AmeriCorps workers impact Camp Marshall
It isn't unusual for Camp Marshall, located along the east shore of Flathead Lake on Melita Island Road north of Polson, to be bustling with activity during the summer. But, instead of campers hiking, attending chapel and singing around the campfire, Camp Marshall has been home to a group of AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps workers since April 13.
A diverse group, the 11-member Silver 1 team was based out of Sacramento, Calif., but hailed from Minnesota, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Washington and Virginia.
The young people came to do some fuels reduction work around Camp Marshall, cutting down diseased trees, clearing underbrush and clearing, building and maintaining paths. Trained by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, all the team members are Type 2 wildland firefighters and Type A fallers.
“Everybody on the team can handle a chainsaw,” team leader Daniel Strauss said.
Julie Sisler, Camp Marshall site manager, said Silver 1 was amazing. Sisler had hired Dennison Logging to lay down seven or eight hazardous trees at the camp, and Sisler said it “looked like pick up sticks with 60-year-old-pine trees.” On their first day in camp, Silver 1 workers got the trees bucked up, split, stacked and the slash burned. Sisler estimated the job would have taken her family a week of hard work.
In addition to its fuels reduction and path work, Silver 1 replaced Camp Marshall’s rotting kitchen floor, seeded grass and planted more than 1,000 trees. Never idle, team members were present at the groundbreaking of Polson’s first community garden, volunteered at the animal shelter and local food pantries, visited Kerr Dam, worked with Cub Scouts and day-tripped to Glacier National Park.
The AmeriCorps NCCC workers have “changed Camp Marshall in an historical way,” Sisler explained.
If Sisler’s volunteer labor force had done the work accomplished by Silver 1, it would have taken 10 years.