Throughout the summer, the North Woods Stewards are responsible for maintaining the health of the North Woods. This includes, but is not limited to trail maintenance, invasive species management, community outreach, and independent projects of our choosing. One day, when Facilities Services was aiding us in removing fallen trees from the trail, we noticed a significant patch of the blue trail was very muddy, and that a cut-around path had started to develop. This concerned us because in order to continue to protect the woods, we need to prevent habitat destruction, erosion and further fragmentation of the woods.
We decided to build a boardwalk on this area of the blue trail, not far from where the red and blue trails meet, near the North Woods apartments. Two years ago, Matthew Folts, and Dean Phillips, both Project Managers in Facilities services, provided incredible support for boardwalk projects, and agreed to the same again for this one. Dean and Matt, built every frame of the almost 200-foot boardwalk, and we gathered volunteers to get them in, working a little at a time every week. Once all the frames were in the woods, volunteers helped bolt the frames together, and level the boardwalk. Hammering in the planks was by far the most fun part of this project, and also drew in more volunteers! Paul Lundberg, Assistant Director of Construction Services, spent a Friday afternoon teaching us the right way of setting the boards onto the planks, and hammering in the nails without hurting our fingers. This project took over a month to finish, but once the last nail was in, we were very proud of everyone’s hard work.
Many parts of the trails in the North Woods, such as the red and blue trails, are very wide, as they were originally carriage trails created in 1879. Over time, people created smaller paths to see and explore more of the natural beauty the woods, while inadvertently cutting into natural habitats. This is the on-going challenge for those working to manage lands, balancing recreation with conservation. Many Skidmore community members, including professors, staff, students and stewards have tried closing these auxiliary trails using braches and natural objects to promote use of the already established main trails. Our hope is that Skidmore students, faculty, staff and Saratoga community members will continue to help us in our efforts to protect the woods. The boardwalk will hopefully be an indication to all those who wish to enjoy the woods in the future that staying on the trails is a vital part of this protection process.
We made a short video that showcases the project and hopefully inspire others to get out there, and help look after our woods. To check out this video and others about the North woods, or just to stay updated click here.
Urvi Kalra ’18, North Woods Steward