By Stewardship Intern Irene Syphers
The stewardship season is ramping up – from Cathance River Trail bog bridge inventory to tread mitigation from unauthorized vehicle use at Crystal Spring Farm trails. In the past couple of months, I’ve had the pleasure of exploring, healing, and forging new trails throughout the BTLT trail systems.
Looking forward, our projects include getting the Chase Reserve and Topsham River trails open while proceeding with maintenance to tread and other features on existing trails.
The newly conceived Topsham River Trail is just one of our exciting summer projects. The Town of Topsham has engaged us to construct this gorgeous pedestrian trail along the lower Androscoggin River. Working with volunteers and our summer stewards, we will be hardening the trail and building erosion control and stream crossing structures.
The new trails at Chase Reserve are taking shape. Upcoming work includes installing bog bridges across wet areas and stream crossings, as well as removing hazard trees and blow downs. The most recent installments are stepping stones (pictured below).
On a brisk April morning, superstar volunteer, Terry, met me to quarry and set stones. In this venture, Terry and I used rock bars (large crowbar-esque tools) to locate prime rocks in the mushy, half-frozen ground. Once rocks are located, the moisture level of the ground is considered. By the time we’re ready to roll them to the installation site on the trail, we’re already covered in mud! Installation of the stones is meditative work, requiring careful evaluation of the site and our materials. We identify the best side of the stone to face up (that would be the flat side!) , take note of the stone’s bottom shape, and dig the perfect hole to fit the bottom. When the rocks are thrown into the hold, stability is assessed, and – ta-da! – stepping stones are set.
Other summer stewardship projects will include continuing improvements on some of our much-loved trails at Cathance River Nature Preserve. In an effort to improve drainage and longevity of tread, we will be upgrading a culvert on the Barnes Leap Trail, rerouting stretches of the Highland Trail to cut down on bog bridging, and creating new access trails from the relocated Hiker Parking.