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.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Trails Day 2014 - Part 1

We had great weather for National Trails Day on Saturday, June 6th - clear, sunny, warm.  The Shelton Trails Committee & CFPA were hosting 2 local hikes; the 10:30 walk on the RecPath started at Pine Lake, and the 1:00 Hike of the Paugussett Trail started at Shelton Intermediate School.

Pine Lake on Rt. 108 was picturesque with a number of fishermen and other park users exploring the RecPath at the beginning of the hike.

Luis, Sherri & Bill above were enjoying a chat prior to the start. 

Standing in for the mayor (not to worry...it was only for this event!), Terry skillfully read the Mayor's Proclamation regarding Shelton Trails Day. We then moved off quickly into the pine-scented pathway on the back side of the lake.

We had a lower than usual turn-out for Trails Day - about a dozen walkers.  But the public is defiantly enjoying the RecPath more; we passed a number of bikers, runners, dog walkers, and others out taking advantage of the fine weather Saturday morning.  We might have worked ourselves out of a job trying to sell Shelton's Open Spaces.

Here's some families out with younger kids and strollers out exploring the RecPath near the ballfields by the High School.  Having the RecPath and ballfields right next to each other can work well for families. 

There were several spots where shrubs, such as this Maple-leafed viburnum were in peak bloom.

Terry and Bill bring up the rear, protecting the rest of us from potential dangers, as in grizzlies and marauding chipmunks.

The mountain laurel were just starting to blossom.  There were a number of buds on some shrubs that will start to pop in the next week.

The areas along the power lines near Oak Valley Road were in a more colorful condition due to all the sun.

All in all we had a fine time, and no hikers were lost to bears, mountain lions, or heat stroke.  The portion of the RecPath along Basil Brook looked pretty, the hayfield at Lane St. looked ripe for mowing, and Huntington Street Cafe had plenty of cold beverages and hearty sandwiches at the end of the trail.  I can hardly wait to see the other photos of the hikes.  Another successful Trails Day.



Thursday, June 5, 2014

Wellington Weed Whacking

A short crew of trail volunteers cleared brush and briars along the Paugussett Trail last Saturday.  We worked on the stretch between Wellington Court and Independence Drive where it's mostly hand labor.  A more lengthy blog post with more photos is coming, but I did ask Jim to show me an action photo cutting brush & this is what I got:

Thankfully Steve and Matt from Shelton High School were a little more pro-active in the actual working department and we got a lot of thick stuff cleared out.  You may see Rich and Jim out with the mower this week along the RecPath getting ready for Trails Day on Saturday - watch out for them depending on who's driving.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Spring Cleaning

Spring is sprung,  
The grass is riz,
I wonder where
The boidies is?

Finally we had a weekend of warm, mostly dry weather, and an opportunity to work on one of our trails. Overcast skies and potential rain probably kept some potential volunteers away, but we gathered up a few industrious souls and worked on cutting away some of the overgrowth at the Lane Street end of the Shelton Rec Path. While we had some young, strong SHS students to do the dirty work, we were also able to move a large boulder onto the entrance to the trail to prevent unauthorized vehicles from wandering into the meadow.
Trails Committee members Jim, Terrance, and Richard were assisted by volunteers Steve, Steele, and Cameron. Committee member Sandie was our photographer.

Click on photos to enlarge

Jim enlists the aid of Steele and Steve
"You're moving that pebble from here to there?" asked Cameron

Just as they were about to give up, here comes the cavalry!
Terrance is poised to provide an unwelcome poke if necessary

"Almost there, men!"

"What do you mean 'This is the wrong boulder!' ?"

Work switches over to opening up the overgrown path. Steve, Steele and Cameron cut, rake and remove unwanted vegetation

Cameron and brother Steele

Work progresses farther down the trail

Refreshing drinks were kept cool in nature's refrigerator, the brook.

Jim used hedge clippers to clear out the heavy stuff...

...while Terrance employed a weed-whacker to get down low

Meanwhile, Steve cleared away brush from an old water tank discarded near the edge of the wetlands. It was on the list of trash to be removed from the area

At first thought to be too heavy to haul out by hand, it was much lighter than expected, and Steve and Steele were able to carry it out to the street for the city to pick up.

This completed a fruitful morning of several accomplishments. The rain never materialized, and we were able to attain our goals for this work party.