Trail improvements underway across BRLT preserves

Tue, 05/19/2020 - 8:30am

    The warm weather has arrived and with it Boothbay Region Land Trust (BRLT) is moving ahead with a number of planned stewardship improvements across its preserves. Last October, as part of land trust’s strategic planning process, stewardship was named as one of three priority focus areas for the coming three years. Several goals were outlined during the strategic planning meeting, and plans have developed over the winter to address key stewardship needs and improvements for the coming year. Several of these projects are already underway including resurfacing work along the trails at Porter Preserve and Ovens Mouth, improvements to the parking area at Zak Preserve, and the installation of the universal access trail and expanded disability parking at Oak Point Farm.

    Visitors at Porter Preserve on Barters Island may have noticed trail work on the loop trail in the past couple of weeks. Efforts are underway at Porter to resurface the trail, beginning with areas that are especially risky due to the high quantity of exposed roots. Visitors may note the blue-hued gravel that has been added to fill in spaces within the root system. Fear not—this gravel is a base layer that will be covered with superhumus—a bark-like groundcover composed of organic materials. The end product will be a smoother trail that is easily traversable with an inconspicuous, natural aesthetic. Lands Manager Brad Weigel notes, “The improvements will enable the general public, including many who may be less mobile, to safely enjoy the beauty of this preserve without fear of injury.”

    While BRLT is currently focusing on sections where uneven roots are most obtrusive, the goal is to eventually work through the full trail system at Porter to ensure greater accessibility to this widely visited and much loved preserve. Similar work will commence along the loop trail of Ovens Mouth East later in the season with plans to resurface and smooth out the trail for improved accessibility using the same gravel and superhumus techniques.

    At Zak Preserve the parking and entrance is receiving some much needed attention. The parking area, originally built to hold only four vehicles, has recently been expanded and rebuilt to provide greater capacity with an enlarged gravel area. Later this season the entrance portion will be paved. Those who frequent Zak know that the gravel entrance causes potholes to form as cars accelerate on exiting the preserve to merge onto Route 27. The newly paved entrance will eliminate this problem of potholes and increase safety and accessibility. The fencing along the border of Zak is also in the process of being replaced with a new hardwood, split-rail fence that maintains the same pastoral aesthetic while providing a more durable product that should weather the seasons with less annual maintenance required.

    BRLT has hired professional contractors to complete the improvements at Zak Preserve. This work would not be possible without the generous support and commitment of Michael and Roxanne Zak, the original donors of the conservation land known as Zak Preserve, who have fully funded the fencing and parking lot improvements.

    Finally, initial work will begin this week at Oak Point Farm on the universal access trail and disability parking lot expansion. John Copeland of Kennebec Trail Company has been engaged to design and develop the trail and coordinate the parking lot expansion. The new trail will extend from an expanded lower parking lot to the shorefront at Dawes Landing. Plans include developing a bridged portion of trail to traverse the low-lying area between the freshwater pond and the farmhouse, and connecting into the current trail down to the landing. The portion utilizing existing trail will be regraded to comply with accessibility standards for universal access, making the entire trail fully accessible for all levels of mobility including those requiring wheelchairs or strollers. The trail is tentatively scheduled for completion at the end of July.

    Boothbay Region Land Trust appreciates the public’s cooperation while these trail systems and parking areas are developed and improved. Please check kiosks for notices regarding trail work. Please give workers space on the trails by practicing social distancing and avoiding sections of trail where workers are active.

    Those interested in learning more about how they can get involved as stewardship volunteers on BRLT preserves are encouraged to contact Lands Manager Brad Weigel at bweigel@bbrlt.org