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Springtime Stewardship Successes

May 31, 2024 by Addie Hedges

We’ve been excited to get out on our rivers, stewarding natural places, for months. As the weather has gotten warmer, we’ve been out building trails, planting trees, and connecting with landowners. Here are a few highlights from our work in the field to make rivers better places for people and wildlife. 

Last weekend, we assembled a crew of 6 community volunteers, and a group of 5 from the Laraway School, to meet us at Journey’s End Swimming Hole in Johnson. This parcel is a well-loved place to cool off in the summer months, both for visitors and locals. We knew after going to the site last summer that it needed some trail improvements to make the half-mile walk a more enjoyable experience. The ground there tends to stay wet, so people were bound to find a muddy mess on their way to the picturesque swimming hole in the middle of the forest. 



With the help of Laraway School volunteers, we brought a truckload of lumber, kindly provided by the Johnson Conservation Commission, into the site. They spent Friday helping us move the lumber, and build three 8-foot sections of boardwalk. 








Then, on Saturday, we went back to the site, this time with community members, to build 12 feet of boardwalk, and 60 feet of puncheon, where feet can stay dry on their hike. These improvements would have taken our stewardship team way longer than two days to finish, and we are grateful for the great people willing to lend their time to us, making short work of projects. Keep an eye out for future opportunities like this one!

We didn’t stop there though, some of our staff got out to Rochester on Thursday for another important trail work project. The Thrailkill River Corridor Easement has been kindly open to public access by the landowner for many years. Situated between a public park and the elementary school, this large parcel along the White River has been a connector that dog walkers, schoolchildren, and other community members use almost daily. 

Buffer staking to ensure compliance with river corridor easement terms

Last year, when we went out to the site to do our annual monitoring, where we make sure that the riparian buffer is the correct width, and check on how the river is doing, we noticed that due to some shift of the river, the trail the landowner had been maintaining was within the buffer specified in the easement. Our Stewardship Coordinator Amanda stepped in and talked with the landowner. She realized that the landowner’s service to the community is invaluable, and agreed that moving the trail outside of the buffer is a great way to maintain that connection while doing what is best for the river.

Trail relocation sign and trail ready to be rewilded within the riparian buffer zone.



So, with his agreement, part of our team got out on the river to relocate the trail, roping off the old path, and giving it a headstart at regrowth by moving woody debris and leaf litter into the trail. Then we set off to stake the new trail, just a few feet outside the riparian area. Now this site is better for the river, and also a great place for the community to take advantage of the site. 

Carrying tools along the new trail.

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