Use of the Forest

Public use of Saginaw Forest is encouraged. Rules for the public's use include (but are not limited to):

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dug a hole and filled a hole.

Yesterday I noticed that at some point a small campfire ring was dug off one of the trails. From the trail, it was possible to see that there were several empty bottles inside the ring -- their necks pointing outward like a sunburst. Ah, cr@p...

Upon closer examination, the majority of the bottles turned out to be Smirnoff Ice, with a few Mike's Hard Lemonades thrown in, too. No beer, indicating that it might have been highschool students. Underneath the booze-bottle sunburst, a few ashes of paper, leaves, and small branches were in evidence; not a large fire, which is good, because such a fire could have easily caused a much more massive impact on the forest (i.e., a wild conflagration).

Okay... what to do, what to do? Well, I should try (at least) to make the site look undisturbed. However, if I only removed the bottles, the campfire ring would remain. The sandy soil had been scattered about, meaning that if I tried to fill in the hole using the surrounding soil, it would be obvious that something was done in the area. Ah, but there was a lot of sand that got eroded out along the main road. Maybe if I dug some of that up, moved it to this campfire ring, and used it here, there would be less evidence.That was the plan, then: shift sand from one place (the road) to another (the sneaky campfire ring).

I headed back the barn to get my cart in which to collect the bottles, and after collecting the 23 bottles and scattering the stones lining the edge of the ring, went back to fetch a wheelbarrow and shovel.

Digging out a wheelbarrow-full of sand is not too difficult, especially when the sand is erosional deposits, and not tamped down. However, pushing a wheelbarrow fully laden with damp sand up a hill is quite hard work. However, I was determined that I would only do it in one trip. Therefore, I collected possibly more sand than necessary before trudging step by slow Sisyphean step toward the campfire ring.

As I dumped out the sand, I noticed that it was just about enough to actually fill in the ring, and I went about shoveling the sand around to make it more evenly covered. There: first step done. Now the area just looked like a trampled-down area with a scattering of wet sand (which would -- I hoped) dry out quickly. However, I wanted to make the place look "undisturbed". Therefore, I started to collect leaves and other ground litter from around the area. A little pile here of maples, another few handfulls of oak, some decomposing carbon from somewhere else; never too much from one area so as to minimize the appearance of human activity. Then I scattered the leaves, both on the freshly laid sand, as well as around the clearing. I threw in a few long poles of rotting wood to make the area blend in with the rest of the dying and rejuvenating forest.

After only about two hours of work (and what seemed to me like a half-liter of sweat), the area looked, if not "undisturbed", much less obviously impacted to the human eye than before. (At least to this human eye.) To the nose of a dog or to the burrowing capabilities of a groundhog, who knows? However, I hope it does its job.


  1. Nice, Shaw! I wonder if this was the same place we found the picnic table and wooden chairs? South of the cabin, west of the trail before you get to the parking lot?

  2. No, this was further south, along the main trail that stretches east/west across the property.