The weather cooperated; so did the fantastic crew of volunteers! Nearly twenty volunteers, including some fresh faces from the volunteer organization One Brick Philadelphia, came out on Saturday June 2nd to help maintain and improve the trails at McKaig Nature Education Center.
Three teams tackled three different tasks.
First, a crew led by UMPHF President Steve Patterson installed steps from the Southeast Parking area to the Laurel Trail below Monkey Rock. The Laurel Trail was relocated last year and the Monkey Rock Trail was closed due to erosion and dangerous footing. With the Laurel Trail closer to the parking area, people naturally took a shortcut over an erosion gully and on a steep embankment instead of using the official trail head.
"Our primary concern is for the safety of our visitors," said Patterson. "We also want to give Nature a chance to heal the surrounding area and stabilize that slope." The steps will focus foot traffic onto one designated path, rather than all over the slippery hillside.
Next to head into the woods was a team led by Eagle Scout Candidate Jon Assoian, with the support of his father Rick Assoian and UMPHF Vice President Jim Weiland. Their goal was to repair the erosion damage where the Nancy Lang Trail crosses the Wayne Woods Creek. This area was washed out during Hurricane Irene, which left a dangerously under-cut bank right where people step down to ford the creek.
Jon and his crew placed a large natural log where the former stream bank was eroded and back-filled with rocks and gravel. Using his scout knot craft, Jon and his volunteers rigged a sling to transport the 12-foot long, 16-inch thick log. It took six people to drag it into position. This now makes a safer step down to stream level. Jon and his scout troop will place additional logs and fill to encourage natural re-vegetation in that area. This will also encourage walkers to use the designated path, instead of wandering along the bank and crushing additional stream side plants. Mr. Assoian noted his son's passion for the project: "He's learning a lot about how streams naturally move, and the effects of storm water run-off."
The third and largest project for the day was repairing retaining walls at the Boltuch Bridge. The two parts of this project included the removal of an undermined timber wall downstream of the bridge and back-filling under the bridge itself to support the abutment. These were damaged by Hurricane Irene. Due to their weakened state, the abutments were further undermined during the heavy rains of May 15.
Board member Max Kurbjun and veteran volunteer Rebecca Dulac took charge of dismantling the old retaining wall. Although the water was a foot higher than normal due to rains the night before, Max and Rebecca waded in to pry apart timbers and cut rebar with a battery-powered hack saw. Executive Director Russ Johnson then waded in with his chain saw to separate sections of the wall. The most photogenic moment of the workday came when eleven pairs of hands worked together to shift a large section of the wall.
Meanwhile, board members Jake Ferry and Joe Trigone orchestrated repairs directly under the bridge. This began with pulling deck boards up from the bridge to examine the extent of the damage. It was found that nearly all the soil and rock behind the abutment wall had eroded away. The problem was solved by building a cage (gabion) of chain link fence and filling it with larger rocks. This will help resist water pressure against the retaining wall directly under the bridge. The boards were then reattached. Nick Boltuch, who helped his son build the bridge as an Eagle Scout project a decade ago, stopped by to inspect progress. "Did you notice?" he asked. "Some of the bolts on the deck planks are actually gold plated. We did that to commemorate joining both sides of the trail across the bridge."
Other highlights of the day included Duanne Castellani and a camera man taking video and still photographs (seen here). The video will be used to highlight a year in the life of McKaig and will be featured on the website and at public presentations when complete. Veteran trail walker Aura formed a crew of one to trim back overhanging branches on Cadet Trail. One Bricker Nancy Hecker, of Northeast Philadelphia, came out to volunteer and christen a brand new pair of hiking shoes. "They really got a work out today," she said.
Thanks to all our hard working National Trails Day volunteers and to the members and donors who make all of our efforts possible.
The next McKaig Maintenance Morning will be Saturday, October 6th, 2012 from 9:00 to 11:30 AM. Meet in the Parking Lot at Roberts Elementary School, 889 Croton Rd., Wayne, PA 19087. Tasks will focus on preparing for fall and winter including fixing/installing water bars on trails and other erosion control projects. The rain date is Saturday, October 13. Please watch this website for a weather notice or subscribe to our e-mail list for news and alerts. To subscribe, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
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