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No More Wet Feet: New Bridges and Stream Crossings

Posted Monday, June 27, 2022


New bridge at Stevens Glen

The Berkshires gets abundant year-round precipitation—enough to keep streams and rivers running, ponds and lakes filled, and lush vegetation covering the land.

Too much water, however, can present a challenge to hikers and to BNRC’s stewardship team. Torrential rains from thunderstorms or hurricanes can wash out portions of trail and undermine bridges. Beavers can build dams that flood trails. Sometimes a trail must be routed across a low spot that can turn into a stream after heavy rain or snowmelt.

Many hikers go around muddy spots or puddles in a trail, eroding the surrounding soil and damaging vegetation. To protect against this, wet trails need to be made passable. BNRC donors and the stewardship team make it happen.

It can take months, or even years, to complete. Three BNRC properties are currently in various stages of this process.

At Stevens Glen in Richmond, several severe storms over the last decade damaged the four bridges at the property. The process of planning repairs began years ago. Two bridges had to be removed and replaced. The trail was re-routed to access the new crossing. A new bridge, fabricated in Pennsylvania from fiber-reinforced plastic and shipped to BNRC in kit form, was assembled and installed late last year at a more stable section of the stream. The final step in the project will occur this season, when another bridge, still structurally sound but heaved up out of a horizontal position, will be hoisted and set back down level on its abutments.

At Steepletop in New Marlborough the stretch of trail that lies between the two wetlands has become waterlogged. Over time, beaver activity has raised the water level on either side, and the causeway has been riddled with beaver and other animals’ tunnels. Bog bridging was installed in May across the saturated portion of the trail. A more permanent solution will be to rebuild the causeway, raising it well above grade and making it solid enough to handle BNRC vehicles.

The beautiful lower woodland trail at Basin Pond in Lee crosses several seeps, intermittent streams, and Basin Pond Brook. The crossings have step-stones or planks that are perpetually damp, making for uncertain footing. Plans to make it easier to traverse these spots have been submitted to the Town of Lee for approval. Footbridges with handrails will be placed at two of the intermittent streams, and step stones will be lifted and reset to provide secure footing at the other crossings. The on-site work is scheduled to begin in September (pending the permit) and will take two months to complete.

A huge thank-you to BNRC supporters—you make projects like these possible! Thank you, too, for your patience as these projects move slowly but surely from thought to finish. You make the Berkshires a better place for everyone!