Most every man-made thing in this world requires maintenance every now and then, and TLC’s hiking trails are no exception. Every week, some sort of task on my schedule involves trail upkeep on one of our six preserves. Even on a cool winter’s day, when the temperature doesn’t get above freezing, I often find myself out on the preserves re-hanging signs, clearing a downed tree, or just simply keeping an eye on things. With 2015 now in full swing, there are many projects coming up on our preserves to make your visitor experience better and improve the trails at our preserves.
One ongoing project that many of you have either noticed or been re-routed by are the improvements at Johnston Mill in Orange County. Two sections of trail improvements, one near the Turkey Farm Road parking area at Booth Branch and the other on the Old Field Bluff trail at the Creekwood Spur, were completed by TLC’s faithful volunteers. About a dozen students from Durham Academy started the trail, and the Conservation Corp volunteers came out for four Thursday morning workdays just before the Holidays to finish the task. Just last week, Walt and I put the final touches on a new 24’ bridge over Booth Branch, constructed out of cedar milled locally in Durham (pictured above).
Why put in so much effort to move the trail? I can answer that in one word: sustainability! Moving the current trail onto a side-slope and out of the floodplain will create a trail that sheds water better and has less puddling after rain storms. Maintenance is less of a burden on a dry trail than one in the wet floodplain, which reduces future time spent making repairs. This will allow the trail to endure for future generations and gives me more time to spend on other projects, like building new trails!
White Pines, my favorite TLC preserve, will also be getting a bit of a facelift in 2015. Thanks to a grant from the Chatham County Parks and Recreation Department, we have started a new trail initiative to improve the existing trails and add a few more miles to the experience. There are so many different beautiful sections of White Pines, all with unique and wonderful features, and this project will help connect more people to these places. Once again, our loyal Conservation Corp volunteers have jumped on the task and have begun hand digging new trail. I can’t say it enough, the volunteers in this group are a huge help to TLC! Most every project, on any property, has been accomplished with the helping hands of this group.
Another 2015 task involves signage. Raise your hand if you’ve ever been a bit lost on the trails down at White Pines (for the record, I’m raising my hand)! If you’ve been to Horton Grove, you may have noticed the new stained cedar trail signs and blazes. We hope to do the same at White Pines, making it clear at all intersections where you are and where you are going.
There are many other upcoming projects on TLC’s conserved lands, but I’ll save those for another time. We hope you are having a wonderful beginning to 2015 and I hope to see you out on the trails! This is The Dirt: Tales from the Field, a blog written to give you an insider look on the stewardship of your favorite places. As always, if you have any questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact me through email at [email protected]!