Savenac 2012 - Passport in Time

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Savenac Historic Nursery Restoration Project XVII

Lolo National Forest, Montana, 2012
by Sydney Bacon, Archaeologist

The Lolo National Forest, along with a group of volunteers, completed another successful Passport in Time (PIT) project on the Superior Ranger District. This was the seventeenth annual PIT project at Savenac Historic Nursery, a property listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The project ran from the 8th through the 13th of July 2012. Thirty-nine volunteers worked with Superior Ranger District's Carole Johnson and Beth Kennedy; and Lolo NF Archaeologist Sydney Bacon for six days. People came from Arizona, Idaho, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Pennslyvania, Texas, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and even Germany. PIT volunteers donated a total of 1,678 hours during the week which, when valued at the standard rate established by the PIT Clearinghouse of $21.79 per hour, resulted in a labor contribution of $36,563.62! As a a result of their efforts, Savenac Nursery continues being restored to its historic appearance in addition to meeting its infrastructure maintenance requirements.

Similar to last year, there were several small tasks as opposed to larger, week-long projects. Volunteers moved with the strength and determination of ants; scurrying from project to project in order to keep busy. The usual workload included: groundskeeping, several small construction repair projects, tree trimming, oiling posts and benches, picnic table upkeep, and small painting tasks. Portions of the walkways were realigned and the cement blocks continued to be reinstalled. The weather station was painted and the gate was repaired. Our die-hard volunteers continued on the 'Children's Forest' created by Mineral County 6th graders. Despite the intense heat, they trimmed around the tiny trees and installed a drip irrigation system as well as a stand for the water vats. Mineral County school children will continue to foster these seedlings until high school graduation. Futhermore, the trees will become Christmas trees in the future. A group of 8 Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) kids from Sanders County vistited us on Tuesday. They were met with a perfect job for young, agile bodies; digging a ditch to accommodate the long awaited plumbing for the Packing Shed!

In the evenings, volunteers were entertained in the cool of the Packing Shed to watch a couple of documentaries: 'Landscape of History', describing the tumultuous flight of the Nez Perce Indians and 'Pride and Perseverance', a short film about settlers along the Upper Missouri Breaks. Wednesday night's field trip was to the 'St. Regis Cutoff' along Highway 135. Carole enlightened the group on the rich archeology and history of the corridor. Several volunteers found comfort in a dip in the Clark Fork River at Ferry Crossing. Friday's presentation featured Mr. Frank Solomonsen, the final nurseryman at Savenac from 1964-1966. He shared  many stories of his experiences here; and looks back on that time fondly.

We were fed well by our dedicated kitchen crew, providing home-cooked meals and tasty salads. Carole barbecued chicken and pork dinners. Cookies, fruit and nutritious meals were welcomed at break times and at the end of the long workday.

For the seventeenth year in a row, every project was accomplished professionally and safely - a tribute to the volunteers and the coordinators. Success in planning and executing this undertaking goes to Superior RD staff; Carole Johnson, Beth Kennedy and Charles "Coon Dog" Schroeder. We undertook the supervirsory and safety duties as well as wielding the occasional rake or paintbrush (and of course the camera).
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