Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Birchbank Trail Stabilization

This new rockwork will keep the intermittent stream from turning down the trail
For years we've been looking for a prospective Eagle Scout to take on the challenge of trail stabilization, and Tom Savarese from Troop 27 rose to the challenge at Birchbank.  Bridges and kiosks are favored by Scouts, which is understandable, but trail stabilization is something we really, really need.  And as our trail system continues to mature and shows signs of wear, the need for these types of projects will increase.

Birchbank is particularly susceptible to erosion. The trails at are very old, in some places over 100 years old where the old colonial road is followed (and it may have been an Indian road before that).  Also, the soil is unusually sandy and unstable, and much of the park slopes steeply.  Finally, there is a long history of illegal ATV usage on the trails that has caused damage so severe that some trail sections eroded as much as 3 feet deep and had to be abandoned. 

Along the flat part of Birchbank Trail, which runs parallel to Birchbank Road, there are a series of intermittent streams or gulleys that run straight down the hillside and then cross the trail at right angles. Or at least they used to, before the ATV tracks changed the topography, kicking up so much dirt along the sides that the trail began to intercept these streams.  There were times in the spring when a good long stretch of the trail was actually a river and was impossible to walk on unless you had really good waterproof boots.  Tom Savarese's project channelized these crossings to stop the water from turning down the trail. He also threw in a nice bench.

A bench was also added
Tom also constructed some new waterbars where the old trail turns up the hill. Waterbars move water off of the trail, reducing trail erosion. 

A waterbar intercepts and directs stormwater off the trail
Waterbars and/or steps in needed in various places along the trails. The trail at Riverview Park has a lot in common with Birchbank Trail, being a very old trail on a steep, sandy hill. All sorts of erosion issues there. And Turkey Trot Trail has a steep spot that is wearing badly. The trail may need to be rerouted, or some sort of stabilization used.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Bridging the Gap

What's neater than a bridge over a stream or wet area? Part of the challenge of walking the Paugussett Trail is confronting nature's obstacles, but sometimes it's nice to keep your feet dry. The Shelton Trails Committee selected a location on a recently developed extension of the trail and set to work building a bridge.

Click on photos to enlarge

O.K....so it isn't wet, YET!
Weather-resistant lumber and quality hardware insure a safe and sturdy structure

Jim lays out the floorboards for Bill and Richard to fasten with screws

Jim anchors the bridge abutments with rebar rods

The finished product

The bridge builders exit in military formation
Not bad for a morning's work! We're sure that this project will be appreciated if the weather ever gets back to normal, we get the back-ordered rain, and the streams flow again.