Report from LCO Harvest Camp, deep in the Penokees

A report from Nick Vander Puy, after returning from Harvest Camp established in the Penokee Hills by the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Tribe. The camp is open to all:

Wood turtles are listed as a "threatened" species. Photo: Nick Vander Puy

Wood turtles are listed as a “threatened” species. Photo: Nick Vander Puy

After we dropped off a chainsaw and some maple sugar cakes today at the Lac Courte Oreilles (LC0) conservation camp, we walked down to the rushing Tyler Forks river. Our brother Bill Heart was leading a group of birders who found a Wood Turtle.

Clambering through the brush, we came to a distinctive cedar on the banks of the churning river. We made an offering and went into the slip stream. Sitting on the bank it could have been the early 1800’s for all we knew.

When I returned to ordinary consciousness I knew the sound of the river is above all things. I was astounded and enraged again about the State of Wisconsin supporting the destruction of this place.

Wild leeks or onions, sometimes called ramps, growing in the Penokee Hills. Photo: Nick Vander Puy

Wild leeks or onions, sometimes called ramps, growing in the Penokee Hills. Photo: Nick Vander Puy

When we walked back to camp we were greeted by leader Melvin Gaspar and his helpers. Everybody was working, cutting brush and firewood and getting some food on. Jeannie and Melvin returning from Flambeau with their kids dropped off six packages of muskie.

Gaspar told us the camp plans to harvest wild onions this week, host a naming ceremony and vision quest, pick mushrooms, berries and take a ceremonial deer at the time of the fireflies.

Next spring, there are plans for a large sugar bush. Gaspar keeps a log of all visitors, plant and animal sightings and harvest. Tomorrow we’ll cut some lodge-poles for wigwams.

Wigwam going up at Harvest Camp

Wigwam going up at Harvest Camp

Join us for a weekend celebration of the Penokees beginning Friday May 24 with a benefit for the Penokee Hills Education Project at the Bad River Casino, and continuing through Sunday May 26, 2013 with camping and feasting at Copper Falls, tours of the Harvest Camp, an outdoor concert in Upson and a picnic in downtown Mellen.

Here is a list of needs for the camp. Please consider donating when you come:
Bring shovels and rakes
Large vessel for cooking
Gas stoves or grills
paper products (towels, toilet paper)
Rain barrels
Garbage Cans
Can goods
Noodles, rice, wild rice and other non-perishable food items
Extra blankets
Plates and eating utensils
Snippers for blazing trails

DIRECTIONS to LCO Harvest Camp:

From Mellen, go south on 13. Turn east on 77 toward Hurley. Go east approx 7 miles. At about mile 5.5 you cross the Iron/Ashland county line, and about another mile greeted on the right side with a sign that says “Welcome to historic Iron mining district.” 77 bends around but right after that sign, on the right is Moore Park Road. Turn south on it, up hill. Camp Plummer as the Harvest Camp is called, is at the end of the long stretch on the right in a little cubby hole in the woods cut by the county, just before you take a full turn east and go down to Tyler Forks boat landing.

Spring at the Tyler Forks River. Photo: Bill Heart

Spring at the Tyler Forks River. Photo: Bill Heart

7 thoughts on “Report from LCO Harvest Camp, deep in the Penokees

  1. What a magnificent, transformative day that must have been. Just look at the glorious tumult of the river! Great photos by Nick and Bill and an excellent description by Nick. Thanks for putting this up, Barbara.

  2. Pingback: Nothing Trumps Water: Why it must be Bernie or Bust | United In Defense of The Water

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