The ‘Creek Life
Strapped in snowshoes, we tried to stride but mostly stomped our way across the open clearing. When we located the buried viewing deck, we stopped and with a satisfying plop found ourselves comfortably on our back staring up at the Milky Way. It was there in the peace I found myself trying to think of another way to say “wonderland” when Diane reminded me that a moment like this says what words cannot…so I left it there in the silence. That is winter at Brickyard Creek.
The “new normal” that I described in last winter’s manager report spoke in part to our changing seasonal expectations. So I was admittedly hoping for the same mild start to December that we have experienced in recent years. Then I heard cold and snow were on the way. After I ordered two loads of wood chips. Finishing work on the newly designed Gaylord Nelson Trail needed to be expedited. The next morning was a carbon copy of so many previous days. Gray, with the penetrating mist that really is the worst kind of weather. Regardless, I headed out with shovel in hand and the knowledge that I would soon be caked in mud. The trail did not disappoint. However, I was not deterred, and when I began to feel the encroaching dark sky, my determination went into overdrive. Just then, Dan Wilczek out for his last snow-free walk for the season appeared and sensing my urgency picked up a shovel. The race was on and no matter how fast I could coerce the cart down the trail another was ready to go when I got back to the pile. In short order, we finished the project together. We did not have long to admire our work because almost on cue big, heavy flakes the size of silver dollars dropped from the sky and coated our efforts. I haven’t seen the trial since.
I share the story because it illustrated the past year at Brickyard Creek. Steadfast goals followed by a blur of activity (despite the weather) and remarkable amount accomplished through teamwork, determination, and the support of community members.
Boreal Forest Citizens
Action is initiated by identifying value.
Our community newsletter the Boreal Forest Citizen continues to powerfully communicate the limitless attributes of Brickyard Creek and its members. I hope that each of you will take the opportunity to creatively share your story or experiences in regards to Brickyard Creek, Lake Superior, or the surrounding area. Please contact me to submit your video, photo essay, or written article. Your participation will educate others and significantly add to the growing appreciation of our community.
Our shared identity lends itself to a more connected and engaged community.
Activities this past year include:
- The picnic pavilion staining project: On a warm, windy day a large group of boreal forest citizens gathered to stain the lakeside pavilion. It was hard work, but also a lot of fun and great camaraderie. At the end of the day not only was the building greatly enhanced, but new friendships were forged.
- Beach and Picnic Area Improvement: Invasive weeds were pulled around the flagpole and kayak racks, further painting and staining were completed at the pavilion, and the entire beach was cleaned of logs, sticks, and debris. An impressive day that made all the difference.
- Brickyard Creek Gathering: “Community Sense” – shared the idea that BYC is something bigger than itself. The day consisted of creek testing with scientists from the Lake Superior Watershed Assoc., a presentation from Park Superintendent Bob Krumenaker and FAINL Board President Erica Peterson, and a chance to socialize while enjoying the gourmet hot dog bar.
- Creek Monitoring: Forest & Watershed Committee members are testing Brickyard Creek consistently throughout the year. Please be looking for an upcoming Boreal Forest Citizen article to learn more.
Of course, Brickyard Creek cannot be viewed as a stand-alone community. Our ties to area organizations are crucial to preserving the very reasons we chose to invest here. This past year BYC Boreal Forest Citizens planted beach grass on Oak Island, monitored Bayfield Regional Conservancy land, created gardens and removed storm debris on Michigan Island, completed a major maintenance project on the Brownstone Trail, weeded the garden at park headquarters, and helped fund an accessibility initiative for the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
Thanks to all for your efforts and leadership. Truly, the evolution of our community is expanding the idea of who we are and what we can be. Again, thank you.
Our website has served as an electronic version of our handbook for years. However, the changing dynamic of our community has made it evident that an updated version is critical to our continued momentum and needs. To this end, a “tech team” has been formed to develop a structure that promotes engagement, advances our purpose, and strengthens our brand. Many thanks again to community members Zina and Tony for giving their time and professional expertise to this important endeavor. Our goal is to create an activity-driven, interactive website that provides pertinent information for the benefit of owners, volunteers, renters, and prospective community members alike.
Operations and Maintenance Report
Meaning and community connection are essential to preserve our long-term viability. Day-to-day operations assures our well-being and protects our investment. Maintaining Brickyard Creek’s infrastructure and grounds requires total vision with a keen understanding of aesthetic.
