Savenac Nursery PIT Project 2009
Lolo National Forest, Montana, 2009
by Sydney Bacon, Lolo National Forest
The Lolo National Forest, along with a group of dedicated volunteers, completed another successful Passport in Time (PIT) project on the Superior Ranger District. This was the fourteenth annual PIT project at Savenac Historic Nursery, a property listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The project ran from the 12th through the 17th of July 2009. Thirty-three volunteers worked with Super Ranger District staff for six days. These people came from Arizona, California, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Texas. We even had some folks who live in Germany most of the year. The PIT volunteers donated a total of 1,434 hours during the course of the week which, when valued as a GS 5/1 (the standard hourly rate established by the PIT Clearinghouse) $14.74/hour, resulted in a labor contribution of $13,356! As a result of their efforts, Savenac Nursery continues being restored to its historic appearance in addition to meeting its infrastructure maintenance requirements.
The week was full of projects, both large and small, as usual. The lodgepole bed crew set up two twin-sized beds (completed last year) in the West Cottage, and successfully completed a queen-sized bed for the master bedroom. The trail crew's big project was to pull out the rotting posts lining the trail in the meadow on the east side of Savenac Creek, and replace them with new posts secured with rebar. The groundskeeping crew had the laborious task of transporting all the beetle killed trees, predominantly Douglas-fir, from the arboretum. Carole's trail crew had felled the trees the week before. Several truckloads were taken to the burn pile up on the bench by the spruce beds. PIT volunteers carefully wove the branches within the existing cottonwood pile, to ensure a safe and compact burn. Also in the arboretum, the posts indicating tree species were rotted and needed replacement. The paint crew built, painted and installed the new posts and signs. Screens from the west cottage were repaired and reinstalled.
A small construction crew took on the largest project: tear down and replace the dilapidated porch steps on the south side of the bunkhouse. Years of snow load had taken its toll on this uncovered porch. Alan Brockway and the team meticulously constructed the new steps, even working after hours to get the job done. Additional features included concrete footings, treated wood and a roof!
Lolo NF Wildlife Biologist Beth Kennedy continued her one-person bathroom rehabilitation in the West Cottage. This time it was floor repair. She removed the linoleum to reveal a patch of rotten wood. All it took was a poke to punch through the rotten wood of the floor to the basement below. Alan Brockway assisted in replacing the boads. An historically accurate layer of linoleum was placed atop the refurbished floor.
Several painting projects occurred throughout the grounds. Both entrance signs were given a fresh coat of oil and reinstalled at the stone CCC-constructed entrance. The ramp to the Packing Shed was sprayed with oil as well. Boy, that sprayer works much better than a brush!! A small paint crew scraped the weather station and found out the hard way that the sprayer works wonders there as well.
As usual at Savenac, no on starved. Betty Heald, the tried and true summer caretaker, was the head cook in the kitchen again. This year she had two newbies and one returnee - Susi Edgar and Pauline Theriault and local lady Joann Falk. Carole Johnson has started a tradition of barbequing her famous chicken and pineapple rings and pork chop dinners. Yum Yum. The variety of snacks, fruit and nutritious meals were a blessing at break times and at the end of the lond workday.
We were blessed with bearable temperatures this year - 80 degrees was the norm! It even rained on Monday, a first in 9 years. Luckily there were plenty of indoor projects to keep us busy. Wednesday was field trip day; after work we traveled via school bus to Lolo, for a visit to the Holt Heritage Museum and Traveler's rest. Thank you to the Holt family for their hospitality. Syd gave a brief presentation about Missoula Technology and Development Center (MTDC), where she works. Friday was our Open House day, in which we showed off our hard work to the public and celebrated the 101st anniversary of Savenac Nursery. District Ranger Sharon Sweeney and Carole Johnson emceed the event. Syd talked about the Passport in Time program and its importance at Savenac; sibling volunteers Shay, Rebecka and Thayne Seward presented our accomplishments during the week; volunteer Tina Benitez spoke about her book, "Savenac-the First 100 Years", which will be published and available by next year's project (and the centennial commemoration of the Fires of 1910). Most importantly, a few remaining CCC, YACC and nursery workers attended and shared their stories of Savenac throughout the years. The even ended with a delicious pot luck lunch under the trees near the cookhouse, as usual.
Every project was accomplished professionally and cheerfully - we owe this to our tried and true volunteers as well as the coordinators. Success in planning and executing this undertaking goes to Superior RD staff; Carole Johnson, Charles "Coon Dog" Schroeder and Beth Kennedy. These three in company of myself undertook the supervisory and safety duties as well as wielding the occasional hammer, rake or paintbrush (and of course the camera). The majority of the success, of course, must be credited to a superb group of volunteers.