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Friends make great progress

By Staff | Jul 31, 2008

Gary Phillips and Cathy Ulrich piled rocks around the kiosk supports. EDN photos by Michael Tidemann

Tuesday was hot and humid and miserable. That wasn’t enough though to keep the Friends of Fort Defiance from making huge progress on the Whitetail Ridge interpretive trail.

The Iowa Lakes Community College Conservation Club students in Estherville provided funds to pay for the kiosk which Iowa Lakes Building Trades students in Emmetsburg constructed. The wooden kiosk has cedar shingles and a display area for a map of the trail and brochures for public distribution.

Members of the Friends groups turned out Tuesday work on the trail and kiosk. As Gary Phillips, professor of conservation studies, cut weeds, grass and brush from the trail, his wife, Lavonne, sprayed to keep vegetation from growing back on the trail. The trail will be topped with wood chips made from non-native tree species such as European buckthorne. The Friends and other groups have been working to eradicate European buckthorne from the park since it harbors Asian beetles.

Other workers helped by digging postholes in the 90-degree heat to set in the kiosk. Earth was tamped down and rock piled around the kiosk.

The kiosk is located in the westernmost parking lot of the park. It follows the ridge where numbered posts indicate various tree species and vegetation. At one point the trail offers a panoramic view of School Creek.

Lori Donovan and Cathy Ulrich loaded a European buckthorne stump into a pickup to take it to the burn pile.

As the Friends group worked Tuesday, they found a number of artifacts from when Civilian Conservation Corps workers were at Fort Defiance. One was a 1930s-era metal fireplace with a tree growing from the middle and some bedsprings.

Those helping included Gary and Lavonne Phillips, Dave Seylar, John Wittneben, Laura Young, Cathy and Mikayla Ulrich, Iowa Department of Natural Resources Ranger Steve Reigard, Sandi Reigard, Lori Donovan, Cathy and Mikayla Ulrich, Joe Shekey and Mike Tidemann.

Friends members are welcome to participate in work nights. The more that people participate, the more things can get done. Friends members, however, are not required to work (although we really appreciate it when they do).

The Friends are also putting the call out for member volunteers to help sit at the Friends booth in Library Square from 1-4 p.m. Saturday during Sweet Corn Days. This is an opportunity for those who aren’t able to participate during work nights to help. Sitting in the booth for even an hour would help. To schedule a time to sit in the booth, call Lori Donovan at 362-2313.

To join the Friends of Fort Defiance, send $5 for individual memberships or $10 for family memberships to: Friends of Fort Defiance Membership Committee, P.O. Box 314, Estherville, IA 51334.