BRLT gets ready for hiking and biking season
Jon Dunsford and other Boothbay Region Land Trust volunteers have been hard at work clearing trails for the quickly approaching hiking and biking season. A trek down one of the Pine Tree Preserve trails with Dunsford showcased some of the progress the volunteers have been making over the past couple weeks.
As Dunsford continued pruning the trail’s edges, he pointed out that the growth is clearly aging after roughly 100 years since the preserve was left to grow back over. Like most of coastal Maine, even the preserve was nearly bald during the height of late 19th century shipbuilding.
Keeping the paths clear is more than simply orienteering, said Dunsford. Besides identifying the paths, it moves small and large branches, fallen trees and dead leaves, allowing the soil to dry which is important for hikers and especially bikers who could happen upon a sudden stop.
“But most importantly, and this is my theory, no science – all the ticks live in the leaves, so if you blow these leaves off the trail, it’s much better. We’re all learning, but we don’t know as much as we need to about ticks.”
Dunsford pointed out a spot through a clearing off the yellow trail which was shaped by melting glaciers. The deposits of boulders and moss-covered ledge is quite a sight.
“We have some almost Alpine conditions back on the higher ridge, so we’ll never put a trail there just because people will walk all over the moss and everything. One of the reasons we meander these trails around is we’ll open up the view so you can see things like that.”
Additionally, said Dunsford, on an open trail like the ones Pine Tree Preserve provides, bugs are not an issue.
“Here, we have a nice breeze coming off of Linekin Bay.”
Continuing on around the yellow trail half-touring, half in pursuit of his party, Dunsford stopped every once in a while and lopped off any low-hanging branches.
“For those on bikes, you have to think much higher than you normally do,” he said as he cut a couple branches that were above his head.
Dunsford said he asked some bikers to ride through and make a note of the trail’s conditions. They told him there is a lot to cut.
After a couple twigs snapping and the flash of a red jacket a short distance ahead, Dunsford called out, “I figured you were going to walk back so we could pick up all those heavy logs.”
Bill Prince and Jeff Long were making their way back around the trail to intercept Dunsford.
As the three continued down the path Prince and Long came from, more branches were cut and more small trees were moved. Dunsford said some of the fallen trees would have to wait for another volunteer who brings his chainsaw out to do all the heavy cutting his Korean hacksaw and the loppers cannot manage. However, up ahead on the trail, another fallen tree just lined the edge of the path.
“This one’s new,” said Dunsford.
“Nicely placed, too,” said Long.
“Couldn’t ask for better than that,” said Prince.
Continuing on the yellow trail back to the parking lot, Dunsford explained there are a couple more potential trails he would like to open, but the next season or two will determine hikers’ and bikers’ needs for more room to roam.