Montana - Lolo NF
Savenac Historic Nursery Restoration Project XXVII
July 9-14, 2023 (including weekends)
Volunteers must commit to entire session
In 1905, then-U.S. Forest Supervisor, Elers Koch, was on a honeymoon trip with his young bride. They came across an abandoned homestead, which they discovered was previously owned by the German settler, Savennach. Koch 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 the nearby railroads would help to deliver saplings across the region. His dream was soon put to the test during the Great Burn of 1910, wherein millions of acres of woodland – including parts of Savenac Nursery itself – and several towns were destroyed. 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. Although Savenac was later used for multiple purposes, such as housing the Youth Adult Conservation Corps in the 1970s, it remained mostly idle for the next 30 years. Then, in 1995, the first Passport in Time (PIT) project at Savenac Nursery began with just one bucket of paint! Since that time, PIT volunteers have helped maintain our buildings and grounds – no small feat by any means – and, combining your efforts with those of Forest staff, the legacy and beauty of Savenac endures!
At last, and thank goodness – the Savenac PIT project returns to its place in July this year! So, it’s back to our regular cool mornings, and to hot afternoons where we can jump into Savenac Creek to cool off! During the 2023 project, we’ll take on the next phase of the Bunkhouse downstairs: room remodels! In each individual room, we will replace the floors and will work on the wall and the wood-framed beds. The rooms’ porches will be stained – all of them – no more paint! Also, if enough volunteers who possess sewing skills apply, we may look at a sewing project for curtains on the first floor (ooh la la!).
Beyond that, we have more windows to repair at the complex. If we have volunteers who are interested, we’ll take on window repair and glazing in the East and West Cottages. This year, we’ll also be working with the YCC crews to maintain the interpretative walking paths. We will widen the east arboretum, and use the fill material in the east and west arboretums. Finally, as always, there is painting to do; not to worry! This year, we have the Shop to paint, along with numerous, other small projects. Other, more specialized and specific projects may also emerge, but these are the major ones we are planning so far. For those volunteers who may prefer, the grounds crew will continue maintaining the area – there is always something to do out here!
If you are new to PIT, Savenac is the absolute deluxe of PIT projects – just ask any of our volunteers! We have many who have returned year after year, and we have seen many young families come out. Additionally, with some 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. And one final, but important, detail: we provide the food and housing for our volunteers! You will be treated to a continental breakfast every morning, including cereal, oatmeal, and bagels; lunch is typically leftovers from the previous evening’s meal, though it generally 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! We love to welcome new volunteers, and hope to see many familiar faces, so come on home to Savenac Nursery, and join us for year 27!
Please note: We will continue to follow COVID-19 protocols. If the state requires us to wear masks, we will; currently, our mask mandates can change weekly. The health and wellness of our volunteers and staff are of the utmost importance. As a result of fluctuating regulations, our project may be subject to change.
Number of openings: 20
Special skills: Previous construction, carpentry, painting, general grounds-keeping, landscaping/gardening, and/or restoration skills helpful, but not required; also, depending on volunteers who apply, sewing may prove useful
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 for the full time frame as applicant
Facilities: As stated above, the FS will provide all meals and snacks. Our lodging options are as follows: FS bunkhouse at no charge (we can house exactly 16 individuals); separate men’s and women’s sections. Bunkhouse upstairs and Cookhouse downstairs will be under construction, however, the shower facilities in the Cookhouse will still be available. Volunteers will need to provide their own bedding (sheets, blankets, towels etc.). Tent and RV camping available on site at no charge; no water, no hook-ups; Camping also available at FS campground Cabin City; limited facilities, and fees may apply; St. Regis offers full-service camping areas (at volunteer expense), some limited amenities, and a small grocery store (most of the time). The $50,000 Motel is also located within a quarter mile of Savenac, and is a popular lodging spot for any wishing for hotel stay. Superior is a full-service community with hotels/motels, restaurants, and full range of other amenities; volunteers responsible for own camping equipment/off-site lodging, and daily transportation to and from work site
Nearest towns: Haugan and St. Regis, 15 miles; Superior, 30 miles; Wallace, Idaho, ~60 miles
Applications due: May 1, 2023