Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Beaver Pond Bridge

The other big project our team of hard-working students worked on was a new boardwalk to cross the sometimes flooded land by a beaver pond.  The beaver returned a few years ago, and flooded out the trail, which had to be re-routed onto the road.  The bridge over the stream stood up high enough, but the approaches on either side were flooded for some distance!

This air photo shows the main beaver pond, and the series of dams the beavers built down the stream, The trail crosses just left of the property line (the white line), and you can see the bridge, but the approaches from either side were impassible.

I hiiked in from the north side this spring, in May, and the water at the main dam was very high.

I certainly couldn't get to the bridge.  The narrow boards of the old boardwalk were floating!  By the 2nd pair of boards out there, the wood was sinking as I walked on it, and the water was approaching a foot deep or more.  It looks ok to walk on, but it wasn't.

By late July when this work was done, the water level had fallen somewhat, and a little notch in the small dam downstream each morning enabled the work crew to work without hip waders.

First, they had a fair bit of lumber to carry in and cut to the right lengths.  They were well into the work when I arrived to record the event for posterity.

The old bridge, which seems high enough, is being retained.

But on both sides, some serious piers were built to enable a more solid and higher boardwalk.  First the organic layer was dug out, so the pier could be placed directly on the clay soil.

Then two more levels were added.  Four piers like this were built on the north side, and there will be two on the south side.  As you can see, there were a couple of us old grey-haired guys working with the students on this one.  (Not me!)

This is the work they eventually got done, the tough work of putting in the piers, four of them, extending north.  Adding the decking, some of which is ready and waiting, will be easy in comparison.

And if you take a close look at each pier, they are well built, T-bar stakes at each corner holding them together, and into the ground, and sod lumps piled in the centre to add stability and weight.

No names to protect the innocent, but I think you can tell which ones are the students.  With the construction of the new boardwalk, we are also going to add a viewpoint overlooking the large beaver pond, a good place to watch for birds in spring.  Instead of the beaver being a problem, we hope this can become a spot with a little focus on nature interpretation for those who hike through and a positive asset to the trail.

Only one fence here, the bridge railing, but I'm still  
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  1. Neat! I enjoyed see how it was built, and the hard workers in the last picture. :-)

  2. Good to have you around to record the events for posterity.

  3. Great job! I like that the beaver wasn't moved as happened here recently when it was cutting too many trees in a populated area.

  4. Looks like they have their work cut out for them but will be nice when completed.

  5. This new bridge will be a nice addition to the area.

  6. Interesting to see that work going on, and yes, you can make out the lines of dams in the aerial take.

  7. That is neat to have some students around this summer to help with trail renovation and with building of the bridges/platforms needed.... I can't wait to see how some of this works out when you hike in the area in winter.


  8. I must have walked dozens of boardwalks across wetlands (I was on one yesterday in fact), but I must admit I've never given a thought to what's holding it up! Thanks for filling me in.

  9. Good to see people working on it, hopefully others will be able to get out there and enjoy the scenery :-)

  10. Those piers look really good, they should last a while.