Volunteers hot on the trail at Red Maple Swamp
By Mary Ann Bragg
Sep 24, 2016
Hard-hatted workers with chain saws and weed wackers made the first cuts Saturday in the closed section of the Red Maple Swamp walking trail, part of the National Park Service's plan to reopen and maintain the path without spending a bundle.
At 9:30 a.m. the crew of two Cape Cod National Seashore maintenance staff and a handful of volunteers from the Friends of the Cape Cod National Seashore stepped around the orange cone barrier on the boardwalk and headed into the dense woods.
"We have a long way to go, but it will start today with clearing brush," said Pat Canavan, president of the Friends group, near the entrance to the trail.
The volunteers received special training by the National Park Service to operate the chain saws, Canavan and Seashore maintenance head Karst Hoogeboom said. Another, larger group of Friends volunteers were clipping weeds around stone walls near the trail entrance, part of the Seashore's National Public Lands Day event.
National Public Lands Day is a coast-to-coast celebration of public land where volunteers help remove litter and invasive plant species, blaze new trails and maintain existing ones and plant seeds.
President Barack Obama, in a proclamation issued Friday, called on Americans to "rededicate ourselves to this critical work and continue looking after these natural treasures and protecting our historic and cultural heritage for generations to come."
A little under half of the 0.8-mile swamp trail has been closed for five years because of safety concerns and structural deterioration, according to Seashore materials. The price tag of $1.5 million for repairs is daunting, both Canavan and Hoogeboom have said in recent months.
But based on the advice of Fire Island National Seashore staff, who have worked on many boardwalk maintenance projects, the Seashore will repair a 150-foot section of the trail this fall using an in-house crew and with the help of Friends volunteers, Hoogeboom said. The plan is to develop a process for all future repairs.
"We're just waiting for the material delivery for the pilot project," he said. "Our goal is to get it open as soon as possible."
On Saturday, Friends volunteer Jim McDowell said he'd been approached by a visitor asking what was going on. "She was so excited to hear that something was going to start on the trail."
FRIENDS of the Cape Cod National Seashore is a non-profit organization of dedicated individuals who have a very special love and respect for this spectacular National Park.
FRIENDS responsibilities and activities include:
- Promoting the educational, environmental, historical and other purposes of the Cape Cod National Seashore.
- Assisting in the provision of interpretive programs for visitors to the park.
- Providing volunteers for important projects such as natural resources programs and trail maintenance.
- Encouraging private donations to support seashore programs.
- Managing several special funds that contribute to important educational, archival and research projects in the seashore.
Click above to view Public Service Announcement video promoting the "Friends of CCNS"