The “Sugar Shack” under construction at Maplewood.

The Friends of Maplewood State Park priority project is well underway.

Ground breaking for the new “Sugar Shack” took place in August. Earth-work, concrete, plumbing and carpentry have been keeping local contractors and Friends’ volunteers busy since then. When the project is completed, the Friends of Maplewood will “gift” the building to the Minnesota DNR as a further enhancement to the growing maple syrup interpretive programming conducted at the Park.

As of this writing, the building is nearly closed in, windows are installed and the building is nearly ready for its green steel roof and cedar siding. The colors and rustic theme for the sugar shack are similar to the building design of the Park’s well known Josh Hanson Memorial picnic shelter, a Friend’s Group project completed in 2008.

2017 maple syrup season targeted for completion

It is expected that the new facility will be complete and maple sap processing equipment will be installed and ready for the 2017 season. For the past seven seasons, the maple interpretive program has been conducted on a temporary outdoor set-up in the Trail Center parking lot area.

Under formal contract with the DNR, the Friends Group volunteers are permitted to tap a limited number of the Park’s sugar maple trees to conduct the interpretive program, primarily for the benefit of area schools during the week and the general public on weekends. Park Rangers and volunteers provided interpretive programming to over 400 members of the general public in the 2016 season.

Shack is joint Maplewood Friends, DNR project

The sugar shack project is a cooperative effort between the Friends of Maplewood volunteer group and the Minnesota DNR Parks and Trails Division. The Friends of Maplewood has raised the necessary funds for building construction, acquired state-of-the-art processing equipment and provided volunteer labor and expertise.

The MN DNR has provided building design services and responsibility for upgrading the driveway access, parking lot and improved handicap accessibility.

Numerous area contractors involved in Sugar Shack project

Local contractors and suppliers involved in the project to date: Egge Construction, Gary Wagenman Construction, Lake Region Electric Cooperative, Stenerson Lumber, Franklin Fence, Arntson Electric, Hanson’s Plumbing and Dave Knopf Construction. In addition, hundreds of hours of volunteer time have been contributed by numerous members of the Friends Group to assist in planning, fundraising and actual construction.

The Friends of Maplewood mission includes assisting the MN DNR in preserving and utilizing Maplewood, and proper planning and management of its facilities. The organization consists of members who enjoy and appreciate Maplewood as a great natural resource. Its goal is to work with park management on projects and events so that families can enjoy the park throughout the year.

For further information, contact John Nordstrom, President Friends of Maplewood or Stu Peterson, Treasurer Friends of Maplewood and project coordinator.