Minnesota Legion prepares to wrangle the "Wandering Beast of North Long Lake"

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Minnesota Legion prepares to wrangle the "Wandering Beast of North Long Lake"

This used to be a sort of oddball story out of Minnesota last fall, brought to us by KARE channel 11 in Minnesota:

Now, here's where the Legion got involved:

The North Long Lake bog began its journey at a summer camp called Legionville. The camp, owned by the American Legion, trains children as volunteer crossing guards and helps them master other road safety skills, like exiting overturned school buses. For years, the bog bobbed inoffensively next to an unused stretch of lakeshore there. Then, one blustery October morning, it broke loose.

Bill Schmidt, president of the North Long Lake Association, remembers the phone call from a resident at the north end of the lake. “They said there was this huge chunk of land floating towards them,” he says. “And they were sitting there having coffee and it just kept coming. It destroyed their dock and boat lifts and they wanted to know what to do about it.”

At the whim of wind and wave, the bog meandered for weeks within a kidney-shaped bay at the north end of the lake, an area just over one square mile. In late October, it came to rest in the waters off Legionville’s swimming beach, about 400 yards from where it had started. Randy Tesdahl heads the American Legion in Minnesota. He was out of town when he got the call. “I said ‘Okay, we’ll deal with it in the spring,’” he recalls. “‘It’s a bog. How bad can it be?’”

Randy is about my favorite person in the Legion, but asking "how bad can it be?" is basically just asking for trouble.  His first idea was to blow it up, which made me giggle, because my favorite video in the history of Youtube is when the Oregon State Highway Division decided the best way to deal with a washed up whale on one of their beaches was to pack it with 1/2 ton of dynamite and blow it into small pieces for the birds to eat.  The plan did not work as advertised.  It's a MUST SEE.  (CLICK HERE FOR EXPLODING WHALE.)

Eventually though they came up with a new plan:

A floating bog, they’ve learned, is a slippery adversary. It jiggles like a waterbed when you walk on it, and falling through is a danger. To move a bog, one needs to get a grip on it. Try and do so, and chunks break off like Jello. So Tesdahl and others are building a “necklace” out of logs and chains. According to Tesdahl, the log necklace will wrap around the bog, allowing tractors equipped with poles to push from the shore and boats in the lake to pull. The boats will rotate the bog 180 degrees, away from the swimming beach. Then the team will fix the bog in place. Chains will encircle the rootballs of fallen trees, snake across the bog on top of plywood planks, and hang off the end into the water, anchored by massive steel beams. Eventually, the team hopes, the bog will root itself once more and reattach to the shoreline.

Tesdahl estimates the operation will cost between $5,000 and $10,000. Taking advantage of an unusual product placement opportunity, the outboard motor company Evinrude has agreed to donate 20 boats, including a 24-foot barge, to the effort. Tesdahl is seeking donations for materials. Manpower, however, won’t be a problem. The American Legion in Minnesota has 73,000 members.

“You put a bunch of old veterans together, they can move a mountain,” Tesdahl says. Whether they can move a bog remains to be seen.

So this plan is moving forward, and Randy has even started some preliminary work, which you can see on his Facebook page by CLICKING HERE.

I'm hoping to head up there myself and help move the bog when the 4 feet of ice trapping it melts. Randy basically told me it could be anytime from 2 weeks out to mid-June, who knows. Either way, I'm hoping to go and cover it, because I don't think I've ever seen a boat ramp crushing bog floating around before, and I'm always up for new adventures that get me away from home.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.