Hauling a Hippo

July 9, 2015

Today, I got to experience first-hand how much TLC ROCKS by joining volunteers and staff in moving ROCK. How much ROCK does TLC ROCK? About 8 tons, or roughly the equivalent of a heavy hippo.

Work group

All of this work was being done to help improve your next visit to TLC's Swift Creek Bluffs Nature Preserve. Much of the property is situated in the floodplain of Swift Creek and is subject to frequent flooding and pooling. The level of Swift Creek fluctuates with local rainfall, meaning that at times you can walk through without stepping in any water while at other times you encounter puddle after puddle on the trails. This was especially true for a section of trail to the right of where the trail first splits not far from the parking area.

TLC staff Walt Tysinger, Senior Land Manager, and Kyle Obermiller, Stewardship Maintenance Technican, carefully considered the options for improving the trail and decided on installing a 150-foot boardwalk over the existing trail. Today, we started building the boardwalk by wheeling all the ROCK from the preserve entrance to the boardwalk location. As many of you know, wheelbarrows can get heavy quickly and on top of that, we added the challenge of navigating over quite bumpy (but mercifully) downhill trails.

With the gravel in place, we began carrying in the necessary lumber. First, we carried in the over 30 4x4s that will be placed perpendicular to the trail every 5 feet along the future boardwalk. These were soon joined by 30 2×6 boards that will be placed on top of the 4x4s parallel to the trail. I wasn’t able to stick around to help carry in the last load of boards – a pile of cedar planks that will create the top layer of the boardwalk.

Considering a 10-foot 2×6 weighs about 20 lbs and a 3-foot 4×4 weighs about 10 lbs (the actual weights depend on the type of wood used and the moisture content), that means we hauled into the forest at least 900 lbs of wood. Add the wood and the rocks together, and you’ve almost got yourself an elephant!

In the end though, it’s all worth it to keep Swift Creek Bluffs a beautiful and fun place for you to visit. Next time you’re enjoying a trail on a TLC preserve (or elsewhere) stop for a few seconds and think of all the hard work that went into creating that experience. Think especially about all of the hardworking volunteers who do this type of work – not for the money and certainly not for the glory, but for the love of the land. They truly ROCK! (Thanks especially to Joan and Steve for braving the July heat today)! As do the staff like Walt and Kyle who pour their heart and soul into their work. Thanks to all the conservation ROCKSTARS that make TLC's conservation and stewardship work possible!

Interested in becoming a TLC volunteer? Sign up for our volunteer email list or contact Kyle directly about participating in TLC's Thursday Conservation Corps or Saturday Trail Crew. Swift Creek Bluffs
Another beautiful boardwalk at Swift Creek Bluffs that allows you to enjoy the wild and wonderful floodplains of Swift Creek.

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