Trail Building at Kate Furbish Elementary School
Despite the many changes that the pandemic brought to the world and to the Land Trust this year, having the opportunity to work with local partners and volunteers to build a new trail this fall felt like a momentary return to normal. Ahead of the start of the school year, teachers at brand new Kate Furbish Elementary School reached out to BTLT and Cathance River Education Alliance (CREA) looking for ways to get students outside, not just during the pandemic where fresh air and social distancing are essential, but in the longer term as well to foster outdoor learning.
While the nearest Land Trust trails are a few miles away from the new school, forested land owned by the Town of Brunswick abuts the school, providing great opportunity just a stone’s throw from the school doors. The woods had informal trails that had been used over the years by passers by, but given its location no formal trails existed in the woods – until now!
In September, Land Trust staff and a few volunteers were able to safely socially distance and work together to build a loop trail through the woods, which included removing invasive bittersweet, burning bush, barberry and trash, clearing downed trees and identifying tripping hazards. To facilitate outdoor learning, a number of “gathering” places were cleared along the trail where students could spread out and sit on stumps that were cut from the fallen trees, and CREA will be installing outdoor museums along the trail for kids to leave their found treasures.
The loop trail is located on the higher and drier portion of the woods, and there is much potential for additional trails. In the spring the Land Trust will revisit the woods with the teachers to assess wet areas where bog bridging could allow for additional loop trails to take students through seasonally wet areas and fern stands. Until then, hopefully the trails will be put to good use by the students and teachers of Kate Furbish Elementary!