KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
BENNINGTON -- A 75-foot boardwalk is being built at a conservation area off Route 7 that will provide better access to one of the wetter parts of the wetland.
A crew of about eight from the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps started the project Tuesday at the Greenberg Conservation Reserve and hopes to have it complete in a week and a half, said Kalyn Campbell, a member of the VYCC crew.
The VYCC is a statewide nonprofit that hires people -- mainly in the 16 to 24 age range -- to work on public conservation projects. Members of the corps were in the area a few weeks ago cleaning debris from the Roaring Branch along the Kelly Stand Road in Sunderland, which had three houses wash into it during Tropical Storm Irene two years ago.
"They're well known in Vermont. They do a nice job," said Mary Fuqua, chairwoman of the Board of Directors for the One World Conservation Center, which manages the reserve. "We've worked with them for a couple of years and they've given us a number of improvement projects that they could do, and price tags, and the one that we thought should have priority should be the first section of a boardwalk."
The boardwalk will be off the Wetland Lookout Trail and include a 16-foot observation platform. Water levels at the site vary, Fuqua said, but the boardwalk will be three feet from the ground. It will allow visitors such as school children safe access to the wetland portion of the reserve, where more interesting plants and animals can be found. Fuqua said there are beaver there now and again, and there is evidence of at least one otter calling the place home.
The project cost is $23,000 Fuqua said, and is being covered by grants from the local Whipstock Preservation Society, the Windham Foundation in Grafton, and the Davis Conservation in Maine. She said the latter two helped the conservation center build a timber frame bridge on the Greenberg site. That, too, was built by the VYCC.
Campbell, 25, said the crew she is on now is made of members who lead crews of younger people during the summer. They are camped at the One World Conservation Center, as is their practice with other job sites. In addition to the boardwalk, the group has also replaced a set of stone steps connected two of the trails. She said most members have some experience in the building trades in addition to a four-week training course they took through the VYCC. Most have environmental science backgrounds, she said.
The boardwalk will be grounded using cement pieces she called "piers," so the structure will considered temporary for permitting purposes. Since spring, Campbell said she has been doing projects such as building check dams, river restoration, and constructing a rain garden in Woodstock.
"This is definitely our most technical project so far," she said.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.