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Nonprofit group helping to restore Fort Wilkins

March 7, 2012
By Garrett Neese , Houghton Daily Mining Gazette

COPPER HARBOR - Fort Wilkins Historic State Park will get some sprucing up over the summer thanks to a Wisconsin nonprofit group.

The Teacher Restoration Corps of Wisconsin will come to the park from July 28 to Aug. 5 to refurbish outhouses at the park, including redoing the shingles on the roofs.

"They want us to pull those off and re-do that; there's some siding that has to be replaced, and then we'll go in and do some general maintenance," said Corps leader Dave Dobkoski.

At least 22 people will come for the project, Dobkoski said. He does not yet know how many outhouses the group will work on.

The Teacher Restoration Corps does service work for national parks and forests, in keeping with its mission statement: "To maintain man's imprints on our forests and national parks."

The Fort Wilkins project came about after Dobkoski went on a vacation in the Upper Peninsula last fall.

"We talked to the people there and told them what we can do," Dobkoski said. "They therefore got in touch with the Michigan (Department of Natural Resources) and told them what we could do for them. They asked us if we wanted to come up and do some restoration work."

This will be the 17th summer for the group, made up primarily of teachers. The mailing list has grown to more than 300 strong, Dobkoski said.

As an incentive, teachers can also earn graduate credit through Adams State College in Alamosa, Colo.

Though based in Wisconsin, they travel all over for projects, including Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota, Alaska and Wisconsin. In all, Dobkoski logged 7,000 miles on his truck for projects last summer.

With that many miles logged, Dobkoski said, having a project in their backyard will be a nice change of pace.

"I hope the mosquitoes settle down by the time we get there, and the deer and the horseflies," he said. "Fort Wilkins, it's a really neat national park ... the way budgets are in the national government, anything people can do to help people see what's there, it's a really big deal."

It's not the only Upper Peninsula project they'll do. The group also plans to work on an old Civil Conservation Corps building in Black River in the Ottawa National Forest.

Everyone on the board was enthusiastic about going to Fort Wilkins, Dobkoski said.

"It should be a lot of fun going up there," he said. "And it's such a beautiful area - so magnificent."

 
 

 

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