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Bog on North Long to remain in place for winter

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Staked and frozen into the shallow water of North Long Lake in front of Legionville School Safety Patrol Training Center, the bog will spend the winter on the swimming beach at the Merrifield camp. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch Video 2 / 3
Legionville Camp manager Roy Kruger talks Tuesday about the bog frozen into the shallow water of the Legionville School Safety Patrol Training Center’s beach on North Long Lake in Merrifield. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch Video3 / 3

MERRIFIELD—For the time being, the monstrous floating bog on North Long Lake will remain in place.

The bog broke off the shoreline in October in Merrifield Bay on North Long Lake just outside Brainerd. It found its permanent resting place in front of Legionville School Safety Patrol Training Center, and camp officials Tuesday said it will remain there for the winter.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported the bog to be about three football fields in size—about 200 feet by 800 feet. In October, homeowners around the lake watched the bog—a natural wetland consisting of marsh, dead plant materials, cattails and, in this case, a line of tamarack trees—floating around the bay and wondered where it would land permanently. When the bog appeared to find a resting spot and landowners came up with a plan to manage it, the bog disappeared and floated to a new location.

The last location is where the bog continues to sit, right on Legionville camp's swimming beach.

Executive Director/State Adjutant Randy Tesdahl of the Minnesota American Legion—owners of the camp—said the American Legion is partnering with the North Long Lake Association, the DNR and outboard motors company Evinrude to move the bog as soon as ice is off the lake. Tesdahl said they were unable to move the bog earlier as the weather changed fast and they didn't have the manpower.

Tesdahl said the Legion partnered with Evinrude in the past as the company has supplied them with products and volunteers to help with veterans programs. He said Evinrude wants to help the camp and use the bog rescue for their own marketing strategies.

"Evinrude has the boats and the horsepower to try to turn it around and to fit it in place just east of here," Tesdahl said. "We will pin it and cable it in place once it's moved."

North Long Lake Association President Bill Schmidt said association members will be available to help in any way they can when the bog is moved. The association has been working with the Legion and the DNR since the bog began wandering around the lake. Schmidt said the weather turned cold so quick, so anchoring the bog is a good plan for the winter.

Tesdahl said it could cost as much as $150,000 to move the bog. He said there has been some negativity and finger pointing regarding who would pay to move the bog, such as if the lake association should pay for it.

"That needs to go away," Tesdahl said on the negativity. "This should be a community effort. We should be proud that we get move the largest bog in Minnesota and that we are doing it through a community effort. We're doing this for the kids and the veterans."

Not everyone agrees.

"I'm not the boss here, but I am the one who gets saddled with the problems here," Legionville Camp Manager Roy Kruger said. "It always falls back on me. It was suppose to be moved last fall and it will still be sitting there in the spring and I'm going to lose half my business.

"As the camp manager, as the person who runs the camp what do you do? I can't afford $60,000 to $80,000. Somebody is gonna have to pay to move it. I didn't stake it there. So the person who staked it there is the responsible party. So they're going to have to move it, they're gonna get sued. It's pretty straightforward."

Kruger said he talked with his boss—Legionville President Wayne Gilbertson, of the American Legion in Zimmerman—and they plan to send a legal notification letter to the North Long Lake Association stating if the bog is not moved by spring there will be a civil lawsuit filed.

"I didn't stake it down there, it's not mine," Kruger said. "I don't have the permit for it. It belongs to the North Long Lake Association. They staked it on my beach without our permission so what other choice do I have than to sue them?

"It should have been moved last fall."

Kruger said the camp serves about 700 children every summer.

The Legionville camp was established by the Minnesota American Legion for the purpose of training Minnesota young people in correct school patrol procedures. School safety and bus patrol training is the primary focus of the camp, however other classes campers attend are first aid, watercraft and swim safety, Legionville's website states.

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