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Huge floating bog that damaged docks still on northern Minn. lake

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MERRIFIELD, Minn. -- When lakeshore owners on a northern Minnesota lake about five miles  north of Brainerd woke up last Friday, they couldn’t believe their eyes.

It was the biggest floating bog they’d ever seen in their lives.

The bog -- a natural wetland consisting of marsh, dead plant materials, cattails and, in this case, a line of Tamarack trees -- was about the size of a football field and floating around Merrifield Bay on North Long Lake.

Sometime overnight Thursday, the bog -- resembling a small island -- floated into a dock causing damage at a resort in rural Merrifield.

Marlene Minke, who lives nearby on the rural Merrifield lakeshore, said she couldn’t believe it when she saw the bog on the 6,000-acre lake.

“It’s like a forest out there,” said Minke, who has lived on the lake for 40 years, as she walked down to the lakeshore. “They’re even trees on it. Do you see it? I have never seen anything like this in my life. The wind blew hard all week, and yesterday it really blew hard and today this is what we get.”

The long dock buckled at the end with the bog’s impact, leaving pieces of dock sections standing on end. Dock sections floated in the lake and one section with a built-in bench and a real estate sign was turned on its side while boat lifts were shifted.

Bert and Jim Filipkowski, who live just south of where the bog stopped Friday, said it was the biggest bog they had ever seen.

“It was unbelievable,” Bert Filipkowski said.

Dave Wagnild, who also lives nearby, also was amazed at the bog’s massive size.

“I saw it when I first got up,” Wagnild said. “I woke up and went on the porch and looked out and saw it. I called my wife and we both were flabbergasted. We have seen smaller bogs on the lake, but nothing like this.”

Neighbors Tom Klein and Jim Anderson were with a crew taking out docks, boats and boat lifts, in case the bog broke off and moved to their shoreline.

Klein and Anderson saw the bog floating around for about two weeks, along the shore and near the public boat access.

“It has stayed in this bay,” Klein said. “It broke off somewhere with the high water. Who knows how it got here.

“I’ve never seen anything like this. If it stays here we are looking for some help.”

Kevin Martini with the Brainerd DNR office, who works in aquatic plant management, came to Klein’s property to see the large bog for himself and to offer the neighbors direction on how to deal with the bog appropriately.

“I’m sorry to tell you but the DNR has no ownership of the bog,” Martini said. “It’s a public water to us. It’s habitat and part of the lake.”

Martini, who also said he has never seen a bog so big, said the DNR could issue the lakeshore owners a free permit to deal with the bog.

Martini told the neighbors  once the winds were calm and they have enough watercraft, they would slowly guide the bog to the nearest boat access.

However, as of mid-week the bog was still on the lake, although it shifted to the west toward a school patrol camp called Legionville, according to Bert Flipkowski.