FOBC member Carl Obecny has – under direction of the DEC – continued his repairs and upgrade to the trail along the Beverkill River across from the Covered Bridge day use area. Carl’s report as follows:
It doesn’t really matter in what part of the world or during what season, there isn’t a much more enjoyable and comforting pastime than a walk along a river. And, here in the Beaverkill River Valley, we are fortunate to have access to one of the most scenic rivers anywhere. However, over the past few years, a section of a favorite trail just below the Beaverkill Covered Bridge on the west side of the river and used by hikers, fishermen, campers and nature lovers was in jeopardy of becoming too dangerous to safely traverse and at risk of being washed out entirely.
While high river levels due to springtime or strong rainstorm flooding have washed away part of the trail, the primary cause of the trail damage was water coming from a spring on the opposite side of the trail from the river and slowly over the years eroding/undercutting the trail along a thirty foot stretch.
In an effort to save the trail, with the assistance of John and Patricia Adams, I contacted the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”) and was informed of a program called the “Volunteer Stewardship Program” under which private citizens can be authorized to perform certain work (i.e. trail repair and maintenance) on public lands. I completed the application process and after a few meetings with Cindy Yaekel, the local representative from the DEC, to discuss the nature of the proposed trail repairs and maintenance, my application and the proposed repair and maintenance plans were approved. Subject to the DEC’s oversight, I am now a “Volunteer Steward” in charge of the repair, as necessary, and maintenance of the trail for the next five (5) years.
In December during a period of unusually warm and dry winter weather, I commenced work on the north end of the damaged section of trial with the installation of a 15” diameter culvert pipe approximately eleven feet in length to carry the water flowing from the spring under the trail and to the river. Initially, considering the tenuous conditions of the trial, I was forced to use my relatively light-weight, small BX24 Kubota tractor to do the work. For those who enjoy ice formations, I placed a splash rock below the outlet of the culvert pipe with some brush underneath in the hope of creating some interesting ice formations this winter.
Thereafter, working from the south end (campsite side) of the damaged portion of trail, using a much larger M62 Kubota tractor, I started digging up and moving material from near a large discarded mulch pile located a little further down the trail. My plan was to harvest material from just in front of the pile and then, when finished, fill in the anticipated pit with the mulch. At one time having been river bottom, the material in the area where I was digging up was perfect material (river bottom sand and small stone) for rebuilding and repairing the washed out and undercut portions of the trail. Working forward, I would compact a roughly four foot section of the compromised trail by pounding it down with the tractor backhoe bucket and then cover the newly compacted section with the river bottom material. Interestingly, there were sections that were so dramatically undercut and eroded that when pounded they collapsed as much as three feet. Those sections of trail, had they not been repaired presented a significant danger to anyone attempting to walk on them and would very likely have been entirely washed out within another year or so.
In addition to the water coming from the more active spring and routed thru the first culvert pipe, there was a much smaller amount of water flowing from another spring near the campsite end of the damaged portion of the trail as well as evidence of a substantial amount of spring runoff down the hillside. So, in accordance with the plan, a second 15” diameter culvert pipe approximately fourteen feet in length was installed at that end of the compromised portion of the trail. That culvert pipe, in part, was kindly donated by Siobhan Loizeaux-Bennett and Martin Estrada.
With the trail in far safer condition for all to enjoy and winter setting in, the remaining tasks (installing stonework around the culvert pipe ends, planting grass seed and relocating a few pine trees) will wait until warmer weather returns next spring.