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Monster floating bog lingers, moves around on northern Minnesota lake

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A monstrous bog that broke off the shoreline a few weeks ago in Merrifield Bay on North Long Lake just outside of Brainerd continues to amaze residents. Steve Kohls / Forum news Serivce2 / 3
Steve Stohr (left) of Peterson Towing points to the monstrous bog Thursday morning along Legionville Safety Camp’s beach, as Bill Schmidt, the North Long Lake Association president, and Harry Ruikka of Peterson Towing, discuss the situation of the bog floating around Merrifield Bay on North Long Lake, just north of Brainerd. Steve Kohls / Forum News Service3 / 3

MERRIFIELD, Minn.,—The monster bog that broke off the shoreline a few weeks ago in Merrifield Bay on North Long Lake just outside of Brainerd continues to lurk around the bay, trying to find a permanent resting place.

Initially it was reported the bog was about the size of a football field. After further review by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and after an aerial view of the bog, it is estimated to be about three football fields in size—about 200 feet by 800 feet.

Homeowners around the lake have been watching 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 wondering where it will land permanently. Just when the bog seems to find a resting spot and landowners come up with a plan to manage it, the bog disappears and floats to a new location.

The monster bog made its way closer to its original spot Thursday, landing in front of the Legionville Safety Camp.

Kevin Martini with the Brainerd DNR office, who works in aquatic plant management, said his office has determined that the bog broke off from the shore near Legionville. Martini said they used Google Earth maps to determine where the bog came from and had a perfect match. Martini has been staying in contact with North Long Lake Association President Bill Schmidt, who is taking the lead on taking care of the bog.

Schmidt was working on a plan to take care of the bog earlier Thursday morning, when he thought the bog was "a good 100 feet from shore." The bog had other plans.

The wind picked up and the bog floated closer to Legionville's shoreline.

"I don't know a piece of equipment on earth that would move it," Schmidt said while looking at the bog. "This has to be 5-plus acres and weigh a thousand tons. ... This is a lot of weight and is very dangerous. ... It's crazy. I got to think now what we will do."

Schmidt came out to the camp property initially with Steve Stohr and Harry Ruikka of Peterson Towing. He thought the bog was farther out from shore, as that was where it was the last time he saw it. After seeing the bog, the trio determined Peterson Towing would not be able to help move the bog.

"The wind brought it in last night," Schmidt said. "This tells me it's floating and that's a concern. If the south wind takes off, it is going to take off unless we anchor it.

"This totally changes our plans."

"It's incredible," Schmidt said of the size of the bog and how rapid it has been moving. "I've never seen anything like this, anywhere."

"I feel so bad where this bog landed," Nicole Zoschke, who has a residence a few houses down from Legionville, said. "Where are these kids going to swim, where did their beach go, where did their nice big lake go."

Zoschke said she also has never seen a bog of this size.

Martini said the DNR will not allow the association to burn the bog, as it would not be effective. Martini said explosives also would not be allowed. Martini said Schmidt is working on staking the bog down.

Martini said the DNR office is getting "a lot of heat" about their role in helping residents with the bog, as the DNR is unable to take ownership of it. Martini said he feels bad, but that is the policy.

"The DNR has no jurisdiction on floating bogs, other than we're not going to stand in their way to deal with it," Martini said. "We gave them the free permits they need.

"We are not trying to be unsympathetic, we understand. ... We would be happy with wherever it ends up. ... We don't want it moving around the lake. We understand people don't want it in front of their house. It's impressive but sad, as it is causing some heartache."

Martini said the DNR receives about six to a dozen complaints on floating bogs a year, just in the Brainerd area. He said there is not a lot the DNR can do about it. He said if people feel strongly about having the DNR help with floating bogs, they need to talk with their legislators.

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