stone foundation, and replace the entry doors. Unfortunately, those were not funded last year and are unlikely to be covered in the near future.

A reminder: the Pavilion is now closed for the season; it will reopen, as usual, in mid-May. The pit toilet located near the bridge will stay open a few more weeks/until it snows. Reservations for ‘exclusive’ use of the pavilion (weddings, family reunions, etc.) can be made at www.recreation.gov at a cost of $40. Otherwise, the pavilion is available at no charge on a first-come, first-served basis.

Sewage Suite

Several sewage-related repairs have also been ordered. This includes replacing sewer lines at the boat pump-out station at the dock and upgrades to the wastewater treatment facility, tucked behind the campground. The boat pump-out will be closed during repairs, with a portable boat pump if needed. The major improvement at the sewage treatment facility is new spray irrigation pumps.

Across the country, the vast majority of National Forest campgrounds and picnic areas have primitive, latrine-type restrooms, not flush toilets (the presence of “modern” toilets at the Black River Harbor pavilion and campground is due to former ownership of the facility by the County). As a result, few Forest Service employees are certified wastewater treatment operators. We’re fortunate in Bessemer to have Harbor Master Mike Jacobson. For more than 30 years, he has kept the facilities at the Harbor and campground in excellent condition. With our climate, that’s no easy task. So the next time you see him, don’t forget to say thanks!

Happy Campers

The last batch of repairs and upgrades will occur at the campground restrooms. This includes building a new privacy fence just outside the doors; replacing old, frost-heaved sidewalks; removing tripping hazards; creating a wider turn upon entering the doors; and other minor repairs.

With two restroom buildings in the campground, we expect that one would remain open during construction if the work happens during the camping season (generally mid-May to Oct. 1).

For More Information

For more information about any of the pending repairs mentioned above, feel free to contact Ottawa Facilities Engineer Eric Johnson at 932-1330 x322 or Mike Jacobson at x512.

Otherwise, I’ll see YOU in the woods!



Polar Bear Cookbook

Thank you to everyone who submitted recipes for the Polar Bear Hockey Cookbook. The cookbooks are now available. The cost for the cookbooks are $10.00 so make sure to grab one for yourself and maybe one or two as a gift. They can be purchased at the Pat O'Donnel Civic Center concession stand or by contacting Kerry Roehm or Micki Sorensen.


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