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Crow’s Nest: New boardwalks!

July 15, 2020

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager.

Photo: Daniel Barringer

Overnight, we’ve doubled the length of our boardwalks at Crow’s Nest Preserve, thanks to volunteers from the youth group at First Presbyterian Church of Pottstown. They approached us about doing a local project that wouldn’t require travel during the pandemic, and we identified the need for keeping hikers out of the mud on the Hopewell Trail. Actually the project offers two benefits: it improves visitors’ experiences here by keeping them out of the mud, and protects the wildflowers on the forest floor from being trampled as people try to go around the muddy spots. Although the trail was originally designed and laid out on the driest part of the forest, over the years soil compaction and erosion has meant that these parts of the trail are either seasonally or permanently muddy.

Photo: Daniel Barringer

One washed-out section of trail was treated to a bridge crossing and further into the Hopewell Woods three separate sections of boardwalk were built on site in one day. There will be many more photos we will post of the actual activity being done, but I wanted to share what was accomplished as soon as I could. (I didn’t take many photos during the work because I was running around too much.) And as you can imagine, the logistics of working while masked and maintaining social distance was pretty complex.

Photo: Daniel Barringer

If you were also to guess that carrying in the materials was a huge part of the job, you’d be right. Each of the planks weighs almost 100 pounds (“green” white oak) and there were a lot of boards and they were being carried pretty far from the closest vehicle access. There’s no way we could have done this without volunteers. And they did a spectacular job, above and beyond what we had planned to accomplish. We had originally designed very few turns, to keep the project simple, but with a few extra cuts the boardwalk follows the terrain elegantly and makes for a much more satisfying experience.

Photo: Daniel Barringer

This trail is located in the woods adjacent to Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site where our trails connect with those in Hopewell Furnace and beyond that leading into French Creek State Park. As we were putting the finishing touches on these boardwalks and they were already getting some use!

We are so grateful to the youth group and adults at First Presbyterian Church of Pottstown for their work and to the National Park Service for allowing us to stage tools, lumber, and volunteers on their land at our shared boundary. We weren’t there long though—this was done in one day!

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