Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

Today’s post comes from Chris Stromberg, Interim Backcountry Operations Specialist at Quetico Provincial Park and Coordinator for the Heartland.

This August, teams of backcountry rangers from Quetico Provincial Park and the Kawishiwi Ranger District of the Superior National Forest joined forces to maintain and improve a series of rideshares along the Canada-U.S. border near Carp Lake and Knife Lake.

The international team met late on August 8 in Carp Lake. After finding campsites for the night, they paddled around the project area, identifying problem spots for improvement.

Its purpose? Restore the tread of high-use transportation and keep visitors to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) and Quetico Provincial Park on an improved, sustainable tread, preventing further erosion.

Large area covered with land next to the lakeTransport between That Man and Sheridan Lakes was cut off, demolished and moved to higher ground.

This was a learning experience for the younger members of the Quetico Provincial Park crew, who gained hands-on experience while learning the trail building techniques and skills practiced by the more experienced American crew.

two men digging rocks and dirt while another drinks waterExtreme heat made work even more challenging

Expert advice

Thompson Blodgett and AJ Neilan of the United States Forest Service (USFS) led this project, along with Michael Davidson, Brandon Allen, Laura Humphrey, and Dustin Jeffrey of Ontario Parks.

Thompson worked at the BWCAW for several years; Her eye for evaluating trails and her well-adapted experience were a huge asset to the project. He provided guidance and techniques to the energetic young ranger team from north of the border. Choosing the right rock, finding the ideal soil and using the best tools at hand were part of this collective work on the trail.

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two men digging up rocks and dirtStones from the launch area were used to stop erosion.

The joint team was able to pay special attention to five short transports along the border and also make some quick corduroy improvements to another 850m transport in front of Knife Lake.

In total, more than 1,500 m of transport received major improvements (to our American friends, search on Google if you want to know how many rods that is). Trail improvements included check dams, water barriers and remodeled drains.

Man walking on cut logs laying pathCorduroy in Crawford/Knife Portage – a quick fix for a muddy area

In addition to making trail improvements, ranger teams shared skills in:

  • paddling
  • low impact camping techniques
  • trail maintenance and primitive tools
  • security practices
  • public interaction/contact with visitors

Temperatures of over 30°C also required crews to share their awesome Swimming skills at the end of each transport.

Bonding through hard work

The international ranger team enjoyed working together. It was a successful and rewarding endeavor, and is a continuation of the strong bond between Quetico Provincial Park and the Superior National Forest/Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Six people in Ontario parks uniforms standing on a rockFrom left to right: Thomas Blodgett, AJ Neilan, Michael Davidson, Laura Humphrey, Brandon Allen and Dustin Jeffrey

Thompson, the USFS ranger, returned to the portages and was pleased with the results. “Everyone is holding up well and I am especially pleased with the work on the Seed Lake side of the shuttle to Melon Lake. “While we installed some very large rocks, they do not look landscaped and are doing a good job of keeping the landing in place while retaining the wild character of the area.”

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Thank you!

All of the following have benefited from cooperation relating to the management of parks, forests and other protected natural and cultural heritage sites for the purposes of conservation, preservation, recreation and public education:

view of the tree from the base

The national park, national monument, national forest and provincial parks are signatories to a Sister Sites Agreement that helps make work like the project described in this article possible.

Many thanks to the wonderful staff and volunteers for all their hard work in keeping our parks beautiful for years to come!