- The single-track that leads through the Jens Jensen Clearing to the Dark Sky Viewing Deck, Monarch Butterfly Waystation, and Listening Points was improved by removing invasive weeds, extensively pruning, and adding wood chips to the pathway. A mix of birch and maple were planted among the balsam, spruce, and white pine to extend and better represent the adjoining forest.
- The Gaylord Nelson Trail was remade entirely with cedar logs and fresh wood chips. Also, wood decking was built and added to the two areas that are consistently muddy or underwater.
- A Listening Point was added below the Old Rail Trail along a scenic and tranquil portion of Brickyard Creek. Steps near the Arts and Crafts inspired bridge leads to a path and a newly installed bench to rest, reflect, and renew.
- Trail infrastructure (bridges and staircases) were power washed and coated with a transparent water-based sealant to protect and promote graying.
- Renovation of the Aldo Leopold Trail has begun. Work will be completed in the early Spring (or when the snow melts).
- Bacteriological testing was completed on cottage wells, and all passed safe. Rental management services received a copy to meet state health regulations. All tests are on file and available upon request.
- A reminder that well repair is the responsibility of the Condo Association. If you have water issues related to the well, please contact me before other vendors.
- A 3-year plan to stain, repair, or replace well covers (the doghouse-like structure) is scheduled to begin this summer.
- All roads and driveways in BYC I, II, II were graded.
- The gravel rotation plan for 2017 was completed. This included the roads and driveways of Casey, White Pine, Black Spruce, Brickyard Creek, Creek Trail, Sophie, and portions of Madeleine.
- Plans for the coming season include adding gravel to Madeleine, portions of Olivia, Isabel, and much of BYC II.
- Updates regarding Roy’s Point Blvd will continue to be communicated through the “Around The Yard” newsletter.
- Cedar posts and new street signs were installed on Casey, Isabel, Jordan, and Sophie. Replacement for Tucker, Bjorn, Black Spruce, and White Pine is scheduled this summer. Tamarack will be installed immediately after NPS construction. This work finishes the replacement of all road signs throughout Brickyard Creek.
- Speed limit signs are scheduled to be re-stained this summer.
- A new printed interpretive trail guide to correspond to numbered signs along the trail system will be introduced this year.
- The focus in 2017 was the strategic removal of aged Popple. Brickyard Creek’s professional arborist conducted a survey and began to cut down trees based on the potential hazard to cottages, driveways, roads, trails and other trees (in that order). The long-range plan calls for all aged Popple to be removed over the course of several years to protect our investment and open the forest to desired trees and plants.
- A reminder that the arborist consistently inspects our forest for potential hazardous trees throughout the year and after each windstorm.
- Several storms throughout the year brought down trees throughout the property. This includes the monster nor’easter that also pummeled our lakeshore on October 24th. Evaluation and clean-up are immediate after each storm.
- Extensive weeding, pruning, and mulching has led to significant improvement
- Native groundcover plants and trees were added this past Spring
- A Boreal Forest Citizen volunteer maintenance day will be offered this coming Spring to plant native ground cover and remove invasive weeds.
- Replacement of the sign will likely be required in the next year or two due to rotting
- Recycling and trash dumpsters are emptied every other week during the winter months
- A reminder that our dumpsters cannot be used for electronic items, car parts, construction material, etc.
- B.R.B Recycling Authority located in the Town of Russell (right down the road on Hwy 13) will take old appliances, furniture, electronics, etc.
- Please break-down all boxes for recycling
- There was no evidence of damage or report of break-in throughout 2017
- I consistently walk around each cottage and lake home. If anything is amiss, you will be notified immediately.
- The relationship between Brickyard Creek and Red Cliff remains excellent. The tribal police continue to voluntarily patrol are roads.
- Septic services require a path to your holding tank cover. Please notify your home service provider to shovel if needed.
- Our community website is the go-to resource for everything you need to know about Brickyard Creek. In addition to articles, video, and past reports, you will find the handbook under the resource tab.
- Please contact me if you plan to make any changes to your cottage or lakeshore property. Architectural guidelines are found in the handbook.
- For the latest information regarding Brickyard Creek, community partners, and happenings throughout the area, please like us on Facebook at Brickyard Creek Community on Lake Superior.
- Also, please continue to look for the “Around The Yard” communique sent periodically to your email account and posted on our website. This is provided to keep you updated on Board news and association
- Save the Date – Brickyard Creek Associations Annual Meeting – Saturday, May 26th
Lastly, in case you missed it, is the article about the Brickyard Creek Community in the Oct/Nov edition of Lake Superior Magazine. I cannot think of a better way to end this report. Brickyard Creek is the “best – place – ever!”
Thank you and remember to pack your snowshoes!