Montana - Lolo NF
Savenac Historic Nursery Restoration Project XXV
Historic Photo of Savenac Tree Nursery
July 11-16, 2021 (including weekends)
Volunteers must commit to entire session
In 1905, then Forest Supervisor, Elers Koch, was on a honeymoon trip with his young bride when he came across an abandoned homestead, which, he discovered, was previously owned by the German settler, Savennach. He decided then and there that this was to be the location of the Region 1 tree nursery. It was ideally situated on the Mullan road, and close by were the railroads to help deliver saplings across the region. His dream was soon tested in the Great Burn of 1910, wherein millions of acres were burned and several towns were lost, including parts of Savenac Nursery. However, the Nursery was rebuilt and, within five years, had over 15 million seedlings delivered throughout the region.
During the Depression-era of the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) developed the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which brought hundreds of young men out to work across the nation. Camp Taft was located just across the St. Regis River where hundreds of CCC men were employed. Their work – the buildings, bridges, trails, and even the trees that exist today – can still be seen at Savenac and, because of this association and that of the development of the early Forest Service, Savenac has been honored with placement on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). However, the heyday of the Nursery ended in 1969, when the nursery at Coeur d’Alene opened and Savenac closed. It was later used for multiple purposes, such as housing the Youth Adult Conservation Corps in the 1970s, but it remained mostly idle for the next 30 years. That is, until 1995, when the first Passport in Time (PIT) project at Savenac Nursery began with just one bucket of paint! PIT volunteers have helped maintain our buildings and grounds at Savenac since that time – no small feat by any means – and, combining your efforts with those of Forest staff, the legacy and beauty of Savenac endures.
2021 marks the Nursery's 25th PIT project and, once again, we need your help to keep this site at its best! This year we will have three large projects: 1) The Bunkhouse (Phase1 of 3). Beginning with the first-floor, large bunkroom area, we plan to remove the carpet, install wood floors, repair the bunk beds and holes in the walls, and paint the interior. 2) The East Cottage. Here we plan to continue working on the restoration by repairing windows, building screens, repairing water damage underneath the front porch and, of course, just a little bit of painting to get the Cottage ready for the Cabin Rental Program. 3) The West Cottage and Garage. Of course, painting is always on our list of things to do on West Cottage and the Garage, but we may also look at repairing or replacing some of the main trim, replacing or repairing a few of the lower boards that get covered in snow each year, and repairing window trim.
Those forming the grounds crews will continue maintaining the current interpretive trails (ensuring that woodchips and rails are in place). We would also like to repair our concrete flagstone walkway by making between 30 and 60 replacement flagstones. The gardening crew will, as always, prune our lovely lilacs and iris's. And (for long-time volunteer Grant’s sake), we will work in the Christmas tree plantation, continuing to remove weeds and dead trees and add a bit of nutrients to those trees remaining. As July nears, we will have more projects in the queue, but we can count on these projects to start. Of course, many other things generally “pop up” during the spring thaw out here!
If you are new to PIT, this is the deluxe of PIT projects, just ask any of our volunteers! We have many who have returned year after year. We have seen many young families come in and, with adult supervision, we have helped our youth gain skills in carpentry, trail maintenance, and just good, old-fashioned, hard work. By the end of the week, we all get to see our accomplishments and have a small celebration remembering and honoring a number of people who have brought us to where we are today. Also, on the Lolo NF, we provide food and housing for our volunteers! We provide a continental breakfast with cereal, oatmeal, and bagels; lunch is typically leftovers from the previous evening’s meal, though it generally also comes with freshly baked cookies and fresh fruit! Dinner is always hot and hearty, with fresh-baked cakes and ice cream to top it off. So, come on home to Savenac Nursery once again!
Please note: Strict COVID-19 protocols will be followed, including the wearing of masks, social distancing, etcetera. Additionally, given current national and global circumstances, some aspects of the project may be subject to change. The project leader will notify all selectees should this occur.
Number of openings: 30
Special skills: Construction, carpentry, painting, general grounds-keeping, landscaping/gardening, and/or restoration skills helpful, but not required
Minimum age: 4 years old; applicants under the age of 18 must apply with a parent or guardian; guardian MUST submit a separate application and plan to attend
Facilities: Housing available in FS bunkhouse at no charge (we can house exactly 26 individuals); separate men’s and women’s sections, though, this year, the “men’s” section is under repair, and either the men or the women will be moved to the basement of the Cookhouse. The four rooms and the upstairs “women’s” area will still be available. A few individual rooms available (inquire if selected); tent and RV camping available on site at no charge; no potable water; no hook-ups; shower facilities available in the Cookhouse for those who are camping; St. Regis (~15 miles east of Savenac) is a full-service community with motels, restaurants, and a range of other amenities; lodging also available next door at ‘Lincoln’s $50,000 Motel;’ meals and snacks provided by FS; volunteers responsible for off-site lodging/personal camping equipment; volunteers wishing to stay at the bunkhouse must provide own bedding; off-site transportation to and from work site at volunteer expense; please note: nights can be rather chilly even though it is summer
Nearest towns: St. Regis, 15 miles; Superior, 30 miles
Applications due: May 3, 2021