Shoreland Restoration Work Takes Place at Camp St. Ann
By Martha Davidge, WAPOA
When Bob Christensen was the Camp Director at Camp Foley back in the 1930s, he came to love the beautiful woods and views of the lake on the north side of Lower Whitefish Lake.
He and his wife Marge, both swimming instructors from small towns in Minnesota, purchased some property near the camp and built a cabin in 1952 for their family, which would eventually include ten children.
But sadly, shortly after the cabin was finished, the Christensens’ two-year-old daughter Ann died.
The couple decided to name the place in their daughter’s honor, and Camp St. Ann was created. A statue of a little girl still looks over the cherished property to remind the family of her legacy.
The cabin is now owned by two of the Christensen’s daughters, one son and five of their grandchildren; while three other sons also built cabins on other properties nearby.
Such is the story of the place that was chosen for WAPOA’s top shoreland restoration ‘contest’ funds this year
But the property wasn’t chosen just because of its rich history.
It was chosen by judges because of erosion problems inherent in the steep bluffs on that side of Whitefish Lake, and because the family owners were so committed to learning about shoreland restoration and adding their own hands-on work to save it from further problems.
Judges in this year’s “Partnering With WAPOA” process were Beth Hippert of the Crow Wing County Soil and Water District, Eleanor Burkett of the University of Minnesota Extension, Minnesota DNR Shoreland Specialist Heather Baird and Phil Hunsicker of Envision Minnesota.
These judges also provided advice and guidance throughout the restoration process, as did Baird’s DNR intern Caleb Simon. Further assistance came from Bonnie Hinicker of Sunshine Gardens.
This third annual ‘contest’ was sponsored by WAPOA. Many WAPOA members have worked on other shoreland restoration projects and have been gaining and sharing their knowledge, as each project is completed.
The project was done in stages, with the family itself doing quite a lot even before volunteer help was available. This included work in the compacted yard and on the cabin: gutters and an underground French storm drain were installed and a berm was built to prevent stormwater runoff. Large dead trees had to be removed from the steep and sandy forty-foot bank, and some weed-killing had to be completed before native shrubs and plants could be put in.
Volunteers helped the family install a biodegradable erosion control blanket; winter wheat seeding was completed to hold the bank until native grasses take hold; some 40 shrubs 500 plants and four trees were also planted.
A dormant fall seeding of native wildflower and prairie grass will be completed this fall as the weather cools for winter.
Muggsy (Margaret) Ferber, one of Bob and Marge Christensen’s daughters and now an owner of the property said, “We have many fun memories of the ten kids, 21 grandkids and 27 great-grandkids enjoying Camp St. Ann.
Our vision was to restore as much of our property to its natural habitat and to maintain and preserve the natural attributes of our beautiful lakeshore for today and the future generations of family, friends and neighbors.
We owe a huge thanks to so many.”
Statue in memory of Ann
Feber family as restoration starts
Bank before restoration
(No photo available yet, post restoration)